Reading the Bible with the Reformers

Posted: October 7, 2011 in bible, history, Reformation

InterVarsity Press recently published the first volume (Galatians, Ephesians) of the new Reformation Commentary on Scripture Series, a companion series to the Ancient Christian Commentary series.  These excellent commentaries offer readers a collection of carefully selected historical texts related to specific biblical passages.

Timothy George, general editor of the new series, has written a companion book entitled, Reading Scripture with the Reformers.  He was recently interviewed by Credo Magazine and had this to say about the importance of the Reformers:

Why should Christians read the reformers today?

In a way, this is like asking why scientists should engage the work of Copernicus, Newton, or Einstein, or why philosophers should know something about Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant. The simple answer is: it would be the height of irresponsibility not to do so. The Reformation is one of the epochal moments in the history of God’s people and believers today ignore it at their peril. Many of the struggles in the sixteenth century are with us still and we do well to attend to the reformers’ recovery of the Gospel in their day for it will help us to be faithful in our own…

What kind of impact have the reformers had on how we read, translate, and preach the Bible today?

One of the purposes of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture is to make available a treasury of exegetical wisdom from the writings of the reformers. It is not enough to study the Scriptures with simply the Bible in one hand and the most recent commentary in the other, even if it is written by an evangelical scholar! In my commentary on Galatians (The New American Commentary series) I said this about the importance of Reformation exegesis: “We cannot simply deracinate the reformers from the sixteenth century and bring them without remainder into our own. In any event, that kind of repristination would only be of antiquarian interest and would not serve the reformers’ overriding concern that the living voice of the Gospel—viva vox evangelii—be heard afresh in every generation. However, when the writings of the reformers are compared with the attenuated, transcendence-starved theologies which dominate the current scene, they yet speak with surprising vitality and spiritual depth.” That is still true today.

– “Reading Scripture with the Reformers: An Interview with Timothy George,” Credo Magazine (October 2011), 68-71

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