Pictures, stories and the cross: where do the echoes lead?

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Richard Hays's new book does for the four Gospels what his 1989 work (Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul) did for Paul—up to a point. His paradigm-shifting argument here is to show that a metaleptic reading of key scriptural echoes and allusions in the Gospels indicate that all four Evangelists intended to tell the story of Jesus as the story of Israel's God appearing in person, thus overturning the long-held view that only John offers a “fully divine” Christology. Hays draws on two types of echo/allusion: “figural” resonances, in which a theme is detached from its original story so as to illuminate a new one; and “narratival” resonances, in which all four Gospels tell the story of Jesus as (in some sense) the fulfilment or completion of the story of Israel. Hays never explains, however, how these two relate to one another. Nor does he move beyond the “person” of Jesus to apply the same technique to what the Evangelists say about his “work,” that is, his kingdom-announcement on the one hand and his death on the other, though the method of metaleptic readings of scriptural allusions and echoes invites such further investigation. Nor does Hays probe the underlying question of history: Does it matter that these events actually happened; and, if so, what can or should we say about that? Part of the book's achievement is to open such questions and indicate ways they might now be addressed afresh.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
JournalJournal of Theological Interpretation
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Richard B. Hays
  • Intertextuality
  • Figural reading
  • Narrative and history
  • Kingdom of God
  • Israel
  • Atonement


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