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Products>The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture: What the Early Church Can Teach Us

The Inspiration and Interpretation of Scripture: What the Early Church Can Teach Us

, 2014
ISBN: 9780802869630
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Digital list price: $23.99
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What is true of Scripture as a result of being inspired? What should divine inspiration cause us to expect from it? The answers to these questions in the early church related not just to the nature of Scripture’s truth claims but to the manner in which Scripture was to be interpreted.

In this book Michael Graves delves into what Christians in the first five centuries believed about the inspiration of Scripture, identifying the ideas that early Christians considered to be logical implications of biblical inspiration. Graves describes in a detailed and nuanced way what the “traditional” view is and explores the differences between ancient and modern assumptions on the topic.

Get more resources for with the Eerdmans Studies in Early Christianity (9 vols.)

Resource Experts
  • Discusses logical implications of biblical inspiration
  • Presents a rich network of theological ideas about the Bible
  • Provides a detailed exploration of how early Christians viewed the inspiration of Scripture
  • Usefulness
  • The Spiritual and Supernatural Dimension
  • Mode of Expression
  • Historicity and Factuality
  • Agreement with Truth

Top Highlights

“The idea here is that Scripture is the highest authority among all forms of God’s revelation to humanity. Whether it be divine revelation in nature, in reason, in church traditions, or in a person’s inner experience, all of these must be evaluated by the standard set by Scripture. In theory, one could argue that Christians should do nothing in the religious sphere except what is commanded by Scripture. But none of the Church Fathers made such an argument, and it would be hard to put into practice.83 A more realistic argument would be to say that the teachings of Scripture serve as a guide for interpreting other sources of knowledge, and that Scripture overrules other sources whenever there is disagreement. It is this kind of thinking that we will consider in this section.” (Page 38)

“One could argue that precisely because the New Testament authors were inspired we should interpret the Old Testament exactly as they did, because through inspiration they showed us the proper way to interpret. This is generally how the Church Fathers thought, and it explains much of what might seem unusual to modern readers about their biblical interpretation.” (Page 9)

“In Basil’s understanding all Scripture was composed by the Spirit, with the Psalms being an excellent summary of the whole. Basil emphasizes the divine authorship of Scripture because he has in view the divine purpose of Scripture. Human souls are sick with sin (see Mark 2:17), and they need healing. God intends the diverse categories of Scripture to serve as healing agents for the various sins that afflict people. Healing the pain and sickness of human sin is central to Christian faith, and it is significant that Basil understands the usefulness of Scripture as primarily addressing the problem of sin. Basil is especially representative of early Christian thinking in his assertion that God inspired Scripture with the specific goal of benefiting humankind.” (Page 18)

Drawing on the resources of the early church, Michael Graves takes an interestingly textured approach to the abiding questions surrounding a theology of scripture. . . . Anyone who cares about the subject matter will welcome this book's fresh and engaging attention to the early church's hermeneutical diversity.

Markus Bockmuehl, professor of theology and religion, University of Oxford

In this concise and readable volume, Michael Graves navigates the diverse and complex landscape of the nature and use of Scripture among the church's earliest theologians. His engaging account invites readers of Scripture today neither to pillage the ancients for our own agenda, nor to ignore them to our poverty, but to converse with them along our own contemporary hermeneutical journey. A much-needed entry point to the sometimes bewildering world of ancient Christian interpreters, this book will prove to be of great value for addressing any number of interpretive issues that beset the church today.

Peter Enns, Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies, Eastern University

Interpreting the Bible well is a daunting and difficult task, one that requires wise mentors in the faith from both the past and the present. Michael Graves is a wise, learned, perceptive guide who knows the church fathers well; this wonderful book will help modern readers understand the rhyme and reason of ancient Christian perspectives on inspiration and interpretation. Highly recommended.

Christopher A. Hall, dean of the Templeton Honors College, Eastern University

Michael Graves is Armeding Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the North American Patristics Society. He is the author of Jerome’s Hebrew Philology.


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    Digital list price: $23.99
    Save $5.00 (20%)