First, in the history of doctrine, classical Christians accept the contention that the Spirit helped the church in the early centuries to read the biblical narrative in a Trinitarian way. The community was led to see that this was the direction in which the biblical narrative was tending. It was a growing realization of what the gospel indicated.
They discerned that Father, Son, and Spirit constituted an identifying description of God and the key to an understanding of the Bible as a whole. This doctrine became the conceptual framework for interpreting the whole meta-narrative.
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The fondness for Trinitarian doctrine today among classical theologians reflects the fact that then, as now, the model represents a revelation-based understanding of God uncorrupted by philosophical presuppositions. Second, on an ethical matter, most Christians would agree that in the case of slavery the full significance of the Christian message was not completely grasped by earlier generations, but only subsequently in terms of the abolition of slavery. The direction of revelation was discerned only after many centuries and an implication recognized. Interestingly, it was those like Hodge who read the Bible like a rule book who argued in favour of slavery, while those who read Scripture as the story of human liberation saw the truth of the matter more easily.
The truth about slavery was inherent in the gospel from day one but only became plain at a later time, thanks to the providence of God and the illumination of the Spirit. Harder to assess are those issues in our own day that are still debated, and where the need for further illumination is great. Being mortal and finite, we have difficulty understanding exactly how and where God is working on our world. Sometimes we think we know, but others tell us that this is not the way that they see things.
Therefore, there is no way to avoid the risk of misinterpretation, and modesty is essential for everyone. Any examples that I name will inevitably reflect my own situated beliefs about how God is leading and would need to be discussed on a broader basis than the personal and individual. Certainly for a new item to enter tradition, it would have to represent more than an intuition or passing fashion.
A solid scriptural basis would have to be indicated and a widespread consensus in the churches secured. These two criteria especially would be indicators that the mind of Christ was being revealed. To provoke discussion, let me share a few items where I discern an opening up of the Word of God in timely ways. They are not necessarily the best or only examples of timely interpretations I welcome both corrections and suggestions but can represent what is possible by way of fresh and fruitful interpretations of our dynamic rule.
First, there is a strong tendency nowadays to rank the universal salvific will of God higher on the hierarchy of theological truths than was formerly the case. One sees it in Vatican Two, in mainline Protestantism, and among many evangelicals who seek a wider hope. Such thinking is on the rise and reflects less restrictive modes of biblical interpretation.
It has the makings of a fresh interpretation which is gaining in strength. Second, it has become clearer to more Christians than was previously the case that the gospel relates to issues of social justice in the world as well as to issues that affect individuals and churches. A new theological emphasis not unprecedented pioneered by Latin American theologians has arisen which takes more account of the practical implications of theology. There is widespread agreement now that theology must address human struggles for justice and freedom.
It feels like a better reading of the Bible and an enrichment whatever mistakes have been made in pursuing it of traditional theology. At the same time, the particular model of liberation developed by the Latin Americans is not a universal norm, nor even an impressive option. But the fundamental thrust and direction is not likely to go into recession. Third, the relevance of the Bible for ecological concerns is more widely recognised now than formerly.
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We are coming to see that the non-human creation is not just something to be used and exploited and that the gospel is concerned about nature as well as salvation. The spirit of St Francis of Assisi has formerly been the exception, not the rule, but this is beginning to change. We are now seeing that the natural world is more than a stage for the divine-human drama and that the value of non-human creatures is intrinsic to our own welfare and not merely instrumental.
Modern pressure on the ecological web of life has challenged the anthropocentric interpretation of the Bible and alerted us to view creation from a more inclusive point of view. Fourth, from the experience of the Sunday School and the foreign missionary movements as well as in other ways God seems to be leading us into a clearer recognition and stronger support for the gifts and callings of women.
More and more are asking why people are being excluded from certain ministries on the basis of gender when God calls all believers to ministries in the church and gifts them. Though it will be a point of tension for some time to come, the impulse to include women and not exclude them from ministries is likely to persist.
Any application of it in Asia for example , says Chan, will have to take account of the nature of Asian society. Fifth, the rediscovery of Pentecost in the twentieth century has led to a widespread correction of cessationist traditions of biblical interpretation. Openness to the full range of spiritual gifts is now characteristic of the thinking of a large proportion of Christian people, even outside Pentecostal and charismatic circles.
Again, the material was already there in the Bible, but had been pushed to the side. Now the balance of interpretation has noticeably shifted to support of the proposition that charismatic experience is not a fad but a move of God and a resurgence of the primordial power of Pentecost. There is developing a more relational model of a God who sympathizes with and responds to what happens in the world. It is influenced also by the modern ethos which favours more dynamic metaphysical interpretations and moves both Thomists like Norris Clarke and Calvinists like Alvin Plantinga to back away from the non-relational thinking of those traditions.
I have alluded to a few contemporary interpretations which may or may not illustrate directions in which God is leading us. When involved in mission as it ought always to be, the community needs to be able to understand its message in fresh contexts-not in ways that go beyond biblical revelation but in ways that penetrate that revelation more deeply. It is not so much new information that we look for as it is a fresh understanding of the Word in new circumstances.
The biblical text is quantitatively complete that is, not requiring additions but can always be more deeply pondered and grasped at a deeper level. The Spirit is always able to cause what has been written to be revealed in a new light. There are always errors to overcome in interpretation and new directions to be attempted for the sake of mission. Though the faith is once delivered, the church has not grasped its significance completely-nor will she until the end of time.
We are on an interpretative road, not at the end of the journey, and we pray to the Lord for ever more fruitful meaning. To use the language of theological hermeneutics, what I am saying is that it is fruitful in terms of fresh insight to correlate Holy Scripture with contextual factors so long as care is taken to avoid letting the context determine and not merely condition our theological reflection. Scripture should be brought into conversation with all aspects of the global situation but in such a way that the Bible is accorded priority over the contextual factors.
The hermeneutical task is not a matter of reducing the meaning of Scripture to what readers want to hear but is an exercise in discerning what the Word of the Lord is for this time and place. He is very sensitive to the fact that the gospel often finds itself in conflict with culture and at variance with worldly wisdom. Thus, for example, it would not be possible to accept an inspirational Christology or a gay theology just because the pressures of pluralism and gender may call for it.
Rather unusually for a recent Old Testament theology, Merrill arranges his conservative evangelical work topically according to categories of systematic theology: God, mankind, and kingdom which he sees as the central theme of the Old Testament. The sections on God and mankind provide discussions similar to systematic theologies though more closely based on the Old Testament text , but the section devoted to kingdom half of the book spends more time working its way through views of the kingdom in various sections of the Old Testament.
Reconstructing Old Testament Theology: After the Collapse of History. Overtures to Biblical Theology. In both, he describes and evaluates various approaches to Old Testament theology that have emerged in the last several decades since history has lost its dominance. Reconstructing Old Testament Theology highlights the approaches of history of religion, liberation theology, feminist interpretation, Jewish scholarship, postmodernist interpretation, and postcolonial theology, illustrating each in application to the book of Jeremiah.
Perdue ultimately calls for greater dialogue among proponents of these different methods as well as increased interaction with the history of interpretation and systematic theology. Translated by Leo G. Westminster John Knox, — Working from a historical-critical methodology, he arranges his book topically. The Canonical Hebrew Bible: Tools for Biblical Study 7.
The bulk of the work consists of two main parts. In the first Rendtorff offers an insightful theological reading of the Old Testament following the order of the Hebrew canon. Van Pelt, Miles V. It follows the order of the Hebrew canon, arguing that this order provides a parallel with the New Testament, with the Law matching the Gospels covenant , the Prophets matching Acts covenant history , and the Writings matching the letters covenant life. The entire structure places Genesis covenant prologue and Revelation covenant epilogue as bookends. Each chapter looks at background issues, structure and outline, message and theology, and connections with the New Testament.
An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Biblical Theology as Recital. Studies in Biblical Theology 8. Since God revealed himself through history, his nature must be inferred from his actions, particularly in electing and delivering Israel. Wright also highlights the close relationship between the Old and New Testaments, focusing especially on typological connections. This is an introduction to New Testament theology that attempts to speak to the non-specialist while moving beyond a surface treatment. Rather than taking the New Testament books in their canonical order, Morris arranges them chronologically, though he does note the difficulty in precisely dating each New Testament text.
His work is divided into four parts: Each individual chapter is characterized by analysis of theological themes running through the particular text. Fearn by Tain, UK: Thematically, he leads readers through the New Testament by unfolding seven central questions: Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. For Wright, reading the Old Testament as a modern believer offers a common link with Jesus because in it we find the words he himself read, the stories he knew, and the songs he sang in worship. This is a very accessible book that shows through careful exegesis how Jesus is revealed through the Old Testament.
Rather than move sequentially through each New Testament text, Dunn divides his work into six sections: Dunn represents a unique approach, in which he considers how the early church produced the New Testament documents, taking the Old Testament and preaching of Jesus as their starting points. Christ and the New Creation: Wipf and Stock, After two introductory chapters outlining a canonical approach to New Testament theology, Emerson moves through the texts of the New Testament in the next three chapters. Guthrie takes a thematic approach to the theology of the New Testament, focusing on topics shaped by systematic theology, for example: He traces each theme through the various sections of the New Testament, which on one hand, helps the reader appreciate the development of the particular theme.
A Theology of the New Testament. This is a classic work composed by a pioneer in the field of New Testament theology. The work is divided into six sections: The section on the primitive church considers the critical issues of the resurrection and preaching about the second coming of Christ. Many Witnesses, One Gospel. Another key theme he finds useful in understanding the unity of the New Testament is that of mission. Magnifying God in Christ.
Though a lengthy book, Schreiner writes primarily for pastors and students, attempting to allow the New Testament writers to speak for themselves. Rather than a book-by-book approach, he takes a thematic approach, emphasizing two main concerns that unify the New Testament: Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach. Though the subtitle mentions a canonical approach, in many cases the canonical order of the texts is not followed. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Each chapter describes the theological themes of particular books of the New Testament. The final three chapters focus on Hebrews, James, and Peter and Jude.
The focus is on describing the theology of each book of the New Testament without any real attempt at a synthesis of New Testament theology. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. He begins by tracing the theology of the Old Testament storyline from creation through the Second Temple period, which provides the key themes taken up in the New Testament.
Crucial for Beale is how these themes are taken up by the historical authors of the New Testament as they used specific texts from the Old Testament in their proclamation of the gospel. Throughout, he stresses the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New, which results in continuity and redemptive-historical development. Theology of the New Testament. Translated by Kendrick Grobel.
His two-volume Theology of the New Testament progresses in four parts: Here Bultmann does not think the historical Jesus is the starting point for New Testament theology, but rather the earliest kerygma concerning him. An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. As the English title suggests, Conzelmann aims at providing a sketch or basic map of New Testament theology for students.
He traces early Christian creeds in the New Testament through the use of redaction criticism, yet his perspective is that they are only the beliefs of the early church and are not authoritative for today. This last point, Conzelmann takes further than Bultmann and largely sketches his approach without reference to the historical Jesus.
The Primitive Christian Conception of Time. Translated by Floyd V. The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments: Three Lectures with an Appendix on Eschatology and History. Specifically, Dodd demonstrates that when two New Testament authors quoted the same Old Testament text, this indicates the use of a common tradition, where the New Testament author expects the reader to know or fill in the broader literary context of the Old Testament passage cited. In general, this has influenced biblical theology by demonstrating the historical and literary connections between the two Testaments.
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In this classic work, Dunn explores the possible unifying strand which brought together the earliest Christianity as represented in the New Testament. In the first part of the study chs. The second part chs. Translated by John E. The Ministry of Jesus in its Theological Significance. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Translated and edited by Daniel P. His work follows a tradition-historical development from the Old into the New Testament, unlike a reception-historical approach looking back to the Old Testament from the New.
After considering the task of writing a New Testament theology, the first volume of the German edition studies the Christian proclamation of the gospel through the New Testament texts, while the second volume examines the development of the biblical canon and its significance. The City of God and the Goal of Creation. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross. Part one focuses on the Old Testament, following the development of kingdom through the Law, Prophets and Writings, while part two looks at the New Testament, walking the theme through the Gospels, Acts and the epistles, and finally, the book of Revelation.
Then the rest of the book works through each of the biblical covenants Creation, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David, and New , showing how each fits within the unified narrative of the Bible. The book takes a redemptive-historical approach, which leads Schreiner to focus on how these covenants development toward Christ. In general, the book takes an exegetical and descriptive, rather than an overtly theological, approach. Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions.
New Studies in Biblical Theology 7. Blomberg examines the topic of material possessions through two chapters on the Old Testament, one on the intertestamental period, and four on the New Testament.
God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation. Old Testament theologies often focus on salvation history and neglect the significant role played by creation. Countering this trend, Fretheim traces the theme of creation from Genesis 1—2 through the Torah, the Prophets, and the wisdom literature and points out descriptions of nature offering praise to God.
Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity. Each of the essays in this volume focuses on a particular biblical theme, while also working within a whole-Bible biblical theology that traces themes and overarching structural ideas through the text. Most of the essays trace their themes across the whole of Scripture, demonstrating continuity within diversity. From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race. Noting that racial division, particularly between blacks and whites, is a or even the key issue in the American church today, Hays addresses this problem by offering a biblical theology of race.
He describes the ethnic composition of the Old and New Testament worlds and highlights the roles played in the biblical story by people from other ethnic backgrounds than the Israelites, especially black Cushites. The mystery of the people of God as the family of God is integrated into what the church is about as a whole. Though often programmatic out of necessity, family ministry according to my definition represents a philosophy of ministry as well as a strategy for achieving that ministry. The nurture and care of the people of God one to another and to others are the legitimate goals of family ministry, whatever forms the structures take.
Although theology emerges out of ministry as just noted, its ultimate purpose is to organize and discipline the ministry. What follows are five theological principles that seem to me to be central in the formation of a theology of the family. Persons are created in the image of God and are of infinite value. The heart of a theology of the family comes out of an anthropology that is theologically centered in the imago dei.
We are created in the image of God and have infinite value. Therefore, racism, sexism, and classism, etc. Persons are created as relational beings to exist in cohumanity as male and female, not male or female. It is pregnant with meaning. A theology of the family is the simple but profound exegesis of the conjunction.
Few would disagree that universally women are those who are most sensitive to relationships. Perhaps it is the chauvinism in the church that keeps and perpetuates the noun forms of the family, the same chauvinism that limits women from freely expressing their gifts in ministry. The church as the body of Christ is the real presence of the incarnate Christ in the world. The body of Christ is more than a metaphor. It is a mystery. Jesus Christ is alive in the world today, not in some ethereal, new-age sense of the term, but in the mystery of the church as the people of God, a people who live in relationship with one another as family and with those in the world around them.
Jesus Christ is alive today because we are here. The only Christ some people will ever touch will be when they touch our lives, our hands, our compassion, our ministries. A parallel example of this principle occurs in the social psychology of intimate psychosocial networks.
Both help and healing takes place. If this is true in human relationships in general, how much more so is it true when the people of God become family to one another. In making the body of Christ a vacuous metaphor, we empty the image of its meaning and rob ourselves of a powerful truth. In contrast, when we live together as the body of Christ to one another, we experience the vitality of the living Christ.
The emphasis upon family in the New Testament went far beyond the maintenance of the nuclear family, or the extended family for that matter. The emphasis was intended to make the body of Christ relevant to real people. The people of God as the family of God was to be the ultimate litmus test as to the visage of Christ in the real world. Christianity, if it is going to work, must work in the most intimate of relationships: As the people of God we paint a family portrait as we demonstrate the real presence of Christ in the world through our love for one another.
The church is primarily the people of God and secondarily the place. It is also a fact that the people of God both need and want a place to gather together. My suggestion has more to do with an emphasis. The church exists wherever the people of God are. Thus, it is impossible by definition to sustain an incarnational ministry as the body of Christ if the emphasis is disproportionately placed upon where the people of God gather for a few hours per week.
If the church is only the place, we will subsequently equate family ministry with content, presented to people on a Sunday morning, seated in metal folding chairs, arranged in rows, talking about family rather than becoming family to one another. Family ministry takes place most naturally wherever and whenever people feel most natural. There is something innately artificial about how we are when we come to church as it is commonly constituted.
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Rarely do we talk about our failures and our problems in such a context. When I feel like a failure with my teenage daughter, when she is being so disruptive that I am considering finding a place for her to live outside the home, it is almost impossible to raise these issues at church in the midst of a Sunday School study on the kings of Israel.