Context is king, so the maxim goes. Sensitivity to context—of a verse, chapter, or book—is essential for proper biblical interpretation. Yet the Bible contains another set of key clues that readers rarely consider. In Text and Paratext, Gregory Goswell explores paratext and its implications for biblical interpretation. Paratextual features are the parts of a text that surround the main text itself, such as a book’s canonical location, title, and internal divisions. These features have been intentionally added to support the text and direct readers. Different arrangements of the Old and New Testaments reveal connections and associations. A book’s title announces the focus of its content. Book divisions create breaks and form units of text. Commentary is baked into paratextual features, making every Bible a study Bible. Rather than veiling the text’s meaning, paratext highlights interpretive possibilities both ancient and fresh. While often overlooked, paratextual features guided interpretation throughout church history and should inform our study of Scripture today.
With the help of glossaries and study questions, Goswell’s study equips readers to understand paratext and its implications and become better interpreters of the Bible.
Greg Goswell’s book is an extremely fascinating read, bringing together many issues that interpreters simply take for granted but shouldn’t. He clearly shows that the company that books keep matters, and that the titles of books—as well as chapter divisions and verses—are not just decorations but provide hermeneutical guidance.y
—Stephen G. Dempster, emeritus professor of religious studies, Crandall University
For years Goswell has been reflecting on the Christian canon and its significance for interpretation, and in this helpful primer, he shares a storehouse of canonical insights that aid our understanding of the Bible’s meaning. Goswell’s work offers expert guidance for and generous invitation to appreciating the hermeneutical difference canon makes in hearing the Bible as the church’s book.
—Darian Lockett, professor of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Goswell has collated years of research and writing into this helpful and accessible volume that clearly demonstrates the importance of the Bible’s paratextual features and their significance for interpretation. Text and Paratext is the perfect starting point for further study in this important area of biblical studies.
—Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Hayes Belcher, Jr. Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and director of Summer Institute for Biblical Languages, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson