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Figured Out: Typology and Providence in Christian Scripture [Paperback]

By Christopher R. Seitz (Author)
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Item description for Figured Out: Typology and Providence in Christian Scripture by Christopher R. Seitz...

How we read the Bible and what we "discover" there are inseparably linked. Scholarship's focus on the historical setting has left the Bible "figured out." By moving beyond modernity's obsession with historical readings, Seitz seeks to recover a figural/typological approach to both Testaments-one that shapes a truly theological understanding of Scripture.

Publishers Description
The way we read Scripture and what in turn we discover are connected. All of our attempts to find the historical backgrounds to texts have led us to believe that we have figured out the Bible. Steering a course between modernity's obsession with historical readings and fundamentalism's compulsion for a-historical readings, this text recovers a figural/typological approach to both Testaments that shapes a theological understanding of Scripture. Individual chapters cover various aspects of the Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit), the nature and practices of the Church, and facets of the spiritual life.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   228
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.69"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2001
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664222684  
ISBN13  9780664222680  

Availability  126 units.
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More About Christopher R. Seitz

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Christopher R. Seitz (PhD, Yale University) is professor of biblical interpretation at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario. He previously taught at the University of St. Andrews and Yale University. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including Figured Out, Prophecy and Hermeneutics, and commentaries on Isaiah 1-39 and 40-66.

Christopher R. Seitz has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible
  2. International Theological Commentary
  3. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
  4. Studies in Theological Interpretation

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Figured Out: Typology and Providence in Christian Scripture?

An Old Testament scholar goes theological and pastoral, with admirable results  Jul 25, 2005
This spirited, fascinating, and occasionally sermonic book is noteworthy not exclusively for its subject matter, some of which falls outside of the author's principal field of Old Testament criticism. Rather, its interest lies in the incursion of a main exponent of B. Childs-style 'canonical criticism' into ethical, pastoral, and ecclesial arenas which frequently remain beyond the horizon of biblical scholars.

A brief 'Part One' introduces the problem which Seitz intends to confront: 'historical criticism ... failed to do constructive theological work involving the identity of God in the most basic sense.' Here the first notes of 'canonical criticism' are sounded. What differentiates 'historicism' and 'historical criticism' from sounder Christian interpretative antecedents is 'its appeal to the human dimension of scripture to such a degree that the actual form and structure of the literary witness is eclipsed ...' (emphasis added). Seitz' appreciative references to Hans Frei's The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative signal a principal source of this criticism's vocabulary. Over against historicism's need to 'point beyond itself to a vast, complex, developmental, ever-changing continuum in time and space', Seitz urges that Christian readers let 'the first witness (testament) sound forth its notes in an appropriate manner' as an authoritative deposit which Jesus and the earlier Christians engaged as Scripture rather than as a vein to be mined for hints at the development of Israelite or Jewish religion on its way (or not) to a more mature Christian product.

Parts Two ('Christian Scripture, Figured Out') and Three ('Two Testaments, One Scripture, One God') are a collection of essays in which Seitz comments upon current Anglican and wider Christian issues from the perspective of a biblical scholar and canonical critic who is concerned as well with wider issues. 'Scripture Becomes Religion(s): The Theological Crisis of Serious Biblical Interpretation in the Twentieth Century' (pp. 13-33) uses the gap between Pusey's and Gore's readings of Daniel as a test case for a hermeneutical shift whose consequences neither one would successfully manage. Eichrodt's attempt at an 'independent biblical theology', von Rad's tradition-historical method allowing no room for stabilisation of a textual 'final form' nor of any 'separate theological integrity', and - more bluntly - Brueggemann's de-ontologized 'unruly God' are brought in for criticism. This is delivered on the way to a description of what has been lost and then partially found (by Childs): 'figural interpretation' which assumes a 'surplus of intended meaning in every divine revelation' which God by his Spirit sovereignly and providentially effects through 'a word delivered once upon a time'.

In 'Two Testaments and the Failure of One Tradition-History' (pp. 35-47), H. Gese and P. Stuhlmacher-von Rad's tradition-historical heirs-are cited for failing to appreciate that 'the final literary form of biblical books, the internal canonical arrangements and ordering of diverse traditions into a final literary statement' are not meaningless, but just the opposite. Both Gese and Stuhlmacher prioritise 'the process over the original credenda as static and authoritative, because self-understanding is always in flux', with damaging results. For Seitz, 'something stops' at a moment of canonical stabilisation, a critical pause which sets in motion a history of effects which relate back to that canonical res. Christian teaching and emerging Judaism respond to a canonical fixture in different ways, but both of them do respond to it as authoritative. The problem faced by the earliest Christians was not 'what to do with the Old Testament, but its opposite: '... in the light of a scripture whose authority and privileged status was everywhere acknowledged, what was one to make of a crucified messiah and a parting of the ways?'

'Scripture and a Three-Legged Stool' (pp. 49-68), 'Scripture and Trinity' (69-79), and 'Bait and Switch' (81-88) will be of interest primarily to Anglicans and their observers. Each of these essays has noticeably grown up out of Seitz' work as a student of Isaiah and other Old Testament literature. 'Booked Up: Ending John and Ending Jesus' (pp. 91-101) seeks 'clues to canonical shaping' in the endings of Ecclesiastes, GJohn, and Revelation.

'Of Mortal Appearance: Earthly Jesus and Isaiah as a Type of Christian Scripture' (pp. 103-116) finds in the book of Isaiah a manner of responding to the New Thing in the light of an old word which 'in its temporal, literary, and theological organization ... is a type of Christian Scripture, Old and New Testaments.' That is, both the Book of Isaiah and the Christian canon speak of a 'distinction between two eras: one past and gone, which contained the seeds of promise and plan, and one coordinated with it, but only after a period of judgement had passed, by divinely given insight.'

In 'Dispirited: Scripture as Rule of Faith and Recent Misuse of the Council of Jerusalem: Text, Spirit, and Word to Culture' (pp. 117-129), Seitz critiques the unusual and unsatisfactory 'biblicism' of attempts by Luke Johnson et al. to find in the event of Acts 15 a precedent for new truth regarding contemporary same-sex relationships. By contrast, Seitz describes the Jerusalem deliberations as taking place in the context of diverse gentile participation in Israel (not as the beginning of a 'gentile mission) and its results as programmed by theological reflection upon the scriptural directives for sojourners in the midst of Israel (Leviticus 17-18).

'Handing Over the Name: Christian Reflection on the Divine Name YHWH' (pp. 131-144) engages the irony that Christians possess an Old Testament in which 'the Name of God' is central to its highest theological claims, and yet there is no certain route to the convention by which that name ought to be invoked. (Various alternatives exist: YHWH, the LORD, Yahweh, more recently Sophia et al.)

'The Old Testament, Mission, and Christian Scripture' (pp. 145-157) defines 'mission' as 'God's address to humanity's forfeit', an address in which God speaks the dialect of blessing. Genesis 11-12 and Isaiah 40-66 are awarded pride of place in the discussion, which seeks to understand Israel's election in the light of God's more ecumenical project.

In 'Prayer in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible' (159-175), Seitz surveys prayer within and without the covenant with Israel. Prayer in the Old Testament is neither religious nor self-conscious. It is rather the stubbornly relational matter of naming the name of Israel's God as a human response to divine self-disclosure.

A final chapter discusses 'The exegetical-theological significance of Article One of the Nice-Constantinopolitan Creed'. A conclusion draws the essays together. An appendix is the report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission.

Seitz' writing is fuelled by exegesis of the Old Testament and increasingly turned in provocatively theological directions. These essays appear to be held together as much by the author's own professional and theological pilgrimage as by any factor internal to the chapters. Here and there they betray the oral style of speeches delivered. The prose is frequently dense but nearly always repays attentive reading.

This collection is a rich mine of occasionally unpolished nuggets for scholars eager to hear Seitz out on the failings of biblical criticism which he alleges, sometimes by speaking of the movement in the past tense. It will also be welcomed by those whose interest runs in more strictly biblical-theological directions.

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