A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible by David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant

By David Tracy, Robert McQueen Grant

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At the end of the work Adrian points out that there are two forms of writing in the scriptures, prophetic and historical. Each has its own purpose. And for the interpretation of each, literalism is primary. But the interpreter must not be content to remain in literalism; he must go on to deeper understanding, based on the literal meaning. *’ Few “introductions” to scripture have been more sensible than this. The other manual of interpretation is the Regulative Institutes of the Divine Law by Junilius Africanus, based on the teaching of “Paul the Persian ,” and composed about 550.

On this account he considered it especially necessary for himself to be skilled in secular and philosophic learning [Eusebius, Hist. cccl. , McGiffert] . In this description of Origen’s work at Alexandria we see a whole Program of Christian education. It is an answer to Celsus’s charge that Christians do not wish to give or to receive a reason for their belief, that they keep repeating “Do not examine, but believe” (Origen, Con. Cels. 9). Origen, like other Christians of his time, 62 A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE distinguishes between the wisdom of the world and true wisdom; he also claims that the Christian is not to be a fool but to be a fool towards the wisdom of the world.

I9 The influence of the school of Antioch was also felt more directly. Two handbooks of interpretation are still extant which exPress the Antiochene attitude. *O It consists largely of an explanation of the meaning of Hebrew idioms and of biblical phraseology. Anthropomorphisms, for instance, do not need to be taken literally, but refer to various attributes of God. At the end of the work Adrian points out that there are two forms of writing in the scriptures, prophetic and historical. Each has its own purpose.

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