I was pleased to read this in the preface to Jesus of Nazareth by our Pope Benedict XVI.
from Jesus of Nazareth
Pope Benedict XVI
. . . The first point is that the historical-critical method--specifically because of the intrinsic nature of theology and faith--is and remains an indispensable dimension of exegetical work. For it is of the very essence of biblical faith to be about real historical events. It does not tell stories symbolizing suprahistorical truths, but is based on history, history that took place here on this earth. The factum historicum (historical fact) is not an interchangeable symbolic cipher for biblical faith, but the foundation on which it stands: Et incarnatus est--when we say these words, we acknowledge God's actual entry into real history. . . .
The method is a fundamental dimension of exegesis, but it does not exhaust the interpretive task for someone who sees the biblical writings as a single corpus of Holy Scripture inspired by God. . . .
We have to keep in mind the limit of all efforts to know the past: We can never go beyond the domain of hypothesis, because we esimply cannot bring the past into the present. To be sure, some hypotheses enjoy a high degree of certainty, but overall we need to remain conscious of the limit of our certainties. . .
Indeed, . . .some thirty years ago led American scholar to develop the project of "canonical exegesis." The aim of this exegesis is to read individual texts within the totality of one Scripture, which then sheds new light on all the individual texts.
Methods go only so far as the intrinsic limitations can carry you. It is impossible to examine the infinite with anything less than the infinite; however, when looked at from a great diversity of view points, the Infinite comes more clearly into focus than the view of any one school can possibly allow.
I don't do exegesis as such, but every time I pick up the Bible, I recall that it is the passionate narrative of God's love for all of His people. There are certainly themes and variations, but it is the constant, underlying strain of love that guides my reading of any biblical text. God is present and God is telling you that He loves you. Strain to hear this and you cannot go wrong in reading the Scriptures.