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Prima Scriptura

An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation

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"Packed with useful resources, this book is what ministerial and doctoral students need and what their exegesis teachers have been looking for."--Susan R. Garrett, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

This engaging introduction to New Testament exegesis will appeal to seminarians and undergraduates across the spectrum. Clayton Croy, the author of a successful Greek textbook and an expert on biblical-studies pedagogy, provides an accessible, holistic overview of the entire interpretive process. He argues that while Scripture occupies a place of primary importance in guiding faith and life, it does not do so in a vacuum. It operates in conjunction with two thousand years of Christian tradition, Spirit-guided human reason, and experience. Scripture's authority is therefore primary but not exclusive. Croy begins with the preparation of the interpreter, proceeds to analysis of the text, and concludes with appropriation of the message of Scripture in the context of modern faith communities. He combines a step-by-step plan for historical exegesis with substantive discussion of broader hermeneutical issues.

Prima Scriptura interacts with recent scholarship and is academically rigorous but is written in an engaging style, incorporating anecdotes, humor, scriptural illustrations, and examples of the practical payoff of disciplined interpretation. Each chapter includes discussion questions and suggestions for further reading. Professors and students in exegesis and hermeneutics courses will value this work.

Introduction: Definitions, Theoretical Issues, and Preview of the Method
1. Analyzing and Preparing the Interpreter
2. Analyzing the Text
3. Evaluating and Contemporizing the Text
4. Appropriating the Text and Transforming the Community
Appendix 1: Sample Exegesis Paper--"Jesus on Probation" (Luke 4: 1-13)
Appendix 2: Sample Exegetical Brief--Hebrews 1:1-4
Appendix 3: Pictograph of Philippians
Appendix 4: Pictograph of 2 Corinthians
Appendix 5: Chart of the Gospel of Mark
Appendix 6: Nestle Aland27 and UBS4 Comparison Chart
Appendix 7: In the Laboratory with Agassiz


"Clayton Croy's combination of Christian theology, hermeneutical theory, and exegetical practice is ecumenical, fluent, and comprehensive, which allows for a versatility uncommon in introductory texts on this topic. Croy grounds his treatment of exegetical practices on the theological nature of Scripture and on the sort of faithful interpreter who can best render a sacred text for today's world. Each section concludes with excellent annotated bibliographies of resources and teacher-friendly exercises that will make this book useful for the classroom."--Robert Walter Wall, Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies, Seattle Pacific University

"This book equips Christian ministry students for mature and critical engagement of author-centered, text-centered, and reader-centered interpretative theories, warning against facile or faddish escape into one or another extreme. Croy provides a clear and sufficient guide to the art of asking good questions of the biblical text and of finding reliable answers, laying a solid foundation for the practice of a wide range of exegetical skills and the development of a sound hermeneutical model. His driving interest is to equip students to interpret Scripture in order to practice its truth in every sphere of life--from the personal to the political, from the individual to the international--fulfilling Johannes Bengel's vision for biblical interpretation: apply yourself fully to the text, and apply the text fully to yourself. I look forward to using it in my own classroom."--David A. deSilva, Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary

"Prima Scriptura does not stop with its crystal-clear, step-by-step instruction; it also guides the reader into informed reflection on the hermeneutical issues that all interpreters face. The work is sophisticated yet accessible, serious yet lively, faithful yet critical. Packed with useful resources, this book is what ministerial and doctoral students need and what their exegesis teachers have been looking for."--Susan R. Garrett, professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. N. Clayton Croy

    N. Clayton Croy

    N. Clayton Croy (PhD, Emory University) previously served as tutor in New Testament at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, he taught at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. His books include a commentary on 3 Maccabees, The...

    Continue reading about N. Clayton Croy


"Croy's book is a textbook for advanced college students but even more for seminary students but one that is not simply exegetical method but also involves sane engagement with hermeneutics. . . . And it takes us from the text into our modern world, in fact, smack dab into the middle of the local church, so he fits into the theological interpretation of Scripture model. Everything that comes up in interpretation is here; the author somehow managed not to turn this book in to a 1,000 page door stop and learned to summarize and simplify and move on. . . . Interpretation is learned by doing, not by reading about it. But you need a good book to get you started, and Croy's book is that book. I highly recommend [it]."--Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed blog

"Students of the Bible wrestling with issues of hermeneutics and application as they interpret it stand to benefit from N. Clayton Croy's exegetical handbook. . . . [It] offers a basic introduction to text criticism, lexical study, grammar, structure, genre . . ., historical context, and the use of commentaries, all in a step-by-step format, articulately, and with helpful illustrations, exercises, and richly annotated bibliographies exercises along the way. Commendably, Croy also discusses at considerable length textual connections and theological interpretation. . . . While it obviously concerns hermeneutics, the emphasis on preparation and the spiritual qualifications of confessional readers gives the book a strong devotional flavor, shared by the final two stages of his method, contemporizing and appropriating the text obediently. This flavor and the book's hermeneutical awareness are its outstanding strengths."--Carl Park, Themelios

"Croy has managed to produce, in short compass, a manual that capably handles questions about the hermeneutics of meaning, the process of basic exegesis, and the main obstacles and challenges of applying the biblical text to the modern situation all in one place. . . . Croy's text has a number of useful appended items. . . . This book was a joy to read and offers a treasure trove of tips for exegesis as well as numerous witty anecdotes. Croy is remarkably comfortable discussing both theoretical as well as practical matters. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in hermeneutics and theological interpretation of Scripture."--Nijay K. Gupta, Expository Times

"The most helpful aspect of Croy's text is his ability to keep one eye on exegesis and another on hermeneutics. The mechanics of the exegetical process are discussed ably, but all along the way Croy helpfully reminds the reader that there is a lot more going on in the interpretation of a text than grammar, syntax, genre, and so on. The reader must always be willing to wrestle with how they themselves impact the exegetical process for good or for ill, and Croy has given the exegete some very helpful advice on that matter. I would highly recommend the introduction to the work alone for its handling of those thorny hermeneutical issues. . . . Croy has written a very useful text on exegesis without ignoring larger hermeneutical questions. I would recommend it to those who need a refresher on exegetical method and those who are ready to wrestle with larger hermeneutical issues, such as the nature of meaning and the bias of the interpreter, while exegeting the text."--Michael H. Burer, blog (

"Prima Scriptura prepares the exegesis student for a critical and thorough study of the NT. To illustrate, Croy weaves questions into the material so that the interpreter can develop a clear, exegetical approach. . . . Croy delivers a guide in NT exegesis that is truly helpful and, at the same time, creates a platform for students who want to dig deeper into biblical studies."--Ron Haydon, Trinity Journal

"The apostle anticipated the time when 'itching ears' would drive Christian audiences to reject sound doctrine in favor of teaching that would merely suit their own desires. His remedy, given solemnly to Timothy [was to] 'proclaim the message,' teaching it with persistence, patience, sobriety, and a readiness to endure suffering. . . . To prepare Christian teachers to deal with . . . modern cases of itching ears, up steps N. Clayton Croy. His remedy--Prima Scriptura: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation--is far longer than the advice that Timothy received. But in its goal and serious-minded tone, it stands squarely in the tradition of those original, inspired words. . . . In its implications and potential benefits, this is a volume that one could fervently wish would play widely across the Christian landscape. . . . The interpretation Croy teaches is hands-on, inductive, creative, text-focused, and downright demanding. . . . I like Croy's grand, gritty approach to NT interpretation. . . . When those thus prepared stand up to 'proclaim the message,' we in the audience will find that we are getting the best possible medicine for our diseased ears, plus the sharpest picture we could wish of the transformations yet before us."--Craig Noll, Books & Culture

"After reading the first 60 pages of [this book], you will be far more educated on the inroads critical literary theory have made into biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, as well as how, even unrecognized we become users of these tools to read the text then you would in most introduction to the New Testament classes. . . . It is a classroom book, of that there is no doubt. Each chapter ends with a few serious questions. . . . However, . . . this work is every bit a theologian's, a layperson's, and a perpetual student's book. . . . The value of this book is difficult to pin down. Perhaps it is the exegetical examples or the bibliography. Sure, the sources cited are beneficial. Maybe it is the distinct Wesleyan influence. Or rather, the value of the book is the sum of the parts. There is nothing in this book that will not contribute in some way to the student's progression as a New Testament exegete. . . . Every New Testament class, either introduction or perhaps an advanced exegetical class, should have this as their primary tool. Every believer who wishes to read Scripture without discarding historical criticism, Christian Tradition, and the command to go and do likewise needs this book. Every lay reader who seeks to engage Scripture on a deeper level, even without higher education, but only with the goal of knowing and applying needs this book."--Joel Watts, Unsettled Christianity blog

"Biblical methodology remains a key area in the general study of the Bible. Especially with the various methods of study being used today, one is left wondering what direction the study should be going. This book thus comes at a good time as the whole biblical scholarly world wrestles with the question of the best way to interpret the Bible. . . . This is indeed a very good book on NT methodology. It is written an easy to read style. The author keeps the reader engaged as he calls him/her into conversation. Each chapter ends with discussion questions that help in reflecting over the issues raised in the chapter. . . . When developing the methodology the author gives examples of the application of the proposed methodology in all the genres of the NT. I therefore strongly recommend this book to those studying NT interpretation especially from a confessional perspective. It is indeed the book to have in seminaries."--Lovemore Togarasei, Neotestamentica

"In this thoughtful and practical book, Croy provides a wide range of resources for training 'confessional readers' and 'leaders of Christian communities' in the processes of NT study. . . . The value of the book for the classroom is solidly established by the inclusion of well-designed exercises for applying methods to key texts, numerous suggestions for further reading, and, at several points, extensive annotated bibliographies. . . . Croy effectively guides readers to a multifaceted and conscientious engagement with the NT texts."--Annette Bourland Huizenga, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"There was much in this book that I enjoyed and was encouraged by. Croy is clear that you can do both very good quality exegesis and also be clear about the subjective position of the interpreter and the importance of making it relevant to a modern audience. It is refreshing to have such a both/and rather than either/or approach. It is also refreshing to read a book that is clearly and unashamedly confessional while still at the same time maintaining the highest level of academic quality. . . . I found much in this book to welcome and appreciate."--Paula Gooder, Theology

"[An] engaging introduction to New Testament exegesis and hermeneutics. The book is designed to help seminary students dig deeper into the process of biblical interpretation. . . . . The book is extremely practical in that it presents the detailed steps a beginning exegete needs to know when interpreting New Testament texts. Croy should be praised for emphasizing that one needs both intellectual and spiritual sensitivity to become a better interpreter of the Bible. . . . I find myself highly informed and impressed by the vast array of ideas and practical insights that were applied to biblical interpretation. Croy should be congratulated for creating an excellent tool for understanding theory and process and for providing practical examples that help both students and ministers in their engagement in biblical interpretation."--Valeriy A. Alikin, Review of Biblical Literature