Reading with the Grain of Scripture

Richard B. Hays
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Published Year: 
Cover of Professor Richard Hays's new book 'Reading with the Grain of Scripture'

Richard B. Hays, Ph.D., an internationally recognized New Testament scholar and the George Washington Ivey Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, has compiled a collection of essays on the major themes of his exegetical and theological work over more than two decades.

The book, Reading with the Grain of Scripture, was published in October by William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co. and contains the most significant essays by Hays over the last twenty-five years and represents the full fruition of his body of work.

 “All these essays illustrate, in one way or another, how I have sought to carry out scholarly work as an aspect of discipleship—as a process of faith seeking exegetical clarity,” said Hays, who is especially noted for his work on the Gospels, the letters of Paul, and on New Testament ethics. He also served as the dean of Duke Divinity School from 2010 to 2015 and was a faculty member from 1991 until retiring in 2018.

Hays, who has been a giant in the field of New Testament studies since the 1989 publication of his book, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, opens the volume by modestly invoking Jesus’s parable about wheat and weeds growing together before using the essays to explore the major themes of his work. While the essays were written throughout his academic career, he recently wrote the introduction and conclusion.     

Those themes are: the importance of narrative as the “glue” that holds the Bible together, the figural coherence between the Old and New Testaments, the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus, the hope for New Creation and God’s eschatological transformation of the world, the importance of standing in trusting humility before the text, and the significance of reading Scripture within and for the community of faith.

Readers will find themselves guided toward Hays’s “hermeneutic of trust” rather than the “hermeneutic of suspicion” that has loomed large in recent biblical studies.

Hays’s scholarly work has bridged the disciplines of biblical criticism and literary studies, exploring the innovative ways in which early Christian writers interpreted Israel’s Scripture. An ordained minister in The United Methodist Church, he has also consistently sought to demonstrate how close reading of the New Testament can inform the church’s theological reflection, proclamation, and ministry.

Another book by Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, was selected by Christianity Today in 1996 as one of the 100 most important religious books of the twentieth century. His other books include: Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (1989), First Corinthians (Interpretation Commentary, 1997), The Art of Reading Scripture (2003, co-edited with Duke Divinity School Professor Ellen Davis), The Conversion of the Imagination (2005), Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (2008, co-edited with Beverly Roberts Gaventa), Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation (2012, co-edited with Stefan Alkier), Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (2014), and Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (2016).

Read a review on of Reading with the Grain of Scripture.