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Reading with the Grain of Scripture
HARDCOVER; Published: 10/22/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7845-8
Price: $ 61.99
479 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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 “All these essays illustrate, in one way or another, how I have sought to carry out scholarly work as an aspect of discipleship—as a process of faith seeking exegetical clarity.” 

Richard Hays has been a giant in the field of New Testament studies since the 1989 publication of his Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. His most significant essays of the past twenty-five years are now collected in this volume, representing the full fruition of major themes from his body of work: 

  • the importance of narrative as the “glue” that holds the Bible together
  • the figural coherence between the Old and New Testaments
  • the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus
  • the hope for New Creation and God’s eschatological transformation of the world
  • the importance of standing in trusting humility before the text
  • the significance of reading Scripture within and for the community of faith

Readers will find themselves guided toward Hays’s “hermeneutic of trust” rather than the “hermeneutic of suspicion” that has loomed large in recent biblical studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Gathering the Wheat
Part One: Interpretation
     1. Narrative Interpretation and the Quest for Theological Unity
     2. Reading Scripture with Eyes of Faith
     3. Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection
     4. Figural Interpretation of Israel’s Story
Part Two: Historical Jesus
     5. Rebranding Jesus and the Pitfalls of Entrepreneurial Criticism
     6. Story, History, and the Quest for Jesus
     7. Catholic Tradition and the Quest for Jesus
     8. A Modest Sketch of Jesus of Nazareth
Part Three: Paul
     9. Christology: Paul’s Story of God’s Son
     10. Soteriology: Christ Died for the Ungodly
     11. Apocalyptic: New Creation Poetics in Galatians
     12. Pneumatology: The Spirit in Romans 8
     13. Gospel: For Gentiles Only?
     14. Israel: Hope for What We Do Not Yet See
     15. Paul, Acts, and Early Christian Proclamation
Part Four: New Testament Theology
     16. Christology: Jesus in the Apocalypse of John
     17. Covenant: New Covenantalism in Hebrews
     18. Humanity: Bultmann’s Misreading of Pauline Anthropology
     19. Law: Whose World Is It, Anyway?
     20. Confession: Romans and the Nicene Creed
     21. Eschatology: “Why Do You Stand Looking Up into Heaven?”
Conclusion: A Hermeneutic of Trust
Epilogue: Dark Fruition—Waiting in Hope

Christianity Today Book Award in Biblical Studies (2021)
“Richard Hays is arguably the most significant American New Testament scholar and theological interpreter of Scripture of the last half-century. Many of the essays in this wide-ranging collection have been groundbreaking and discipline-shaping. Each one is highly perceptive both exegetically and theologically, for those dimensions of interpretation merge seamlessly in these exemplary pieces of rigorous scholarship as Christian discipleship. For many years I have told students and colleagues to read everything that Richard Hays writes; accomplishing that satisfying task is now much easier.”
— Michael J. Gorman
St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore
“This fine collection of essays represents the work of an outstanding scholar at the top of his game—intellectually rigorous, wide-ranging, and full of profound reflections that will enrich all those engaged in the theological interpretation of Scripture.”
— John M. G. Barclay
Durham University
“Richard B. Hays opens this volume by modestly invoking Jesus’s parable about wheat and weeds growing together. But readers of Reading with the Grain of Scripture—and there will be many—will likely invoke a later line from Matthew 13: the scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven who ‘brings out of the treasure both what is new and what is old.’ Here we see both the abiding concerns of Hays’s career and their recent inflection in a volume that takes us across the canon of the New Testament and into the life of this fine interpreter. A most welcome contribution!”
— Beverly Roberts Gaventa
Baylor University
“This is a veritable feast for those of us who’ve followed Richard Hays’s work over the years. This collection of wide-ranging essays touches on all the major themes of Richard’s exegetical and theological work. A great introduction for those still unfamiliar, a deeper dive for the devoted followers.”
— Gary A. Anderson
University of Notre Dame
Christianity Today
“Like a masterful composer building a complex symphony, Hays artfully weaves together his writings, allowing the reader to hear recurring melodies that focus on Scripture as narrative, the unity of Scripture, reading Scripture within the community of faith, and the centrality of Jesus’ resurrection. . . . Ultimately, the book testifies to the complexity and coherence of the biblical story, sung by many voices but written by one author, God himself.”
“Hays discusses four general topics: unity and diversity in scriptural interpretation; interpreting the historical Jesus; interpreting the apostle Paul; and interpreting various themes in New Testament theology (e.g., Christology, law, eschatology). Throughout Hays assumes a ‘hermeneutic of trust’ that interprets, ultimately, based on the Christian message of the death and Resurrection of Jesus and thus avoids broad historical skepticism. The essays are generally theologically conservative, nontechnical, and accessible.”
The Expository Times
“In this retrospective of work produced over the last twenty-five years or more, Richard Hays brings together some of his key writings which seek to clarify what is meant by scriptural readings of the biblical texts. What would it be to read, say, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians as Scripture? How, if at all, would this differ from reading it as a historian of the Roman Principate, or indeed, a theologically committed historical critic? What precedents are there for such a mode of reading? These and many other questions are addressed with exemplary clarity and provide the reader with the opportunity to look hard at the proposal. Will this bring life and renewal to the church?”
Review of Biblical Literature
“Although Hays describes his work as the wheat among the weeds, its rich insights also make it ‘the treasure in the field’ for biblical scholars and pastors.”
Scottish Journal of Theology
“This volume pulls together a number of Hays’ previously published essays. Many of these may not have garnered the attention they deserve. Moreover, putting them in a single volume makes them more accessible.”
Modern Theology
“In the concluding essay in this volume, Hays writes, ‘The real work of interpretation is to hear the text. We must consider how to read and teach Scripture in a way that opens up its message, a way that both models and fosters trust in God’. . . . Throughout his academic career, Richard Hays has done exactly that for all who have engaged his writings. Reading with the Grain of Scripture is an invitation, once more, to learn from the wisdom of this faithful teacher.”