In our latest Mere Fidelity podcast, I join Derek Rishmawy and Andrew Wilson to discuss the huge question of Christocentric hermeneutics.
Among other things in the podcast, we discuss the meaning of the scarlet cord in the story of Rahab in Joshua 2. Peter Leithart has a helpful piece on that story here. I also comment on it here (see the rest of my 40 Days of Exoduses posts for similar readings). I argue that Rahab and other such figures are not just intertextually related, but are types that point towards the new Eve, who outwits the tyrant/serpent and whose seed crushes his head.
Take a listen and leave any thoughts in the comments!
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In this podcast episode, Andrew mentions that you have referred him to a number of sources that were helpful to him in beginning to see the kinds of typology and intertextuality that you are often able to draw out of the biblical narratives. Since hearing you offer these kinds of insights is generally my favorite moment in any particular episode, I would be very grateful if you could pass on those same recommendations here.
Good places to start are James Jordan’s Through New Eyes, Peter Leithart’s Deep Exegesis and A House For My Name.
Thanks for the book recommendations Alastair. Are there any other evangelical or mainstream Reformed thinkers who are part of this same project of Leithart and Jordan? How would you situate Hays in relation to them? And Vanhoozer, whom you have quoted quite a bit in your work on transfigured hermeneutics?
Jordan and Leithart are very much doing their own particular thing, without no others involved in their project on the same sort of level.
Hays is far more focused on the New Testament than either Jordan or Leithart, who are chiefly OT guys. Jordan and Leithart also both have an emphasis on liturgy that is very much at the heart of their project and are generalists in a way that Hays is not. The accent of Hays’ work is also more literary and the theological dimensions are not quite so foregrounded. Someone like Meredith Kline (Images of the Spirit in particular) is an example of stuff similar to Jordan and Leithart in the evangelical and Reformed tradition. Vanhoozer is a systematics guy who provides a framework of theology far more congenial for such exegesis.
Thanks Alastair for your brilliant work in uncovering and displaying the rich tapestry of Scripture, be it inter-textuality or the ubiquitous typology present there, or figural readings more generally. Your contributions to this question are compelling and my understanding, views and use of Scripture is being transform as I work through the issues you are raising.
I’m wondering if you’ve done much work looking at the interpretive method/exegesis of major historical thinkers such as Augustine and Calvin and how they compare with today and with your own method?
Calvin especially was so reticent to go to typology and to see Christ in the Old Testament that (as you may already know?) he was even accused of Judaizing the Old Testament. This seems like a major strand of thought that led to the current hostility towards figural reading of Scripture, though obviously the Enlightenment (post-Calvin) has massively influenced our approach to the Bible even as evangelicals.
Have you thought much about how the early church fathers interpreted Scripture, or your views on Calvin’s approach?
Thanks, Michael! I’ve explored it to some extent, but not enough to feel fully qualified to comment in detail on the matter. It merits a lot closer attention than I’ve been able to give to this point.
Thanks for your responses Alastair. I’m writing an essay on this at the moment for my MTh and wrestling with these issues. There definitely seems to be a consensus among the scholars of patristic exegesis that we need to recover some of their approach in light of the failure of modernist hermeneutics, but I’m struggling to find many mainstream Reformed or Evangelical thinkers to help me gauge to what extent we can appropriate ‘allegorical’ reading of the Scripture which was so common in late antiquity and the medieval ages. Your post above explaining how Leithart, Jordan, Hays, Kline, Vanhoozer et al. inter-relate is very helpful!!
I’ve just found a book that came out last month on this topic – ‘The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture’ by Iain Provan. It’s a 600+ page tome where he goes through the exegetical method of numerous church fathers as well as Reformed exegetical approaches, ultimately arguing that the latter were right to broadly reject the former. He upholds the literal reading of Scripture as the one we should primarily associate ourselves with. Even more interestingly, Vanhoozer has written a commendation for it and was consulted for feedback.