Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present, By Gerald L. Bray

Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present

by Gerald L. Bray

Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present
  • Length: 608 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: February 28, 2000
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 1565
  • ISBN: 9780830815654

*affiliate partner

Christianity Today Book of the Year

Never before has there been so much scholarly effort devoted to the study of the Bible. And yet, ironically, the church is in perilous danger of forgetting its rich inheritance of biblical interpretation. With this textbook, Gerald Bray sounds the call to draw biblical interpretation back to the heart of the church. Evangelical in perspective but ecumenical in both its historical breadth and its vision of the future, Bray's work is a comprehensive guide to biblical interpretation, past and present.

Bray begins by introducing basic concepts in biblical interpretation that have remained constant through the ages: divine revelation, the nature of the canon, the relation of the biblical text to the life of Christian churches, and the tensions inherent in the act of biblical interpretation. He follows this introduction with three main sections, each covering an epoch of development within the history of biblical interpretation. The first surveys the period from the ancient church to the beginnings of modern historical-critical interpretation in the Renaissance and Reformation. The second engages the rise of modern historical-critical interpretation from the late seventeenth century through the twentieth century. The third investigates current trends in biblical interpretation that seek to offer alternatives to the dominant school of historical criticism.

Each section is divided into chapters focusing on periods or schools of interpretation. And, as a further aid to readers, each chapter is divided into standard subsections:

  • an introduction to the period or school of interpretation
  • a brief who's who of major interpreters and their works
  • an introduction to key critical, doctrinal or hermeneutical issues
  • discussion and illustration of principal interpretive methods
  • an examination of an particular book or passage that played a crucial role in biblical interpretation for the period or school under discussion

Bray's organizational scheme allows readers to quickly grasp the issues, methods and interpreters of each period or school and to observe how classic issues and pivotal questions have shaped the church's use of the Bible in various historical contexts. Seminarians, pastors, teachers and lay leaders will welcome Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present as an instructive guide to both the high points and the impasses of biblical interpretation. Here is history with a clear message, written out of the conviction that biblical interpretation and Christian doctrine go hand in hand.


Introduction: The purpose and method of this book
1 The Bible and its interpretation: Principles and definitions

2 The beginnings of biblical interpretation
3 Patristic interpretation
4 Medieval interpretation
5 The Renaissance and Reformation

6 The beginning of the historical-critical method

The nineteenth century (1800-1918)
7 The Old Testament from De Wette to Wellhausen
8 The New Testament from Schleiermacher to Schweitzer

The mid-twentieth century (1918-75)
9 Old Testament criticism after Wellhausen
10 New Testament criticism after Schweitzer

11 Academic trends in interpretation
12 Social trends in interpretation
13 Evangelical trends in interpretation


General bibliography

Index of names

Index of subjects

Index of Scripture passages

Gerald L. Bray

Gerald L. Bray (PhD, La Sorbonne) is a professor at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and director of research for the Latimer Trust. He has written and edited a number of books on different theological subjects, including Galatians, Ephesians in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present, The Doctrine of God, and Romans in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series. A priest of the Church of England, Bray has also edited the post-Reformation Anglican canons.