'Behind' the Text: History and Biblical Interpretation

Volume 4

Edited by Craig Bartholomew, C. Stephen Evans, Mary Healy and Murray Rae
Published by Paternoster Press and Zondervan.

ISBN: 1-84227-068-0

This volume illustrates well the Christian adage that faith pushes reason to achieve goals previously unsuspected but still proper to itself. The last few centuries have seen the development of an epistemology and an understanding of history that never leave the closed system thinking of both modernism and post-modernism. In biblical studies their child is the historical-critical method. The essays presented here respect the need and fruitfulness of a critical historiography while beginning the much-needed process of correcting the philosophical tenets that underlie much modern and post-modern biblical research. The result is a book that mediates a faith understanding, both theoretical and practical, of how to read the Bible authentically as a Christian today. I recommend it to both professors and students of theology and philosophy.

Fr. Francis Martin, Chair, Catholic-Jewish Theological Studies, John Paul II Cultural Center, Washington D.C.

This volume of excellent essays brings together eminent scholars from several disciplines, representing various theological positions, to focus on the subject of history and biblical interpretation. The book breaks new ground in its interdisciplinary examination of the methodology, the presuppositions, the practices, and the purposes of biblical hermeneutics, with a special emphasis on the relation of faith and history. It is requisite reading for anyone interested in the subject, from historical biblical critics and philosophical theologians to educated laity concerned to understand trends in the field.

Eleonore Stump, Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University, USA

There are few topics more central to the task of biblical interpretation than history, and not many become so multi-faceted as soon as they are examined in depth. Equally, few books open up the topic in such an illuminating and thought-provoking manner as this splendid collection of essays and responses.

Hugh Williamson, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford, UK

This latest volume in the excellent Scripture and Hermeneutics Series showcases a high-level dialogue about the stubborn reality of history in the Bible and its contemporary interpretation. It is unique in bringing together leading representatives from a wide range of disciplines (notably philosophy, theology, biblical studies, and literature) who engage each other, not only with great sophistication and expertise, but also with a seriousness of purpose and an overt faith commitment which is rare in academic discourse today. In my view, this volume represents the initial stages of a conversation which is long overdue, and which holds great promise for the full-fledged academic recovery of the Bible as Scripture. It embodies an unusual combination of world-class scholarship, historic Christian orthodoxy, bold challenges to conventional wisdom, and the launching of fresh new ideas.

Al Wolters, Professor of Religion and Theology, Redeemer University College, Ontario, Canada

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    Craig G. Bartholomew


  • Two (or More) Kinds of Scripture Scholarship
    Alvin Plantinga
  • ‘Warranted’ Biblical Interpretation: Alvin Plantinga’s ‘Two (or More) Types of Scripture Scholarship’. A Response to Alvin Plantinga.
    Craig G. Bartholomew
  • A Warranted Version of Historical Biblical Criticism? A Response to Alvin Plantinga
    Robert P. Gordon
  • Reason and Scripture Scholarship. A Response to Craig Bartholomew and Robert Gordon
    Alvin Plantinga
  • Do You Want Us to Listen to You?
    Peter Van Inwagen
  • Taking Soundings: History and the Authority of Scripture: Response to Peter Van Inwagen
    Colin J.D. Greene
  • Which Conversation Shall We Have? History, Historicism, and Historical Narrative in Theological Interpretation: Response to Peter Van Inwagen
    Joel B. Green
  • Historical Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels
    William P. Alston
  • Behind, in Front of …….. or Through the Text? The Christological Analogy and the Lost World of Biblical Truth
    Mary Healy
  • The Place of History in Catholic Exegesis: An Examination of the Pontifical Biblical Commissions ‘The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church’
    Peter S. Williamson


  • Knowing and Believing: Faith in the Past
    Iain Provan
  • Creation and Promise: Towards a Theology of History
    Murray A. Rae


  • The Conflict of Tradition and History
    Walter Sundberg
  • Tradition, Biblical Interpretation, and Historical Truth
    C. Stephen Evans


  • Ricoeur on History, Fiction, and Biblical Hermeneutics
    Gregory J. Laughery
  • (Pre)Figuration: Masterplot and Meaning in Biblical History
    David Lyle Jeffrey


  • Reconstructing and Interpreting Amos’s Literary Prehistory: A Dialogue with Redaction Criticism
    Karl Möller
  • What Lesson Will History Teach? The Book of the Twelve as History
    Christopher Seitz
  • Divine Speaking as Godly Action in Old Testament Narrative: The Metaphysics of Exodus 14
    Neil B. MacDonald
  • Inhabiting the Story: The Use of the Bible in the Interpretation of History
    Stephen I. Wright