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Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Recovering a Christian Practice

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"An excellent introduction to the burgeoning literature on a reading of the Bible in and for the church. . . . Treier is well informed in the secondary literature and writes in a clear and understandable way. . . . Treier has done us--the academy and the church--a service."--Edward W. Klink III, Review of Biblical Literature
In the wake of the schism during the past two centuries between biblical studies and theology, a new movement has developed, seeking to bridge this modern gap. This hermeneutical movement, which hearkens back to aspects of pre-critical interpretation, has been labeled the theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS) and focuses on the contexts of canon, creed, and church. While the trend is in its infancy, it is rapidly gaining momentum. Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture is the first clear, systematic introduction to this movement for students and nonspecialist scholars. The book surveys the history, themes, advocates, and positions of TIS and seeks to bring coherence to its various elements. The author, Daniel Treier, also explores what he sees as the greatest challenges the movement will have to address in the future, including the interface between TIS and biblical theology, general hermeneutics, and the concept of social location in reading scriptural texts. Woven throughout is a case study on the imago Dei, demonstrating how TIS plays out in theological exegesis. This case study adds to the book's usefulness as a secondary text in hermeneutics courses.


"This is an introduction in the best sense of that term. With uncommon clarity and grace, Treier provides students of theological interpretation with a reliable and appropriately critical map of the terrain. Because Treier is both generous in his treatment of others' work and thoughtful in presenting his own views, students will find him an enlightening and wise guide."--Stephen Fowl, Loyola College in Maryland

"With an impressive mastery of the secondary literature of this new field, Treier shows how the disciplines of historical, systematic, and practical theology play into theological interpretation of Scripture. Treier suggests, like many in this new movement, that a recovery of ancient Christian practices and postures toward Holy Scripture opens the theological imagination and allows for fresh readings, informed by historical criticisms but not captured by them."--Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Priest Associate, The Episcopal Church at Yale; coeditor of Theological Exegesis

"Many voices today clamor for the recovery of theological interpretation, from many corners and for diverse reasons. For those concerned with the significance of the church for reading Scripture, and the significance of Scripture for the church, this is a renaissance most welcome. So many different voices, though, can leave us confused--not only on the finer points of the discussion but even about its most basic question, What is theological interpretation? We need a map, and this is precisely what Daniel Treier has provided: a map that will be as useful to those already engaged in the conversation as it is crucial for those trying to gain their first bearings."--Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Daniel Treier is one of the brightest scholars working at the intersection of Scripture, hermeneutics, and theology in the evangelical academy today. Here he offers a masterful survey of the landscape and shows how evangelicals can join with Catholic scholars and others in moving the discussion forward."--Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School; senior editor, Christianity Today

The Author

  1. Daniel J. Treier

    Daniel J. Treier

    Daniel J. Treier (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Knoedler Professor of Theology at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture and the coeditor of several...

    Continue reading about Daniel J. Treier


"Those of us who are not specialists in the interpretation of the Bible can be thankful when scholars who are specialists write a well informed distillation and assessment of some contemporary addition to the seemingly ever-increasing diversity of proposals for reading Christian scripture. Daniel Treier . . . offers such a summary and assessment in Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture. . . . He is well informed with regard to biblical studies, and this book . . . is a constructive contribution to encouraging more conversation between the disciplines of biblical studies and theology. . . . For those . . . who are interested in staying current with contemporary approaches to interpreting the Bible, this book provides a substantive yet modest (less than 200 pages) introduction to an increasingly important approach."--W. David Buschart,

"Through his clear structure and concise content, Treier achieves his aim of providing scholars, students, and pastors with a succinct introduction to this burgeoning movement. . . . While Treier's primary dialogue partners are the ones at the forefront of the theological interpretation movement . . . he also interacts with a wide range of scholarship. . . . Treier constantly references the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, thus making his study a fitting companion volume to this other important work in the field. Though Introducing Theological Interpretation appears early in the movement, it offers a contribution of definition and direction."--Ched Spellman, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

"Most of what is said here is important and fruitful. . . . This is an extremely welcome introduction to some recent (1990s) work. . . . Libraries should buy this and take due note of the excellent developments within Baker Academic."--Robert Morgan, Theological Book Review

"A fine historical and theological introduction to the well known and vital issue of interpreting Scripture theologically. . . . Treier's concern for an informed recovery of the theological interpretation of Scripture is timely. . . . Treier's survey of the landscape is vast, and he writes charitably of others' views."--Peter T. O'Brien, Themelios

"In recent days there has been what some have called a new movement that is interested in reading the Bible theologically. A helpful introduction to this trend has been provided by Daniel J. Treier. . . . Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture is an excellent introduction to the burgeoning literature on a reading of the Bible in and for the church. . . . Treier even uses a helpful test case, the image of God, in order to apply the topic of each chapter to a constant theme and in order to highlight points of nuance and to give further explanation. This worked quite well. Treier is well informed in the secondary literature and writes in a clear and understandable way. . . . Treier has done us--the academy and the church--a service by introducing to contemporary readers this 'new movement' that wants to read the Bible 'to know and love God.'"--Edward W. Klink III, Review of Biblical Literature

"The volume is neither expensive nor lengthy, and should have wide appeal, especially to people who come from a Protestant tradition seeking to connect their everyday faith experiences to scripture rather than seeing the Bible as an object for academic study. For this group the book should prove a useful guide and practical tool in their endeavours. People outside this tradition may also be interested in Treier's vision. It is a considered post-modern response to the inadequacies of traditional historical biblical critiques that deserves a place alongside other hermeneutical perspectives. The book provides a fascinating insight into where an influential strain of Christianity is travelling and the baggage it is carrying along the way."--John Starr, Expository Times

"Throughout the book, [Treier] very helpfully looks at interpretations of the imago Dei as a test case for how theological interpretation of Scripture can benefit from the various perspectives and approaches explored in this illuminating study."--K. Möller, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

"There is much current interest in 'the theological interpretation of Scripture.' At least half a dozen studies have recently appeared on this subject. . . . None, however, discusses this area with the accuracy, common sense, and restraint of Daniel Treier's work. He puts his case extremely well. . . . His work is a model of careful judgment. . . . This book does its job very well. It avoids the excesses and confusions of similar works."--Anthony Thiselton, Theology

"[Treier] provides in this volume an easily accessible and timely introduction to a movement that has been gaining steam over the past decades and has as its aim the development of a distinctly Christian way to read scripture that does not lack for either rigor or piety. . . . A case study . . . appear[s] in various chapters to help illustrate the point under discussion, namely, a consideration of what it means for humanity to be created in the image of God. This recurring case study goes a long way in helping to illustrate precisely what practical difference is made by the various themes developed along the way. . . . Treier's grasp of the relevant literature is exceptional and his handling of it exemplary for its balance and honesty. This book was intended to serve beginning theology students as a point of entry to the theological interpretation of scripture, and in this it unquestionably succeeds. Furthermore, Treier's writing is so clear and admirably jargon-free that educated and interested laypeople will find this volume engaging as well."--W. Travis McMaken, Reviews in Religion and Theology

"Treier interacts with an exceptional array of theologians past and present. One of the great strengths of this book is the historical overview it offers, drawing connections between different theologians and movements, assisting the reader in mapping the field of theological hermeneutics, with a particular emphasis on the mid to late twentieth century. For those seeking the 'lie of the land' within this particular area of theology, this is a very helpful book. The second strength is that Treier consistently avoids the temptation to over-simplify. The book serves as an excellent challenge, asking tough questions while allowing various conflicts and tensions to remain unresolved. This, combined with an extensive account of the various figures and positions in the field, makes this book an excellent basis for further studies. . . . I recommend this book to those interested in the field of theological interpretation of Scripture as itself being a subject of theological study."--Adam J. Johnson, Trinity Journal

"A helpful introduction to the practice and agenda of theological interpretation."--B. Paul Wolfe, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"[An] accessible and comprehensive introduction to this growing movement [theological interpretation of Scripture]. . . . Treier uses the imago Dei as a case study. . . . This aspect of the book is very well done, and further helps to orient the reader in the midst of an otherwise dense survey that covers a wide range of secondary literature. In addition, Treier writes in a very approachable and comprehensible manner regarding difficult issues and debates. This makes Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture a useful tool for undergraduate theology courses and church education classes. . . . Overall, Treier's volume is a well-written and much-needed guide to the growing field of theological exegesis. It ably summarizes a wide range of scholarly texts and outlines the basic features of TIS. He has done both the academy and the church a great service."--David W. Congdon, Koinonia Journal

"There is much to commend this book. . . . The book is organized quite logically. Furthermore, terms are identified . . . and various positions carefully unpacked for the reader. . . . Treier exhibits a thorough familiarity with the major players and movements and an admirable command of the relevant literature. Concerning the latter, a fairly comprehensive and up-to-date suggested reading list has been included. Although the author is clearly an advocate of theological interpretation his presentation throughout is fair and irenic. However one views the trend towards theological interpretation today, Treier has provided a clear, helpful, and thorough introduction to past, present, and future aspects of the movement. . . . Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture is probably more suited to the Bible college or seminary student than to the average layperson. . . . Nonetheless, the work could be of value to anyone who is interested in reading the Bible from the standpoint of faith and also to those who find the sterility of higher critical approaches to interpretation unsatisfactory."--Charles H. Savelle, Criswell Theological Review

"Treier's volume offers a broad introduction to a very nebulous concept. He has laid out the primary historical and contemporary issues surrounding theological interpretation. For a person interested in this trend in biblical scholarship, this volume will provide a basic summary of the issues involved. . . . Treier applies the principles of each chapter to the exegetical and theological concept, Imago Dei, thereby demonstrating theological interpretation. In this, Treier provides his readers with concrete examples of the issues presented in each chapter. . . . This book is essential reading for the seminarian interested in an evangelical perspective on theological interpretation. Also, scholars who are interested in this discussion will benefit from Treier's ability to draw together many varied streams of thought as well as move the discussion forward."--Frank E. Dicken, Stone-Campbell Journal

"[Treier] has written a superb introduction to a challenging topic: the theological interpretation of Scripture. . . . This book is too rich to allow itself to be encapsulated in a brief review; you must read it yourself in order to mine the wealth of new material that [Treier] presents. . . . [Treier] writes with unusual clarity. . . . Although it is an introduction, the profundity of his message is readily apparent, as is the grace with which he presents the thoughts of the numerous writers he discusses. He is always fair in his presentations, even when grappling with difficult ideas. . . . This book is an excellent introduction to an important topic. While it is most suitable for courses in hermeneutics in seminaries and Bible colleges, it is a useful guide as well for all those who want to interpret Scripture properly and then discuss the results on Sundays in church."--Adrian Helleman, Sapientia Logos

"Daniel Treier is to be commended for providing a succinct, readable introduction to an important new theological discipline. With appropriate oscillation between big-picture summaries and detailed engagements with wide-ranging scholarship, Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture is sure to become a valued resource. The book is for scholars, students, and pastors who want an overview of this exciting new field, and for those seeking guides along the way of reading the Bible as a spiritual practice."--J. R. Daniel Kirk, Biblical Theology Bulletin

"Among other strengths to the book, Treier provides a legitimate answer to the question raised by postmodern interpretation of how personal and communal presuppositions influence interpretation. . . . Perhaps the greatest strength is his concern that theology is necessary to the spiritual health of the Christian community. . . . This book is highly valuable for restoring the nexus of theology, interpretation, and spiritual health in the church."--Jon Wood, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Treier's purpose 'is to tell the story and map the major themes' of the theological interpretation of scripture movement (Part 1) and engage with continuing challenges (Part 2). . . . Both parts achieve their objectives and the conclusion is valuable, especially on 'hermeneutical lenses.'. . . Recommended."--Robert S. Dutch, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"Though Treier's study does not offer a finished account of what the theological interpretation of Scripture may require, it does offer a stimulating and helpful preliminary report on this project's emergence and the challenges it faces. . . . It is encouraging to witness the renewed attention to the unity and coherence of the canonical Scriptures, and to the role of the church's traditional teaching (codified in her creeds and confessions) in the enterprise of interpreting the Scriptures."--Cornelis P. Venema, Mid-America Journal of Theology

"The discussion . . . is irenic, hugely knowledgeable of the sources, and capable of extending our vision as to the nature and purpose of hermeneutics. Treier's work is a challenging introduction to a movement which may have significant future influence, encouraging a more holistic reading of the biblical text that draws on the wisdom and passion of ancient interpreters. It will be of particular value to those seeking ways of integrating theological study with Christian practice."--Patrick McGlinchey, Church of Ireland Journal