At the Department of Old Testament, University of Pretoria, a new series is being written on the history of Old Testament exegesis. It does not replace the existing series of 27 articles on the teo-website, but it has been reworked, elaborated and extended to 100 short articles to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria. It starts in August 2017 and will run until the beginning of 2018 and will appear in Afrikaans and English on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays on the teo-website.

Project Name

History of the understanding and interpretation of the Old Testament since the New Testament era to the twenty-first century.

Purpose of the project

  • To emphasise the value of a historical understanding as a way of detecting truths and insights which we are oblivious of or have already forgotten.
  • To accentuate the intersection between church and exegesis, understanding and intellectual context, faith and reason.
  • To highlight the variety of expositions of the Old Testament through the ages.
  • To underscore the fact that the interpretation of the Old Testament was never final and absolute but was always open to new ways of interpretation and different meanings.
  • To eventually show that the Old Testament was always there, but in different forms.

Preliminary outline

Below is a very preliminary outline that can of course change as the series progresses.

Hermeneutics and history

  1. Introduction of the project
  2. History and hermeneutics
  3. The church as a living space
  4. Church history as an explanation of the Old Testament
  5. Time and sources
  6. Apology to the Jewish faith community

The Old Testament and the New Testament writers

  1. Historical and life context
  2. The Old Testament as a basic text in difficult times (Luke)
  3. Paul: Everything is understood differently
  4. Mark: fulfilment of promises
  5. Matthew: A Jewish-Christian Understanding
  6. John: suffering and the Old Testament intertwined
  7. Summary of research results

Expansion of Christianity

  1. How did it happen?
  2. Religious festivals
  3. A travel report

Early church

  1. Historical and life context
  2. I Clemens: no break in the history of faith
  3. Barnabas: Old Testament just for Christians
  4. Justin Martyr: OT older and better than philosophers
  5. Marcion: reject Old Testament
  6. Irenaeus: keep both testaments
  7. Summary of research results

Africa, and the Old Testament

Alexandrian school

  1. Theological world
  2. Clemens: Christ explains the Old Testament
  3. Origen: the Old Testament and the way of the soul

Africa, Carthage

  1. Cyprian
  2. Tertullian


  1. Life course: ‘Confessiones’
  2. His time at the Manicheans: reject Old Testament
  3. His friend Ambrosius: Multiple understanding possible
  4. Jerome: his correspondent
  5. Tyconius: the first western hermeneutic scholar
  6. Words are strange: meaning always evades you
  7. Use and enjoy: true attitude towards Old Testament
  8. Psalms: Christ is the centre
  9. Psalms: Totus Christus
  10. De Civitate Dei: the Old Testament and hope
  11. Further influence: Middle Ages, Luther
  12. Summary of research results

The wonderful medieval times

  1. Another world, another reading
  2. A four-fold understanding of a medieval priest
  3. Hugo of Saint Victor: a deeper historical understanding
  4. Abelard: dialectics and exegesis
  5. Bernard: A voice from the monastery
  6. ​​Joachim of Fiore: the end is near
  7. Nikolaus of Lyra: Luther could not dance without Lyra
  8. Summary of research results

The Reformation

  1. The Renaissance: back to the text
  2. Major resolutions: 1512-1517
  3. Luther: the Psalms and the breakthrough of the Reformation
  4. Luther: Totus Christus and his understanding of Psalm 22
  5. Luther: his comments on Galatians
  6. Melanchton and / or Zwingli: the Old Testament and theology
  7. Calvin: the historical reading of the Old Testament
  8. Calvin: Moses and Genesis
  9. Flacius Illyricus: understanding and method
  10. A post-Reformation shock: there are different readings of the same text
  11. Summary of research results

Orthodoxy, Enlightenment, Pietism

  1. Orthodoxy: A firm grip on the text
  2. Enlightenment: understand texts reasonably
  3. Pietism: feeling and exegesis
  4. Emergence of natural science: the Old Testament under pressure
  5. Summary of research results

Origin of historical consciousness

  1. Thinking in the 19th century: the eternal loss
  2. Friedrich Schleiermacher: the Old Testament unnecessary
  3. Simon and Astruc
  4. Baruch Spinoza: separate reason from revelation
  5. Johann Philip Gabler: a day in 1787
  6. Wilhelm Leberecht De Wette: faith and historical criticism belong together
  7. Wilhelm Vatke: connect Hegel and De Wette
  8. Tübingen School: historical criticism and historical understanding
  9. Julius Wellhausen: a radical other way of reading
  10. Julius Wellhausen: a history of Israel with a twist
  11. Summary of research results

The twentieth century

  1. Hermann Gunkel: sages are important
  2. Alt and Noth: historical understanding becomes the norm
  3. Gerhard von Rad: different streams come together
  4. Gerhard von Rad: everything begins with a confession of faith
  5. Gerhard von Rad: the prophets respond to the history of health
  6. Karl Barth: history not so important
  7. Rudolf Bultmann: the Old Testament is a failed history
  8. Wolfhart Pannenberg: history the widest horizon
  9. Summary of research results

The Pentateuch in the 20th century. A case study

85-100. Moments in the Pentateuch Research / A Theology History of Israel

© jler

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