JUNE 2011
Key Terms
• Exegesis—process by which the (original)
meaning/sense of text is established.
• Hermeneutics—the grammar, logic, or
rules on the basis of which an
interpretation is executed.
• Exegesis is related to Hermeneutics as
Language is to Grammar
Biblical Criticism
• Historical Criticism—get behind the written
text to an earlier oral and/or written form.
Recapture earliest form and establish
intended meaning of original author(s).
• Narrative Criticism—accepts text in final
form; asks what it communicates to its
readers in current form.
Biblical Criticism
• “Parable of the Three Hikers” (Trespassers
will be persecuted!)
– Where is meaning located?
1. Is that what the author intended?
2. “It means just what it says!”
3. Relevant? Significant? Impact on this world?
Biblical Criticism
Historical Criticism—complex weave of oral
traditions, written sources, and editorial
20th century shift to the “world in the text”
and the text’s effective presence in the
contemporary world (or the “world in front
of the text”).
• Historical Criticism
– Textual-retrieves original wording when
manuscripts differ because of scribal changes
– Source-reconstructs older written documents
incorporated piecemeal into present texts.
– Redaction-reveals ways in which editors
overlay their interpretations in the course of
rearranging and transmitting.
– Form
• Literary Criticism
– Close Reading
– Structuralism
– Narrative Criticism
– Rhetorical Criticism
– Reader-Response Criticism
• Ideological Criticism
– Feminist criticism
– African American criticism
– Hispanic, Latino/a Criticism
– Liberation Exegesis
– Postcolonial criticism
Narrative Criticism: Two Principles
• Narrative texts are designed to evoke a
response from the reader. Beyond the intellect,
narratives appeal to emotion and will,
compelling the reader to make moral judgments
about characters and the values that are at work
in a story.
• Readers are not completely at the will of the
authors. We bring our personal and communal
histories to the act of reading. These factors
influence our response to the stories.
• Do not learn a catalogue of narrative
techniques, search for their presence in
the text, and then decide what response
the author intended to produce in the
– That is not reading!
Let yourself be moved by the narrative power of
the text, by the Spirit of Life that animates
engagement, intelligence, and action.
Biblical Interpretation in the Early
• Christ the Key
Christ is the End of the Law and the
Intensive Reading
Typological Reading
Allegorical Reading
Ignatius of Antioch
• “To my mind it is Jesus Christ who is the
original documents. The inviolable
archives are his cross and death and his
resurrection and the faith that came by
– Single most important feature of patristic
exegesis: knowing the identity of Jesus the
Messiah is the basis for the right reading
of the sacred writings of Israel.
Didymus the Blind (Alexandrian
• Genesis 12:1— “….go from your country and your
kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show
you…” (literal sense)
 Evil spirits afflict those committed to pursuing
righteousness, and so God rightly calls them to ‘come
 Luke 14:26; Mark 10:28 (“left everything”); Psalm 45:10-11
 Verbal Similarities and Common Patterns (series and
formulas): each instance builds up and reinforces formal
• Popular title: Against Heresies
• Borrows three terms from ancient rhetoric:
– Hypothesis
– Economy
– Recapitulation
• Hypothesis—the gist of any work (of
literature). Taken as a whole, the work of
God holds together best when seen as…?
• Heretical interpretations are fundamentally
flawed at just this level: they fail to identify
the correct hypothesis of the Bible.
– (Mosaic)
• Economy (oikonomia)—right order and
arrangement of affairs. A story should
have an economy, a structure or plot that
allows us to discern the flow of the
narrative. (Heretics are imposing a false
economy or false order upon Scripture)
– “We hold fast to the rule of truth, that there is
one almighty God who founded everything
through his Word and arranged it and made
everything out of the non-existent.”
Economy and Recapitulation
• The divinely arranged economy is
necessary for understanding any event or
episode of Scripture. (2,4,6,8…)
• But Jesus Christ is not simply one member
of this divine outline or sequence, but the
final repetition, the drawing to a close,
the summing up of the entire sequence.
• The recapitulation of all things in Christ
fills in the gaps and resolves the
inconclusive patterns evident throughout
biblical history.
– Death came by way of the fruit of a tree, not
simply an abstract “fall.” Jesus Christ
recapitulates this scene, although in key of
righteousness rather than sin (tree of the
Other Patristic Approaches
• Intensive Reading-lexical and associative
strategies (key terms)
• Typological Reading-Christ as antitypos
(Hebrews 9:24; 1 Peter 3:21); Old Adam/New
– “prefigurations” and “postfigurations”
• Allegorical Reading
– Typology and Allegory belong to same family of
reading strategies; only differ in extent of interpretive
Old Testament Narrative
June 2011
• Innermost box Story/Plot (characters,
events, settings); “secondary world”
• Second box Narrative; narrator tells the
story to the narratee. Story took place in
the past.
• Outermost box Text; “primary world” in
which the written text is in our hands.
“Implied author” and “implied reader.”