Practicing Theological Interpretation

Engaging Biblical Texts for Faith and Formation

series: Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic

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"This volume represents a wonderfully accessible window into theological interpretation by one of its most accomplished practitioners."--Stephen Fowl, Loyola University Maryland
Much is written about the theory of theological interpretation, but how does it function when it comes to actually working with biblical texts? This volume shows that theological interpretation is not so much an exegetical method as it is a practice concerned with Scripture's role in the faith and formation of persons and ecclesial communities. Biblical scholar Joel Green demonstrates both the practice of theological interpretation and the fruitfulness of this approach to reading biblical texts, providing students with helpful ways of wrestling with knotty interpretive issues. He also explores how theological inquiry can coexist with rigorous academic study of the Bible.

1. Living Faithfully in Exile: Who Reads the Bible Well?
2. Neglecting Widows and Serving the Word? "History" and Theological Interpretation
3. Scripture and Classical Christology: The "Rule of Faith" and Theological Interpretation
4. John Wesley, Wesleyans, and Theological Interpretation


About the Series
The Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic series is published in conjunction with Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. Leading scholars in biblical studies and systematic theology from a variety of theological traditions offer brief, suggestive treatments of specific topics, exploring the cutting edge of their current interests and latest thinking for the benefit of the whole church.


"For many years Joel Green has been a leading advocate for interpreting Scripture theologically. In this short volume all of his wide learning is on display as he deftly works his way through some of the contested issues surrounding theological interpretation of Scripture. This volume represents a wonderfully accessible window into theological interpretation by one of its most accomplished practitioners."

Stephen Fowl, professor of theology, Loyola University Maryland

"In a compact and carefully argued presentation, a prominent New Testament scholar shares his convictions about proper apprehension of the New Testament's word of address. This serves as an introduction to many of the key points of critical evaluation in what is now called theological interpretation. He helpfully locates the theoretical discussion of narrative, the 'model reader,' history, and the Rule of Faith in relationship to the reading of New Testament texts. Informed, engaged, accessible."

Christopher Seitz, research professor of biblical interpretation, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"I warmly welcome Joel Green's book on the theological interpretation of Scripture. Contributions have already been made to this area, but this is the most mature, careful, and well read to date. Biblical studies is in the process of exploring paradigms beyond historical-critical methods (plural). The most recent are reception history and theological interpretation. Green seeks to hear the voice of God through Scripture, which, after all, is the main task of exegesis. This book will also help to span the gulf between theologians and exegetes."

Anthony C. Thiselton, professor of Christian theology, University of Nottingham

"Joel Green's Practicing Theological Interpretation charts a way through the thickets of interpretive theory and practice for those who are committed to the role of Scripture in the faith and formation of persons and ecclesial communities. Chapters devoted to the role of the reader, the Rule of Faith, and historical study model both critical theoretical reflection and practical implementation, offering concrete interpretations of various biblical texts. Stimulating, learned, and timely, Green's essays provide guidance for those who desire to harvest the fruit of biblical scholarship for nourishing the formation of Christian faith and practice."

Marianne Meye Thompson, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Joel Green's Practicing Theological Interpretation testifies to his deep engagement with the past twenty years of this important movement in contemporary biblical interpretation. He gently introduces the topic to beginning readers, reminds intermediate readers of nuances they may have missed (and rewards them with instructive readings of exemplary biblical texts), and for advanced audiences he marks out a clear summary of his approach as a landmark for further exploration. Green's valuable contribution to the discussions of biblical theology and theological interpretation should draw in a new generation of practitioners for his approach to attaining vibrant, convincing, compelling readings of the Bible."

A. K. M. Adam, lecturer in New Testament, University of Glasgow

The Author

  1. Joel B. Green

    Joel B. Green

    Joel B. Green (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is provost, dean of the School of Theology, and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including the...

    Continue reading about Joel B. Green


"[Green] could rightly be called the dean of theological interpretation. He has spearheaded, edited, and/or contributed to many of the most significant recent developments in the interpretation of Scripture within the church and in the ongoing (difficult) reunion of biblical studies and theology. . . . The deceptively simple subtitle of the book [Engaging Biblical Texts for Faith and Formation] summarizes Green's perspective on what theological interpretation is, but it hides Green's sophisticated analysis and use of contemporary hermeneutics, neurology, historiography, linguistics, and more. For Green, however, theological interpretation is more about ecclesial location and theological aims than it is about theory or method. . . . Green does a masterful--and sometimes controversial--job of pointing out where many of us got it wrong in our seminary formation. . . . Green aims to . . . demonstrate that responsible, even critical, scriptural interpretation can--he says must--incorporate elements of a theological approach that many of us were told to eschew. . . . There are easier and even shorter good books to read about theological interpretation, but this one makes the case for its central features like few others."

Michael J. Gorman,


"As the author . . . notes in his introduction to this thoughtful study, modern biblical scholarship has struggled to bridge the gap between a historical-critical approach to the biblical text and the theological and ecclesial significance of the text for a community of faith. More and more scholars are wrestling with this question but there is still the need to think through the method for doing so. That is the point of Green's work in this volume. He uses specific texts such as the letter of James and the Acts of the Apostles to make the connection between exegesis and Christian formation, to understand the role of historical inquiry in theological interpretation, and to consider the impact of the rule of faith on biblical exegesis. While Green works explicitly out of his own Wesleyan tradition, biblical interpreters of all denominations will find wisdom here."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"Green's writing style is fluid . . . and flows easily from one idea into the next. The topics in each chapter complement each other, but could stand independent of one another, which makes this book a good option for classroom reading with discussion after each chapter. . . . Green's book makes a clear case for theological readings of the Bible, which may be more important to the church than historical-critical readings. . . . This book is a good read for church leaders who want new ideas on keeping the Bible relevant for their communities today."

Katya Ouchakof,

Word & World

"Green has given us an excellent introductory look, with examples, at theological readings of Scripture."

Kent E. Brower,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A valuable introduction into the growing field of theological interpretation of scripture. . . . For the reader who is looking for an accessible and engaging introduction to the theological interpretation of scripture, Green's work will be greatly beneficial."

J. T. English,

Southern Baptist Journal of Theology