Scripture and Its Interpretation

A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible


11. Theological Interpretation of the Bible

Reviewing the Chapter

  1. In what sense was premodern biblical interpretation “theological from beginning to end”?
  2. How does this chapter characterize the “seismic shift” from premodern to modern biblical interpretation, and what are the differences between premodern interpreters and modern interpreters (“historical critics”)?
  3. What were the consequences of this shift from premodern to modern biblical interpretation?
  4. What are three significant issues surrounding the ascendancy and character of historical criticism?
  5. What have been some of the challenges to the dominance of historical criticism, and what have been some of the resulting new developments and their interpretive concerns?
  6. According to this chapter, what is necessary for the reinvigoration of theological interpretation?
  7. Describe the role of the “rule of faith” and of figural interpretation in theological interpretation.

Engaging a Central Issue

Respond to the following claim Stephen Fowl makes in this chapter (p. 212): “Granting theological concerns priority will involve a return to the practice of using Scripture as a way of ordering and comprehending the world, rather than using the world as a way of comprehending Scripture.”

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Rather than being a precise method of interpretation, theological interpretation is more like the exercise of a type of wisdom. How is that wisdom formed in interpreters?
  2. Theological interpretation recognizes that a text could have a variety of legitimate interpretations. How might that variety be both a strength and a weakness?
  3. How might one make judgments among competing theological interpretations of a passage?