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A Hermeneutic of Wisdom: Recovering the Formative Agency of Scripture
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A Hermeneutic of Wisdom: Recovering the Formative Agency of Scripture


Baker 2018

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Gathering Interest


How does the Bible shape us in our deepest affections and convictions? In this book, experienced teacher and scholar J. de Waal Dryden develops an integrated hermeneutic that connects the Bible to spiritual formation and the development of Christian virtues. He argues that this is actually what the Bible was written for and explains how to develop reading strategies built around this central conviction. Dryden challenges conceptions of the Bible as a collection of texts whose primary purpose is to communicate theology, ethics, or history. He asserts that the whole Bible can be understood as a wisdom text that directs its readers morally, shapes them in their deepest affections and convictions, and impacts how they look at the world and live in it.

Offering an innovative hermeneutical approach that goes beyond theory to concrete exegesis, A Hermeneutic of Wisdom will serve as an ideal supplement to standard hermeneutics textbooks. It will also be useful for biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Explores the connection between interpretation and spiritual formation
  • Develops a methodology for viewing all Scripture as wisdom literature
  • Discusses the tension between historical and theological methods of studying Scripture


Part 1: Tilling the Soil

  • Knowing and Reading
  • Theology and Ethics
  • Law and Gospel

Part 2: Planting the Seeds

  • Reading Gospels for Wisdom: Theory
  • Reading Gospels for Wisdom: Practice
  • Reading Epistles for Wisdom: Theory
  • Reading Epistles for Wisdom: Practice

Praise for the Print Edition

Dryden brilliantly synthesizes important truths and insights from sources as hoary as the Hebrew Bible and as fresh as Mark Sneed and Sandra Schneiders. Viewing wisdom as ‘a practical knowledge lived out in concrete agency shaped by desire,’ Dryden plausibly claims the entirety of Christian Scripture as the locus of his shrewd and savvy reading enterprise. The biblical interpretation workplace today is littered with competing and broken methods. Dryden diagnoses the malaise and draws on classic sources from across the centuries to arrive at a fresh and innovative orientation fleshed out by helpful examples.

Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

This book is a hermeneutically, theologically, and exegetically powerful way forward for reading New Testament texts as deeply formational and virtue inducing. Dryden helpfully culls insights from hermeneutics, philosophy, and genre analysis to present a vision of the embodied life and wisdom to which Christ calls his disciples. Dryden’s specific readings of New Testament texts helpfully unite both theory and practice. I look forward to using this book with great profit in my own teaching of the New Testament.

Joshua Jipp, associate professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Modern biblical hermeneutics struggles to relate doctrine and ethics, meaning and application in a manner consistent with the Bible’s own historical-literary shape and communicative ends. In identifying the Bible as a wisdom text, Dryden’s A Hermeneutic of Wisdom offers an integrative approach that helps us better follow the grain of the biblical text while forming rightly ordered loves for God and neighbor.

Scott R. Swain, president and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

Product Details

About J. de Waal Dryden

J. de Waal Dryden (PhD, Cambridge University) is professor of biblical studies and chair of the department at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He is the author of Theology and Ethics in 1 Peter: Paraenetic Strategies for Christian Character Formation and a forthcoming commentary on 2 Corinthians in the International Theological Commentary.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition