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BOOK REVIEWS

FRANCES M. YOUNG: Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Chris-


tian Culture. Cambridge University Press, 1997. Pp
xiv+325. $59.95, Cloth.

This is a very welcome book. Frances Young, the Edward Cad-


bury Professor of Theology in the University of Birmingham
(UK), has already written many well-received books on the New
Testament and Patristics, such as the standard textbook, From
Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and Its Background
(London, 1983). The present work is sure to become another such
classic. Young does not simply repeat the usual platitudes about
the different 'senses' of Scripture, nor resort to the typical contrast
between Antiochene typology and Alexandrian allegory; indeed,
the assertion that "the traditional categories of'literal,' 'typologi-
cal' and 'allegorical' are quite simply inadequate as descriptive
tools, let alone analytical tools" (2) recurs throughout her work.
Instead, Young offers us a much more sophisticated and wide
ranging discussion, including, for instance, a look at the implica-
tions of the adoption of the codex, and, of particular interest and
importance, an examination of the methods of literary criticism as
practiced in the schools of late antiquity. Although no chapter is
devoted to the study of any one particular Father, Young does pro-
vide us with insightful and rich readings of a number of figures
central to the early history of Christian engagement with Scripture
(Justin, Marcion, Valentinus, Theophilus, Irenaeus, Tertullian,
Origen, Athanasius, Ephrem, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of
Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Theodore, Tyconius and
Augustine).
The first part of the book, "Exegesis and the Unity of Scrip-
ture," looks at the formation of the Christian Bible, the

405
406 ST VLADIMIR'S THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY

appropriation of the Jewish Scriptures, and the resulting issue


(and controversy) regarding the unity of the Bible, especially as
this was expressed in the appeal to the hypothesis (here identified
with the emerging canon of faith, providing the 'focus of the plot
and the relations of the principle characters,' 21) or the dianoia
(mind) of Scripture. Young argues that the early second-century
Christian attitude towards scripture is exemplified by the adop-
tion of the codex in preference to the more literary scroll: the
Jewish books "were physically 'taken over'—not just re-read but
re-formed. In the act of appropriation, they were subordinated,
demoted, long before they were accorded the title 'Old Testa-
ment'" (15). T h e words of Scripture were relativized in the early
second century, she argues, by appeal, such as that of Papias, to the
living testimony concerning the embodied Word. Only after the
dangers inherent in such a stance became apparent, in Marcion
and the Gnostics, would the newly formatted Bible regain its
divine aura, and the commitment to a "text-based version of re-
vealed truth" become established as the basis of orthodoxy (57).

The second part of the work is devoted to the subject of "The


Bible as Classic." Here Young traces how the adoption of the
Jewish Scriptures by a small and diverse body of otherwise unre-
lated persons could be seen as an audacious "cultural take-over
bid." Christians responded to the universal assumption that noth-
ing could be both new and true, by claiming to derive their Gospel
from the ancient Scriptures of the Jews, the "proof from proph-
ecy," and, moreover, relativizing the most powerful tradition in
ancient society, WcWzmc paideia, by claiming that the Greeks had
got their insights into truth from Moses. As such, the Bible itself
became a classical canon for Christians students (and Young re-
minds us elsewhere that "the early Church was more like a school
than a religion in the social world of antiquity," 244), replacing
those texts which had previously held foundational importance
for Hellenistic culture. T h e establishment of Christianity as a
text-based religion did not happen without a struggle, in particu-
lar with Gnosticism, and its continued orientation towards
Book Reviews 407

on-going, personal revelation (cf. 57-62). W i t h a Christian canon,


the stage is set for the advent of scholarship, first exemplified in
Origen's appropriation of the various methods of literary criti-
cism. T h e introduction of such scholarly methods, whatever one
might think of his use of them, was to be Origen's abiding legacy.
As Young points out at the end of her book:
That tradition largely drew on the standard procedures of
Graeco-Roman schools. Some, like the Cappadocians
and Augustine, were well aware of this, and not ashamed
to claim that the tools of rationality were ultimately given
by God for the understanding and celebration of the di-
vine condescension in speaking with mere creatures
through the Logos. (298)
In the third part of her book, Young tackles the subjects of
"Language and Reference." Here she argues convincingly, and
surely correctly, that the modern preference for typology (itself "a
modern construct") rather than allegory, as an affirmation of the
historical reality behind the text, one "event" foreshadowing an-
other, is "born of modern historical consciousness, and has no
basis in patristic material" (152), and likewise that the predilec-
tion for "Antiochene literalism" stems from a similarly naive equa-
tion of this with our modern historical sensibilities. As she
comments:
No Antiochene could have imagined the kind of critical
stance of the Biblical Theology movement, explicitly lo-
cating revelation not in the text of scripture but in the
historicity of events behind the text, events to which we
can only have access by reconstructing them from the
text, treating the texts as documents providing histori-
cal data. This is anachronistic (167)
Young, following recent work on Scripture, prefers, rightly, to see
typology as operative within Scripture itself, a result of the correspon-
dence retrospectively produced through the intertextual character of
Scripture: Abraham's story "typifying" the exodus, Christ being pre-
sented by Matthew as the new Moses (cf. 198-200).
408 ST VLADIMIR'S THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY

Young suggests that the real issue in Patristic exegesis of Scrip-


ture is one of reference: to whom or what is the text referring? To
explicate their interpretation, a variety of reading strategies were
brought into play by both Antiochenes and Alexandrians equally;
Young differentiates five different kinds of "literal" reading
(188-9), seven types of "allegory" (192) and four types of
"typology" (201). Young explains what she sees as the essential dif-
ference between typology and allegory, and the inherent problem
with the latter, by making her own distinction between "ikonic"
and "symbolic" mimesis or representation. "Ikonic" exegesis, as
practiced by the Antiochenes, calls for a "mirroring of the sup-
posed deeper meaning in the text taken as a coherent whole";
typology remains true to the narrative, respecting its structure and
coherence. On the other hand, Origenist "symbolic" allegory "in-
volves using words as symbols or tokens arbitrarily referring to
other realities by application of a code, and so destroying the nar-
rative, or surface, coherence of a text" (162). Allegory destroys the
possibility of a "mirroring" relationship between the text and its
meaning, by imposing an arbitrary relationship between the
words, taken as "symbols," and the exegesis. While the
Antiochenes sought "a more integral relationship between the co-
herence of a text or narrative and the truth discerned by theoria or
insight" (200), Origen sought a coherence which lay not in the
text and its wording, but in the spiritual realities to which the text
referred. While her analyses penetrate more deeply than is usual,
the resulting explanation seems rather familiar.
The fourth part of her work tackles the subject of "The Bible
and the Life of Faith." Here Young attempts to reorient the subject
of scriptural exegesis away from the merely historical concerns
which so burden much of modern scholarship, to look at the func-
tion of the Bible within the context of the early Church. In a vari-
ety of modes, as subject matter for preaching, the inspirational
model for apocryphal acts and hagiography, providing a pattern
for the spiritual life and so on, the Word of God is active in shaping
the lives of its hearers, and it is this engagement with the Word that
Book Reviews 409

is of primary importance. She finds the paradigm of such


exegetical engagement in the figure of Augustine, at least as he rep-
resents himself in the Confessions—he is not simply creating a liter-
ary paradigm for the Christian life (such as Gregory of Nyssa's Life
of Moses), but represents his own life as having been reshaped in
the light of Scripture.

Any attempt to summarize, as above, the riches contained in


this book is bound to failure, but this is not solely the fault of the
reviewer. Young characterizes her book as a "spider's web," with
the sections of the book being the radiant segments of the web —
they are the major themes, each of which is traced in the sec-
ond-century material and then broadened out. T h a t this is so is in
part due, it seems, to the fact that Young has incorporated various
articles treating specific themes, often without any changes (e.g.,
chapter 5). Thus, to understand the various aspects of a writer, one
needs to synthesize (at least) four different parts of the book. In the
final fifteen pages Young does offer an attempt to sketch a revised
history of exegesis, but one cannot help wishing that the book as a
whole had been recast in such a model. This might also have had
an impact on her interpretation. For instance, if one takes seri-
ously the intertextual nature of the Gospels themselves, as noted
earlier, then it becomes questionable whether the "proof from
prophecy" is an ad hoc argument introduced by the apologists in
their "cultural take-over bid," relativizing the ancient Scriptures.
Certainly priority is ascribed to the Gospel, but this is from the
first, however contentiously, proclaimed to be "according to the
Scriptures." If Luke, as Young suggests, models himself on
Graeco-Roman conventions and the Jewish historical books, "like
a budding rhetorician mimicking the classics; ... creating corre-
spondences which we might grace with the label 'typology'" (288),
then one cannot speak of the Gospel, and indeed of Christ H i m -
self, independently of, or in distinction to, these Scriptures with-
out being guilty of an anachronistic historicism similar to that
which Young levels against the Biblical Theology movement. Sub-
stantiating her claim that such a position was rife in the early
410 ST VLADIMIR'S THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY

second century, Young puts too much weight on Papias' appeal to


oral witness, and mistranslates a key passage from Ignatius: in op-
position to those who place their trust solely in the ancient Scrip-
tures ("the records," archeia), Ignatius does not say, "For m y part,
my records are Jesus Christ," but "For me, the records are Jesus
Christ" {Phil. 8:2; Young, 16, 2 9 1 , cf. 59).
Despite this complaint, this is an impressive and important
book. Young's familiarity with the numerous ancient writers she
deals with is evident. So too is her familiarity with contemporary
critical theory. Yet most striking is her ability to relate the issues
discussed by both groups. Young notes that "there is a sense in
which later exegesis cannot escape Origen, either being indebted
to his work or reacting against it" (295); surely the same can be said
with regard to this work for all subsequent study of patristic
exegesis.
John Behr

PAULM. BLOWERS, (Ed.), The Bible in Greek Christian Antiquity.


Vol. 1 of The Bible Through the Ages, eds. C. Kannengiesser
& P. Bright. University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. Pp. 468,
$40.00, paper.

This book is a revised translation of Le monde grec ancien et la


Bible, edited by C. Mondésert (1984), the first volume of the series
Bible de tous les temps, directed by C. Kannengiesser. Various revi-
sions have been made, to reflect more recent work and to refer to
English versions of primary and secondary works. More substan-
tially, four of the original French articles, which were considered to
be too technical, have been replaced by new studies by American
scholars, R. Heine, F. Norris, D . Burton-Christie and P. Blowers,
each of w h o m has published, during the past decade, well-received
studies on the Greek Fathers and ascetic tradition. There are
twenty essays altogether, varying from seven to thirty-four pages
in length, grouped in five sections: (1) "The Bible as a Foundation
^ s
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