I greatly enjoy getting to read extra books for the blog. One of my favorite publishers is Kregel Academic and Ministry, because they seem to have a standard of taking the text seriously in all their publications. The authors may not always be in line with my opinions, but they are serious about the work. That is what keeps me striving to keep up with the free ones Kregel Academic sends, so they can send more. Today’s book was provided by them, and features a scholar I’ve been reading bits of for some time now.
Abner Chou’s The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers attempts to understand how the writers of Scripture, specifically the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New, understood the parts of Scripture which they read. For example, how does Isaiah interpret the Pentateuch? How does Peter interpret the Psalms of David, or the author of Hebrews (Luke, per David Allen, see Lukan Authorship of Hebrews) involve the narratives of the Books of the Kings?
It is important, is it not, to consider that question? We can spend hours upon hours of study and reach our own conclusions, but is it not valuable to consider this question? I know that I have, at times, read Matthew’s application of prophecy in the Gospels and wondered where it came from.
Now, a simplistic response would be to say that the Apostles and Prophets were inspired, so they didn’t have a hermeneutic, or method of Bible understanding, at all. But that’s making the answer more of a spiritual problem, as if God was not working through people in the writing.
Chou’s work is definitely more of an advanced studies work than an introduction to hermeneutics. He delves into debates about intertextuality and raises scholarly divisions like the difference between a “redemptive movement hermeneutic” and a “hermeneutic sensitive to redemptive history.” In all, you’ll want to have your academic mind ready.
The example given of tracking “seed” from Genesis on to the Messiah is a useful tool. Chou shows how one word gets used, reused, and how the meaning gets integrated into other texts.
In all, I like this work. Chou’s writing style is dense, and at times a bit of a challenge to follow, because he does tend to circle back onto points. But it’s not impenetrable. Just a bit challenging late at night!
Do I recommend this for everyone? Not really. This is an academic study, not a casual read. Still, if you want to start into the debate about hermeneutics and intertextuality, both the work and the included bibliography will make a great start.