The term “intertextuality” is of rather recent coinage in both Jewish and Christian circles. It denotes not just relationships among texts, but also relationships between texts and their cultures.”

Richard Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic period, pg. xx

The phenomena of intertextuality – the imbedding of fragments of an earlier text within a latter one – has always played a major role in the cultural traditions that are heir to Israel’s Scripture: the voice of Scripture, regarded as authoritative in one way or another, continues to speak in and through latter texts that both depend on and transform the earlier.”

Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, pg. 14

As a pastor my posture toward scripture is a bit different than that of a trained academic scholar. I’m after the applicable value of the text at hand, not just its original or canonical meaning. This is not to suggest that I’m impatient or indifferent toward the labors of exegesis. Anyone who’s heard me preach would deny that quickly. Nevertheless as a pastor my interest is focused upon the practical value of the passage in people’s lives, and for cultural transformation (or as Crouch calls it “culture-making”). 

“Intertextuality,” though in some ways a new form of literary criticism, provides people like myself the opportunity to see how practical theology was worked out by the writers of scripture themselves as they applied their bibles to the missional questions of the day. As I learn daily to observe and appreciate how biblical authors apply previous inspired and extra-canonical sources to their pastoral questions my own pastoral questions are deepened.

If you’re new to the idea of “intertextuality” I encourage you to spend some time on wikipedia reading up on it or better yet purchase Richard B. Hays book “Echoes…” and explore how it functions in Scripture. For those of you familiar with “intertextuality” I would love to hear which books you have found helpful on “intertextuality” in Scripture?

(Photographic art by JBrown09, piece entitled “two books“)