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Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers Paperback – August 21, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These are the first two volumes published in the "Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture" series intended for educated laity and the clergy, which aims to introduce the reader to the church fathers and their exegesis of the Bible. The scope of Mark is impressive and the format generally easy to use. It presents the gospel in its entirety in the Revised Standard Version, with each passage followed by an overview of selected comments from the church fathers of the first seven centuries and then by the full comments themselves. To find these comments, the editors ran computerized searches of the whole body of patristic literature in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Coptic; comments are limited to the church fathers, including nothing from the Arians or Gnostics, for example. Individual passages are fully referenced for easy location in the original, but while there is a list of writers at the end, there is no list of their works. From the appendix, it appears that far more passages were omitted than included, and a list of omitted passages would have been useful. Hall (biblical and theological studies, Eastern Coll.) has written a useful introduction to the series. He discusses the methods used by the church fathers in their exegesis of scripture, concentrating on Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and John Chrysostom in the East and Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great in the West, then moving back in time to their predecessors. Again, no references are made to those outside mainstream Christianity. Little is said about rabbinic or philosophical influences on the church fathers' methods, and one might wish that the influence of the New Testament, and its use of the Old, had been more fully explored. Nevertheless, this book is thorough and informative on the methods and controversies of the church fathers. For public, academic, and church libraries.?Michael S. Borries, CUNY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


. . .an accessible introduction to both the Church Fathers and their exegesis. [O]verall this is a solid introduction to some of the major Church Fathers of the East and West. I believe that anyone interested in Patristic exegesis would do well to begin with this volume. (Nick Norelli, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, June 13, 2008)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; First Paperback Edition edition (August 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830815007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830815005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Adam Baker on October 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a good book for getting people interested in the church fathers. I recommend it for that purpose. Beyond that, it comes across as a bit shallow. The major theme of the book is the controversy between allegorical and non-allegorical interpretation of Scripture. In a book written by Protestants to Protestants we expect the non-allegorical camp to win, but the reasons for this are not really thought through in the book. Do Origen's allegorical hemeneutics eventually lead to contradictions? The danger of this is acknowledged, but there are no examples given. This and similar inadequacies of the exposition make this a frustrating book. I am encouraged, however, to seek out the primary literature to find out for myself, however.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on February 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
The interest that Protestant theologians are showing to the church fathers is fascinating. It is an area they have struggled with in that it so often challenges the presupposition of sola scriptura and the authority of the church. It is good that they are exploring now this great well of faith so often overlooked. Dr. Hall's work will go far to providing the foundation these studies will require. He explains the fathers through biographical sketches of 8 ancient doctors of the church and with an overview of the Alexandrian and Antiochene schools of hermeneutics. In the end his comments on what we can learn and apply from that background is thorough and good information. Key points are that the fathers knew the interpretation and teaching of scripture had to be done within the context of the church tradition/community and with the mind set on allowing scripture to work in the interpreter's heart. Without that context, we can never hope to plumb the depths of the scripture. The fathers knew and applied those ground rules in a way that seems foreign to our modern minds. But, Dr. Hall argues, those ground rules are essential and we do well to seek out the advice of the early fathers in light of their understanding of those concepts.

Very highly recommended. Perhaps a subtle Protestant bias comes through in the discussion of the context of sacred tradition as a guide in interpretation but otherwise an honest, informative, and entertaining introduction to the interpretive presuppositions of the church fathers.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harry E. Gray on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I very seldom believe that a book is a "must read," but this is one of those times. Over the past year-and-a-half I have been examining the Orthodox Faith. Coming from the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (Restoration or Stone-Campbell Movement), I was well-versed in Alexander Campbell's writings. The Church Fathers were looked at only to reinforce the Movement's views. Even any writer between Luther and Campbell was suspect.

This book helps to set right the overlooked Church Fathers. Mr. Hall helps open the doors in a very readable way for Protestants. With the strong basics he presents, the reader will be drawn to further study. I wish that I had used this book first in my studies on Orthodoxy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Zodrow on April 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hall does a fine job of touching on the some of the most salient points of patristic interpretation. It would do well as a secondary source for a Biblical Theology course, as he provides a great bibliography and direction for thinking about each of the fathers he covers.

One critique: Too much weight is given to the notion that Post-modernism is EVERYONE'S problem when it comes to understanding the Biblical text. Some of us got over that a long time ago, or never had the problem to begin with.

One thing lacking: direct examples of "how" the fathers did exegesis, the process of interpretation. This would be helpful for a furthering a sound Biblical method of hermeneutics based on their work. Otherwise, a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Homrighausen on December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Hall's book provides a neat counterpoint to Fitzmyer's. He explores how Church Fathers were both unified and at odds in how to read scripture, and how they run counter to the way biblical scholars work in the academy. His book is a description of the Antiochian and Alexandrian schools of exegesis in the first few centuries of Christianity, but also a defense of these exegetes and a call to reclaim them for today. This book is meant to serve as an overture to Hall's Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series.

The Fathers were not tenured professors writing books in private offices. They were bishops, ministers, men whose reading of the Bible was done with an eye to homiletics and to the immediate needs of the Church. Their criteria for sound exegesis did not just include critical reading skills, but also the spiritual health of the exegete: just as sin blinds one to God, it blinds one to God's Word. We should pay attention to their mode of reading scripture not just because many are saints and Church Doctors, but because of their hermeneutical and historical closeness to Christ, their ability to hear the music of scripture that falls dead on our modern ears.

Hall goes on to describe eight of the major exegetes of the ancient Church, including Augustine, Basil, John Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Jerome. In really like how he describes their personal lives and the struggles they face: struggles between a call to ascetic contemplation and a need to serve the Church, between embracing the world or seeing its brokenness, between their scholarly sensibilities and the demands of the laity and leaders they served. These were men who fought heresies, such as Gnosticism and Arianism.
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