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Participatory Biblical Exegesis: A Theology of Biblical Interpretation
University Notre Dame Press / 2008 / Paperback
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It is common knowledge among scholars that in order to understand the "Bible in its own right" or as Kant said, "just like any other book" required its detachment from the church's theological formulations, understandings, and interpretations of its text. In recent years many questions have questioned this separation arguing that historical-critical methods have their value, but that a theological reading of Scripture must maintain preeminence in interpretation. Matthew Levering's builds on this paradigm in Participatory Biblical Exegesis: A Theology of Biblical Interpretation. Levering argues that the modern concept of history as linear is for exegesis an insufficient and over simplified understanding. What is needed, so Levering argues, is a view of history that not only incorporates the linear, but that also includes an understanding of history as participation in God's creative and redemptive presence in and plan for history. /br>Consequently, one's biblical exegesis must be concerned with more than historical (empirical) facts showing how history occurred in real time. With this in mind, Levering shows how Patristic and Medieval exegetes incorporated this perspective into their interpretive efforts, and then moves to formulate a hermeneutic that places primary emphasis on the theological understanding of Scripture without jettisoning the obvious benefits of the historical-critical method. Levering's chief contribution, in my view, is the way he reorients our perspective on history. It is one thing to interpret Scripture within the theological tradition of the church, and it is quite another to understand the legitimacy and necessity of that approach in accordance within one's ontological view of creation and reality, which are the very foundations for determining what you do, and what you desire to be. This is participation in the midst of history under the authority of Scripture. I look forward to the ongoing contribution of Participatory Biblical Exegesis to the development of theological interpretation in particular, and hermeneutics in general. Although geared for academics, this book will serve anyone who struggles with how we interpret Scripture in the modern world. It will also make an excellent text book for those classes which are not merely concerned with an academic exegesis rooted in the past, but for those courses who wish to breathe the rich theological tradition of the Christian past into the interpretive life of the Church today.
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