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Biblical exegesis in the apostolic period Unknown Binding – 1977

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Jewish interpreters, no matter how different their exegetical methods, agreed on four basic points. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
The OT in the NT 4 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The use of OT in the NT is of major importance in studying the hermeneutical practice of the biblical authors. Longenecker systematically presents the foundational and relevant information necessary for all the NT students.It covers the Jewish background like Midrash, Pesher, and allegory etc. It also includes how Jesus, Paul, and the early Christians preachings uses the OT. Particluarly helpful to me is the session on Paul in which Longenecker listed Paul's quotation of the OT and then traces his exegetical techniques back to the Hebrew roots. I consider these basics for any work on NT exegesis which takes seriously the continutiy between the NT and the OT.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Resource 1 May 2012
By S. Grotzke - Published on
Format: Paperback
Point: The New Testament authors used hermeneutic principles which were available and acceptable at the time of their writing. The Old Testament was not merely a source of proof-texts, but the living Word of God, pointing to Jesus Christ.

Path: Longenecker presents a horizontal view (13) of the first century scenario by walking through several parallel areas of Jewish and Christian exegesis. He first overviews Jewish hermeneutics as a whole with their literal, midrashic, pesher, and allegorical interpretations. He moves from the broad scope of Jewish hermeneutics to Jesus' use of the Old Testament, demonstrating the wide and varied use of the Scriptures in Jesus' teaching. He then addresses the early Christian preaching which followed closely the example of Jesus. Next, Paul's Old Testament use is evaluated. The author then looks at the Gospels, and how each author uses Scripture. Hebrews, arguably the book which relies the most on OT quotations, is discussed, and then other Jewish letters such as James, 1 Peter, etc. The author finishes with an overview of New Testament exegesis.

The Jewish interpreters agreed on four basic points, according to Longenecker. These four points were 1) divine inspiration of the Scriptures. 2) The Torah contained the the entire truth of God for the guidance of mankind. 3) The Scriptures needed to be understood both in their plain meaning and the implied meaning. 4) They saw their role as making the words of God meaningful and relevant to their audience (19-20). The final analysis of the author's study of Jewish hermeneutics is that "both the Pharisaic teachers and the nonconformists exegetes employed literalist interpretation, particularly in halakic concerns" (48-49).

The reader must understand that the early Christian preachers used a variety of methods including literal interpretation, midrash, pesher, and the application of predictive prophecies. They did not hold to a wooden hermeneutical method, but sought to interpret "the Scriptures from a Christocentric perspective, in conformity with the exegetical teaching and example of Jesus, and along Christological lines" (103).

Paul, although not one of the original apostles, did have contact with the risen Lord, been commissioned by him, and had direct revelation concerning salvation history (132). The Gospel writers, specifically Matthew and John, used Scripture in a way which was divergent from the other writers. There methods were distinct, yet still in line with the Jewish hermeneutics of their time (133).

Longenecker concludes with the observation that 1) the New Testament writers did not have a mechanical process of proof texting their arguments with Scripture 2) nor did they twist or distort God's revelation (206). Rather, the New Testament authors interpreted the Old Testament "1) from a Christocentric perspective, 2) in conformity with a Christian tradition, and 3) along Christological lines" (206).

After addressing the various methods employed by the NT authors, Longenecker offers an answer to the oft asked question, "Should we do as they do?" When the exegesis is claiming revelation, is merely cultural, or circumstantial, the answer is "no." When, however, it interprets Scriptures more literally with Christ at the center, the answer is "yes" (219). His foundation is the inspiration of Scripture. Could the New Testament writers do it? Yes. Can we do everything they did? Not unless you believe your writings to be inspired.

Longenecker's primary interest lies in three areas. First, he addresses the specific exegetical practices of the first century. Second, he focuses on the range and use of biblical quotations at the hand of the writers. Third, he traces the "patterns of usage and development that appear in the various strata of the biblical citations..." (12). He addresses these three issues so that the student may understand the hermeneutical procedures themselves, appreciate the objective of biblical revelation, and determine what is descriptive and what is prescriptive in the biblical revelation (217).

I appreciated the author's multifaceted approach to New Testament hermeneutics. He did not attempt to squeeze the authors and their message into a tight box, but rather sought to allow them to say what they said. The hermeneutics of the NT authors is a topic which deserves much study. Longenecker has provided a valuable resources to help the reader along the way.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Classic book on biblical exegesis 11 April 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Everyone interested in biblical studies should have a copy of this book.

By the time of Second Temple Judaism, scriptures, whether written or oral, were regarded as having been divinely inspired. "Jewish exegesis of the first century can generally be clasified under four headings: literalist, midrashic, pesher, and allegorical" (p 28), with midrashic exegesis more usual than literalist.

Also worth noting about Judaism around the time of Christ is the fact that the Jews were likely "bi and probably tri-lingual" (p 64) in Palestine. Although there were various kinds of Judaism, all Jews were expected to recite the Shema, which declared the monotheism of Judaism, every day.

Early Christianity sought out correspondences in history. Pesher interpretation is also common. The "'Servant Song' while never accepted by Judaism to be applicable to the Messiah, could very well have been fixed quite early in Christian thought, stemming from Jesus' own reinterpretation of the passage" (p 102).

Paul mentions some one hundred Old Testament passages. Although Paul usually follows the original meaning of the texts, in some instances he find new historical or eschatological fulfilments.

Of course, all the gospels are drenched in Old Testament references. Notable especially is the new use of typology.

A classic reference book.
38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Smacks Down Paine Fanatics 1 Sept. 2004
By James Patrick Holding - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you've had enough of critics shoving the ignorant rantings of Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Jim Lippard, Dennis McKinsey, and so on in your face on the topic of the New Testament's use of the Old, then you can scramble their brains once and for all with this detailed thunderclap provided by Richard Longenecker. The aforementioned skeptics complain violently about how the NT authors supposedly misused and twisted the OT for their own purposes. Longenecker shows that such complaining is simply anachronistic -- the NT writers were interpreting and explicating within an established paradigm and methodology consistent with Jewish hermeneutics of the period, as evidenced in the works of the rabbis, Philo, and the Qumranites.

This hermenuetic did not sit simply with the literal reading of the text, but assumed a fuller sense that could be unlocked by events of the day. The twin principles of corporate solidarity and typological correspondence are a key here, and while Western, wooden minds will scoff nevertheless, the charge that the NT writers manipulated the texts for their own purposes is thereby destroyed.

The simple-minded literalism of the Paines will take a beating from the details provided in Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Understanding the presuppositions of the original authors 18 Jan. 2011
By Stratiotes Doxha Theon - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At one point in this great work, the author quotes another researcher, "it is doubtful whether we can hope to understand the contents of any mind whose presuppositions we have not yet learned to recognize." This is the key to any hermeneutic. Until we understand the presuppositions of the authors, we cannot hope to truly understand the message they wanted to convey. We can learn those presuppositions by observing how they use the texts of scripture that preceded them and taking into account the hermeneutical context in which they were trained. The study of writings like the dead sea scrolls (see also, The Modern Scholar: The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Truth behind the Mystique) have given us a great deal of insight into the exegetical methods of second-temple Judaism. We are remiss if we do not take advantage of that scholarship in understanding the new testament writings. Reducing the texts to the lifeless literalism of historical-criticism, for instance, will lead us down a path away from the original authors' mindset. In addition to the peculiarities of second-temple Jewish hermeneutics, we need to remember the context of the effects of the incarnation and resurrection. Whether those events are believed as truth by the one attempting to glean meaning from the scriptures - it must be accepted that the writers of those texts believed the events had occurred as recorded. Understanding the mindset of these writers in the context of having seen a risen Christ will alter how we interpret what they wrote. It is not enough to study the works of scripture in the context of history and philology and claim we are following only scientific methods. It is not scientific to ignore the context in which the authors were writing - the context of their faith in a risen savior and the context of a community of others with the same faith.

This is a must-have work for any seeking to truly understand the new testament in the most complete context possible. Very well done and with plenty of examples from scripture to illustrate the concepts it contains. A must have for any student of exegetical methods.
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