After a brief critique of traditional and current approaches, this article proposes a new hermeneutic, here called below-the-text reading, which traces the evolutionary trajectories of soteriological paradigms, such as the exodus or the kingship, through a thousand years of biblical history. This method exposes and undercurrent of meaning manifesting itself through successive texts like a story unfolding through the series of frames in a film strip. The emergence and evolution of such paradigms in biblical history are due to the fact that the divine Word responds to human needs in all dimensions of life. Not the individual texts are canonical, it is argued, but the dynamic and direction of the undercurrent of meaning. By extrapolating its thrust to present predicaments, justice can be done both to the canonicity of historical scripture and the demands of modern situations.