Subscribe via RSS Feed

Richard Soulen: Sacred Scripture

 

Richard N. Soulen, Sacred Scripture: A Short History of Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009), xv + 216 pages, ISBN 9780664232467.

There are numerous books presenting overviews of the history of biblical interpretation. This book belongs near the top in terms of readability—it can be read at a fast clip with hardly any loss of comprehension.

Soulen takes the reader through more than 2000 years of reading Scripture, beginning with a survey of how the later books of the Old Testament engage the earlier books. (This part of the book is basically an extended report on Michael Fishbane’s treatment of the subject.) Soulen briefly discusses how different Jewish groups and the NT writers interpret Scripture. He then moves on to the patristic writers, introducing the most important figures and describing their contributions to the field of biblical interpretation. Soulen then moves to a trio of representative figures from the twelfth century, and then on to Luther. In a work that seeks to give only occasional and representative samples, there are, at this point, some rather surprising omissions. One certainly would have expected some discussion of the Reformed tradition, especially John Calvin himself. Wesley is likewise completely skipped, as is the entire Great Awakening. There is also no discussion of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Princetonians (Warfield, etc.), an omission that perhaps accounts for the fact that the index to this work contains no entry for “inspiration”. I will grant that a work of this sort must skip some things, but the choices of what to skip and what to include often seem rather odd.

Another drawback of the book is that it attempts to promote the rather troubling (and poorly argued) views of Hans Frei. It almost seems, in fact, that the reason for the above-mentioned omissions is that the book’s real purpose is not so much to provide an overview as to serve as an apology for Frei. Soulen discusses Frei in two chapters, both times presenting him not so much as a historical subject but rather as a messenger of the truth regarding how Scripture should be read.

Readers who want an overview of the interpretation of Scripture should look elsewhere.

Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Preview: books.google.com/books?id=SXgAjvKQXBIC

Publisher’s page: www.wjkbooks.com/Products/0664232469/sacred-scripture.aspx

 

Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2011

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics and has been named the chair of biblical studies at the newly forming Kingswell Theological Seminary in Middletown (Cincinnati), Ohio.

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1348 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Then, Now, and Later

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    A Keener Understanding of the Bible: The Jewish Context for the Book of Revelation

    Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, S...

    F.F. Bosworth and the Role He Played in the Ministry of T.L. Osborn: An Interview with Dr. LaDonna Osborn