Richard Hays’ new book Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness

Scot McKnight just wrote a blog post about Richard Hays’ new book called Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness.

Professor Hays is a respected biblical scholar. I have benefited much from his books on Paul’s use of Israel’s Scripture. I am, therefore, excited to hear about his new book.

This is the thesis of the book (from McKnight’s blog post):

… the Gospels teach us how to read the OT, and—at the same time—the OT teaches us how to read the Gospels. Or, to put it a little differently, we learn to read the OT byreading backwards from the Gospels, and—at the same time—we learn how to read the Gospels by reading forwards from the OT (4).

I also found the following kind words from Prof Joel Green and Prof Richard Bauckham (on Amazon).

Hays’ thesis is as simple as it is ground-shifting: that the Gospel writers’ portraits of Jesus depend on their hermeneutical appropriation of Israel’s Scripture. And his approach is disarmingly straightforward: a sympathetic reading of the Gospels calibrated to hear both explicit and implicit scriptural resonances. With transparent exegesis and lucid prose, Hays persuasively challenges some of the basic assumptions and arguments in modern biblical studies. (Joel B. Green)

Few people are better qualified than Hays to take us right inside the ways the Gospels interpret the Old Testament. And, as though that were not enough for one short book, his hermeneutical quest also delivers a christological result. He shows how, precisely in their reading of the Old Testament, each of the Gospels in its own distinctive way presents Jesus as the very embodiment of the God of Israel. Intertextuality and high christology turn out to be two sides of a coin. (Richard Bauckham)

This sounds like a book that every New Testament student should read.

McKnight’s blog post can be found by clicking here.

The transformation of power through the cross (Richard Hays on 1 Corinthians)

I am reading Richard Hays’ commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Interpretation series (2011). It’s an excellent book. Hays lists the major theological themes of 1 Corinthians, and one of them is the following.

The transformation of power and status through the cross … Paul repeatedly argues that the gospel overturns the world’s notions of power and social standing. Those who acclaim a crucified Christ as Lord find that God has chosen what is “low and despised” in the world to “reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1:28–29). This has earth-shaking implications for the social structure of the community of Christ’s people; As the body of Christ, they are linked together—rich and poor, slave and free—in a network of mutual love and concern. Old status distinctions no longer count “in the Lord,” and all power relations must be reinterpreted in light of the cross. The Corinthians had some difficulty grasping this vision (e.g., 11:17–22, 27–34), but Paul insists that it is a necessary entailment of the gospel.