Prima Scriptura: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation by N. Clayton Croy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve read a few introductions to New Testament study and interpretation. I can’t imagine one being better than this one. Written as a seminary text book, it should also be quite valuable to, and essential reading for, anyone who teaches or preaches from the Bible, or who wishes to seriously study it and apply its teaching in individual and community life. Certainly anyone in this position or with this intent should understand the things that this book explains about interpreting the New Testament.
The core of the book is the second chapter on analyzing the text of the New Testament. This is a very good introduction to the various forms of writing found in Scripture and how each are best studied and interpreted, along with good methods, resources and considerations for effective and fruitful study. This chapter covers the technical aspects of studying the New Testament very well. Good treatments of these can also be found in other books of this kind.
Where Dr. Croy’s book really stands out, in my opinion, is in the other parts of the book. Don’t skip the preface and introduction. They definitely help the reader understand the author’s perspective and get the most out of the book. Chapter one, on analyzing and preparing the interpreter helps the reader consider the effect that his or her own predispositions have on their understanding of the New Testament. For those who consider the Bible to be in any way authoritative for them, being a ‘virtuous reader’ of the text through reflective and prayerful preparation is important. The third chapter, “Evaluating and Contemporizing the Text,” deals with very important issues that confront present day interpreters and teachers of the Bible. There is an extensive and valuable discussion of the roles and relationships that tradition, reason, and experience have along with scripture. The final chapter, Appropriating the Text and Transforming the Community,” adds the very important message that “The work of Scripture is not complete until interpreters and their communities respond to its message and are transformed.” Unless we are prepared to be changed by what we study and understand, the effort that we expend in doing so will be largely wasted.
I highly recommend this book for any serious student of the Bible.