Last Fall, InterVarsity Press launched its new Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS) as a follow-up to the landmark Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. They selected historical theologian and Beeson Divinity School dean Timothy George to serve as general editor. Christianity Today editor in chief David Neff interviewed George, who also serves as a columnist and theological adviser to CT, about the Reformers' continuing relevance.
In your introductory volume to the RCS, Reading Scripture with the Reformers, you talk about the superiority of pre-critical exegesis. What really makes that better than how we interpret the Bible today?
Much good can be gleaned from a critical study of the Bible, but sometimes it comes with blinders. When we study the ancients, the Medievals, and the Reformers, it lifts off the blinders and puts us in touch with a wider community of discourse.
When we today think about reading the Bible contextually, we want to hear from different communities: from women, from different ethnic groups, from global voices. That gives us a wide range. Pre-critical exegesis brings in the wider community that we need chronologically in order to get a balanced understanding of Scripture.
Unlike post-critical exegesis, pre-critical exegesis is done in the context of and for the sake of the community of faith. It's churchly exegesis that puts us in touch with the life of prayer, the great doctrines of the faith, the catechetical tradition of the church, and the liturgy of the church, and it helps us to see Scripture as part of that whole.
There are obviously still people trying to do that, but the discourse that informs biblical studies at most modern academic conferences cares very little ...1