This essay will argue that in several – often unnoticed – respects patristic exegesis can be relevant to contemporary biblical hermeneutics and can be a source of fruitful inspiration for it. From several quarters, contemporary scholars have called for an integrative approach to biblical hermeneutics, especially one that conjoins the historico-critical method and theological hermeneutics. A similar integrative approach was already adopted by patristic exegetes in Origen’s line, with their integration of historical reading and noetic exegesis, and with their hermeneutics of multiplicity that is another respect in which patristic exegesis proves highly relevant to contemporary biblical hermeneutics. The present relevance of scriptural passages is also a core principle of both patristic exegesis and contemporary hermeneutics, as well as the tenet of the unity of Scripture, which was emphasised by patristic exegetes and is to be taken into account in contemporary biblical hermeneutics with respect to the Bible as supertext. Also, philosophical investigation applied to scriptural hermeneutics is one of the most remarkable features of Origen’s and his followers’ hermeneutics. A reflection will thus be devoted to the relationship between philosophy and biblical hermeneutics, as well as between theology and philosophy, and a parallel will be drawn with philosophy of religion.
Enrico dal Covolo, Il Vangelo e i Padri: per un’esegesi teologica (Rome: Rogate, 2010). See already Peter Williamson, Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (Rome: Gregorian Biblical BookShop, 2001); David M. Williams, Receiving the Bible in Faith: Historical and Theological Exegesis (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 2004)
See, e.g., Kathleen M. O’Connor, “Crossing Borders: Biblical Studies in a Trans-Cultural World,” in Teaching the Bible: The Discourses and Politics of Biblical Pedagogy(ed. Fernando F. Segovia and Mary Ann Tolbert; Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998), 322–337. An excellent overview of both the historical development of biblical hermeneutics and its modern and contemporary trends, from liberation theology to postcolonialism and feminist hermeneutics, is Anthony Thiselton, Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009). See also Walter Kaiser and Moises Silva, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning (2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007).
As argued in Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, “Origen in Augustine: A Paradoxical Reception,”Numen60 (2013): 280–307, followed and confirmed by Karla Pollmann, “The Broken Perfume-Flask: Origen’s Legacy in Two Case-Studies,” in Origeniana XI, Aarhus 26–31 August 2013 (ed. Anders-Christian Lund-Jacobsen; Leuven: Peeters, 2015).