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Reading in Christian Communities

Reading in Christian Communities

Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church

Edited by Charles A. Bobertz and David Brakke

The essays in this book honor and extend the work of Rowan A. Greer, Walter H. Gray Professor Emeritus of Anglican Studies at Yale University Divinity School, by exploring the connections between textual interpretation and the formation of religious identity. A diverse and prestigious group of biblical scholars, church historians, and theologians studies the role that scripture plays in the creation and maintenance of faith communities and the ways that communal locations in turn shape the interpretation of scripture.

The first part of the book examines specific examples of ancient biblical interpretation as a means of creating, maintaining, and challenging Christian identity in the pluralistic ancient world. Authors study interpretation in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Physiologus, Gnostic literature, the fifth-century mosaic of the Church of Hosios David in Thessaloniki, and in the works of Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, John Chrysostom, and Porphyry of Tyre. Reading scripture emerges as a strategy for locating the reader and his or her community with respect to other Christians, Jews, and pagans. Part 2 of the volume considers the general problem of interpretation within Christian communities, whether ancient or modern, as they face the task of maintaining a coherent identity.

Contributors to this book—all students, colleagues, and friends of Rowan Greer—are Charles A. Bobertz, David Brakke, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Stanley Hauerwas, Martha F. Meeks, Wayne A. Meeks, Frederick W. Norris, Richard A. Norris, Jr., Alan Scott, Arthur Bradford Shippee, Michael Bland Simmons, and Frederick W. Weidmann.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03165-7
248 pages
Publication Year: 2002

Charles A. Bobertz is professor of theology at St. John’s University School of Theology and Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota.

David Brakke is the Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity at Ohio State University.

“. . . a very fitting tribute. . . . The scholarly authors of these essays are all colleagues, students, or friends of Greer, and the essays are intended as a tribute to him and a continuation of his work. Both with regard to the content of the essays and the reflections on the modern hermeneutical problem, this is a welcome addition to the ever growing literature on the subject.” — The Heythrop Journal

“[A] substantial contribution to the post-modern theological conversation.” — Perspectives in Religious Studies

“A stimulating engagement of postmodern hermeneutics and the field of patristics, Reading in Christian Communities assists theologians and historians in understanding the ways in which the interpretation of texts develops out of particular cultures and, in turn, influences those cultures.” — Journal of Early Christian Studies

“This book will be of interest for those concerned with patristic exegesis and the contemporary discussion of how that exegesis, and texts generally, are to be interpreted.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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Reading in Christian Communities

Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church


Edited by Charles A. Bobertz and David Brakke

 Reading in Christian Communities: Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

The essays in this book honor and extend the work of Rowan A. Greer, Walter H. Gray Professor Emeritus of Anglican Studies at Yale University Divinity School, by exploring the connections between textual interpretation and the formation of religious identity. A diverse and prestigious group of biblical scholars, church historians, and theologians studies the role that scripture plays in the creation and maintenance of faith communities and the ways that communal locations in turn shape the interpretation of scripture.

The first part of the book examines specific examples of ancient biblical interpretation as a means of creating, maintaining, and challenging Christian identity in the pluralistic ancient world. Authors study interpretation in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Physiologus, Gnostic literature, the fifth-century mosaic of the Church of Hosios David in Thessaloniki, and in the works of Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, John Chrysostom, and Porphyry of Tyre. Reading scripture emerges as a strategy for locating the reader and his or her community with respect to other Christians, Jews, and pagans. Part 2 of the volume considers the general problem of interpretation within Christian communities, whether ancient or modern, as they face the task of maintaining a coherent identity.

Contributors to this book—all students, colleagues, and friends of Rowan Greer—are Charles A. Bobertz, David Brakke, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Stanley Hauerwas, Martha F. Meeks, Wayne A. Meeks, Frederick W. Norris, Richard A. Norris, Jr., Alan Scott, Arthur Bradford Shippee, Michael Bland Simmons, and Frederick W. Weidmann.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03165-7

248 pages

“. . . a very fitting tribute. . . . The scholarly authors of these essays are all colleagues, students, or friends of Greer, and the essays are intended as a tribute to him and a continuation of his work. Both with regard to the content of the essays and the reflections on the modern hermeneutical problem, this is a welcome addition to the ever growing literature on the subject.” — The Heythrop Journal

“[A] substantial contribution to the post-modern theological conversation.” — Perspectives in Religious Studies

“A stimulating engagement of postmodern hermeneutics and the field of patristics, Reading in Christian Communities assists theologians and historians in understanding the ways in which the interpretation of texts develops out of particular cultures and, in turn, influences those cultures.” — Journal of Early Christian Studies

“This book will be of interest for those concerned with patristic exegesis and the contemporary discussion of how that exegesis, and texts generally, are to be interpreted.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity