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22. Interpreting Scripture: Medieval Interpretations

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Introduction to New Testament (RLST 152)

The principles of interpreting the New Testament in this course assume a historical critical perspective. The historical critical method of interpreting a text privileges the intended meaning of the ancient author, the interpretation of a text's original audience, the original language the text was written in, and the avoidance of anachronism. However, for most of the last two thousand years, this has not been the method of interpretation of the Bible. Pre-modern interpreters, such as Origen and Augustine, felt free to allegorize and use the text as they saw fit. It was only through the Reformation and other events in modern history that the historical critical method became the predominant method of interpretation.

00:00 - Chapter 1. The Principles of the Historical Critical Method of Interpretation
20:11 - Chapter 2. The History of Historical Criticism
30:53 - Chapter 3. Pre-Modern Interpretation and "Literal" and "Allegorical" Meanings of Texts
34:19 - Chapter 4. Pre-Modern Interpreters: Origen
39:06 - Chapter 5. Pre-Modern Interpreters: Augustine
43:32 - Chapter 6. Pre-Modern Interpreters: Bernard of Clairvaux

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.