Biblical scholar and historian Frances Young has produced a volume of essays on the topic of Ways of Reading Scripture. Most of the twenty-five essays that are included have been published elsewhere. But Young wrote some new essays for this publication. That alone shows extra consideration since often these collected essays do not include much by way of new, scholarly contributions.
The essays mainly focus on patristic engagement with Scripture as well as interpretation of the New Testament. When it comes to the New Testament, many of the New Testament essays focus on 2 Corinthians. One chapter (Ch 15) interestingly reads Romans in light of 2 Corinthians, something which strikes me as both unique and potentially illuminating.
While every essay is well-written, the papers will mainly interest students of hermeneutics, the New Testament, and early Christian interpretation. General readers could still benefit since they may enjoy reading these well-written essays.
At least three repeated emphases repeat through the collection. First, Young downplays the historico-critical method (e.g., 10–12). Second, Young finds herself open to the benefits of postmodern interpretation without embracing any particular emphases of postmodernism whole-sale. Third, with apparent ease and unique expertise, she insightfully studies early Christian sources.
For example, her essay on the New Testament and trinitarian theology (Ch 23) insightfully explores the key moments that shaped trinitarian dogma. She rightly pushes back against the idea that trinitarian theology merely revolves around philosophy (2018: 396). Instead, Young claims that “Trinitarian theology is the product of exegesis of the biblical texts, refined by debate and argument, and rhetorically celebrated in liturgy” (2018: 390).”
While the arguments Young advances throughout this essay cannot possibly all have equal success, she nevertheless has produced thoughtful work. Readers will benefit from the engagement even if they come away disagreeing. For that reason, I recommend this collection scholars and those interested in biblical interpretation.
Young, Frances. Ways of Reading Scripture: Collected Papers. WUNT 369. Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Sibeck, 2018.
Disclaimer: Mohr Siebeck provided me with a review copy of the book though I was under no obligation to give the book a positive review.