This article explores some of the hermeneutical resources of the two official books of homilies, authorized to be preached in the BCP communion service. The historical contexts and successive editions of the books are explained, and a focused reading is offered of the key texts relevant to the interpretation of Scripture. Some consideration is given to other related texts that highlight Cranmer’s hermeneutical approach. It is suggested that Cranmer’s use of Scripture is not in practice the approach he commends in the first homily, but is driven by concerns with attaining the ‘right’ doctrine of justification. A key issue is the interplay between readerly character, deferral to wise readers, and the pressure of the text against particular traditions. It is argued that the Books of Homilies here offer rich material for reflection upon the nature of Christian hermeneutics in one particular ecclesial tradition, and indicate an Anglican approach to Scripture that has much to offer.
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