What is true of Christian agency in general is true of Christian interpretive agency in particular: faith works through love (Gal 5:6). “Love asks; love seeks; love knocks; love reveals; love, finally, remains in what has been revealed.” Love’s quest for understanding is fulfilled by giving attention to Holy Scripture: “Hear, O Israel” (Deut 6:4). Having received the ears of faith through the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:17), faith devotes its loving attention to interpreting the scriptural text.
Like faith, love has an object. In the case of biblical interpretation, the specific object of our loving attention presents itself to us by means of a text—this text, Holy Scripture. Because God speaks here, by means of these appointed and anointed ambassadors, the prophets and apostles, by means of these historical and literary particularities, addressing all times and places from these specific times and places, faith devotes its loving attention to these words.
More specifically, love’s object is the one God who presents himself to us in Scripture: “Here, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:4-5). This, above all, is why our loving attention to the particularities of the text of Holy Scripture is necessary. The Lord is not one god among other gods, one of the ordinary things with which we ordinarily interact in the ordinary course of life. He is the holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 8:5-6; Eph 4:4-6). The holy Trinity is and acts in his own unique and unparalleled way (Deut 4:32-40). Therefore, he can be known and loved truly only if we set aside our idolatrous conceptions and longings and listen to his voice as he presents himself here, in the prophetic and apostolic writings.
Biblical interpretation requires giving our loving attention to the words of Scripture in all their historical, literary, and theological particularity and uniqueness. “Exegesis,” according to Eugene Peterson, “is loving the one who speaks the words enough to get the words right. It is respecting the words enough to use every means we have to get the words right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what he says.”  For this reason,
Good interpretation never struggles against the text, reading, as the fashion is, ‘against the grain,’ deconstructing the textual surface and showing it up as a confidence trick. Good interpretation never tries to bargain with the text, forging a compromise between what it says and what we would like to hear from it. It never supplements the text, overlaying it with independent reflections that head off on their own devices, never invokes a higher wisdom to cover the text’s nakedness. Interpretation is the cheerful acceptance of the text’s offer of more than lies on its surface, its invitation to come inside, to attune ourselves to its resonances and its dynamics, its suggestions and its logic.
Careful exegetical attention to the words of Scripture is how Christian interpretive agency, rooted in faith, works through love in biblical interpretation.
Loving attention of this sort is self-involving. Specifically, the summons to attend to Holy Scripture in love is a summons to attend to ourselves through self-denial. If we would follow Jesus by following his Word in his prophetic and apostolic emissaries, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross (Matt 16:24). What does this mean in the context of biblical interpretation?
In all our exegetical asking, seeking, and knocking on the scriptural door of understanding, we (rightly) hope to find. We hope to find wisdom, power, and life. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” (John 5:39). “Jews demands signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1 Cor 1:22). However, the word that delivers wisdom, power, and life to those who seek them is a “word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18), which cuts against the grain of our often malign and misguided expectations and, only in crucifying them, delivers in the person of a crucified and risen Lord all that we had hoped to find—and that only on his terms. “They bear witness about me” (John 5:39). “He is your life” (Deut 30:20; John 14:6), “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). Holy Scripture addresses all sorts of questions posed by hermeneutical preunderstanding. It is in this sense a book that realizes the universal expectations of all human beings. But it addresses these questions only insofar as it announces the fulfillment of Israel’s scriptures in the crucifixion and resurrection of God’s incarnate Son and in the life of fellowship he opens up to us with his Father in the Spirit. This book announcing this God and this gospel alone is the ground of universal hope and joy.
The promise that lies at the end of the quest for interpretive understanding, of course, is that in finding the crucified and risen Lord of Scripture, and in finding all things in him, we will also find ourselves: “whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 16:25). On the other side of the self’s crucifixion in and with Christ is the self’s resurrection in and with Christ: the self reformed by the pattern of teaching to which it has been delivered in baptism (Rom 6:17).
 Augustine, The Catholic Way of Life and the Manichean Way of Life, 1.17.31 in The Manichean Debate, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2006), 46.
 According to Gadamer, in interpretation “what one has to exercise above all is the ear” (cited in Anthony C. Thiselton, Hermeneutics: An Introduction, 2).
 Eugene H. Peterson, “Caveat Lector,” Crux 32 (1996): 6.
 Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking, 136.
 Jean-Yves Lacoste, “More Haste, Less Speed,” IJST 9 (2007): 269-75.
 Lacoste, “More Haste, Less Speed,” 280-82.