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Revealing the Mind of God: Exegetical Method in the Seventeenth Century

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Chapter Summary

In order to evaluate the validity of the older criticism directed at the interpretive practices of the seventeenth century, and its more recent positive reassessment, this chapter surveys various post-Reformation English exegetical manuals and other works which addressed biblical interpretation. It shows how the Puritan divines themselves approached the interpretive process. When the Puritans discuss the means of understanding Scripture, they are describing in general the exegetical techniques, both of humanistic and scholastic influence, which they employ in their treatment of the text. Most of the techniques mentioned in the chapter demonstrate the great continuity of the Reformed exegetical practice with the interpretative methods employed throughout the medieval era. However, granting again the somewhat artificial nature of this distinction, even a cursory analysis of the actual exegesis of the era reveals an equal indebtedness to the style and principles of Renaissance humanism which had developed in the previous two centuries.

Keywords: biblical interpretation; post-reformation English exegetical manuals; Puritan exegetical methodology; Renaissance humanism; scholastic influence



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