Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Reading the Bible with th... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Sold by textbooksnow-
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: BOOK CONDITION: Used books will have varying degrees of wear, highlighting, and notations. Access codes & supplemental materials may not be included. Inventory is subject to prior sale. SHIPPING: Only Standard shipping to PO Boxes. We are not able to ship to APO/FPOs or Internationally. Orders are shipped from Illinois.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone Paperback – June 1, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$15.17 $7.02

Wiley Summer Savings Event.
Wiley Summer Savings Event.
Save up to 40% during Wiley's Summer Savings Event. Learn more.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone
  • +
  • In Her Words: Women's Writings in the History of Christian Thought
  • +
  • Women in the Early Church (Fathers Of The Church)
Total price: $75.99
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


Christian Century
"Thompson demonstrates that earlier generations struggled with questions not unlike our own and that they have much to teach us about faithful interpretation of scripture. A delightful read."

"Preachers will want to keep this book close at hand; it will impel them to investigate the riches of the history of exegesis also for texts they preach more often."

Richard B. Hays
— Duke Divinity School
"It is a peculiar conceit of modernity that we are the first to recognize the presence of puzzling, offensive texts in the Bible. John Thompson punctures that illusion and offers a fascinating survey of the diverse ways in which premodern interpreters struggled — for better and for worse — with some of the same texts that trouble us today. Reading the Bible with the Dead contains a treasure trove of provocative insights. The clarity of Thompson's exposition is exemplary, and his evaluations are wise and balanced. The 'Finding Guide to English Translations of Commentary Literature Written before 1600' will be of great value to students and pastors who want to pursue this conversation more deeply."

Timothy George
— Beeson Divinity School
"Combining mature scholarship with an engaging style, John Thompson helps us to peer over the shoulders of saints of the past as we read the Bible today, especially some of its difficult texts. In doing so, he shows that serious study of Holy Scripture requires more than the latest Bible translation in one hand and the latest commentary in the other. An invaluable guide for all pastors and teachers of God's Word."

Jesus Creed
"Every pastor or church needs a book like this in the library."

Elsie McKee
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"John Thompson is well known for his fascinating scholarly studies of the history of exegesis, particularly concerning some of the more challenging biblical texts on issues of gender and violence that lectionaries often skip. . . In this clear and user-friendly book Thompson melds modern questions with patristic, medieval, and Reformation-era questionings about hard-to handle biblical stories and injunctions, from Hagar and Jephthah's daughter to the psalms of imprecation and Pauline strictures on men's hair and women's public speaking. While making no claims to exhaustive treatment of any text, Thompson provides twenty-first-century readers with a rich spectrum of interpretation by pre-Enlightenment exegetes. "

Mark Labberton
— senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley
"Thompson's book provides an exceptionally incisive and courageous example of reading uncomfortable biblical texts through a history of the reading of those texts. The fruit it bears is faithful wisdom, the kind of reading we need most."

Kathryn Greene-McCreight
— author of Darkness Is My Only Companion
"A bold encounter with the 'texts of terror.'. . . Will be of profound interest to any scholar of the history of biblical interpretation or of feminist questions and uses of Scripture."

About the Author

After serving as a missionary and pastor for over three decades, John L. Thompson is now on staff with the Navigators, enthusiastically training pastors and leading seminars in the art of making disciples for Christ. He and his wife, Debbie, have four grown children, each faithfully serving the Lord within the city of Chicago.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 70%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
  • Thousands of books are eligible, including current and former best sellers.
  • Look for the Kindle MatchBook icon on print and Kindle book detail pages of qualifying books. You can also see more Kindle MatchBook titles here or look up all of your Kindle MatchBook titles here.
  • Read the Kindle edition on any Kindle device or with a free Kindle Reading App.
  • Print edition must be purchased new and sold by Amazon.com.
  • Gifting of the Kindle edition at the Kindle MatchBook price is not available.
Learn more about Kindle MatchBook.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802807534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802807533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Darren Pollock on September 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a highly readable and engaging look at the history of biblical interpretation, presented in the form of nine case studies of some of scripture's most difficult texts. Thompson gives a brief overview of how commentators from the early church through the Reformation made sense of such troubling stories and teachings as the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, the imprecatory psalms, and Paul's words about women's role in the church. The format and purpose of the book do not allow for detailed summaries, but the cumulative effect is sufficient to impress upon the reader the humility to realize that our generation is not the first to recognize the problems and challenges in these passages.

Conversing with the likes of Augustine, Erasmus, and Vermigli about these passages can embolden the modern preacher and teacher to reclaim these texts, often considered too difficult, obscure or embarrassing to explore. And Thompson aids this process by including at the end of each chapter a handful of lessons on how to appropriate these texts in our own day, and on how to read scripture more generally.

By looking at how a wide variety of premodern commentators regarded these particular texts, the reader is also given a helpful overview of these commentators' various theological frameworks, and of the guiding interpretive principles of their ages. Many readers are familiar with the general theological outlooks of heavyweights like Calvin and Luther, but most are unfamiliar with other important figures like Denis the Carthusian, Wolfgang Musculus, and Nicholas Lyra, and this book provides a helpful introduction to these men.
Read more ›
Comment 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
If you couldn't tell from the title, Reading The Bible With The Dead is an interesting as well as informative book. John L. Thompson sets out to examine particularly hard texts in Scripture (those usually left out of lectionary readings) and see what the history of exegetical reflection on these texts can teach us. He is motivated in part to examine texts certain interpreters have expressed dismay over (particularly those of the feminist variety), and see if perhaps we can learn how to navigate these passages in our own 21st century context by looking back at how earlier contexts handled them.

These passages in question are:

The story of Hagar in Genesis
The story of Jephthah's daughter in Judges
The imprecatory Psalms
The patriarchs in Genesis and their "bad behavior"
The story of Gomer and Hosea
Paul's command in 1 Corinthians 11
The biblical teaching on divorce
Paul's teaching about women being silent
The stories of sex and violence in the Old Testament (Dinah, Tamar, and Bathsheba)
I would imagine these are not most people's typical go-to passages for small group Bible study, much less a sermon series. For each of these problem passages, Thompson engages in a survey of patristic, medieval, and reformation biblical interpreters to see how they dealt with the issues. Not every interpreter makes every chapter, but the most frequent "guest" interpreters invited by Thompson to weigh in are a few of the usual suspects: Calvin, Luther, Augustine. Perhaps lesser known to mainstream audiences, but cited just as much by Thompson, are Ambrose, Bullinger, Bucer, Denis the Carthusian, Nicholas of Lyra, and Peter Martyr Vermigli.
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is a valuable text from several angles. Thompson introduces us to the church's rich heritage of Bible interpretation. The book deals with the "hard" passages of the Bible, and hence provides a variety of options for dealing with these passages in light of our heritage. And Thompson's pastoral heart comes out in the final section in each chapter where implications are drawn for contemporary ministry. The style is very readable. I found it one of the most enjoyable and helpful texts I have read this year.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author wants you to become familiar with the great scholars and fathers of the church's past so that the weight of the entire church's reflection can be felt upon your preaching. I think in principle that this is a good idea. Thompson takes some of the more puzzling passages of scripture (Hosea marrying a prostitute, Abraham and Sarah sending away Hagar and Ishmael after they created the problem to begin with, women not being able to speak in church, divorce and remarriage in the Bible, Jephthah's daughter being offered up as a burnt sacrifice, violence toward women in Scripture, etc). The author then gives us the reflections of Origen, Tertullian, Luther, Calvin, Erasmus, Bucer, Augustine and others.

The book is fascinating, but the interpretations of these passages are often allegorical or far-fetched or off the beaten path, and part of the reason is because the early church fathers didn't have access to the historical and cultural background that sheds light on the meaning of the passages. For example, the early fathers didn't know that both animals and people would have lived in Jephthah's house, they didn't know that Hosea marrying a prostitute was an example of a prophet acting out what God was doing with His people (something we see in Ezekiel 3-4).

Moreover, most of the patristic fathers didn't interpret these passages in theological context. For example, the weird and the wacky stories in Judges fits in with the overall theme of the book (without God, people do stupid things, or better put, The failures and foibles of God's people show how much we need God's Word and God's Guidance).

I realize how this going to sound to some people "Only the new is true. We are much more enlightened and knowledgeable today.
Read more ›
2 Comments 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone