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Participatory Biblical Exegesis: A Theology of Biblical Interpretation (ND Reading the Scriptures) Paperback – February 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“Levering compellingly argues for the legitimacy of a type of biblical interpretation once prevalent among the Fathers of the Church and medieval theologians, one that includes a participatory encounter with the divine. . . . Written from a Roman Catholic perspective, the volume will appeal to anyone interested in biblical interpretation. While directed toward scholars, the *book is nonetheless accessible to the intelligent lay reader.” —Library Journal

“Matthew Levering is among the most prolific young Catholic theologians working today. . . [He] has published widely on a variety of biblical, historical, and theological subjects. Participatory Biblical Exegesis is an excellent example of his wide-ranging interests and ability to synthesize exegetical, historical, philosophical, and systematic theological discussions. Levering states in the introduction that his purposes are largely constructive; the book weaves together scholarship from all of the aforementioned subdisciplines in support of his argument. Much of this scholarship is contained in the endnotes, which comprise nearly half of the book and are a veritable treasure trove of information for those working in this area. . . ." —Pro Ecclesia


Participatory Biblical Exegesis stands out from the ever-growing mass of books on bibliography by offering a cogent pathology of contemporary biblical exegesis, which manages to free itself from the quagmire of hermeneutical theory. Yet it goes beyond the task of diagnosis and, by appealing to Aquinas, illustrates the way exegesis can be done, and indeed has been done, when unencumbered by the conventions of contemporary hermeneutics which have in large part been underwritten by a linear-historical view of reality.” —European Journal of Theology

“Interest in the patristic and medieval traditions of biblical interpretation has been growing in the last decade, in both Protestant and Catholic circles. Levering’s book is a sophisticated and detailed contribution to the approach.” —Theological Studies

“New methods in biblical interpretation have become something of a staple in the theological diet over the past decade, but the subject is so vast that a different angle is always possible, and Matthew Levering offers us just that. In this book, he explores the thesis that the interpretation of Scripture followed a particular path of development up to the late thirteenth century, when it suddenly diverged into something much more academic and distant from the life of the church.” —Themelios

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of numerous books, including "Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation", "Proofs of God", "The Theology of Augustine, "and "Ezra & Nehemiah" in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series, and is the coauthor of "Holy People, Holy Land". He serves as coeditor of the journals "Nova et Vetera" and the "International Journal of Systematic Theology" and has served as chair of the board of the Academy of Catholic Theology since 2007.

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Product Details

  • Series: ND Reading the Scriptures
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1st edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0268034087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0268034085
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Levering's proposal in Participatory Biblical Exegesis poignantly addresses what R.W.L. Moberly calls "a curious situation" in Christian biblical exegesis (2). Modern Christian biblical interpretation has heavily relied on historical-critical methods that tend to preclude interpretations that invoke the most important divine and spiritual realities to which the biblical texts refer, namely, God (2). Since historical-critical inquiry and discovery has proven fruitful for a fuller understanding of the linear-historical realities of the biblical texts, rather than propose something less than historical-critical methodology, Levering hopes to redeem the valuable finds of historical-critical methodology for Christian interpretation by proposing something more: a broader understanding of history as including also a participatory dimension (1).

The ultimate argument of the book, then, is about the nature of history (3). As Augustine argued, the whole point of Sacred Scripture is to point people to the divine realities to which the whole of scripture points the reader (or hearer), yet historical-critical methodology has systematically excluded from its otherwise rigorous analysis of the texts any "meanings" that would actually give an account of those realities as historical (read: real) realities. His proposal is this: history is not merely linear-historical but also metaphysically participatory (finite participation in divine being). Therefore in order to do justice to the human and historical aspects of exegesis, Levering argues that one must go beyond the linear-historical dynamics of the text to account for the realities beyond the words (the "res," 11).
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Format: Paperback
For some years now a number of biblical scholars and theologians have been calling for a reappraisal of the state of Biblical exegesis, and this is the project to which Matthew Levering makes an important contribution. Levering conceives of a process of biblical exegesis founded on a commitment to reading sacred history as a "metaphysical and Christological-pneumatological participation in God..." (1). For Levering such a reevaluation requires a radical reconsideration of the nature of history itself from the standpoint of Christian belief: what, then, is history, given that the Christian conception of divine action upon and in the created order and the life of man is fundamentally true to reality? Levering advocates for a recovery of medieval-patristic exegetical commitments grounded in a participatory metaphysics which must then be synthesized with modern historical-critical tools to yield an exegetical method that can best represent classical Christian theological tradition while providing a more complete reading of scripture founded on a more faithful treatment of the literal sense. While Levering praises the precision of contemporary historical-critical tools, he criticizes the one-sided readings issuing from a historical-critical method which truncates the theological tradition while importing hidden philosophical assumptions of its own, assumptions that are themselves not only fundamentally antithetical to a faithful rendering of the literal sense of scripture and the mainstream of Christian tradition but also imminently open to philosophical critique.

As it seems to this writer the current picture has a background which can be expressed roughly thus.
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