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Hermeneutics as Apprenticeship

There's a recent book about hermeneutics that has been endorsed by Stanley Hauerwas, Kevin Vanhoozer, Michael Gorman, Douglas Moo, Craig Blomberg and Joel Green. It is written by an Australian, which is always fun. It engages with an impressively wide range of biblical scholarship on numerous different books. Its central premise is that we can learn how to interpret the Bible by seeing how the Bible interprets the Bible, and this is then worked out with reference to fifteen different books in both Old and New Testaments, each with its own unique contribution to the way we understand Scripture. The book in question is David Starling's Hermeneutics as Apprenticeship: How the Bible Shapes Our Interpretive Habits and Practices.

Here’s the gist of it, chapter by chapter:

—From the Psalms, we learn the hermeneutics of delight, as those who meditate on the Law day and night, reading it, reciting it and teaching it to our families.

—From Deuteronomy, we learn the hermeneutics of law, which involves carrying God’s words both in our mouths, in confession, and in our hearts, in conviction.

—From Ruth, we learn the hermeneutics of virtue. Knowing Scripture means becoming a particular sort of person, who is then able to decide how best to obey it.

—From 1&2 Chronicles, we learn the hermeneutics of history, and how to read it historically, intertextually, typologically, eschatologically, repentantly and doxologically.

—From Proverbs and Job, we learn the hermeneutics of wisdom. Ironically, the tensions between Job and Proverbs mean that more wisdom is required to read wisdom literature than any other.

—From Zechariah, we learn the hermeneutics of prophecy, as prophecies which have been fulfilled vindicate prophetic messengers, and those which haven’t prompt hope.

—From Matthew, we learn the hermeneutics of obedience. “Matthew reminds ‘Red Letter Christians’ of the indispensability of the black letters, and reminds ‘Black Letter Christians’ of the centrality of the red.”

—From Luke, we learn the hermeneutics of the gospel, as we learn how to read the good news in light of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament in light of the good news.

—From John, we learn the hermeneutics of truth, as the word becomes “the means by which the Spirit of truth is at work to overthrow the illegitimate prejudices of human fear and pride, and to open the minds of readers to receive the word and interpret it rightly.”

—From 1 Corinthians, we learn the hermeneutics of theology, fusing “nothing beyond what is written” (4:6-7), “these things occurred as examples” (10:11), and “according to the Scriptures” (15:3).

—From Galatians, we learn the hermeneutics of allegory, “grounded in the phenomena and themes of the original source text, attentive to its intertextual relationships with the rest of canonical Scripture, and directed by the shape of the scriptural story of salvation history.”

—From Hebrews, we learn the hermeneutics of exhortation, blending both the “drama” of the divine word speaking today, and the “discipline” of exegesis, Christocentricity and ecclesial reception.

—From 1 Peter, we learn the hermeneutics of empire: reading the Bible as exiles, with “not only a disposition of humility and deference to authority, but also a broader set of social virtues including integrity, benevolence, and peaceableness, and a certain fearlessness in the face of the threats and terrors of life.”

—From Revelation, we learn the hermeneutics of apocalyptic, opening the sealed scroll of God’s plans and purposes, eating and internalising it, and keeping all of it, come what may.

In interpreting Scripture, that is, we are called to become apprentices to Scripture itself. Good call.

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