Paul and the Fathers: Reading Scripture with early Christians
As the earliest surviving Christian texts, Paul's letters provide invaluable insight into the first few decades of Christian practice and belief. How to read Israel's Mosaic and prophetic scriptures was a matter of lively debate. Paul's writings reveal how early Christians treated the Jewish scriptures as "divine oracles" which offered prophetic perception into God's designs for the End of Days. Not only do his writings show how Paul and his contemporaries used the scriptures in the mid-first century, his letters also provide glimpses into some of the very earliest Christian approaches to scripture a decade or two earlier, that is, even prior to Paul's calling as apostle.
Examples taken from gospel literature reveal the development of early Christian interpretation in the later decades of the first century. We shall then examine some patristic authors of the second to fifth centuries—such as Origen, Chrysostom and Augustine—to trace how some of these fascinating interpretative strategies developed into the age of the Church.
10.00am Reading scripture in St. Paul’s earliest churches
11.15am Coffee / tea
11.35am Paul’s use of scripture in Jewish and early Christian context
2.00pm Reading the Septuagint with the Greek fathers
3.15pm Tea / coffee
3.45pm Interpretative approaches in the Latin West
5.00pm Course disperses
Hall, C.A., Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downer's Grove, IL, 1998)
Young, F.M., Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997; Peabody, MA: 2002)
Froehlich, K., Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church (Fortress, Philadelphia, 1984)
Augustine of Hippo, On Christian Doctrine
Hays, R.B., Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (Yale University Press, Yale, 1989)
Stanley, C.D., Arguing with Scripture: The Rhetoric of Quotations in the Letters of Paul (T&T Clark International, New York, 2004)
Ellis, E.E., Paul’s Use of the Old Testament (Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1957; Baker, Grand Rapids, 1981)
Hooker, M.D., “Beyond the things which are written.” M.D. Hooker, From Adam to Christ (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990), 106-112
Hooker, M.D., “Beyond the things that are written? St. Paul’s use of scripture.” M.D. Hooker, From Adam to Christ (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990), 139-154
Stanley, C.D., “‘Pearls Before Swine’: Did Paul’s Audiences Understand His Biblical Citations?” Novum Testamentum 41 (1999), 124-144
Tuckett, C.M., “Paul, Scripture and Ethics. Some Reflections.” New Testament Studies 46 (2000), 403-424
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Jonathan Norton is senior lecture in Biblical Studies at Heythrop College, London. He specialises in varieties of Judaism in the Greco-Roman period and early Christianity, focusing on the letters of Paul and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Dr Griffith is an Associate Member of the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford and a member of Wolfson College, specialising in early Christianity and patristics.
Director of Studies
The Revd. Canon Robin Gibbons is Director of Studies for Theology and Religious Studies at OUDCE. He is a member of the Theology and Religion Faculty, Regents Park College and an Honoraray Canon of Christ Church Oxford.
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