Revelation, Scripture, and the Nature of Exegesis

Revelation, Scripture, and the Nature of Exegesis

JPI 768
3 Credits

Dei verbum teaches that Scripture is the “soul of theology,” thus showing its fundamental importance to the theological endeavor. This course will operate along two major thematic lines: the text as sacred text and the development of an exegetical approach congruent with the text. The lectures will examine the phenomenon of divine self-disclosure within the created order and the specific form this communication takes within the community of God’s people. Included in this study will be an examination of a) the nature of revelation; b) the nature of the Word of God as Scripture; c) the relationship between eternal Word and human event; d) the categories by which truth is conveyed, including Semitic categories of thought, the actualizing power of the word, vows, covenantal reality, etc.; and e) the relationship of the two testaments. Central to this investigation will be the insight of John Paul II and his linking of the Incarnation to the Scriptural text itself. The second theme is centered on the interpretation of the text and the appropriation of an exegetical model which enables the truth of the text to emerge. Here an examination of the modern methodological crisis will be made (re Bultmann et al.) along with the response of Ratzinger (Biblical Interpretation in Crisis). Included here will be an examination of how the Early Church Fathers read the Scriptures, a thorough investigation of the magisterial documents on biblical interpretation (especially Providentissimus deus, Divino afflante spiritu, and Dei verbum) and a review of the different methodologies informing today’s exegesis (with reference to the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s Interpretation of the Bible). The importance of the re-discovery of symbolic realism (which allows for the typological structure of Scripture to be operative) will be discussed. The work of John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Henri de Lubac, von Balthasar, Childs, Cassuto, Eichrodt, and Fishbane (among others) will be central to this study.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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