Friday, 20 February 2009

What is "theological exegesis"?

Theses of what actually constitutes theological exegesis have recently been appearing on the blogosphere. Dan, of On Journying with those in Exile has an interesing post on how he understands the Bible. Given my passion for Childs and Barth and the idea of the text as "witness," (see, e.g. my posts Canonical process and the text as "witness" or Scripture as "witness" and the rule-of-faith) I especially appreciated this point:

(1.3) Thus, as a partial and privileged witness the Bible is understood as a text that reveals something beyond itself — God’s life-giving engagement with creation in general, and humanity in particular. Therefore, Christians treat the Bible as a sacred text, not because the text itself is sacred (or infallible, for that matter), but because the text points beyond itself to the revelation of the God of Life. As Karl Barth has said, the Bible is not the Word of God, but a witness to the Word of God — Jesus Christ.

I also appreciated Chris Tilling's response to this point in the comments:

The reason I am disatisfied with the ‘witness’ model is that it seems appropriate for much but not all of the biblical texts. Other models, such as authoritative canon, inspired word and revelation are discussed by Goldingay in Models for Scripture. He too prefers Witness but is careful how he formulates matters. Perhaps Vanhoozer’s essay in Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology may also be of interest in terms of 3.1.

Chris has supplemented this with with some of his own views in Rethinking Scripture.

Halden, too, has posted the nine theses of the "Scripture project," recently published in Hay's and Davis's The Art of Reading Scripture. I had come accross this list independently in Daniel Treier's excelent online article: "In the End, God" (a scholar to keep an eye out for, by the way). They go as follows:

(1) Scripture truthfully tells the story of God’s action of creating, judging, and saving the world.(2) Scripture is rightly understood in light of the church’s rule of faith as a coherent dramatic narrative.
(3) Faithful interpretation of Scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New.
(4) Texts of Scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author. In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that Scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama.
(5) The four canonical Gospels narrate the truth about Jesus.
(6) Faithful interpretation of Scripture invites and presupposes participation in the community brought into being by God’s redemptive action—the church.
(7) The saints of the church provide guidance in how to interpret and perform Scripture.
(8) Christians need to read the Bible in dialogue with diverse others outside the church.
(9) We live in the tension between the "already" and the "not yet" of the kingdom of God; consequently, Scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh rereadings of the text in light of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world.

Richard Hays had previously listed a series of theses on the practice of theological exegesis, which I listed in my post, Reading the Bible with the Eyes of Faith. I should point out that Hays received critique from Childs in his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, something about subordinating the Old Testament to the New.

1 comment:

psalterium said...

Very nice, I like those nine points!