Kyle Rader

Learning to Love: The Theological and Ascetic Context of Biblical Exegesis

My project seeks to develop a theological way of integrating the academic discipline of biblical studies with devotional ways of reading the Bible. I do this by reframing historical study of the Bible in terms of Christian ascetic practice, primarily as it developed in the medieval Latin tradition. I will argue that the practice of reading the Bible in a way that strives toward the idea of attending to the communities that produced its writings without imposing one’s own agenda can enlarge our capacity to love, and thus give us access to the God who is love. This in turn puts us in a position to interpret the texts anew. I attempt to set this practice in both a historical and a theological framework in order to show how it is both well-adapted to the texts themselves, and also arises from and makes sense of ways in which Christian theologians have theorized the relationship of love and knowledge, which is bound up with such major questions as the nature of God, the Incarnation, the church, and salvation.

My project is part of a Chicago tradition of scholarship with an eye to various publics beyond the immediate colleagues in one’s discipline. I seek to help theology enrich and be enriched by biblical and historical studies. And I seek to lead the way in developing better practices of integrating our ways of reading and knowing, both in the academy and in the church. I anticipate that the Marty fellowship will enable to finish a complete draft of the dissertation, and that the opportunity it will afford to engage specialists in other disciplines and interested non-specialists will be invaluable in making my work accessible and useful to as many publics as possible.