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Medieval Exegesis, Volume 1: The Four Senses of Scripture: The Four Senses of Scripture / Henri De Lubac ; Translated by Mark Sebanc.: vol 1 (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought) [Paperback]

Henri de Lubac , Mark Sebanc

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Book Description

17 April 1998 Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought
Originally published in French as Exégèse médiévale, Henri de Lubac's multivolume study of medieval exegesis and theology has remained one of the most significant works of modern biblical studies. Available now for the first time in English, this long-sought-after volume is an essential addition to the library of those whose study leads them into the difficult field of biblical interpretation. The first volume in de Lubac's multivolume work begins his comprehensive historical and literary study of the way Scripture was interpreted by the church of the Latin Middle Ages. Examining the prominent commentators of the Middle Ages and their texts, de Lubac discusses the medieval approach to biblical interpretation that sought "the four senses" of Scripture, especially the dominant practice of attempting to uncover Scripture's allegorical meaning. Though Bible interpreters from the Enlightenment era on have criticized such allegorizing as part of the "naivete of the Middle Ages," de Lubac insists that a full understanding of this ancient Christian exegesis provides important insights for us today.

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Medieval Exegesis, Volume 1: The Four Senses of Scripture: The Four Senses of Scripture / Henri De Lubac ; Translated by Mark Sebanc.: vol 1 (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought) + Medieval Exegesis: vol 2 (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought) + Medieval Exegesis: v. 3: The Four Senses of Scripture (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 492 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (17 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802841457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802841452
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,011,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and manageable history of the four-fold sense. 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on
De Lubac's work on the four-fold sense of Scripture is one that informs the reader of the history and the (very basic) method of biblical interpretation. His historical tracing of the method through the Fathers of the Church, particularly through Origen (including his discussion of the supposed "heresy" of Origen) is clear and, perhaps, the high point of this volume.
At times a bit dry, De Lubac tends to run on, burying the reader with countless examples. His scholarship is vast, but his presentation can be a bit overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, this book is, with good reason, a standard on the subject, and would be recommended for anyone -- Catholic or Protestant -- who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the trends in biblical interpretation that have developed in the process of bringing us to where we are today.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Exegesis And The Four Senses of Scripture (vol. 1). 20 April 2003
By New Age of Barbarism - Published on
_Medieval Exegesis_ by Henri de Lubac is a four volume work in the Ressourcement (retrieval and renewal) series of Catholic thinkers. This book is the first volume of that work translated from the French. The Ressourcement movement within Roman Catholicism consisted of several important thinkers who attempted to retrieve and renew Catholicism by returning to its earliest Christian sources. These thinkers included individuals such as Henri de Lubac as well as Jean Danielou, Yves Congar, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Louis Bouyer, and were associated with the famous theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Their movement played an important role in the theological developments of the Second Vatican Council and influenced the work of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
This first volume of _Medieval Exegesis_ attempts to trace the origins of the fourfold interpretation of Holy Scripture (interpretations of Scripture in terms of history, allegory, anagogy, and tropology). The book focuses on hundreds of different early and medieval Christian thinkers and especially the work of the early Christian Platonist Origen who devised this fourfold means of interpretation. The book discusses fully the nature of interpretation ("the Queen of the Arts") and the need for spiritual discipline in the light of patristic theology. The book then turns its attention to the patristic sources including Clement of Alexandria, Saint Augustine, Gregory, Cassian, and Eucher, but especially Origen. The book fully explores Origen as understood in both the Greek and Latin churches and deals with the troublesome issue of his alleged heresy. For quite some time, a debate existed in the church as to the status of Origen's soul due to his drift into heresy concerning certain aspects of biblical interpretation. This book restores Origen's place among early theologians and especially his fourfold sense of mystical interpretation of Scripture. The book concludes with a discussion of the unity of the two testaments: Old Testament and New Testament. As many of the saints had testified to, the Old Testament reveals the New, and the New Testament is revealed in the Old. The author concludes with a final discussion of the need for the Spirit to enlighten the exegesis of Scripture. This book (expertly footnoted with reference to many Christian thinkers) provides an excellent introduction to the thought of Henri de Lubac as well as to the understanding of scriptural exegesis and interpretation as it existed in the medieval world and as it is proclaimed still today.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming in Scope 18 Feb 2012
By Kyle G Anderson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If there was ever a book that made my reading of ancient sources puny and small, this is Without explicitly stating it, Lubac is offering his support for a four-fold model of Scriptural interpretation: history, allegory, tropology (morality), and anagogy (spiritual). Most important to Lubac is the legitimacy of a possible allegorical reading of scripture.

The basis of Lubac's argument is strikingly simple: the early Church through the medieval period always practiced it. Most of the book is a historical recitation of the problems of untying the historical problems of what entailed a four-fold reading of scripture, where divergences and convergences occurred, origins of allegorical readings, and opposition to allegorical readings. The problem as I see it is that Lubac is unconvincing if you were already unconvinced. Both Lubac's support for allegory and the implied opposition to allegory are, to my mind, a priori.

That being said, Lubac's work is satisfying on three fonts: 1) for those convinced of the benefits of allegory--it provides a historical basis for such practice, 2) for those opposed--it provides a background for understanding your perceived opponent. And "perceived" is significant. Nowhere does Lubac discount the historical. In fact, he argues that the historical provide the foundation for the allegorical. This emerges out directly out of Lubac's sacramental ontology of the materialist world, and 3) for those seeking an intellectually honest alternative to the historical-critical methodology of the 20th century. Lubac offers a possible reading of Scripture that is historically honest and grounded but seeks read Scripture in a broader context that is made alive through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Lubac overwhelms us with a prodigal recitation of ancient and medieval sources. Lubac was clearly operating on another plane. His reading of those ancient sources is given with an overwhelming confidence that the reader knows exactly what he is talking about all the time. Frustratingly for me, I did not.

Despite overwhelming me at times, this book is a gem. It should be required reading for anyone who has grown tired of the historical-critical method of Biblical scholarship that has dominated the 20th century.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief review 2 Nov 2013
By Eric McLuhan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This can stand by itself as a succinct history of each of the four senses of Scripture. But within the context of the first and third volumes, it gains immeasurably in relevance.
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