Navigating and Celebrating the Complexity of Scripture: A Conversation with Richard Hays

I’m rather excited to share this interview with a ground-breaking scholar who has long been an inspiration to me, and one of the most influential figures in my own theological development: Richard B. Hays. I reviewed his recent book, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, a few months back. He kindly agreed to an interview, within which we discuss his approach to the figural reading of Scripture and several other matters.

Should Christians advance figural readings of the OT beyond those explicitly set forth in the NT? I would say yes, for two reasons. First, in the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel, in conversation with the despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus, the risen Jesus himself “interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). This extraordinary (and tantalizing!) narrative suggests that the OT contains far more latent Christological material than can be delineated within the bounds of Luke’s narrative, or in the relatively concise pages of the NT. (For a lovely illustration of a Christological reading of the story of Joseph, see Gary Anderson, “Joseph and the Passion of Our Lord,” in E. F. Davis and R. B. Hays, eds., The Art of Reading Scripture.)

The second reason why fresh figural reading can be welcomed is found in the Gospel of John, where Jesus promises that the Spirit of truth will come to the community of Jesus’s followers after his bodily departure and continue to lead them into deeper understandings of the things about Jesus (John 16:12–15). The caveat, of course, is that fresh figural readings must demonstrate consistency and theological coherence with the readings already exemplified in the NT.

Read the whole thing here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Guest Post, Hermeneutics, Interviews, John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, NT, NT Theology, Reviews, The Gospels, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Navigating and Celebrating the Complexity of Scripture: A Conversation with Richard Hays

  1. quinnjones2 says:

    What a wonderful interview – vibrant and uplifting. I have an yet-to-be-read copy of ‘Reading Backwards’ and I feel a lot more sure-footed about reading it now – thank you 🙂

  2. Geoff says:

    Many thanks for this. It’s uplifting and timely, bearing in mind a comment made to your post on the Nashville Statement.
    On the back of your review I purchased “Reading backwards” but the heftier book was too hefty in price. It could be read as a book without delving into study, unlike some books.
    In what way or ways does Hays differ from the approach of the likes of Beale and Carson; Commentary on NT use of OT, (with it’s multiple contributors) and Beale’s, The Temple and the Church’s Mission.
    There are many teachers of Christ in all the scriptures – Keller, Clowney, (Anglicans Motyer, Christopher Wright, Dick Lucas), Jackman, The Proclamation Trust, Colin Smith, Nancy Guthrie, Sinclair Ferguson, may of whom seek to “read forwards” from the OT to fulfilment in Christ, many others, (David Murray, at a popular level, “Jesus on Every Page”).
    Carson, in particular, has identified numerous themes of allusion, through figures, types and anti-types, symbols themes ( even, heaven forfend , allegory such as Sarah and Hagar) in the NT.
    I think it was Keller who has pointed out that we often don’t hear the gospel preached even from the Gospels.
    Keller’s book on Preaching is also excellent, even for ordinary Christians who neither preach nor teach, as stimulates enjoyment of scripture, of knowing, glorifying and enjoying Christ and thereby our Triune God.
    The OT and NT are like a medical mesh gauze. Motyer has said that the only uninspired page in the Bible, is the blank page separating the Old and New
    How then is Hays “groundbreaking” rather than a thoroughly edifying addition to the canon of biblical theology? This is a genuine question that is not seeking to undermine or diminish the work of Hays. In what ways might Hays be resisted by the likes of Carson, and Keller, not that you can answer for them, but you are likely to have some insight through the breadth of your reading?

    • Physiocrat1 says:

      Good question.

    • Hays is groundbreaking in the more sophisticated literary categories that he has brought to bear upon his treatment of the text. His readings are often a lot more multi-layered as a result of this.

      Hays goes some way beyond the mere type-antitype approach, or the approaches of much figural reading. Echoes go beyond mere correspondences, establishing textual foils against which new texts are read. Part of the issue here is that many other theologians are more focused upon correspondences between the realities behind the text, while Hays attends extremely closely to the literary art involved in bringing various texts into subtle conversation.

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