Historical-critical methods in biblical scholarship are associated with numerous intellectual movements, such as rationalism, positivism, and historical relativism, that minimize or reject the sacred and revealed nature of Scripture. Ben F. Meyer noted, however, as have official Church documents, that modern biblical techniques are essential for locating the literal, that is, the intended sense of the biblical texts. He likened these modern methods to the ancient Antiochene school’s focus on the literal sense.
But to focus on “Antioch” alone does not account for Scripture’s theological depth, religious context, or fulfillment of the promises of God. Biblical interpretation associated with ancient “Alexandria” offers a focus on the transcendent mystery of God’s word, often lacking in current biblical scholarship, but Meyer noted that ancient allegorical interpretation cannot simply be borrowed today since it often lacks a sense of historic change and development.
This book is not about patristic reception of the Bible in Antioch and Alexandria, but the need to bring together in critical synthesis historical biblical methods that seek to understand the literal sense in all of its fullness and also incorporate methods of interpretation that take seriously the biblical texts as revelatory of God’s word for our salvation. “Antioch” and “Alexandria” are representative in this book of interpretive stances that pay attention to historical context, change, and development and are open to transcendence in order to offer the salvific power of Scripture to readers in our own day.
John W. Martens, PhD, is professor of theology and director of the Centre for Christian Engagement at St. Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is a general editor of the newly published Liturgy and Life Study Bible (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2023).
Paul V. Niskanen, PhD, is professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of Isaiah 56–66 in the Berit Olam series (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2014) and co-author of the forthcoming volume on Isaiah in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series (Baker Academic).
Saint John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA
Facoltà Teologica del Triveneto, Padua, Italy
John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), Poland
Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Pittsburgh, PA
Juana L. Manzo
Incarnate Word University and the Mexican American Catholic College, San Antonio, TX
John W. Martens
St. Mark’s College at UBC, Vancouver, BC
Paul V. Niskanen
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
San Dámaso Ecclesiastical University, Madrid, Spain
Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale, Milan, Italy