The Soul's Longing: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Biblical Interpretation

Utilizing all that is valuable in historical-critical and related research, Dr. Mary Ford demonstrates with force and clarity just why biblical hermeneutics needs to return to the perspectives and methods of early Christian interpreters, particularly those of Eastern Church tradition. Since the late Middle Ages, biblical interpretation in Western Christianity has been largely guided by historical-critical methodology. Highly useful for questions of "Introduction" (the "who, what, when, where and why" of biblical writings), it has nevertheless led to a serious "reductionism," represented most flagrantly today by members of the "Jesus Seminar." The indispensable link between exegesis and spiritual life has been largely obscured, with the result that concern for the Gospel promise of salvation has been subordinated to scientific inquiry of the text. Her focus is consistently on the basic question, "What does the soul long for?" She answers the question by a careful criticism of non-orthodox trends in interpretation (from Spinoza to contemporary exegetes), and by demonstrating how a hermeneutic inspired by the Church Fathers can be faithful to the text, while leading the reader to discover what it means to be "a child of God." We are greatly indebted to Professor Ford for achieving her intended goal: to demonstrate that authentic and authoritative biblical interpretation is intimately related to the life of faith. This important book is a treasure that will be of special interest to clergy and students of theology, as well as to lay persons who experience the soul's deep longing for God. - Fr John Breck


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