Reading Scripture as the Church: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Hermeneutic of Discipleship, By Derek W. Taylor
Reading Scripture as the Church
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: September 22, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 4918
  • ISBN: 9780830849185

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The Bible is meant to be read in the church, by the church, as the church.

Although the practice of reading Scripture has often become separated from its ecclesial context, theologian Derek Taylor argues that it rightly belongs to the disciplines of the community of faith. He finds a leading example of this approach in the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who regarded the reading of Scripture as an inherently communal exercise of discipleship.

In conversation with other theologians, including John Webster, Robert Jenson, and Stanley Hauerwas, Taylor contends that Bonhoeffer's approach to Scripture can engender the practices and habits of a faithful hermeneutical community. Today, as in Bonhoeffer's time, the church is called to take up and read.

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"Derek Taylor brings his considerable analytical ability to the important topic of biblical interpretation, offering us a deeply considered proposal building on the work of Bonhoeffer and others, on the sense in which the church is the context for reading the Bible. This book is not to be missed."

Darren Sarisky, senior research fellow in religion and theology at Australian Catholic University

"Derek Taylor's Reading Scripture as the Church is the book about Bonhoeffer that we have all been waiting for. As well as capturing the rich texture of Bonhoeffer's ecclesiology and scriptural engagement, Taylor brings him into close dialogue with John Webster, Robert Jenson, Stanley Hauerwas, and others. The result is a compelling account of how through Scripture Christ concretely encounters and forms the church for the world. With this book Taylor has made an important contribution to Bonhoeffer studies as well as to theological interpretation of Scripture, missiology, and systematic theology more broadly."

Michael Mawson, senior lecturer in systematic theology and ethics at Charles Sturt University, Australia

"There are few things more basic to the life of the church than reading Scripture, and there are few modern theologians who can teach Christians how to read the Bible more than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Derek W. Taylor's inspiring and challenging new book sheds light on Bonhoeffer's understanding of how the church is made by God's Word, has engaged in reading it, is gathered around it, and is sent to share it with the world. Reading Scripture as the Church is a significant new contribution to Bonhoeffer studies and to a renewal of the church's relationship with the living Word of God."

Stephen Plant, dean and Runcie Fellow at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge

"This book is a great idea; it's high time for a fuller engagement with Bonhoeffer's theological hermeneutics. Even those with a few misgivings will benefit from Derek Taylor's appropriation of the core theme: reading Scripture faithfully involves hearing the voice of the risen Christ and together following him."

Daniel J. Treier, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School

"In this highly insightful and provocative book, Derek Taylor draws on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in conversation with Webster, Jenson, and Hauerwas, to argue convincingly for theological interpretation of Scripture as an ecclesial practice of embodied discipleship in the world. We read Scripture not to know Scripture but to know and follow Jesus, present with us as the crucified and risen Lord. Taylor's carefully argued vision challenges theological interpretation to be communal, cruciform, contextually missional, and above all Christocentric."

Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore

"In Reading Scripture as the Church, Derek Taylor draws deeply and fruitfully on Bonhoeffer's work with a keen eye for discipleship and the church's reading of Scripture. His combination of a missional hermeneutic with a doctrine of the church offers a provocative, constructive vision of how the Bible, church, and practical mission relate. This is a thoughtful and significant book for both scholars and theologically minded pastoral leaders."

J. Todd Billings, Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary

"Derek Taylor has written a book on Bonhoeffer that needed to be written. In engaging Bonhoeffer's hermeneutics, an area of Bonhoeffer studies that is underappreciated, Taylor brings fresh insight into what it means for the Bible to be the book of the church. By bringing Bonhoeffer into conversation with significant contributors to theological hermeneutics, Taylor demonstrates the unique contribution Bonhoeffer has to make. This book will appeal both to Bonhoeffer scholars and those interested in how ecclesial commitments and location should shape our approach to hermeneutics."

Joel D. Lawrence, senior pastor of Central Baptist Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, and author of Bonhoeffer: A Guide for the Perplexed

"Derek Taylor has discovered a side of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that most people, even scholars, know less well or not at all, which is Bonhoeffer as a guide to how the church should read the Bible. As Taylor explains, Bonhoeffer believed that the Bible is meant to do more than provide religious information. It is inherently a formational book, intended by its very nature to shape a community on mission to live as disciples of Jesus. Taylor knows Bonhoeffer well. He moves comfortably through a wide range of sources. He writes well too. He is clear, winsome, and always insightful. This book stands at the crossroads of Bonhoeffer as theologian, visionary, pastor, and preacher, which is true to who Bonhoeffer was. It provides a new angle of vision on this important and relevant figure of history. I highly recommend it as a book for pastors, not simply scholars."

Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology at Whitworth University, author of Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian "Third Way" Changed the World


Introduction: Hermeneutics as an Ecclesial Practice

Part One: The Church as Creature of the Word: Hermeneutics and the Risen Christ
1. Reading in the Domain of the Risen Christ: A Conversation with John Webster
2. Reading in the Wake of the Incarnate Lord

Part Two: The Church as Institution: Hermeneutics and the Ecclesial Past
3. Reading in Light of the Past: A Conversation with Robert Jenson
4. Reading in Light of Christ's Ongoing Reign

Part Three: The Church as Congregation: Hermeneutics and Togetherness
5. Reading Together: A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas
6. Reading as Christ's People

Part Four: The Church as Missional Community: Hermeneutics and the World
7. Reading as a Sent Community: A Conversation with Missional Theology
8. Reading in and for the World

Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Derek W. Taylor

Derek W. Taylor (ThD, Duke University) is an assistant professor of theology and director of the Emmaus Scholars Program at Whitworth University. He previously taught at Hope College and lives in Spokane, Washington, with his wife, Lauren, and his son.