Jason Lee, associate professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary, presented research during the internationally known Sixteenth Century Society and Conference (SCSC), which met in Fort Worth, Oct. 27-30.
“For Reformation scholars, SCSC is the World Series,” Lee said, commenting on the significance of the conference. “So I am the equivalent of a ‘September call-up’ in baseball getting to pitch in the World Series.”
During his presentation, Lee discussed the Reformers’ theological interpretation of the Bible. Amid the growing interest in the theological interpretation of Scripture among modern scholars, many have begun to reconsider the contributions of exegetes from the Reformation period.
According to Lee, such a project shows promise and can provide guidance as modern Christians read the Bible. Due especially to the Reformers’ attentive reading of the text and to their interest in the Bible’s “grammatical sense, canonical context and theological importance,” their interpretations of biblical texts should not be ignored.
“The Reformers’ interpretations focus on the features of the biblical text and the theological importance of those features,” Lee explained prior to his presentation. “Anyone today who is teaching and preaching the Bible can draw a tremendous amount of insight from the Reformers’ careful study.”
Lee’s research focused upon how the Reformers understood the Bible’s “‘theologically rich’ imagery”—particularly, their understanding of the phrase, “Son of Man,” in the book of Matthew.
According to Lee, the Gospel of Matthew refers to the “Son of Man” 30 times—14 times in reference to the Son’s future coming and 8 times in reference to Christ’s impending death. Three other references to the “Son of Man” related him to certain divine qualities. These contexts provide a theological depth to the meaning of the name and imply that Jesus was more than the lowly man he appeared to be. The Reformers did not miss out on these theological nuances, and neither should modern interpreters.
“Understanding the ‘Son of Man’ texts in the gospels is crucial for Christians today,” Lee said before the conference. “Our faith must be built around the true and powerful revelation of Christ we find in the pages.”
In his research, Lee drew upon work he has done in editing a volume on the Gospel of Matthew for the InterVarsity Press Reformation Commentary on Scripture series. This new series released its inaugural volume this September. Lee said that he expects his volume in the commentary series to be released in early 2013.
The series follows the same format of IVP’s Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series, which includes a volume edited by Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern Seminary.
According to the website for the series, “the Reformation Commentary on Scripture provides a crucial link between the contemporary church and the great cloud of exegetes that is the historical church.
“(The series) will give you access to a wealth of Reformation-era commentary on Scripture.... While the giants of the era, such as Luther and Calvin, will be presented, you will also be introduced to a host of figures with whom you might be unfamiliar, yet who contributed to the Reformation in important ways.”