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We moderns are accustomed to finding God in peace and beauty and silence. The Old Testament most often knows him present behind the violence and flow and clatter of everyday life.
Paul and Elizabeth Achtemeier, The OT Roots of Our Faith
'I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can't a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?' 'But it is not your own Shire', said Gildor. 'Others dwelt here before Hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when Hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot ever fence it out.'
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 122-123
C.S. Lewis says...the proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in cosummation. So it is with the Christian doctrine of reward.
Archibald Hunter, A Pattern for Life
The duty of a Theologian, however, is not to tickle the ear, but confirm the conscience, by teaching what is true, certain, and useful.
John Calvin, The Institutes, bk1, ch14
Your emotions result entirely from the way you look at things.
David Burns, M.D., Feeling Good, p. 29
Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years where we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
On the basis of belief in God, trust assumes the kind of methodological role (in pre-modern thought) which doubt assumes for modernism...and which suspicion assumes for post-modernism...
Thiselton, Anthony New Horizons in Hermeneutics p. 143
While most people consider feeling supremely important, I hope you will have discovered that what you think about love will control your behavior, and that the desired feelings will come as a result of the right thinking and the right actions.
Ed Wheat, Love Life for Every Married Couple, p. 54
In the absence of a deep inner life a priest will turn into an office clerk, and his apostolate will turn into a parish office routine, just solving daily problems.
Pope John Paul II quoted Great Souls, p.285
Without charity, an evangelizing zeal will take on the guise of a will to power, a desire to universalize one's self-image.
Fabien Eboussi Boulaga-Christianity Without Fetishes, p. 68
For Christians, interpreting Scripture is a difficult task...because it is, and involves, a life long process of learning to become a wise reader of Scripture capable of embodying that reading in life.
Stephen Fowl and Gregory Jones, Reading in Communion, p. 29
'I have been called a 'declared enemy of historical criticism'...But what I reproach them with is not historical criticism, the right and necessity of which on the contrary I once more explicitly recognize, but the way they stop at an explanation of the text which I cannot call any explanation, but only the first primitive step towards one, namely, establishing 'what is said'...' (Romans, 1921, p. x.)
Karl Barth
In the New Testament the opposite of spirit is not the material, but the impersonal.
John Leith, Basic Christian Doctrine, p. 162
All written language calls for retransformation into its spoken form; it calls for its lost power.
Richard Palmer, Hermeneutics, p. 15
What narrowness of spiritual life we find in Frazer! And as a result: how impossible for him to understand a different way of life from the English one of his time!
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 5e

September, 2010

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In seeking to distance ourselves from the shortcomings of previous generations, we must continue to nurture our friendship with them.  After all, without the thoughts, ideas and actions, of those who have gone before us, we would not exist.

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In Karl Barth’s day, the “pneumatic exegetes” attempted to facilitate the faithful application of the Scriptures by inhabiting a space between scientific exegesis and the practical application of the Bible.  In this space they sought to divine normative and eternal principles which would tie pneumatic exegesis to scientific exegesis and thus protect against the imposition of value judgements on texts which had been scarcely understood.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein has said that philosophers have often sought out the generalized principle and, as a result, ignored the very thing that can offer them the answers they are looking for; the concrete and specific use.  The same can be said of the pneumatic exegetes in Biblical interpretation.

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The position of the pneumatic exegetes showed itself to be unstable.  Inevitably they leaned into scientific exegesis or into a set of principles which were more about the creativity of the exegete than anything normative or eternal.  The space they created between what the text meant and what the text means collapsed on one side or the other.  (Nature abhors a vacuum.)

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In reaction to this instability, many scholars turned to a redefinition of the term “scientific” in scientific exegesis.  If this word could be redefined, it was thought, they could bridge the gap between scientific exegesis and practical theology while still protecting exegesis from shallow subjectivity.

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But all of this searching for eternal principles and correct definition is nothing more than a reaction to a new context.  Germany, in the time of Karl Barth, was rejecting the academic commitments connected to Neo-Kantian philosophy in the aftermath of World War I.  These views were being rejected because of their inability to stop such a war.  In some cases they actually fueled the war.  There was a longing, then, to return to aspects of Romanticism which preceded this period in philosophy.  The context was changing and the Bible interpretation of the previous context was now seen to be flawed.  Correctives were needed.

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The scholars who set out to redevelop Biblical interpretation, however, did not acknowledge the change of context.  The previous generation was seen to be wrong and flawed in their thinking.  The present generation, it was thought, had a clearer view of the truth and more wisdom for the task.  In the hubris found in every generation, they sought to find the eternal principles that the previous generation did not have.  They worked to develop the correct definitions to replace the improper ones of those who had gone before.  The only real difference between this generation and the next was the change of context.  But since this change of context was downplayed, the search for the eternally correct view continued.

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I hope to escape this cycle.  Rather than discounting the exegesis of Neo-Kantian Germany as wrong and searching for the correct method of interpretation and application, I see the Neo-Kantian as well as the Neo-Romantic view which followed World War I as creative uses of the text of the Bible in different contexts.

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I seek to facilitate the faithful embodiment of the Scriptures by recounting the stories of creative engagements with the Bible in different communities at different times.  The goal of such an approach is not to find eternal and normative principles.  It is not to find the correct definition of a particular doctrine of the Scriptures.  The goal is to provide these stories as tools by which each generation will work to find the faithful  expression of the Scriptures in their context.

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The previous applications of the Bible, then, are not stepping stones to the assertion of what is really true by people who are somehow wiser than those who have gone before.  Instead, they are seen as prayerful expressions of the struggle to be faithful to the gospel in their day.  Their expressions form a vast library of resources to be prayerfully used by the present generation in their faithful grappling with the gospel in their own time and place.

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I am no longer looking for generalized meanings which provide correct definitions which we can apply as a means of control in any situation; past, present or future.  Instead, I am looking to various uses of the Scriptures to help develop a faithful embodiment of the text in my own day.

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Such an approach acknowledges that scientific exegesis and practical application belong together.  Our continuing friendship with those who have gone before asserts the importance of “what has been said”.  The development of our own witness in interaction with them affirms the importance of “what it means”.  As a result, this approach beckons scholars to come down from their ivory tower and, like Christ, to “pitch their tent among us”; to apply their skills to help the church in her calling to speak the gospel to her community in word and deed.

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run the race marked out for us…”                                                    Hebrews 12:1

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Bottom line:  Read the first chapter and scan the rest of the book.   

 

“The Missional Church in Perspective:  Mapping Trends and Shaping the Conversation” by Craig Van Gelder and Dwight J. Zscheile, is important for its rehearsal of the historical development of the missional movement.  Equally important are the key theological concepts of the movement drawn out of this historical retelling.   The book also offers  a helpful way to begin to untangle the variety of uses of “missional” in present literature.  It is, however, much less successful in its attempts to shape the conversation.

 

The authors begin by acknowledging the present confusion in the missional conversation.  They make a point of contrasting their interpretation of the situation with others who have expressed their frustration.  They tell us that they, instead, see the lack of clarity as a display of the “inherent elasticity that allows it to be understood in a variety of ways.”  (p. 3)  They then set out, in part I, (written primarily by Van Gelder) to organize this movement through a historical summary, a critical evaluation of a seminal text in the field and a map of the various uses of the term today.

 

The history of the movement (p. 18-25) is very helpful.  It “connects the dots” from the Reformation to the present.  One interesting aspect of this retelling is the way in which divisions among participants are lamented as the loss of an important perspective in the missional dialogue.  This leads to the hope, expressed in a number of ways in this first section, that the present missional discussion will continue to draw together a wide group of Christians under a new “missional” paradigm.  (p. 34)

 

I found six of the key concepts drawn out of the history very helpful in my own deepening understanding of the missional movement.  It also provided fodder for thought about possible next steps in the conversation.  They are:

 

1)  Church & missons/mission:  connect the ecclesiological and the missional.

2)  Trinitarian missiology:  introduces us to a sending God who is a missionary God.

3)  Missio Dei:  from mission as church-centric to mission as theocentric.

4)  Reign (kingdom) of God:  the already & not yet central to the message of Jesus.

5)  Church’s missionary nature:  mission is not so much the work of the church as the church at work.

6)  A Missional hermeneutic:  derived from Bosch’ “Transforming Mission”

 

This section is probably the most immediately useful part of the book for those who want to help the discussion move ahead.  If one is short on time, one could very profitably read this first chapter in depth and skim the rest of the book.

 

The second chapter is a critical analysis of the seminal work “The Missional Church:  A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America”.  This book continues to play a central role in the spread of the missional conversation.  This chapter is at its best when it is connecting today’s confusion about the term to a lack of clarity in this original work.  Van Gelder makes connections with at least four of the above “key concepts” in this chapter, thus building upon chapter 1.  However, these connections are often haphazard and some of the key concepts are not discussed at all.  For example, he makes the astute observation that Missional Church lacks significant reflection on worship and sacraments from a missional perspective and has no discussion of ordination at all.  This same lack of thought is found in much of the missional literature.  But this observation is not located clearly within the key concepts in chapter 1.  And very little is done to help us move forward in clearing up these issues.  (For example, Miroslav Volf, in his work on the Holy Spirit (mentioned in the second half of the book) dedicates sections of his work on worship, the Sacraments and ordination.)

 

Such tidiness might not be important except for the stated goal of this book:  to deal with a “lack of precision and integration that is resulting from the use of the term ” missional.  But the end of chapter two the difficulties of aligning the historical description with the critique of “Missional Church” leaves the reader in some confusion about tracing the missional discussion or taking steps to move the discussion forward.

 

The third chapter of the book, however, is very clear in its structure.  The mapping of the “missional discussion” is very helpful in offering a handle on the plethora of books on the subject today.  After establishing the main branches of thought, each section lists of representative texts for each, including blogs.  These are followed by solid critiques by Van Gelder and Zscheile.

 

Part two (written primarily by Zscheile) exacerbates the organizational problems of the first part of the book.  It provides basic summaries of some recent missional thinking.  But its usefulness to an open dialogue is limited.

 

Perhaps this problem  can also be traced back to the first section.  Though the authors introduce the book with a gracious analysis of the current missiological malaise, the mapping of that discussion assumes that the confusion is due to an incomplete understanding of the key concepts of the missional movement by many who are writing about it.  The second part of the book seeks to further this interpretation by promoting a particular viewpoint.  This belies what was said in the introduction of the book.  Rather than inviting further dialogue (p. 13), these chapters seek to educate people who, one assumes, do not yet understand the terms they are using.  This does not promote discussion between those who are using the term in a variety of ways.

 

The central focus of chapter 4, though described in the Introduction as “recent Biblical and theological developments” is actually the review of a narrow selection of recent theological works on the social Trinity.   Zscheile laments the fact that the theologians reviewed did not make connections between the Trinity and the missional conversation, leaving us to wonder if our only option is to wait until they make such a connection and write a book.  He draws out the implications of this view of the Trinity for some of the other key concepts of the missional discussion.  But other concepts drawn out by Van Gelder in the first half of the book are not dealt with at all.  It would have been far more helpful for this chapter to have built upon Van Gelder’s work in the first section by extending the discussion of each of the key concepts in the second.  If this half of the book had been organized in this way, they authors could have offered key texts for further study as well as a critical evaluation of each.

 

Chapter 5 reviews a limited selection of works in search of an appropriate definition of culture.  This is a significant discussion for the missional conversation though it was surprising to have so much on it given its paucity of emphasis in the first half of the book.  The discussion here lacks depth and leans heavily on a few anthropological texts with little discussion of the contributions of sociology or of Christian social theory to this important discussion.  It is unclear how the material in this chapter connect with the concepts in the first chapter or how this chapter facilitates discussion among the wide range of people using the word “missional”.

 

It seems that the authors and editors may have been aware of the organizational problems of the book.  Perhaps this is why an introductory page is placed before each of its two sections.  They seem to have been added as a guide to the confused reader.   But these pages end up rehearsing unnecessary and repetitive information which further harms the flow of the book and urges the reader to shift to a skimming approach to the material.

 

Chapter 6 is best read in this way.  The discussion of missional practices in church life has the feel of a corporate/how to type of book which, thankfully, the rest of the book does not share.  It is clear that the strength of the authors is in the tracing of ideas and the summarizing of theological works.  The direct application of these ideas to the church is vague and unoriginal.

 

One is left with a whole variety of questions to pursue on one’s own with little direction from the text.  For example, is the social Trinity the non-negotiable core of the missional movement?  Are there other theological conceptions which would also motivate the same embodied activity from congregations who do not hold such a view?  Also, how will we move forward in making a connection between the Trinity and the missional church?  What is a “missional hermeneutic” and how do we develop this aspect of the discussion?  And how do we develop a missional understanding of worship, the sacraments and ordination?

 

The Missional Church in Perspective is an important book in the ongoing missional conversation.  Its primary value lies in its historical summary of the movement which draws out key theological concepts in that discussion.  Those who desire to be part of that discussion would be best served by reading the first chapter in depth and then use that information as a template to scan through the book for other information on those concepts of interest.

 

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Gerhard Ebeling

Gerhard Ebeling

This review is from Ebeling’s book Word and Faith.  Word of God and Hermeneutics is chapter XI.

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I.  Ebeling begins the chapter with a review of the history of hermeneutics.  His retelling is narrowed  in relation to the rise of the problem of the Word of God in relation to hermeneutics.

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1)  Before the reformation, Roman Catholic tradition had an answer to the hermeneutic question though it was not yet asked in its contemporary (to Ebeling) form.  The revelation testified in Scripture, they believed, cannot be correctly understood without the tradition of the church.  (305)

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2)  The reformers’ response, “sola scriptura” was also a hermeneutical theory.  It held that the tradition of the church was not required to understand the scripture.  Scripture has an illuminating power which shines, even on church tradition.  (307)

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3)  But the lack of clarity of this position led to problems and errors.

a)  Luther himself recognized the distinction needed between meaning   (res) and word (verba).  This led to problems between the Word of God and Scripture.  Later reformers attempted to safeguard their position.  This led to the Orthodox identification of scripture with the Word of God.

b)  The result was that exegesis found itself, once again, under the domination of a dogmatic tradition which was decisive in the case of doubt.

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4)  The theology of the modern age used hermeneutics to undo these safeguards.  They brought out the  tension between exegesis and dogmatics, between scripture and the Word of God.  Eventually the concept of Word of God itself was called into question.  (308)

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5)  The theology of the Word of God attempted to regain the reformation theme of the Word of God but seemed in danger of overlooking the hermeneutical problem.

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a)  Barth:  passionate wrestling with the hermeneutical problem.  Sought a necessary corrective to critical historical hermeneutics:

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The historical critical method of research into the Bible is right enough:  it aims at a preparation for understanding, and that is never superfluous.  But if I had to choose between it and the old doctrine of inspiration, I would definitely take the latter:  it has the greater, profounder, more important right, because its aim is the work of understanding itself, without with all prepration is worthless.  I am glad not to have to choose between the two.  But my whole attention has been directed to seeing through the historical to the Spirit of the Bible, who is the eternal Spirit.” (Romans, 1918, p.  xii)

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I have been called a ‘declared enemy of historical criticism‘…But what I reproach them with is not historical criticism, the right and necessity of which on the contrary I once more explicitly recognize, but the way they stop at an explanation of the text which I cannot call any explanation, but only the first primitive step towards one, namely, establishing ‘what is said’…” (Romans, 1921, p. x.)

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6)  Barth vs. Bultmann

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a)  In common:

1-both address specific “matter” of theology (not historicism or psychologism)

2-both not return to hermeneia sacra and hermeneia profana.

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b)  In contrast:

1-Barth’s passion for the Word of God tends to disparage hermeneutics while Bultmann’s interest in the hermeneutic problem appears to jeopardize what is said of the Word of God.

2-Barth begins with the hermeneutics of the Bible which he argues is valid generally, while Bultmann starts with a general hermeneutic which he then applies to the Bible.

a-“Where does the theory of hermeneutic principles just sketched come from?…It was with the only possible exposition of holy scripture in mind that we laid down the principles of exposition just given.  Certainly not in the belief that they are valid only for the exposition of the Bible, but fully believing that because they are valid for the exposition of the Bible they are valid for man’s word in general, that they have a claim to general recognition…valid hermeneutics must be learned by means of the Bible as the testimony to revelation.”  (Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, pp.465 f) (310-311)

b-  “The interpretation of the biblical scriptures is not subject to any different condition of understanding from any other literature.”  (Bultmann, Glaube und Verstehen II, p. 231)

3-Barth takes an objective approach to the problem, while Bultmann sees the understanding itself as belonging to the matter.  Thus for Bultmann much time is spent on preliminary understanding.

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7)  According to Ebeling, the debate is now bogged down, without even getting to the final alternatives.  One could move forward by a detailed analysis of Barth and Bultmann.  But he opts to focus on the structure of the problem our subject involves.

II.  The second section of Ebeling’s lecture focuses on the terms “Word of God” and “Hermeneutics”.  The emphasis is on the former as proclamation, even as event, with the latter, as helping move from holy scripture to proclamation, being the initial discussion which is the focus of part III.

“Word of God”, according to Ebeling, is “something that happens”, the movement which leads from the text of the holy scripture to the proclamation.  This is a decisive starting point for defining the phrase, regardless of ones position in terms of a precise theological definition.

The criticism of Orthodox doctrine of the Word of God is that it identifies scripture and the Word of God without distinction.  But according to Ebeling, the decisive shortcoming of the Orthodox view is that “holy scripture is spoken as the Word of God without an eye to the proclamation…”  (p. 312).  Though Orthodoxy was aware of the Word of God as the living voice of God (viva Vox) but “…too little attention was paid to the tension that exists between the verbum Dei as spoken word and the character of writenness.  (Palmer)  He notes that this is a divergence from the Reformation.

“Luther…insisted that the Gospel is really oral preaching:  ‘…in the new Testament sermons are to be spoken aloud in public and bring forth in terms of speech and hearing what was formerly hidden in the letter and in secret vision.  (Palmer)  “That, too, is why Christ did not write his teaching, as Moses did his, but delivered it orally, also commanded to deliver it orally and gave no command to write it…For that reason it is not at all the manner of the New Testament to write books of Christian doctrine, but there should everywhere, without books, be good, learned, spiritually-minded, diligent preachers to draw the living word from the ancient scriptures and constantly bring it to life before the people, as the apostles did.  For before ever they wrote, they had preached and converted the people by word of mouth, which also was their real apostolic and New Testament work…That books had to be written, however, is at once a great failure and a weakness of spirit that was enforced by necessity and not by the manner of the New Testament.'” (Kirchenostille 1522, Weimarer Ausgabe (Complete Works of Luther), 10/I, I, pp. 625.12-628.8.)

Ebeling notes that the distinction between the spoken word and scripture not only depended upon the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but, as a presupposition of that issue, the relation of Gospel and law.

The essence of the Word belongs to its oral character, ie., as an event in personal relationship, that the Word is thus no isolated bearer of meanings, but an event that effects something and aims at something. (p 313)

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This book is an extended testimony of Richard Stearn’s move from CEO of a Fortune 500 company to the head of WV US. The testimony is dressed with various well-known quotes and statistics about Christianity and poverty. It is a fresh call for the evangelical church to take seriously the plight of the poor.
There was little in this book that I found to be new. Part 1 and 2 are generally restatements of popular evangelical theology and theologians (Rick Warren, John McArthur etc.) There is, however, an interesting “update” of the prayer of Jabez, in chapter 3. Stearns wants to include suffering for Christ as a possible answer of God to the prayer to “expand my territory”.
Part 3 begins with an interesting quote by John Berger. “The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of national scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.” However, there was not any way to follow up on this quote. Stearns then recites the horrors of poverty in our world. Part 4 is his critique of the church. It is welcome, but after working in a particular urban church for 7 years, it offers no real solutions. He is talking to white collar, suburban churches who simply need to reorder their priorities. Chapter 18 is interesting with its blunt title, “Putting the American Dream to Death”. However, the stuff of the chapter is no more than a slightly challenging stewardship sermon.
Part 5 is Stearn’s plan of action. Again, it is focused on churches who simply need a shift in priority. But I am also concerned about an underlying theology which says that we can change the world. For proper discipleship this must be tempered. Our acts are enacted prayers for the coming of the kingdom is much more Christian than “The whole gospel is a vision for ushering in God’s kingdom-now, not in some future time, and here, on earth, not in some distant heaven. What if two billion people embraced this vision of God’s transforming our world-through them? Imagine it.”(5)
I appreciate Stearn’s passion to call well-off American evangelical churches to a public, as well as a private, faith. Such a call, however, needs more than a shift in priorities. We really do need a shift in theology and in training for ministry. Thus, this read reinforces my commitment to my project.
Other quotes: “Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet.” Welsh proverb (161)
“How different our standard is from Christ’s. We ask how much a man gives. He asks how much a man keeps.” Andrew Murray (210)
“Action springs, not from thought, but from readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (221)
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending a night in a closed room with a mosquito.” African saying (250)
“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except there except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke (257)

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biblical-theologyBiblical Theology:A Proposal, by Brevard Childs, is an “inhouse” discussion of the future direction of the discipline of Biblical Theology.The author reviews the past paths of the discipline, critiques them, and then makes suggestions for its future.This book takes important steps forward in moving Biblical studies in the direction of Wirkungsgeschichte, but it fails to make the connection between our interpretation of the Bible and the final goal; to assist the church in its mission to the world.

Childs’ basic problem is that Biblical theology has run into a dead end because it has pursued “…a theological discipline within the framework of Enlightenments assumptions…” p 12.He works to reverse the discipline out of this dead end by developing Ebeling’s suggestions from the 1950s for redefining the field.

Biblical theology developed in the post-reformation period out of the reformation idea of the Bible as the sole authority in matters of faith.In the modern period, Biblical theology has focused on distinguishing between the two tasks of (1) determining the theology of the Biblical authors themselves and (2) formulating a modern theology that is compatible with the Bible.

The term itself, according to Childs, can be traced back to its roots in German pietism and rationalism.The pietists were reacting against scholasticismby calling theology back to the Bible, while the rationalists were reacting against ecclesiological formulations of the Bible by calling people back to the simple and historical religion of the Bible.As a result, there was a built in tension between the historical interpretation of the Bible (rationalists) and the assumption of Scriptural inspiration (pietists).But this balance has been difficult to maintain.As Gunkel said, “…the spirit of historical investigation has now taken the place of a traditional doctrine of inspiritation.”p. 7When this happened, Biblical theology became an “unfortunate vestige from a past era.”

However, in the 1950s Ebeling suggested a way of redefining the field.These included:rejoining historical interpretation and the assumption of Scriptural inspiration, opening the door to theological reflection as well as historical description of texts; continuing in the enlightenment discovery that we must hear each testament in its own voice; focus on the inner unity of the OT and NT in an attempt to understand the Bible as a whole; understanding the subject matter of the Bible as witness and not simply as a cultural expression of an ancient people, a “testimony which pointing beyond itself to a divine reality to which it bears witness”.Childs says Ebeling never followed this proposal further.Which he says he intends to do in this book.

Childs then develops, through recitation and critique of various projects under the rubric of Biblical theology, a variety of directions in which Bibical theology should go.Taking them in the order of Ebeling’s account they are:

1)The nature of the Bible is not simply to be described in categories of the history of religion (which could only have resulted in contesting the integrity of the canon and of denying the legitimacy of its contents as theology), but must include a search for it inner unity as well.

Regarding the attention given to the inner unity of the OT and NT Child says:“Biblical theology as as its proper context the canonical scriptures of the Christian church, not because only this literature influenced its history, but because of the peculiar reception of this corpus by a community of faith and practice.The Christian church responded to this literature as the authoritative work of God and it remains existentially committed to an inquiry into its inner unity because of its confession of the one gospel of Jesus Christ that it proclaims to the world.” P11

2)Christ as witness of Scriptures

a.Jesus and early Christians identified with the Scripture of Pharisaic Judaism (were other live options in their day).

b.Early church developed reading of OT as primarily functioning as witness to authority of Jesus.

c.OT and NT function as Christian scripture as they bear witness to Christ.They are authoritative in so far as they point to God’s redemptive intervention for the world in Jesus Christ.They were the gifts of God for the nourishment of the continuing life of faith.

d.Childs calls for a Christological reading of Scripture rather than a Biblicist one (in which message of bible is simply copied by each generation of Christians.

3)Canonical Shaping(translation within the Bible itself)

a.The material of the Bible was shaped to provide the means for continuing appropriation by its subsequent hearers. P40

4)NT and OT cannot be easily reconciled with OTs own witness

a.Solutions:

i.Harmonize difficulties (been there, done that)

ii.Subordinate OT to NT (no)

iii.Heilsgeschichte (salvation history)(am still quite influenced by this)

iv.Massive theological reductionism (doesn’t even sound good!)

v.A theological reflection which moves from description of biblical witness to object toward which the witnesses point; to their subject matter or substance.

1.Narrative theology invites reader into fictive world of scripture to evoke new images for its reader…story privileged over psalmody, law or wisdom.

2.Authority of Bible doesn’t rest on specific content or property of text but in function biblical patterns are assigned by imaginative construals of community of faith.Leads back to static dogmatic categories.

3.Childs:substance not essence, but what really means for people involved in it.Both testaments bear testimony to the one Lord through in different ways, times and people.

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Areas of follow up:

1)Translation thesis:

a.Early and Medieval church interpreted Bible dogmatically according to the ecclesiological framework which supported various theological positions.Did this approach to the Bible develop out of the interaction between the gospel and Greco-Roman culture (as Walls suggests about theology itself)?

b.Alfred Jepsen argues that each province in early Christian church developed its own canon (different translations!)Kanon und Text des Alten TestamentsTheologische Literaturzeitung 74:66-74.

2)Who is developing a Christological reading of the scriptures (see Childs’ proposal in ch2, p30)

a.Childs calls for a Christological reading of Scripture rather than a Biblicist one (in which message of bible is simply copied by each generation of Christians.(He is here on the verge of the language of translation.)

b.…the critical tension between form and substance of the church’s witness in scripture calls for the continual struggle for truthful interpretation. P37(Is this not the process of translation?)

c.…the complete canon of the Christian church as a rule-of-faith sets for the community of faith the proper theological context in which we stand, but it also remains continually the object of critical theological scrutiny subordinate to its subject matter who is Jesus Christ.” P37(again, is this not a description of the task of translation?)

3)For Spiritwatch:

a.How prophets are arranged in canon of OT (page 3 of notes on ch3 in green book)

b.How NT made use of OT (page 4 of notes on ch 3 green book)

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