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What Do We Learn About the Bible From
Studying the History of Its Interpretation?


[1] A partial list of such works would include

Barrera, Julio C. Trebolle. The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible: An Introduction to the History of the Bible. Translated by Wilfred G.E. Watson. Leiden: Brill; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Bray, Gerald Lewis Bray. Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Blowers, Paul M. ed. The Bible in Greek Christian Antiquity. The Bible Through the Ages, volume 1. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 1997.

Coggins, R.J. and J.L. Houlden, eds. A Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation. London: SCM Press, 1990.

Fowl, Stephen ed. The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Classic and Contemporary Readings. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997.

Grant, Robert M., with David Tracy. A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible. 2nd edition, revised and enlarged. Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1984.

Hagen, Kenneth ed. The Bible in the Churches: How Different Christians Interpret the Scriptures. 2nd edition. Milwaukee, Wis.: Marquette University Press. 1994

Hauser, Alan J,. and Duane F. Watson, eds. A History of Biblical Interpretation. Volume 1: The Ancient Period. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Hayes, John H. ed. Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation. Nashville: Abingdon 1999.

Jeffrey, David Lyle, ed. A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

Kugel, James L. and Rowan A. Greer. Early Biblical Interpretation. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986.

McKim, K. Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998.

Norton, David. A History of the English Bible as Literature. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Old, Hughes Oliphant. The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998-99.

Smalley, Beryl. The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages. 3rd ed. (rev.) Oxford: B. Blackwell, 1983.

Yarchin, William. History of Biblical Interpretation. A Reader. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

[2]Cf. Ps 41:13, 72:18-20, 89:52, and 106:48. For details on this editing process see G. H. Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (Chico: Scholars Press, 1985), and the essays in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993).

[3]See e.g., Brevard Childs, "Psalm Titles and Midrashic Exegesis," Journal of Semitic Studies, 16 (1971), pp. 137-150. Childs is representative of the guild when he dates the historical superscriptions to sometime between the fourth and second centuries BCE.

[4]Multiple appearance of poetic lines can be found in the parallels between Ps 31:2-4 and Ps 71:1-3, and between Ps 40:14-18 and Ps 70:2-6.

[5]Childs, "Psalm Titles," 149.

[6]The Hebrew (MT) Psalter attributes 73 psalms to David. The Septuagint (LXX) Psalter attributes 83 to David. See A. Pietersma, "David in the Greek Psalms" (Vetus Testamentum 30 [1980] 213-26).

[7]More manuscripts of the Psalter were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls than any other biblical book.

[8]Translation taken from J. Sanders, The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11 (11Qpsa). Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965) 92, adjusted with M. Chyutin, "The Redaction of the Qumranic and the Traditional Book of Psalms as a Calendar," Revue de Qumran 16 (1994) 376-95.

[9]J. Kugel suggests that "the Davidic [authorship] claim was strengthened and extended the more that the Psalms themselves were perceived as revealed Scripture . . ." in his essay "Topics in the History of the Spirituality of the Psalms" published in Jewish Spirituality volume 1 From the Bible through the Middle Ages (New York: Crossroad, 1986-87) 135.

[10]See Chyutin, "Redaction."

[11]See also 1 Chron 6:31-48; 15:16-24; 2 Chron 35:15a.

[12]This is one of the most frequently observed features of the Chronicler’s work. For a review of scholarship see H.G. M. Williamson 1 and 2 Chronicles (The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 28-31.

[13]Note that the liturgical occasions listed in the 11Q Psalms scroll poem match the list of occasions for all-Israel sacrifices in Numbers 28-29.

[14]My point does not depend on whether or not the Psalms were sung at any worship services at Qumran or even at Jerusalem. Rather, I am taking my cue from the obvious association between David’s musical craftsmanship and the worship services of the Second Temple period. On the question of liturgical singing at Qumran, E. Schuller suggests "[T]he more that we see the worship of the community of the Scrolls as fundamentally priestly in orientation and rooted in temple milieu . . . the more likely it is that singing of psalms --a temple practice -- would have been carried over into a non-temple context" in her paper "The Use and Function of Psalms from Qumran: Revisiting the Question" presented in 2000 at the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature in Jerusalem.

[15]A third possible reason for Matthew’s attribution of this quote to a prophet appears in some Greek mss where the word "Isaiah" follows "prophet" in v 35.

[16]To our modern reading, which is so governed by genre distinctions, prophecy comes from prophets and is found in biblical books that bear their names. But in the Second Temple period "to call a book ‘prophecy’ is to say that God speaks through it—and thus the Psalms too can be ‘prophecy’—rather than to say that it should be read with certain generic expectations in mind" (John Barton, Oracles of God. Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile [New York: Oxford University Press, 1986] 143).

[17]On the tradition history behind the NT presentation of David as a prophet see J. A . Fitzmyer, "David, ‘Being Therefore a Prophet . . .’" (Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34 [1972] 332-39).

[18]For a more complete analysis of the exegetical logic operative in Peter’s speech with special reference to relevant midrashic background see D. Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988) 135-150.

[19]Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XXXIV.

[20]It goes without saying that intellectual exercises from scripture were not the exclusive domain of ancient Christian interpreters, as the vast corpus of rabbinic halakhic and aggadic exegesis attests.

[21]Translation taken from Athanasius: The Life Of Antony And The Letter To Marcellinus, translated by Robert C. Gregg (New York: Paulist Press, 1980).

[22]The explicit and implicit regard Athanasius had for scripture is not exhausted by our observations of reference to spiritual nurture in Marcellinus. For a fuller treatment of Athanasius and Christian scripture see T. Work, Living and Active: Scripture in the Economy of Salvation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) 36-50.

[23]Ancient Greek-reading Christians read the Psalms in the LXX translation, which combines Psalm 9 and 10 into one (i.e., Psalm 9). From that point thereafter every number of the Psalms in the LXX is one less that the number in the MT Psalter until Psalm 147. There the LXX makes two psalms (146 and 147) out of one (MT Psalm 147). The Latin Vulgate followed the enumeration established by the LXX.

[24]The question of the personal, psychological dimension in Israel’s use of the Psalms during biblical times requires careful examination lest contemporary psychological notions of spirituality be imputed to the mindset of the ancients. On this see G. W. Anderson, "‘Sicut Cervus’: Evidence in the Psalter of Private Devotion in Ancient Israel" (Vetus Testamentum 30 [1980] 388-97).



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