Interpretation is An Ecclesiastical Activity

July 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

The fathers argue that biblical interpretation is an ecclesiastical activity to be practiced in the church and for the church within the context of prayer and worship. It is a communal act rather than a private, individualistic endeavor.

In short, the fathers consistently treat the Bible as a holy book whose riches can be mined adequately only by those prepared to honor and obey the message Scripture contains.

Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP) 1998, 9.

There are two different ways one could take this statement. Either this is in opposition to the academy, or in light of the reformation, lay people could not interpret, but only church authorities.

It seems that the fathers consistently meant what the last sentence of the quote says. It can be interpreted by those “prepared to honor and obey the message.” Thererfore, although this idea may have been abused throughout church history, its origins were different than its outcome.


Patrick Schreiner

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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.

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