Between a blind faith in the inerrancy of the Bible and a higher-critical dismissal of the authority of its more difficult passages, stands the simple word: exegesis. The Scriptures are a mirror, impartially reflecting a fallen humanity and its struggle with God. They are therefore neither simple nor scholastic, and exegesis is the tool necessary for applying the interpretation from various literary forms of the Bible to the needs of the day. In our ecumenical age, much discussion of exegesis occurs across denominational lines. But Thompson urges an additional form of ecumenism, an ecumenism over time: the study of ancient and mediaeval exegesis, considering tradition or 'the democracy of the dead' (to use Chesterton's phrase) in our contemplation of the Bible's depth of meaning. Thompson focuses on the Fathers' interpretation of difficult passages and themes, including the Imprecatory Psalms, sex and violence, women's issues and the 'misbehavior' of saints. He also includes an appendix of helps: a glossary of biblical commentators, a finding-guide to English translations of literature before 1600, a bibliography and subject/scripture/name indices. This book teaches contemplative and pastor alike to read the Bible 'in the presence of the past.'
An Eighth Day View:
Many Christians would describe themselves as serious and regular readers of the Bible. Yet, if we are honest, most of us have a tendency to stick with the parts of the Bible that we understand or are comforted by, leaving vast tracts of Scripture unexplored. Even when following a guide, we may never reach into the Bible's less-traveled regions -- passages marked by violence, tragedy, offense, or obscurity. What our modern minds shy away from, however, ancient, medieval, and Reformation commentators dove into. In fact, their writings often display strikingly contemporary interests and sensitivities to the meaning and moral implications of the Bible's difficult narratives. John Thompson here presents nine case studies in the history of exegesis -- including the stories of Hagar and Jephthah's daughter, the imprecatory psalms, and texts that address domestic relations, particularly divorce -- in order to demonstrate the valuable insights into Scripture that we can gain not only from what individual commentators say but from fifteen centuries' cumulative witness to the meaning of Scripture in the life of the church. Visit Dr. Thompson's companion website at: http: //purl.oclc.org/net/jlt/exegesis so access further features such as a list of commentary literature in English through the year 1700 and sample sermons that model a homiletic use of the history of interpretation.