Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 42:0 (NA 2010)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Corrine L. Carvalho. Primer on Biblical Methods. Winona, MN: Anselm Academic. xiii + 93 pp., paper, $15.95.

Dr. Carvalho, professor of theology at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, presents an amazing amount of material in a brief span. The primer seeks to introduce the novice to methods of biblical interpretation, drawing examples from both the Old and New Testaments. She divides her material into four chapters, with an introduction which includes forewords for teacher and student, a definition of exegesis, and the question vexing many beginners as to whether approaching sacred Scripture in a questioning way might be detrimental to one’s theological health.

The first chapter, the world behind the text, introduces source criticism, form criticism, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, historical criticism (including ‘new historicism’ with its awareness of ideology of text and interpreter), and sociological analysis. For each, she concludes with sample questions of the type practitioners might ask, as well as a set of exercises for the student.

In ‘The World of the Text,’ the author explores elements of literary criticism, namely textual criticism, narrative criticism, rhetorical criticism, reader-response criticism, and ideological criticism, with the same types of questions and exercises already noted. The third chapter, looks at ‘The World the Text Creates,’ exploring the bridge between original and current reader. It has sections on reading communities, postmodernism and deconstructionism with specific mention of several approaches—canonical, liberation theology and postcolonialism, a section on contextual approaches such as feminist and materialist readings, and finally a brief discussion of cultural criticism.

Chapter four, ‘The History of Biblical Interpretation,’ provides several diverse views taken on biblical texts, including the exploitation by theology (Catholic theology in particular) of visions from Ezekiel, Isaiah’s suffering servant in the New Testament, Jewish-Christian approaches to Isaiah 7:14, and artists’ renditions of the sign of Jonah’s in Matthew 12 and Luke 11. The volume concludes with suggestions for further reading, a list of cited works, and a topical index.

All told, the volume succeeds very well in the task which it sets for itself. One hopes that those just developing an interest in reading and understanding Scripture will be led further in that exploration, moving even beyond this slim volume.

David W. Baker

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