Paul and the Fathers: Reading Scripture with early Christians

Course summary

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.



Programme details

9.45am     Registration

10.00am    Reading scripture in St. Paul’s earliest churches    
                  Jonathan Norton

11.15am     Coffee / tea

11.35am    Paul’s use of scripture in Jewish and early Christian context
                 Jonathan Norton

1.00pm    Lunch

2.00pm    Reading the Septuagint with the Greek fathers
                 Susan Griffith

3.15pm      Tea / coffee

3.45pm     Interpretative approaches in the Latin West
                 Susan Griffith

5.00pm    Course disperses


Recommended reading


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


Primary reading:

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)

Further reading:

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


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms. Accommodation is often available in Rewley House for those who wish to stay on the night before a course. Please contact our Residential Centre on+44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and prices.


includes coffee/tea: £66.50


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Jonathan D H Norton


Jonathan Norton specialises in  early Jewish and Christian writings. He has lectured in the University of London for over twelve years.

Dr Susan Griffith


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.

The Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons

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.