Discontent can breed a great number of creatures: temptation, envy, tyranny, and in its rarer forms, change and renewal. For John J. O'Keefe and R.R. Reno, professors of theology and office neighbors at Creighton University, it bred initiative. Dissatisfied with the stock categories of ''liberal'' or ''conservative'' in regard to biblical interpretation, they sought specific reading techniques used by the early church fathers to interpret biblical texts. By analyzing portions of patristic exegesis between themselves and within their classrooms, O'Keefe and Reno organize their discoveries around three basic patristic strategies: literal, typological, and allegorical. Hungry for ''the red meat of doctrine,'' our authors discuss ''how the arrow of exegetical analysis moves toward and through the biblical text'' and also provide an explanation of the larger framework of patristic interpretation -- that Jesus Christ is the way, truth, and life -- and how faith in him ''brings order and coherence to the disparate data of scripture.'' O'Keefe and Reno's text is lively and rife with animating patristic illustrations and even appropriate contemporary cultural analogies. Their concluding chapter reminds us of the important standard the early fathers perpetually kept before them: communal accountability is crucial-or to paraphrase Irenaeus, ''proper interpretation depends on fidelity to the apostolic witness.'' Good exegesis is, finally, a religious exercise and right reading a fruit of righteousness. The reader must first ask, and keep asking, that his soul be purified and his vision turned toward the divine.
An Eighth Day View:
In "Sanctified Vision" John J. O'Keefe and R. R. Reno explain the structure and logic of the early Church fathers' interpretations of the Bible. These interpretations are considered foundational to the development of Christianity as a religion and offer insight into how the early church fathers thought about Christian doctrine and practice. By analyzing selected portions of patristic exegesis, the authors illustrate specific reading techniques employed by the church fathers to expound the meaning they believed intrinsic to biblical texts.
This approach is organized around three basic analytic strategies: literal, typological, and allegorical. The literal strategy is an intensive and broad analysis that identifies particular word associations that intensify scriptural meaning. The typological strategy interprets distinct patterns of events within scripture and applies those patterns to other events in scripture and the history of the church. The allegorical approach to biblical reading, like the topological strategy, seeks patterns in the text, but these patterns are more diverse and represent larger themes or beliefs of the early church.
Within this analytic framework, the authors explain the larger structure of patristic exegesis and argue for the importance of this structure in the emergence of Christian orthodoxy.