Debates among Christians today are often framed in terms of “the Bible versus culture.” But, this is not a fair assessment. For most of the time, all sides in a debate care deeply about the Bible and its teachings. Indeed, the centrality of the Bible in the teaching, life, and faith of the Church is one of the few ties that bind all Christians, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, conservative or progressive, ritualist or charismatic. Where Christians differ is not in whether the Bible is important, but in the nature of its authority, and in how to interpret it.
Contrary to the popular imagination, there has never been any single way in which the Bible has been read. Throughout history, Christians of good faith have approached the Scriptures in different ways, with different assumptions, questions, and tools. In this series, I explore some of these different approaches in a more-or-less chronological way:
- Introduction: The Bible and the Problem of Interpretation
- ‘As it is written’: How the New Testament reads the Bible
- The Rule of Faith: The Bible in the Second Century
- Allegory and its Limits: Reading the Bible in Alexandria & Antioch
- ‘The Faith Once Delivered to the Saints’: Tradition and Scripture from the Medieval World to Today
- Ad Fontes and Sola Scriptura: Reading the Bible in the Reformation
- Historical Criticism: Reading the Bible in the Enlightenment
- Literalism, Fundamentalism, and Inerrancy: The Evangelical Reaction to the Enlightenment
- ‘What the Bible Means for Me’: Devotional Readings of the Bible
- “Hear What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches”: Reading the Bible in the Pentecostal and Black Churches
- Whose Text Is It, Anyway?: The Bible and the Postmodern Critique
- The Power of Story: Narrative Criticism
- Conclusion: Reading the Bible Better, Today (forthcoming)
The goal of the project will be not to point to any of these as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but to increase awareness of the breadth of Christian approaches to the Bible throughout history, and to highlight the benefits and challenges of these different approaches to help us all think more deeply about how and why we read Scripture.