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The Thomist 66 (2002): 175-200 PSALM 22: VOX CHRIST! OR ISRAELITE TEMPLE LITURGY? GREGORY VALL Franciscan University Steubenville, Ohio AT A CONFERENCE in New York City in 1988, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger encouraged biblical scholars and theologians to continue to work toward a suitable synthesis between the historical-critical approach to biblical interpretation and the more decidedly theological and spiritual approach characteristic of most traditional or "pre-critical" exegesis. You can call the patristic-medieval exegetical approach Method A. The historical-critical approach, the modern approach ... is Method B. What I am calling for is not a return to Method A, but a development of a Method C, taking advantage of the strengths of both Method A and Method B, but cognizant of the shortcomings of both.1 While these matters are, of course, more complex than A-B-C, the schema may be a helpful one.2 I share the cardinal's basic 1 The quotation is taken from a roundtable discussion summarized in Paul T. Stallsworth, "The Story of an Encounter," in Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1989), 107-8. See also Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: On the Question of the Foundations andApproaches of Exegesis Today," The Erasmus Lecture, in ibid., 1-23. 2 Strictly speaking, we are dealing not with two specific "methods" but two general approaches. A series of basic principles unites the work of exegetes as diverse as Origen and Chrysostom, Bernard of Clafrvaux and Thomas Aquinas, so that we may speak of a single dominant patristic-medieval approach to exegesis, which Cardinal Ratzinger has labeled "Method A." When we turn to consider those biblical commentators whose work falls under the umbrella of"historical-critical" exegesis, the diversity ofspecific methodologies is perhaps 175 176 GREGORY VALL position, namely that both Method A and Method B have their strengths and weaknesses and that the development of a Method C is both possible and desirable.3 I would merely add that several approaches that do not fall neatly under either Method A or Method Bmight also have a contribution to make to a Method C synthesis. These range from traditional Jewish exegesis to some of the newer methodologies which emerged as rivals to historicalcriticism in the latter half of the twentieth century (e.g., narrative criticism). One of the most important points of contrast between traditional exegesis and historical-critical exegesis concerns the interpretation of the Old Testament and its relationship to the New Testament. Method A reads the Old Testament Christologically , sometimes to the point of disregarding its context in Israelite history, whereas Method Binterprets the Old Testament on its own terms, sometimes to the point of severing its link to the New Testament.4 Method C, I suggest, would integrate these two even greater. But in this case too, fundamental principles of exegesis shared by these scholars may be identified, justifying the label "Method B." 3 Much valuable work toward this goal has been done already. For a bibliographic essay covering topics such as "pneumatic exegesis" and "salvation history," see Henning Graf Revendow, Problems of Old Testament Theology in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985). For a balanced discussion of the prospects for recovering patristic-medieval exegesis, see Denis Farkasfalvy, "A Heritage in Search ofHeirs: The Future of Ancient Christian Exegesis," Communio 25 (1998): 505-19. Other helpful resources include: Stephen Fowl, ed., The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997); Christopher A. Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998); John H. Hayes, ed., Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, 2 vols. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999); Henri de Lubac, Medieval &egesis, vols. 1-2, The Four Senses ofScripture, trans. Mark Sebanc (vol. 1) and E. M. Macierowski (vol. 2), Ressourcement (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998-2000); Donald K. McKim, ed., Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters (Downers Grove: InterVarsityPress, 1998); Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation ofthe Bible in the Church (Boston: St. Paul Books & Media, 1993); Anthony Thistleton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics: The Theory and Practice ofTransforming Biblical Reading (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992); as well as the works mentioned in notes...


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