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Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels Paperback – April 28, 2017
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"A real masterwork from one of the most creative of contemporary New Testament scholars. Anyone who feels nervous about exploring a fully theological reading of the Gospels will take heart from this comprehensive, sophisticated and profoundly nourishing account of how the Gospels themselves use Scripture theologically and invite us to do the same."―Rowan Williams, Master, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
"In Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, Richard Hays reads the four Gospels with an acuity of perception that is unmatched. His attention to scriptural subtexts allows each of the evangelists' visions to emerge from behind centuries' worth of obscuring and false assumptions, and to seize one's imagination afresh. Hays' prose is elegant and his arguments are utterly persuasive. Are we really prepared to hear the evangelists speak with this kind of clarity and power?"―Susan Garrett, Dean and Professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Richard Hays has written another wonderful book. Exhibiting the extraordinary literary sensitivity and erudition of his Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, Hays produces here an even more important argument than in that previous, now-classic work. By tracing carefully the underpinnings of Hebrew biblical allusions in the Gospels, Hays shows how tightly these works are bound up with Israel, the God of Israel, and the Scripture of Israel. The theological implications of this work are astounding. Hays expresses it all in clear and limpid prose that makes the exegesis and the stakes clear as a be"―Daniel Boyarin, author of The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (2012), University of California, Berkeley
"This exceptional book combines thoroughness and elegance in equal measure, also conjoining scholarly rigour with bold Christian conviction in its conclusions. Richard Hays has produced here a gripping account of the diverse approaches of the evangelists to the Old Testament, and it is a volume to which I can confidently predict I will return again and again."―Simon Gathercole, Reader in New Testament Studies and Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge
"Roughly a quarter of a century after his groundbreaking monograph Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, Richard Hays stimulates the ongoing discussion of intertextuality in New Testament writings with an impressive analysis of Scripture's polyphonic resonance in the four canonical stories of Jesus and how these intertextual semantic effects contribute substantially to the meaning and rhetorical cogency of the narratives. Richard Hays' ability to survey broad fields of knowledge and to synthesize complex textual phenomena makes Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels essential reading for everyone who is interested in the relevance of Scripture for understanding New Testament texts."―Matthias Konradt, Lehrstuhl für Neutestamentliche Theologie, Theologische Fakultät, Universität Heidelberg
"Every time Richard Hays has written a major book, he has opened our eyes to previously unimagined possibilities. This new book will do that too, only this time the view is an even more breathtaking invitation to fresh exegesis and theology. Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels challenges us to think differently about the way we read each of the four gospels―and therefore, by implication, about the traditions and early communities that stand behind them, and ultimately the elusive but powerful figure of the master exegete whose scripture-laden story these documents are telling."―N.T. Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews
"In this stimulating volume, Hays aims at a conversion of our imagination. By thoroughly discussing how the four Gospels adopt Scripture and create their stories of Jesus by the use of numerous Scriptural echoes, Hays lays the foundations of a biblical theology of the Four Gospels."―Jörg Frey, Chair of New Testament Studies, University of Zürich
"Richard Hays' Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels allows us to hear a rich chorus of voices in Scripture long silent. Like his Echoes in the Letters of Paul, Hays has performed nothing less than a Copernican revolution in turning the whole discipline of literary parallels and influences upon an author 'inside out': Instead of New Testament authors like Mark or Matthew reaching back to pluck some citation to fit their need in presenting the gospel, Hays demonstrates that it was Scripture itself pressing and prodding and pushing its way into the formative thoughts and sermons and teachings about Jesus. instead of a monotone word of the Evangelists' redaction, now suddenly a mixed chorale of melodies, a heavenly polyphony of scriptural songs burst through brightly, brilliantly to illuminate the 'good news' of God's reign. In Hays' Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, God is anything but silent."―David P. Moessner, A. A. Bradford Chair and Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University
"A masterful achievement by a great scholar at the peak of his powers, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels is a book that I expect to be revisiting for the rest of my life. Richard Hays traces with both depth and clarity the diverse uses the evangelists make of the Hebrew scriptures. His conclusion draws its title from the Emmaus Road story: 'Did not our hearts burn within us?' Indeed they did, and do."―Alan Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the Honors Program, Baylor University
"The conclusions [Hays] draws will empower contemporary believers to see the messianic threads of the Bible as an ongoing mission. This is a fine, convincing work of scholarship on a delicate theological topic."―Publishers Weekly
"A lucid, perceptive, well-researched, and accessible book"―Choice
"This is a superb and important book for a truly Christian way of understanding the Scriptures."―The Bible Today
"In this much anticipated project, Hays does for the Gospels what he previously and famously did for Paul. He investigates how the four evangelists, each in a distinctive way, operated as biblical interpreters, bearing witness to Jesus and his gospel in light of the Old Testament's witness."―The Christian Century
"This is a book to be savored, not rushed through like fast food. At one point, Hays describes the benefit of reading John's narrative 'attentively.' This book demonstrates Hays's attentive reading of the evangelists interpreting and using Scripture Hays's work will be useful for those studying one or more of the Gospels and for those researching the use of the Scriptures of Israel in the NT. Failure to engage with Hays would be a mistake."―Kenneth D. Litwak, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
About the Author
Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, is internationally recognized for his work on the letters of Paul and on New Testament ethics. His scholarship has bridged the disciplines of biblical criticism and literary studies, exploring the innovative ways in which early Christian writers interpreted Israel's Scripture. His works include Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (Yale University Press, 1989), The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel's Scripture (Eerdmans, 2005), and Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Baylor University Press, 2014).
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Nor is this the conclusion only of the Fourth Gospel. Hays begins with Mark, the commonly accepted first example of the Gospel genre. Even here time and again Mark alludes to and/echoes the OT scriptures in ways that are extraordinary when applied to this man, Jesus, whose story both captures the essence of Israel's story and yet also fulfills and transcends it in ways that may only be called scandalous - in the end. The strange climax of the cross hangs over the story from the start. Similarly, but each in their own particular way, Matthew and Luke, and then lastly John, 'read' the Hebrew Scriptures to figurally acknowledge God himself is uniquely present here in this four fold narrating of the Jesus Story.
The deft hand of Hays' account time and again is not adequately served by any general review: his careful attention to the subtleties of the Gospels' texts may only be properly appreciated by the reader's own careful following of Hays' text itself. If a short cut is at all possible, it is by way of one's picking up the earlier publication of 2014, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. Here a single quote may close this review, 93: “[I]n the first lecture, I proposed the twofold thesis that the OT teaches us how to read the Gospels and that—at the same time—the Gospels teach us how to read the OT. The hermeneutical key to this intertextual dialectic is the practice of figural reading.” The 2016 book expands greatly the crafting of each of the four Gospel's art of this "figural reading".
Personally, I'd recommend both of Hays' books as must reads.
In his Introduction Hays details his goal: "... we are seeking to listen carefully to the ways in which each of them (Evangelists) draws upon Israel's Scriptures in constructing a distinctive narrative testimony to Jesus. In order to listen well, we will pose three heuristic questions to each Gospel (1) We will be asking how each Evangelist carries forward and renarrates the story of Israel through intertextual references to Scripture (2) We will listen carefully for the ways in which each Evangelist draws on scriptural stories and images to interpret the world-changing significance of Jesus. And finally (3) we will ask how each of the Evangelists begins to shape the story of the church (1.e, the community of Jesus' followers) through evoking texts from Israel's Scripture" (p. 14).
Hays does not engage in proof-texting. Rather he uses many sophisticated tools to achieve his goal. He will seek out citations of, allusions to, and echoes of the Scriptures. He will engage in figural interpretation and will adopt Erich Auerback's definition thereof. In addition, Hays is keen to point out and pursue the Evangelists' use of "the poetic effect known as "metalepsis." Finally he will appeal to an "encyclopedia of content/reception." Although he refers to this concept at least four times, he never defines it and only once references it (p. 390 n. 157). It seems to mean the reader's background/memory of Israel's Scriptures.
What areas need improvement? One is almost beyond Hays' control. The publisher seems to want to market this book to a scholarly audience and thus allows Greek and Hebrew in the body of the text. However, the publisher eschews footnotes, which would aid scholars, and favors endnotes. Also the publisher forgot to add A List of Abbreviations. It is not helpful to find a vague reference to an important article with the cryptic abbreviation HvTST (p. 393 n. 22).
Hays could greatly improve his book and repulse the criticism of anachronism by demonstrating how his tools and arguments work in an oral culture, which was the predominant culture when the Gospels were produced. His tools and arguments seem to work very well with a literary culture. He seems to be aware of this problem. In his treatment of Luke, he writes about reading the text: "Luke is creating readers, seeking to foster the intertextual competence necessary to appreciate the nuances of the sort of narrative he is spinning... A story of such complexity and nuance helps to cultivate readers who read patiently, carefully and subtly. Of course, such cultivation does not happen automatically. It is probably right to see Luke's Gospel as, inter alia, a teaching tool, a story crying out for commentary. The necessary instruction would have been provided by teachers in the early church who expounded the text for their communities of Gentile converts and explained some of its intertextual intricacies" (p. 276; see also pp. 195-96 and p. 409 n. 9). If Hays had the space and time, he might also have indicated how his methodology relates to what years ago was called "the sensus plenior" of "the more complete/full meaning."
If someone is asking you what you want for Christmas, tell them that you want a copy of Hays' latest under your tree. Studying it will enrich you and pleasantly help you pass the long Winter days.
Robert J. Karris