Intertextuality 2.0

September 22, 2015 — 2 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 10.15.34 PMIn post one I simply introduced the book by Matthew Bates (The Hermeneutics of Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012).

Today I want to note one criticism Bates levels against current forms of intertextual arguments.

The study of intertextuality was popularized by Richard Hays in his book Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. The book has spun off a whole cottage industry of “intertextual” studies.

Hays describes intertextuality as the embedding of fragments of an earlier text within a latter one.

Although Bates is appreciative of Hays’ work he thinks that that Hays (and others) view needs expanding. Much work has been done comparing Pauline exegesis with that of other early Jewish interpreters. While this is indispensable, Paul was a certain type of Jew who has come to very specific and radical conclusions about Jesus as the Messiah.

Paul is a Jew committed to Jesus Christ and therefore these comparisons between Paul and early non-Christian Judaism cannot capture the central features of his hermeneutic.The closest comparison for Paul is with other ancient “Christians,” not with Paul’s fellow Jews who do not share his convictions regarding Jesus as Messiah and Lord.

Thus Bates summarizes Hays and others mistake.

Hays’ intertextual model obscures the need to look beyond the source text to coeval and subsequent texts within a fully healthy intertextual model…He centers only on prior-occurring texts (p. 51).

This problem pervades not only Hays but much of the OT in NT studies. Bates then gives the example of the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament which ignores early Christian sources, especially those beyond the horizons of the NT.

What interpreters should do in intertextual studies is include Christian “co-texts,” “post-texts,” and “inter-texts.”


Patrick Schreiner

Posts Twitter Facebook

I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

2 responses to Intertextuality 2.0

  1. Pat, thanks for the post brother. Correct or nuance my thought please: I think post-NT early Christian sources don’t hold the same value as OT texts which are inspired (most valuable) and pre-NT Jewish writings which help us get into the mindset of the NT writers as we study their writings.

    Post-NT early Christian writings can certainly give insight and are important but not to the same degree as the OT texts and pre-NT Jewish writings that G. K. Beale asked the authors of the NTCOT chapters to consult.

    What do you think?

    • Patrick Schreiner September 22, 2015 at 11:16 am


      I think the point is methodology. He is not saying to disregard those interpreters but if we want to follow Paul’s method we should look more at, maybe primarily at, other “Christian” interpreters. For me that would be starting with other NT authors and then expanding that out to post-Scripture interpretation. Not all “Jews” held the same views of how the Messiah completed the story of Israel so the LXX as an interpretive method is lacking in some respect.

      I don’t think he is discounting the LXX, just saying we need to do more and look at other early Christian interpreters.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>