Taught by God: Ancient Hermeneutics for the Modern Church


Product Details

$22.99  $21.38
B&H Publishing Group
Publish Date
5.43 X 8.43 X 0.47 inches | 0.52 pounds

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About the Author

Brandon D. Smith (PhD, Ridley College, Melbourne) is Chair of the Hobbs School of Theology & Ministry and Associate Professor of Theology & Early Christianity at Oklahoma Baptist University. He is also a co-founder of the Center for Baptist Renewal and host of the Church Grammar podcast.


"We should read Scripture not simply to collect information or find moral guidance but to encounter the living God. In Taught by God, Brandon Smith shows how the greatest interpreters of the Bible from the past mobilized certain sensibilities to experience God in and through the text. As we discover how to retrieve these sensibilities today, the result is not a servile deference to the past but balanced wisdom for the church's future. Highly recommended."
--Matthew W. Bates, professor of theology, Quincy University

"The premodern way of reading Scripture--more accurately the universal Christian practice until around 1800--was not just a simple method, but, as Brandon Smith shows, a common set of sensibilities: paying close attention to the flow of the words, the theological-Christological focus, and with the goal of personal and communal transformation. Smith leads us into these sensibilities in a very accessible and personal manner, inviting us all to a retrieval of this common inheritance, not as an archaeological exercise, but as a way forward from our present situation into the riches of the gifts of the Lord."
--John Behr, Regius Professor of Humanity, University of Aberdeen

"Engaging the church's history of biblical interpretation can be disorienting for anyone, especially for those new to the terrain. In this light, Brandon Smith's Taught by God is a genuine act of kindness. Marked by breadth and depth of learning, Smith ably guides readers though the halls of time, helping us sort through the strengths and weaknesses of the church's biblical reading practices. For those who think their preaching, teaching, or reading of Scripture have become flat, Taught by God offers resources from Christ's church for a thick and textured reading of Scripture. Many will benefit from what this book offers. For the sake of the church's health, I can only hope so."
--Mark S. Gignilliat, professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

Being 'taught by the Triune God' through the Scripture is a transformative dynamic believers share in common with ancient Christians. Smith opens our eyes to the host of the church's teachers from across the centuries, whose hermeneutical work can enrich our own understanding. Smith's beautiful exposé of writers like Origen, Justin, Hugh of St. Victor and John of Damascus makes this book a vital tool in evangelical retrieval of biblical hermeneutics that can resource each reader as well as the church at large."
--Stefana Laing, associate professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

"What do figures such as Irenaeus, Chrysostom, Augustine, and Aquinas have to do with Martin Luther, John Calvin, and William Tyndale? When it comes to scriptural interpretation, Brandon Smith demonstrates that the answer is: much in every way! Smith overthrows the myth of Reformers who turned their backs upon the church's traditional biblical exegesis, and he offers concrete examples of the interpretation of specific biblical texts. Warmly recommended!"
--Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

"Of the modern church's needs, none is greater than a sound biblical hermeneutic. Brandon Smith offers a compelling case for the retrieval of ancient Christian hermeneutics for the benefit of the modern church. The volume is a masterclass in learning from the early church for the renewal of modern Christian practice."
--Steven A. McKinion, professor of theology and patristic studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"It is such a delight to see the movement to retrieve a theological and ecclesial reading of the Bible come into maturity. Brandon Smith's accessible and balanced work invites us to appreciate and practice reading Holy Scripture with wise, ancient sensibilities that show our long-standing communion with the saints." --Jonathan T. Pennington, professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Taught by God offers a helpful introduction to some of the key interpretive sensibilities of early Christian interpreters. Smith not only describes how they read Scripture, but also demonstrates how we can recover these sensibilities today. For anyone interested in learning how brilliant theologians of the past read the Bible, this is a great place to start!"
--Stephen Presley, senior fellow at the Center for Religion Culture & Democracy and associate professor of church history, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"You and I are not the first people to read the Bible. 'They' - the church fathers - read and often memorized large portions of the Scriptures centuries ago. Why should we care about their interpretations? After all, we don't hold to their medicine or science anymore. The answer, says Brandon Smith, is that 'they' were taught by God how to read the word of God, and we modern Christians have much to learn from our premodern forbears, especially when it involves to our cultural and interpretive blind spots. The church would foster healthier reading habits if Christians today recovered the three sensibilities that Smith identifies as hallmarks of premodern biblical interpretation."
--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"In Taught by God, Brandon Smith explores three sensibilities of pre-modern scriptural exegesis. Situating his argument in 'theological retrieval, ' Smith retrieves some patterns of scriptural exegesis for the contemporary church. Most convincingly, I hope his apology for retrieval continues to anchor us. May we read pre-modern sources and model Smith's exegetical virtues of retrieval (learning in humility; anchoring ourselves; worshiping with the church) as we retrieve the exegetical traditions for the church."
--Shawn J. Wilhite, associate professor of New Testament, California Baptist University