Baker Academic has a brand new website! Click Here To Visit:

Seeing the Word

Refocusing New Testament Study

series: Studies in Theological Interpretation

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase


"It is of great value to have a soul-searching account of an academic field from one of its ablest practitioners. This book is such a thing, popularly written, but without losing its academic way, and it will be of interest to a wide readership. . . . An important contribution to the future of our field."--Ward Blanton, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

At a time of deep disagreements about the nature and purpose of academic biblical studies, Markus Bockmuehl advocates the recovery of a plural but common conversation on the subject of what the New Testament is about.

Seeing the Word begins with an assessment of current New Testament studies, identifying both persistent challenges and some promising proposals. Subsequent chapters explore two such proposals. First, ground for common conversation lies in taking seriously the readers and readings the text implies. Second, Bockmuehl explores the text's early effective history by a study of apostolic memory in the early church.

All serious students of the Bible and theology will find much of interest, and much to discuss, in this first volume in the Studies in Theological Interpretation series.

About the series: The Studies in Theological Interpretation series is dedicated to the pursuit of constructive theological interpretation of the church's inheritance of prophets and apostles in a manner that is open to reconnection with the long history of theological reading in the church. These brief, focused, and closely argued studies evaluate the hermeneutical, historical, and theological dimensions of scriptural reading and interpretation for our times.

Editorial Advisory Board
Gary Anderson (University of Notre Dame), Markus Bockmuehl (University of Oxford), Richard Hays (Duke University Divinity School), Christine Pohl (Asbury Theological Seminary), Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University), Anthony Thiselton (University of Nottingham, University of Chester), Marianne Meye Thompson (Fuller Theological Seminary), Kevin Vanhoozer (Wheaton College and Graduate School), John Webster (University of Aberdeen)


"What does one do about an academic discipline, 'New Testament studies,' that has almost done away with its own object of study? Markus Bockmuehl's diagnosis and prescription are at once judicious and mordantly witty, properly academic and fun to read."--Robert W. Jenson, formerly senior scholar for research at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton

"Witty, sure-footed, and erudite, Markus Bockmuehl's Seeing the Word is a gift to all who care about the future of New Testament studies. Though severe in his diagnosis of the field's present crisis, Bockmuehl is heartening and enlightening in his account of how scholars today can reconstitute the study of the New Testament in an intellectually coherent and theologically fruitful way, without sacrificing the genuine gains of recent decades. By highlighting the integrative potential of New Testament study from the perspective of its implied readers and Wirkungsgeschichte, Bockmuehl models an approach whose historical interest is broad enough to encompass the New Testament's historic identity as Christian Scripture and whose theological concern is confident enough to dare public conversation about truth."--R. Kendall Soulen, professor of systematic theology, Wesley Theological Seminary

"This is a timely prophetic plea for an 'evangelical catholic reading of the text (of Scripture) in our own time.' Every page crackles with the tension created by dialogue between systematic and historical-critical perspectives. The author's amazingly broad learning is worn lightly in this accessible book, written with an elegance few can match. At last, the circle has been squared: it is possible to take Scripture as God's address to us without ducking awkward historical questions."--Graham Stanton, Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

"Markus Bockmuehl's Seeing the Word offers fresh possibilities for reading biblical texts in their historic role as the church's Scripture. There is something to be learned on every page of this study, but the book is especially persuasive in arguing the case for an integrated reading of Scripture that overcomes the specious dichotomy between historical and theological issues and in demonstrating that theological exegesis can draw from and contribute to both the church and the academy. Whether one's interests lie primarily with historical questions or with theological ones, readers will find no guide more capable and learned."--Marianne Meye Thompson, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"In this important work, Bockmuehl deploys his wide knowledge both of the world of the early church and of the history of modern New Testament scholarship. His diagnosis of the contemporary state of New Testament studies is acute, and his recommendations for future directions are suggestive and important."--Richard Bauckham, professor of New Testament studies, University of St. Andrews

"Markus Bockmuehl's Seeing the Word is essential reading for understanding the confusing state of play in contemporary New Testament studies. His trenchant essays offer us fresh ways of 'seeing' the relation between history and theology. Bockmuehl's constructive proposals address a range of crucial issues: the NT's formation of its implied readers, the significance of the Jewishness of the NT, the reception history of the NT texts, and the hermeneutical significance of the canon. In short, Bockmuehl sees the big picture and offers a penetrating, critical perspective on the unexamined assumptions of the field in which he works. On every page he stimulates historically informed reflection about the testimony of the earliest Christian witnesses. Most of all, he calls us to contemplate anew the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the real-world, Jewish figure to whom these witnesses testify."--Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, The Divinity School, Duke University

The Author

  1. Markus Bockmuehl

    Markus Bockmuehl

    Markus Bockmuehl (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of Keble College. He previously taught at the University of Cambridge and the University of St....

    Continue reading about Markus Bockmuehl


"While [this book] is aimed at the broader guild of NT scholarship, it will greatly repay a careful reading by evangelical biblical and theological scholars."--Timothy G. Gombis, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Scholars who agree with Bockmuehl's diagnosis will want to appraise his proposal for themselves, and even those who disagree will appreciate his earnest attempt to address some long-standing, thorny issues in NT study. . . . Although geared more to specialists, the book is nonetheless accessible to pastors and other Christians who will appreciate his commitment to creating a more fruitful relationship between NT scholarship, Christian faith, and the church. . . . Bockmuehl provides a distinctive and constructive proposal regarding the methods and substance of NT study that certainly merits consideration by those in the academy and church."--William E. W. Robinson, Interpretation

"Laments over the current state of academic biblical study abound, but Bockmuehl moves beyond his penetrating critique of the discipline to offer constructive proposals for reorienting New Testament study around the implied readers who are members of ecclesial communities and around the apostolic memory of Jesus. Bockmuehl demonstrates that studying the New Testament without attending to its preoccupation with God's action in Jesus Christ is both intellectually and theologically bankrupt."--Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Christian Century

"Bockmuehl offers supporting arguments and helpful insights for his thesis. . . . As Bockmuehl writes toward the end of his very successful diagnosis, the tradition of biblical interpretation has for long been hospitable to the outsider (i.e., other cultures): from Matthew's Magi at the beginning of the NT to the final page of the Apocalypse, where the nations bring their own reflected glory to the city of God. Very well put."--Casimir Bernas, Religious Studies Review

"A thought-provoking book that illuminates the way for future productive New Testament study. . . . Bockmuehl provides good stimulus for rethinking New Testament interpretation. . . . Bockmuehl has succeeded in highlighting a serious difficulty in New Testament studies. He has also provided two important avenues for resolving this difficulty. The book is an interesting and stimulating read. . . . Bockmuehl's proposals for future New Testament study appear to be headed in the right direction and should provide good impetus for further work on the subject."--Andy Hassler, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

"This [book] ought to be required of all graduate level students in NT. In addition, it is highly recommended reading for anyone who is concerned about the state of affairs in biblical studies or is interested in both its trends and its trendiness. I seldom find myself uttering enthusiastic 'amens' and arm-pumping 'yeses' while reading an academic book on religion. This one elicited both. More importantly, nearly every page engaged my interests, both professional and theological, and sent me scurrying to the book's substantive footnotes and rich bibliography for more information. . . . Both [Bockmuehl's] warnings and his recommendations should be heeded."--N. Clayton Croy, Trinity Seminary Review

"Biblical interpretation has become a diverse and confused field of study (or rather, two fields) with a growing range of aims and methods, and a growing gulf between those who do it with religious interests and those who insist on a purely secular discipline. Bockmuehl's analysis of the present situation is masterly, and his attempt to make more room for the participants to converse deserves serious consideration by theological and biblical scholars alike. . . . The author makes a persuasive case for taking the biblical canon more seriously and suggests that it provides some guidance for interpreters. . . . The author's deep learning and forthright style of argument make this a book for those who do not share its Christian standpoint to engage with as firmly as others. It belongs in all theological libraries as one of the best discussions of the recently renewed interest in theological interpretation."--Robert Morgan, Theological Book Review

"[A] very readable and engaging work. . . . This volume offers a very thoughtful and accessible set of arguments that indicate ways in which certain types of historical study of the New Testament can bear theological fruit. As an argument for directing our attention back to some neglected areas it succeeds."--Stephen Fowl, Modern Theology

"It is of great value to have a soul-searching account of an academic field from one of its ablest practitioners. This book is such a thing, popularly written, but without losing its academic way, and it will be of interest to a wide readership. At its best, the book is driven by a concern to rethink the ways in which biblical studies might afford a 'common or public' striving for the good, and this at the very moment when many of the old commons within which biblical scholars once laboured have been sectioned up and sold off to identity politics. . . . This book is an important contribution to the future of our field."--Ward Blanton, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A bold bid for a redefinition of New Testament studies. . . . The chapters of the work unfold . . . in learned conversation with an array of exegetical issues and interpretive perspectives. . . . It is impossible to do justice to the nimbleness with which Bockmuehl navigates the exegetical terrain or to the acuity with which he moves through the various Forschungsgeshichten relevant to his questions. . . . In an age when much academic writing displays little to no aesthetic quality, it should not go unsaid: Bockmuehl can write. . . . Prose such as this can be read simply for pleasure."--C. Kavin Rowe, Pro Ecclesia

"Bockmuehl's work provides three important benefits for believing interpreters of the Bible. First, he reminds believing interpreters of the important contributions that can be made by those who are willing to interpret the New Testament in line with the presuppositions of its first primary audience. Second, he also reminds us that believing interpreters have gone before us and that we can learn from them, both positively and negatively. Third, he encourages believing interpreters to realize that it would be fruitful for the study of the New Testament for them to invite others to read the New Testament like a believer would. Other important benefits of Bockmuehl's book for all interpreters include its positive disposition toward New Testament theology and toward a healthy relationship between good theology and good exegesis."--Paul M. Hoskins, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Bockmuehl's two major recommendations for advancing New Testament study . . . open up New Testament scholarship to the Church, and especially to the Church of the apostolic period, but neither proposal excludes non-Christian scholars or represses historical/theological disagreements. . . . [A] rich and valuable book."--Matthew Levering, The Thomist