I enjoy reading Peter Leithart on exegesis and hermeneutics, even though I often find slight disagreement with his readings. His writing is most lucid, and his thinking about passages of Scripture often challenges me to ponder deeper the assumptions I bring to the interpretive table.
At last year’s Center for Pastor Theologians conference, I remember Leithart speaking on Revelation 17 and saying that we cannot start with grammatical-historical analysis when approaching Scripture because of the unity of Scripture—that the Author knew the end from the beginning. He went on to say that the “fragmented Bible” is not the Bible of the church, and that we need to learn again to read the Bible as one book.
I am not ready to jettison grammatical-historical analysis as the third step – after prayer, and multiple readings of the text – in approaching Scripture—no more than I am ready to abandon it in reading Leithart, such that I understand by his words that he means we should read all Scripture in light of the whole story of Scripture, and that he does not mean that I should throw away my BHS, NA 28, or UBS 5. If I get rid of grammatical-historical analysis, “fragmented Bible” might become a Bible with missing books or pages rather than a way of speaking of atomistic reading or reading without Biblical Theology lenses.
I am developing a presentation on the relationship between Augustine’s Christology, his hermeneutics, and three of his tractates in John 16 and 19. The related research has led me into the figurative readings of Augustine and the fathers—readings similar to Leithart’s. I am gaining a greater appreciation of what Leithart is attempting to do in exegesis – so much so that I found myself attempting a Leithartian reading of Ex. 24:15 (the subject of another paper on which I am working).
The LXX of Ex. 24:13 reads, καὶ ἀναστὰς Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς ὁ παρεστηκὼς αὐτῷ ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος τοῦ θεοῦ – “And arising, Moses and Joshua, his assistant, went up into the mountain of God” (or, the ESV – “So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God”). Similarly, two verses later, the ESV reads, “Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.” The ESV is reflective of the Hebrew text. However, the LXX reads, καὶ ἀνέβη Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸ ὄρος, καὶ ἐκάλυψεν ἡ νεφέλη τὸ ὄρος – “And Moses and Joshua went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.”
I think the Spirit was doing something through the LXX writer/editor at this point so that the first century believers, reading the LXX of Ex. 24:15, would say, “And Moses and Jesus went up the mountain.” I also think their reading would be right.
Recommended Resource: Peter Leithart, Deep Exegesis (Baylor).