by Gregory Vall
Catholic University of America Press, 2022
Paper: 978-0-8132-3522-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-3523-3
Library of Congress Classification BS476
Dewey Decimal Classification 221.601

There is broad support today for the idea that biblical scholarship ought to be informed by the faith of the Church and serve the life of the Church. In a word, it should be ecclesial. There is far less agreement, however, when one asks how this goal is to be achieved and what ecclesial exegesis ought to look like. In 1988, Joseph Ratzinger put forth his “Method C” proposal, calling for the development of a new exegetical and hermeneutical synthesis. This would be neither a retreat to the patristic-medieval approach (Method A) nor the continued hegemony of the historical-critical approach (Method B). The latter must be purified of its positivism through a transformational encounter with the former, so that the gifts of both might be released for the life of the Church. Such a synthesis, Ratzinger claimed, would require the philosophical, theological, exegetical, and hermeneutical work of “at least a whole generation” of scholars.

Gregory Vall has devoted over thirty years to the development of ecclesial exegesis, and the present volume represents the mature fruit of his labor. Over against those who treat Dei Verbum as Vatican II’s endorsement of the historical-critical method, he demonstrates that the dogmatic constitution actually points to something very much like Ratzinger’s Method C. Employing a dialogic movement between the inductive-exegetical and the deductive-dogmatic, Vall offers nine studies that bring to the surface issues such as the relationship between Old Testament and New Testament, literal sense and spiritual sense, and Scripture and Tradition. While Vall brings theological knowledge and hermeneutical skill to the quest for Method C, he also provides a great deal of valuable exegesis of both testaments. Ecclesial Exegesis is not simply another book of theory. It demonstrates how Method C can be done.