Dale Allison on the History of Interpretation (3)

Dale Allison provides a general rule of thumb, which he follows when interpreting a text of Scripture. We stand in the great line of interpretive tradition and why must we limit our sources to modern-critical works when there are hundreds of years of material preceding such works.

Whenever I am working on a particular passage, I make sure that, at some point, in addition to pawing through the unmanageable stack of contemporary critical literature, I find out what Origen and at least half a dozen other church fathers thought of it. I then check out Albert the Great and Aquinas and another medieval source or two; after which time I look at Calvin, Grotius, Matthew Poole, and several additional commentaries from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

I think it prudent always to keep an eye on the past and not to limit our teachers to those who just happen to be alive or have recently passed on. Current exegetical work is part of a much larger body of literature, and why should we limit the number of our teachers? The more the better, and the more the merrier. My experience in any case is that we should be able to bring out of libraries not only treasures new but also treasures old. (250)

Dale C. Allison, Jr. “What I have Learned from the History of Interpretation.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 35, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 237–50.

Dale Allison on the History of Interpretation (1)

Dale Allison on the History of Interpretation (2)

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