Richard Longenecker’s Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period

Understanding the way that the Old Testament is used in the New Testament is an important part of Bible study. When you’re studying a New Testament passage that quotes the Old Testament, you need to know the reference and study further to discern the reason for the reference.
We have several resources that help with identifying the quotations (from modern translation cross references and parallel passage sets) and even have resources like Carson & Beale’s massive and helpful Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.
But have you ever wanted to read and work through a study on how exegesis was done in the time of the New Testament? That’s what Richard N. Longenecker gives us with his excellent study Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period. Longenecker gives us less of the “what” and “who” and much more of the “why”. He explains it like this in his introduction:

To speak of “Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period” is, of course, to suggest something of our concerns and limitations. But more particularly it must be said that, in the first place, our interest is primarily with exegetical procedures—that is, with specific exegetical practices, with the presuppositions that underlie those practices, and with the manner in which biblical exegesis was carried on in the apostolic period—and only secondarily and as derived from such an inquiry will we concern ourselves with the broader issues of the relation between the testaments and the development of biblical religion. Secondly, the focus of our attention will be on the biblical quotations used by the various writers of the New Testament, and less directly on their development of biblical themes, the structure of their compositions, their allusive use of biblical materials, or their employment of biblical language. And thirdly, our desire is to trace out distinguishable patterns of usage and development that appear in the various strata of the biblical citations within the New Testament, particularly as seen when compared with Jewish exegetical practices and patterns of roughly contemporaneous times.
Richard N. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Vancouver: W.B. Eerdmans; Regent College Pub., 1999), 2.

Because Longenecker is studying how exegesis is done in the “Apostolic Period”, he evaluates other sources contemporary with the New Testament to understand how they use biblical quotations as part of better understanding what is going on in the New Testament. He writes:

I am concerned to have an accurate understanding of both Jewish and Christian hermeneutics during the period under study, believing that each must be seen in its relation to the other. In addition to the New Testament, therefore, we must give close attention to the talmudic literature (Mishnah, Babylonian and Palestinian Gemaras, Midrashim, Tosephta, individual “Sayings” collections, and related codifications), the Targums, the Jewish apocryphal texts (particularly apocalyptic writings), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Philo. (Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis, 3)

It really is a fascinating book. And it isn’t in any of the Logos 4 (KF) packages. At $19.99 (at time of posting) it is a great book to add to your library and even to read on your iPod/iPad/iPhone.

Leave us a comment and let us know what some of your favorite Apostolic resources are.

Comments

  1. Elder Carl Floyd says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book on Apostolic background and since I am studying Apostolic teachings I would love to read this and any other books that would give me a more understanding of that period. Could you please give me a suggestion of other Apostolic readings as well?

    Thank you,