Abstract

This article introduces the following three essays in this volume of the Journal of Theological Interpretation, which seek to point out the elements that make patristic exegesis different from our own. The articles illustrate how, in contrast to our own biblical studies, patristic exegesis can seem foreign and off-putting but at the same time stimulating, adventurous, and useful to the life of the church. Patristic exegetes assume (without making a case for it) that Holy Scripture is the voice of the Triune Living God. Reading Scripture is therefore an act of faith and obedience, almost even a sacramental act. Patristic exegesis of Scripture holds as its goal the formation of its reader in the love of God and the love of neighbor. Reading Scripture is therefore a school from which we never graduate, because in this world love of God and love of neighbor are always imperfectly practiced. The authoritative context for the exegesis of the Fathers is ecclesial; it is neither academic (as is modern exegesis) nor individualistic (as is much of popular American Christianity's biblical interpretation).

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