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Reading Sacred Scripture

Voices from the History of Biblical Interpretation

by (author) Stephen Westerholm & Martin Westerholm

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Initial publish date
Feb 2016
History, Exegesis & Hermeneutics
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
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A rich display of the Christian tradition’s reading of Scripture
Though well-known and oft-repeated, the advice to read the Bible “like any other book” fails to acknowledge that different books call for different kinds of reading. The voice of Scripture summons readers to hear and respond to its words as divine address. Not everyone chooses to read the Bible on those terms, but in Reading Sacred Scripture Stephen and Martin Westerholm (father and son) invite their readers to engage seriously with a dozen major Bible interpreters — ranging from the second century to the twentieth — who have been attentive to Scripture’s voice.
After expertly setting forth pertinent background context in two initial chapters, the Westerholms devote a separate chapter to each interpreter, exploring how these key Christian thinkers each understood Scripture and how it should be read. Though differing widely in their approaches to the text and its interpretation, these twelve select interpreters all insisted that the Bible is like no other book and should be read accordingly.

About the authors


Stephen Westerholm is professor emeritus of early Christianity at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. His other books include Reading Sacred Scripture: Voices from the History of Biblical Interpretation (with Martin Westerholm), Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme, and Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans.

Stephen Westerholm's profile page

Martin Westerholm's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Church Times
"Reading Sacred Scripture offers encouragement to those who wish to read the Bible with the Church, and as such should be widely welcomed."
— Review of Biblical Literature
"Reading Sacred Scripture is a welcome addition to studies devoted to the history of biblical interpretation, and it offers several portraits of different theological interpreters of Scripture who demonstrate some significant diversity in terms of their methods of interpretation and their attitudes toward Scripture."
— Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"It is perhaps fitting that a tome that deals with reading should read so well. Westerholm and Westerholm successfully address at least two audiences at once: a general readership will find the descriptions offered in the text engaging, while those with a more scholarly bent will find supporting technical and referential details abundant in the footnotes. All readers will welcome the concluding chapter's synthesizing review of recurring distinctions that mark Western scholarly Christian reading of Scripture in the quest to hear God's voice."
John Webster
— University of St. Andrews
"These theologically astute studies of some major interpreters of the Bible, classical and modern, are written with easy grace, clarity, and erudition lightly worn. This volume provides a fine account of Christian thought on the nature and reading of Scripture."
Todd D. Still
— Truett Seminary, Baylor University
"Over the sweep of Christian history, how did twelve of the most influential commentators on Scripture — ranging from Irenaeus to Bonhoeffer — approach the interpretive task? Stephen and Martin Westerholm pay learned attention to this intriguing, important question in Reading Sacred Scripture. The Westerholms rightly insist that these towering figures neither designed nor desired to read the Bible 'like any other book.' What is more, this father-and-son authorial team ably demonstrates that a sympathetic reading of Scripture, wherein interpreters regard themselves as addressed by 'the word of God,' is more in keeping with the aims and claims of the biblical authors than proponents of 'neutral, objective' scriptural interpretation have often imagined. There is much wisdom in this informed book, which instructively weds biblical interpretation with spiritual formation. I warmly and enthusiastically commend it."
Matthew Levering
— Mundelein Seminary
"In this marvelous book the Westerholms emphasize that God speaks to us through Scripture and calls us to obedient faith in his living and active word. They proceed to show how twelve brilliant theologians across the centuries have understood the nature and truth of God's scriptural speech. What is most striking here is how different — in personality, emphases, tools, and theology — these twelve theologians are! Yet they all demonstrably enrich our faith and exegesis today, most wondrously turning our dull academic sense of the 'history of exegesis' into a lived encounter with friends and mentors in Christ."

Other titles by Stephen Westerholm

Other titles by Martin Westerholm