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Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Seeking to train readers to hear all that is being said within a written text, Peter Leithart advocates a hermeneutics of the letter that is not rigidly literalist and looks to learn to read—not just the Bible, but everything—from Jesus and Paul. Thus Deep Exegesis explores the nature of reading itself taking clues from Jesus and Paul on the meaning of meaning, the functio ...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Baylor University Press
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Clayton Hutchins
May 10, 2016 Clayton Hutchins rated it really liked it
A lot of really good stuff, some iffy stuff, some mistaken stuff (in my judgment). And all a joy to read. Count on Leithart to bring in a host of philosophers, Shakespeare, Bach, and Oedipus in a book on hermeneutics!

Perhaps his main concern is to say that interpreters should not just take care to avoid "seeing things" in the text that the Biblical author didn't mean to communicate, but should also avoid missing out on all that's there in the Biblical text. I needed to hear that, and when you re
Feb 27, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leithart
Post-script: Just re-read after college. This book has shaped my reading so much that coming back to it feels very old hat. Having finished a class in hermeneutics I do wonder whether Leithart has explained the relation between authorial intent and reader implication, but I am tempted to say this doesn't matter much; writers want readers to see things that aren't there.

The second chapter on time I feel might have problems, but all the presuppositions are very tempting. Three through five are sol
Dan Glover
Oct 26, 2010 Dan Glover rated it it was amazing
Peter Leithart has done ministers, Christian scholars and the Church in general a huge favour with this book. He declares that the Scriptures themselves ought to be the authority for how one interprets them. In evangelical, reformed and conservative Christian circles of scholarship, sola scriptura (the reformation principle that "Scripture alone" is the Church's authority for all of life and doctrine) has been the basis for the rejection of all sorts of heretical doctrines and errant practices a ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Jerry rated it really liked it
Easily the best book on hermeneutics I've read, Leithart continues to delight as he teaches. He gets a lot done in 200 pages and makes you want more, much like when I've heard him preach. This is a constructive book, laying out ways to get the most out of Scripture. I would have liked to see some counter-examples of certain "maximalist" interpretations that go too far. When is it inappropriate to link two passages that both include water in Scripture? That sort of thing. If you love the Bible, a ...more
Sep 27, 2015 Johnny rated it it was amazing
Would you pick up a book like Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture if it wasn’t a textbook? I purchased it because systematic analysis of literature in general and the Bible in specific have always been fascinating to me. Not only does it build on the work of one of my late New Testament professors (Dr. George R. Beasley-Murray), but it also works from a marvelous dissertation/book from a fellow-member of a seminar I attended (Dr. Paul Duke’s marvelous work on irony in the Gospel of J ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Spencer rated it liked it
Leithart argues that modern linguistics simply do not account for the meaningfulness of Scripture. He does so through two lines of arguments: (1) By general theories of literary or artistic meaning. Some of these illustrations from music and poetry were beautiful. Much of the worth of this book was in his explanations here. (2) He shows this by examples of how Scripture employs Scripture, showing the depth and veracity of typology and other verbal imagery.

That point I agree with him. Modern exe
Lucas Bradburn
Oct 15, 2015 Lucas Bradburn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hermeneutics
Sep 13, 2015 Dougald rated it liked it
An interesting read, at times caustic and unnecessarily vulgar. But, overall, I think he gives a good introduction to how someone can approach reading the scripture in a....well....literary way. Of course, my hermeneutical upbringing makes me a little more open to this type of interpretation of texts.

Still, I think, Praying the Bible by Mariano Magrassi is a better illustration of this. Some evangelicals may have problems with Lectio Divina, or the quadrica, but most of them do it anyways...or
Adam Ross
Oct 14, 2009 Adam Ross rated it it was amazing
What a book. If you want to explore more deeply the ways in which Scripture "means," then this is the book for you. Rich and textured, just like it asserts Scripture itself is, it will open your eyes to new ways in which to read, understand, and interpret the Bible.
Douglas Wilson
Oct 18, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Good stuff, as always. Peter is fantastically learned, and lots of fun. Some objections, which we will be discussing at an NSA grad forum.
May 15, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
Just fantastic. What a game changer.
Joel Griffis
Jul 08, 2014 Joel Griffis rated it really liked it
A fascinating book in many ways, and also a little weird. You don’t see many hermeneutics books talking about the musical features of a narrative passage (complete with illustrative sheet music in the appendices). I didn’t always feel like Leithart was doing it right, but he’s the kind of thinker and writer who insightfully challenges modern assumptions in a well-informed way, which I can appreciate. He’s also just wicked smart and makes me want to be smarter. So I’ll definitely be reading more ...more
Spencer R
Jul 30, 2015 Spencer R rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Read my whole review here:

How are we to interpret the Bible if we can’t always follow the apostles’ methods?Isn’t the historico-grammatical method the only way to correctly interpret the Bible? In his book “Deep Exegesis” Leithart challenges the stricthistorico-grammatical structure and brings us back to a time of the patristic authors.

Leithart finds meaning in the text itself rather than in the intention of the author (though I wonder if this could be th
Feb 28, 2010 Pastoralmusings rated it really liked it
Deep Exegesis
I enjoy reading books relating to hermeneutics. This was a particularly interesting book to me.
Peter Leithart, Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at St. Andrews College, has added to my library a book that has opened my eyes, or opened them anew, to some important truths.
Time and space will not permit an in-depth review. For this reason I shall note what stood out to me as interesting and worthy of consideration:
1.Leithart seems to like essentially literal translations of the
May 04, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
One of the best and most fun books on reading the Bible that I have read in a long time. Leithart argues against reading scriptureto extract the one narrow meaning from the 'husk' of the text. Instead he suggests careful attention be payed to the actual words of scripture (and thus eschews paraphrases like the Message). It is through this attention to 'the letter' of scripture that we get a full sense of the meaning of scripture. And he does this in an interesting and engaging manner. He defends ...more
Jesse Broussard
Nov 27, 2010 Jesse Broussard rated it it was amazing
With his usual erudition and clarity, Leithart first illuminates problems we were unaware of then solves them, all with so slight an effort and so almost offhanded a manner that it is impossible not to be swept at least a little bit down the current of his thought. And why would one try to resist?

This book is magnificent. It largely focuses on the ninth chapter of John, the healing of the blind man (the one who is sent to Siloam with clay on his eyes). Leithart then begins to unfold it, layer b
Paul Patterson
Jun 14, 2010 Paul Patterson rated it liked it
I read this book last week and found it totally engaging but very deep, as the title suggests. At first I thought he was a Fundamentalist then I thought he was a wild Postmodernist, in then end I just found a lot of wisdom and a book to re-read. I like the idea that Leithart tries to expand the meaning of texts rather than constrict it. The most challenging but interesting to me was his comparison of text to music using Bach. I don't know the technicalities of music but just intuiting what he wa ...more
Brandon Morrow
Oct 26, 2015 Brandon Morrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

What an easy read and such an expansive read. I wasn't thrilled with the MSG vs KJV argument at the beginning but the Thor redeemed himself. I won't read John 9 the same ever again.
Jake Mcatee
Nov 25, 2015 Jake Mcatee rated it it was amazing
This hermeneutic was eye opening and l'll never read a biblical text or any other text the same again.
Leslie Fields
Oct 31, 2011 Leslie Fields is currently reading it
One of the best books on exegesis and hermaneutics that I've read or consulted in a long time. Eugene Peterson's quadrogy (made-up word for 4 book series) "Eat this Book," "Tell it Slant," etc.held top honors in this category for me---and still, these books are superb---yet Leithart takes us yet deeper in understanding the layers of Scripture and the various ways we do violence to it, replacing our desire to master and control the text with a delightful openness to the many ways the text works u ...more
Nicholas Rozier
Oct 01, 2012 Nicholas Rozier rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly enlightening book on interpretation. It successfully destroyed every wall that bible college built around the literal interpretation "at all costs", the grammatico-historical Hermeneutic. It offers a method that requires balance and maturity in its use, a method that has sadly been abused for centuries and more recently by the charismaniac contingent of the modern Evangelical church.
It has blessed me and opened up the word in a whole new way.
M.G. Bianco
Sep 16, 2010 M.G. Bianco rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Another good book by Peter Leithart.

In Deep Exegesis, Leithart argues for a better understanding of Biblical interpretation. He uses examples from pop culture books, Shakespeare, the Bible, classics, Greek literature, music, and even jokes to show how we can really exegete texts to gain a better understanding.

I only gave it four stars, because when it ended, I was still hoping for more.
Feb 02, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
The best bit of this book for me was the illustration of competent hermeneutics using the movie Shrek. Without a lifetime exposure to both fairy tales and movies, you wouldn't understand it at all. That's often what we are like when it comes to the prophets and the New Testament.
Feb 27, 2014 Jeremy marked it as to-read
Published by Baylor University Press. Bought a copy the day he spoke at Baylor (Feb. 27, 2014). Same day I had lunch with him and others for the Baylor Society for Early Christianity.

Thoughts from Doug Wilson:
Jun 15, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
Texts are husks, (words are players), texts are events, jokes, music, and all about Jesus..also texts are community property...some really great insights here on the dynamics of how we read the Word in light of our world and how the Word reads and interprets us in our world.
Gregory Soderberg
Oct 22, 2010 Gregory Soderberg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Amazing! I can't say enough good things about this book. Reading Leithart always makes me feel dumb, but a little smarter by the end of the book :-)
Peter N.
Jun 08, 2011 Peter N. rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this and learned a lot from it. Not sure I agree with every jot, but I think Leithart is closer than many to how we should read the Bible.
Al Stout
Jan 12, 2010 Al Stout rated it really liked it
Can you make something more mysterious while explaining it? This book does that, stirring a desire to read the familiar with new eyes.

Robert Murphy
Nov 29, 2012 Robert Murphy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, own
Another profound book. Deeply controversial and deeply profound. The conversation cannot advance until everyone reads this!
Nov 13, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
Outstanding work on exegesis. Leithart may not be Catholic, but he should be!
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Peter Leithart received an A.B. in English and History from Hillsdale College in 1981, and a Master of Arts in Religion and a Master of Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1986 and 1987. In 1998 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. He has served in two pastorates: He was pastor of Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church (now Trinity Presbyter ...more
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“Pastors and Bible teachers go about their work in communal settings, where they listen to as well as deliver sermons, hear as well as speak, and gain biblical insights from their parishioners as much as they pass them on.” 2 likes
“Dancing is forbidden to Christians. Isn’t it suggestive that the word ballet comes from the Greek ballo, which is also the origin of diabolos, “devil”?8” 0 likes
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