Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness


Product Details

Baylor University Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.4 X 0.6 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Richard B. Hays (Ph.D., Emory University) is George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School. His publications include Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (2016), Reading the Bible Intertextually (edited with Stefan Alkier and Leroy A. Huizenga, 2009) and Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation (edited with Stefan Alkier, 2012).


A beautiful book.

--Stephen Finlan "Catholic Biblical Quarterly "

Reading Backwards successfully demonstrates that Jesus is indeed Israel's Lord incarnate. The genius of this short volume lies in Hays' deft appropriation of Old Testament texts in the Gospels. He pays attention to often overlooked details in specific Old Testament texts, teasing out some of the nooks and crannies, and then weaves these insights into the Gospels. The book not only demonstrates how the Evangelists read the Old Testament, it also serves as a model for us to do the same.

--Benjamin L. Gladd "Reformed Faith & Practice: The Journal of Reformed Theological Seminary "

This is an encouraging, intriguing, and stimulating book. Readers who are interested in interpretation and in learning lessons from the Bible itself about the nature of interpretation will find this a valuable companion for their reflections.

--Church Times

The strengths of Reading Backwards are obvious, and it will prove fruitful for anyone interested in Gospel studies, but also for studies in biblical theology and Christology more generally, as well as modern debates over what stratum of the Christian tradition first recognized Jesus' divinity.

--Nicholas G. Piotrowski "Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society "

This is an exceptionally rich study, illustrating how early Christianity and, in particular, the four evangelists "read backwards" in their portrayal of Jesus' divine identity.

--Donald Senior, CP, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago "The Bible Today "

Reading Backwards is an enormously enriching examination of the Christology of the four gospels.

--Sam Emadi "Books at a Glance "

Professor Hays is to be congratulated upon offering in this brief book a great deal more substantive scholarship than is provided in most books many times the length.

--Simon Gathercole "Reformation21 "

Hays has made an excellent study of this subject. His insights are rich and interpretations are clear. His style of writing is appealing and the illustrations he gives are truly convincing. Yes, the Old Testament teaches us how to read the Gospels and likewise the Gospels teach us how to read the Old Testament.

--Dominic Mendonca "Revue Biblique "

Reading Backwards is a wonderful book, offering the reader a succinct but potent experience with a contemporary and refined hermeneutical approach to Scripture that holds in tension critical and pre-critical sensibilities.

--Edward W. Klink III, Pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Roscoe, Illinois "Books at a Glance "

[Hays] is engaging, and he is nontechnical in handling this complex topic.


The readings of each of the four Gospels that are presented in Reading Backwards provide a rich and concise survey in which each gospel distinctively uses scripture to paint its picture of Jesus.

--Neil White, Rejoice Lutheran Church "Word & World "

The insightful manner in which Hays analyses and summarizes the distinct ways in which the four gospel writers read the OT figuratively is a major strength of this highly recommended book.

--Marius J. Nel, Stellenbosch University "Neotestamentica "

Overall, Hays's exegetical work confirms 'what the church's dogmatic tradition has classically affirmed about the identity of Jesus.' And it does so in an unlikely way, by pointing the reader to the narrative reflexes of Israel's monotheism.

--Michael Legaspi "First Things "

...Hays is to be commended for a lucid and rich study which does a great service to both the Church and the academy.

--Joshua Coutts "Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology "

Compact, provocative, and beautifully composed

--John T. Carroll "Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology "

A masterpiece.

--Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary "Books & Culture "

This is a rich, rewarding, and challenging work. The main substance of Hays' argument is not only convincing but nourishing to Christian faith: many of Hays' readings undermine those of more skeptical scholars and align precisely with the instincts of faithful though not learned Christians.

--Bobby Jamieson, University of Cambridge "Credo Magazine "

Richard B. Hays has always maintained a distinctive theological voice, even within his most specialized New Testament work. A remarkably lucid expositor of scripture and a salient (if somewhat controversial) voice on New Testament theology and ethics, Hays has always been important for theologians to read.

--Joshua Davis "Anglican Theological Review "

A remarkably insightful piece of work.

--Steve Jeffery, Minister, Emmanuel Evangelical Church, London

Hays opens up possibilities of reading and re-reading the Gospels, each time capturing additional layers of truth and beauty in already-familiar stories. Hays also paints a more appealing vision of Bible study, in which we need not be limited to mechanistic or simplistic methods of analysis but can bring in poetic sensibilities to our readings of the Gospels. Following Hays's lead, readers can then savor the outcome of this way of reading the Gospels: a renewed wonder regarding God's variegated, overarching plans for this world, centered on the humility and glory of Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God.

--Gregory S. MaGee "Christian Scholars Review "

Hays's argument for the necessity of reading the Gospels in light of their Old Testament roots provides a helpful corrective to historical critical approaches that would insist on understanding Old Testament texts solely within their own cultural milieu. Instead, Hays argues clearly and coherently for understanding a connection between the Testaments by which the figure of Jesus is understood most fully only when set alongside of the Old Testament texts that the Gospel writers use to present him.

--Melanie A. Howard "Biblical Interpretation "

This book is such a gem that it may prove more widely influential than anything Hays has done yet.

--Jason Byassee, Senior Pastor at Boone United Methodist Church in North Carolina "The Christian Century "

...Hays offers a way in which the contemporary Christian community may participate in a genuinely Christian reading of the OT.

--Cory Barnes "Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry "