The following is an excerpt from A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation, edited by Craig Bartholomew and Heath Thomas.
Theological interpretation, which we define broadly as interpretation of the Bible for the church, is that most ancient of hermeneutics. Surprisingly and wonderfully, it is also that most recent approach to the Bible witnessed in the renaissance of theological interpretation today.
In fact, it is not only that most ancient hermeneutic but also the dominant one during the last twenty centuries. It was only in the past 250 years, with the rise of historical criticism, that theological interpretation became increasingly marginalized. In reaction, we have witnessed a resurgence of theological readings of the Bible in the late twentieth century and on into today.
We welcome this renaissance as a gift, a springtime of biblical interpretation. But how are we to receive this gift, and how are we to contribute toward its maturing? The emergent theological interpretation is a “broad church,” which often raises as many questions as it does answers. Our Manifesto is an attempt to identify the key issues in theological interpretation and to propose fruitful ways forward. It is not the first word, nor is it the last word, but we hope it is a good and helpful word.
It is written by a diverse group of biblical scholars, theologians, missiologists, and pastors from a range of denominations and universities and seminaries. We celebrate this diversity and welcome the interaction between church, seminary, and academy. We also hope that this work spurs other women and men toward deeper and richer interpretation of God’s Word for the church.
Scripture invites us to a feast, to the great feast of the Lamb. For all its insights and rigor, too much modern interpretation has prevented us from hearing God’s address in Scripture and feasting at his table through his Word. At its best, theological interpretation offers us a way to recover the feast of Scripture without for a moment sacrificing the insights of modern scholarship.
©2016 by Craig G. Bartholomew and Heath A. Thomas. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation, click here.