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Participatory Biblical Exegesis

A Theology of Biblical Interpretation

Matthew Levering

Publication Year: 2008

The interpretation of Scripture has depended largely on the view of history held by theologians and exegetes. In Participatory Biblical Exegesis, Matthew Levering examines the changing views of history that distinguish patristic and medieval biblical exegesis from modern historical-critical exegesis. Levering argues for a delicate interpretive balance, in which history is understood both as a process that participates in God’s creative and redemptive presence and as a set of linear moments. He identifies a split between theological and historical interpretations of scripture beginning in the high Middle Ages, considerably earlier than the emergence of historical-critical methods in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Instead, he offers a vision of Scripture that is rooted in the exegetical practice of St. Thomas Aquinas and his sources but embraces historical-critical research as well. Participatory Biblical Exegesis provides an original theological basis for critical exegesis. It integrates the work of contemporary exegetes, philosophers, theologians, and historians to provide a compelling vision of biblical interpretation.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

This study had its beginnings in four invitations: from Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M. Cap., Daniel Keating, and John Yocum to contribute an essay on Aquinas’s Commentary on John for their book Aquinas on Scripture; from Robert Jenson (and Reinhard Hütter) to contribute an essay to Pro Ecclesia for a symposium on the Pontifical...

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pp. 1-16

The chapters of this book advance the proposal that Christian biblical exegesis, in accord with the Christian and biblical understanding of reality, should envision history not only as a linear unfolding of individual moments, but also as an ongoing participation in God’s active providence, both metaphysically and...

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ONE: Late-Medieval Nominalism and Participatory Biblical Exegesis

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pp. 17-35

The first section of this chapter draws on recent scholarship to provide a more detailed account of the fourteenth-century shift to a non-participatory metaphysical understanding of the creature–Creator relationship, as well as the possible implications of this shift for biblical exegesis.1 The second section of the chapter turns to an...

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TWO: From Aquinas to Raymond Brown

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pp. 36-62

The previous chapter suggested that once historical reality came to be understood as metaphysically non-participatory, one could hardly expect exegetical practice to remain unaffected. To make this argument more concrete, I set forth Thomas Aquinas’s exegesis of John 3:27–36 as a benchmark of the kinds of truth claims one...

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THREE: Participatory Biblical Exegesis and God the Teacher

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pp. 63-89

The previous chapter sought to document the shift in the understanding of history. This shift corresponds to another one, namely with respect to the goal of exegesis.Whereas modern exegetes, with notable exceptions, tend to focus on the biblical texts—the origins of their composition, what seems to have been consciously known...

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FOUR: Participatory Biblical Exegesis and Human Teachers

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pp. 90-106

Building on our examination of the centrality of the divine Teacher in participatory biblical exegesis, this chapter explores participatory biblical exegesis in light of the divinely ordained fellowship in which context exegesis proceeds.1 In this regard, some Christians have expressed hope that historical-critical exegesis can overcome...

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FIVE: Participatory Biblical Exegesis and Ecclesial Authority

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pp. 107-140

This final chapter draws together the account in the first and second chapters of the shift away from God in biblical interpretation, with the exploration in the third and fourth chapters of God the Teacher and exegetical participation in God’s wisdom and love. If participatory biblical exegesis is to bear fruit, it will have to manifest...

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pp. 141-148

Reinhard Hütter has described “the quandary of how to relate pre-modern and postcritical exegesis on the one hand with historicalcritical exegesis on the other.”1 He positions himself “between those who reject any theologically constituted hermeneutical horizon for historical-critical exegesis and those who argue for the superiority...


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pp. 149-262

Works Cited

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pp. 263-302


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pp. 303-310

E-ISBN-13: 9780268085711
E-ISBN-10: 0268085714
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268034061
Print-ISBN-10: 0268034060

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 657597316
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Participatory Biblical Exegesis

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • History -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church -- History of doctrines.
  • Bible -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- History.
  • Bible -- Hermeneutics.
  • History -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church.
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