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Richard Hays on Reading Backwards

Richard Hays on Reading Backwards February 12, 2015

I was on a silent retreat recently and during my quiet time I read Richard B. Hays’ new book Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness.  Its just over a hundred pages and makes a wonderful weekend read. In short, Hays demonstrates that you have to understand the OT to understand the Gospels and the Gospels do illuminate the OT. It is a great work about the type of intertextuality in the four Gospels and how it is indelibly connected to the evangelists’ christology. A few choice quotes come to mind:

“The sweet, infinitely inclusive Jesus meek and mild, so beloved by modern Protestantism, is a Jesus cut loose from his OT roots” (p. 12).

“The Gospel of Mark tells a mysterious story enveloped in apocalyptic urgency, a story that focuses relentlessly on teh cross and ends on a note of hushed, enigmatic hope. Many of the key images in this mysterious narrative are drawn from Israel’s Scriptures; indeed, a reader who fails to discern the significance of these images can hardly grasp Mark’s message” (p. 17).

“The motif of Jesus as the manifestation of God’s presence establishes the structural framework on which the story is built, as signaled by its appearance at the beginning, middle, and end of the story ([Matt] 1:23; 18:20; 28:20); these references frame and support everything in between. In contrast to Mark’s circumspect indirection in identifying Jesus with  the God of Israel, Matthew explicitly presents Jesus as the embodiment of the divine presence in the world” (p. 38).

A very informative read and mandatory reading for everyone serious about studying the Gospels!


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