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Prima Scriptura: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation

ISBN: 9781441250858
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This engaging introduction to New Testament exegesis will appeal to seminarians and undergraduates across the academic spectrum. Clayton Croy, an expert on Bible study pedagogy, provides an accessible, holistic overview of the entire interpretive process. He argues that while Scripture occupies a place of primary importance in faith and life, it doesn’t do so in a vacuum. It operates in conjunction with two thousand years of Christian tradition, Spirit-guided human reason, and experience. Scripture’s authority is therefore primary but not exclusive. Croy begins with the preparation of the interpreter, proceeds to the analysis of the text, and concludes with discussion of the message of Scripture in the context of modern faith communities. He combines a step-by-step plan for historical exegesis with substantive discussion of broader hermeneutical issues.

Prima Scriptura interacts with recent scholarship and maintains academic rigor and an engaging style, incorporating anecdotes, humor, scriptural illustrations, and examples of the practical payoff of disciplined interpretation. Professors and students working in exegesis and hermeneutics will value this work.

Whether you’re a student, scholar, pastor, or professor, the Prima Scriptura provokes you to read the Bible honestly—to let it surprise, challenge, and correct you as you apply the many steps of interpretation. By using the tools included in the Prima Scriptura, you’ll approach Bible study with more depth and understanding. Integrate the practical methods found in this collection with your preferred Bible, the Passage Guide, and the other Bible study tools in Logos Bible Software—then dive into Bible study with a vast knowledge base right before your eyes.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Provides an accessible, holistic overview of the entire interpretive process
  • Includes discussion questions and suggestions for further reading

Top Highlights

“Several factors complicate the interpretation of the Bible” (Page x)

“Wesleyan Quadrilateral, a four-part method that employs Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience” (Page 134)

“A more helpful way to distinguish exegesis from hermeneutics is to see the latter as the broader, more theoretical term, concerned especially with philosophical notions of meaning, language, and understanding, and with the formulation of interpretive principles. Exegesis would then refer to the practical application of those principles in interpreting specific texts. In short, hermeneutics is theory; exegesis is practice.” (Page xxi)

“Hermēneia referred first to an utterance or expression of thought, then to an interpretation, either in the sense of a translation from one language to another, or in the sense of an explanation of the meaning of a text or statement.” (Pages xx–xxi)

“‘It is true that complete objectivity is not attainable, but a high degree of objectivity is attainable, and a high degree of it is very much better than a low degree’” (Page xxxiii)

Praise for the Print Edition

Clayton Croy’s combination of Christian theology, hermeneutical theory, and exegetical practice is ecumenical, fluent, and comprehensive, which allows for a versatility uncommon in introductory texts on this topic. Croy grounds his treatment of exegetical practices on the theological nature of Scripture and on the sort of faithful interpreter who can best render a sacred text for today’s world. Each section concludes with excellent annotated bibliographies of resources and teacher-friendly exercises that will make this book useful for the classroom.

Robert Walter Wall, Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies, Seattle Pacific University

This book equips Christian ministry students for mature and critical engagement of author-centered, text-centered, and reader-centered interpretative theories, warning against facile or faddish escape into one or another extreme. Croy provides a clear and sufficient guide to the art of asking good questions of the biblical text and of finding reliable answers, laying a solid foundation for the practice of a wide range of exegetical skills and the development of a sound hermeneutical model. His driving interest is to equip students to interpret Scripture in order to practice its truth in every sphere of life—from the personal to the political, from the individual to the international—fulfilling Johannes Bengel’s vision for biblical interpretation: apply yourself fully to the text, and apply the text fully to yourself. I look forward to using it in my own classroom.

David A. deSilva, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary

Prima Scriptura does not stop with its crystal-clear, step-by-step instruction; it also guides the reader into informed reflection on the hermeneutical issues that all interpreters face. The work is sophisticated yet accessible, serious yet lively, faithful yet critical. Packed with useful resources, this book is what ministerial and doctoral students need and what their exegesis teachers have been looking for.

Susan R. Garrett, professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Everything that comes up in interpretation is here; the author somehow managed not to turn this book in to a 1,000 page door stop and learned to summarize and simplify and move on. . . . Interpretation is learned by doing, not by reading about it. But you need a good book to get you started, and Croy’s book is that book. I highly recommend [it].

Jesus Creed blog

Students of the Bible wrestling with issues of hermeneutics and application as they interpret it stand to benefit from N. Clayton Croy’s exegetical handbook. . . . [It] offers a basic introduction to text criticism, lexical study, grammar, structure, genre . . ., historical context, and the use of commentaries, all in a step-by-step format, articulately, and with helpful illustrations, exercises, and richly annotated bibliographies . . . along the way. Commendably, Croy also discusses at considerable length textual connections and theological interpretation. . . . While it obviously concerns hermeneutics, the emphasis on preparation and the spiritual qualifications of confessional readers gives the book a strong devotional flavor, shared by the final two stages of his method, contemporizing and appropriating the text obediently. This flavor and the book’s hermeneutical awareness are its outstanding strengths.


Croy has managed to produce, in short compass, a manual that capably handles questions about the hermeneutics of meaning, the process of basic exegesis, and the main obstacles and challenges of applying the biblical text to the modern situation all in one place. . . . Croy’s text has a number of useful appended items. . . . This book was a joy to read and offers a treasure trove of tips for exegesis as well as numerous witty anecdotes. Croy is remarkably comfortable discussing both theoretical as well as practical matters. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in hermeneutics and theological interpretation of Scripture.

Expository Times

Product Details

  • Title: Prima Scriptura: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation
  • Author: N. Clayton Croy
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 272

Professor of New Testament, Bexley Hall.


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Print list price: $28.00
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