Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


The lessons of the history of exegesis serve as the primary resource in addressing the question of problematic eschatological passages of Scripture and the challenge of rightly discerning the correct reading. Our goal is a hermeneutic that is adequate for our understanding of the text. If our understanding of the text – and the reality to which it refers - is multivalent, then our hermeneutic must be adequate to account for multivalent meaning. Neither endlessly plural, nor narrowly referential, historical exegesis approaches the text as rich with inherent, but multivalent meaning. When asked if the text should be understood literally or figuratively, the historical exegete’s answer would be, “yes.” The most significant contribution to us from the Church’s long history of biblical exegesis may be its understanding of the nature of biblical language and meaning, offering us a different place to begin, and perhaps leading us to a hermeneutic that is adequate for the text we seek to understand.


Paper presented at the John A. Knight Bible and Theology Conference, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mount Vernon, Ohio, February 15-17, 2012.