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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This Introduction sets out the crucial role of sacred Scripture in the life, faith, and practices of the early churches, a centrality that is the very premise of all the essays in this Handbook. The editors also contextualize this Handbook within the burgeoning of interest in early Christian biblical interpretation that has unfolded in patristic studies in recent decades, and indicate its interest for scholars and readers from disciplines broader than patristics. An important aspect of this Handbook, highlighted here, is its attention to forms, modes, and genres of biblical interpretation beyond line-by-line commentary undertaken by scholarly exegetes. Only by observing these does one begin to grasp how Scripture was the lifeblood of early Christian communities. The Introduction closes by insisting on the importance of including early Christian biblical interpretation, whatever its foreignness to modern biblical-critical methodologies, in contemporary conversations over philosophical and theological hermeneutics.

Keywords: biblical interpretation, scriptural exegesis, hermeneutics, history of interpretation, patristic studies, early Christianity, critical retrieval

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