J. Gordon McConville’s forthcoming Being Human in God’s World recently received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. They called it “scholarly, accessible, and beautifully written,” and “a work of literature to be savored.”
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.
Recent decades have witnessed a renaissance of theological interpretation. Craig Bartholomew and Heath Thomas bring together a team of specialists to articulate a multifaceted vision for returning rigorous biblical interpretation to the context of the church.
Developed by the internationally recognized Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, this book is designed to bring clarity and unity to the enterprise of theological interpretation. It positively integrates multiple approaches to interpreting the Bible, combining academic rigor with pastoral sensitivity for professors, students, and church leaders.
“Interest in theological interpretation of Scripture has occasioned several explanatory introductions, commentaries on both Testaments, a dictionary, a journal, and now a manifesto. Accompanying the twelve-point manifesto are an equal number of essays that exposit and further explore each article. This multiauthor work may now be the best starting place from which to understand the rise, nature, methods, and aims of this ancient-future proposal for reading the Bible in and for the church in order to hear God’s address to his people.”—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“This book marks an unexpected development—a significant advance—in the theological interpretation of Scripture. Here we find a wide range of scholars, from across the ecumenical spectrum, each demonstrating how Scripture can and should be read and understood in the context of the church, the canon, and the great tradition. Such a canonical and ecclesial approach exhibits considerable explanatory power. The authors present the book as a manifesto. May it soon become a movement.”—Scott Hahn, Mundelein Seminary
Craig G. Bartholomew (PhD, University of Bristol) is the H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario. He founded the internationally recognized Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar and is the author of several books.
Heath A. Thomas (PhD, University of Gloucestershire) is dean of the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and professor of Old Testament at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He serves as the chair of the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar.
For more information on A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation, click here.
The following is an excerpt from Kevin Vanhoozer’s chapter “Holy Scripture” in Christian Dogmatics, edited by Michael Allen and Scott Swain.
The interpretation of the Bible—the way readers receive and act in response to it—is also part of the domain of God’s Word. To be sure, it is possible to read the Bible “like any other book,” yet Scripture, unlike every other book, is a set-apart (i.e., holy) vehicle of triune discourse and therefore requires special treatment: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
We cannot describe what it is to read Scripture rightly as if human agents were able to understand triune discourse simply through the employment of their natural abilities. Readers are sinners who “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18).
Readers too are, therefore, part of the economy of triune discourse (what God says to someone). The Creator of heaven and earth does not speak futilely into the air but effectively into human hearts and minds. The reader’s role in the economy is not to author Scripture or to confer authority on it but rather to receive and revere it as the Word of Christ, giving thanks for it with others in the church and letting it dwell in the core of their being in order gradually to conform them to Christ, its subject matter.
The goal of interpretation is to create right-minded and right-hearted readers who will rejoice in the truth, not least by willingly participating in it. The reader’s place in the economy of communication is to perform or live out the reality held out by the biblical text: fellowship with God or, in a word, communion.
©2016 by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on Christian Dogmatics, click here.
This one-volume introduction to systematic theology draws deeply on the catholic and Reformed heritage to present the major doctrines of the Christian faith, displaying the power of theological retrieval for the church’s renewal. Leading Reformed theologians offer the “state of the question” on standard theological topics and engage in both exegetical and historical retrieval for the sake of theological analysis.
Christian Dogmatics represents the exciting new theological trajectory of Reformed catholicity and will serve professors and students in systematic theology or Christian doctrine courses well. It will also be of interest to pastors and church leaders.
Introduction Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain
1. Knowledge of God Michael Allen
2. Holy Scripture Kevin J. Vanhoozer
3. Divine Attributes Michael Allen
4. Divine Trinity Scott R. Swain
5. Covenant of Redemption Scott R. Swain
6. Creation out of Nothing John Webster
7. Providence John Webster
8. Anthropology Kelly M. Kapic
9. Sin Oliver D. Crisp
10. Incarnation Daniel J. Treier
11. The Work of Christ Accomplished Donald Macleod
12. The Work of Christ Applied Richard Gaffin
13. The Law of God and Christian Ethics Paul T. Nimmo
14. The Church Michael Horton
15. Sacraments Todd Billings
16. Kingdom of God Michael Horton
“This book is a significant contribution to Christian doctrinal theology….I expect it to have a wide usefulness in the years ahead.”—George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
“An important contribution to the ongoing renewal of Reformed dogmatics in the ecumenical context of our time.”—Gerald Bray, Beeson Divinity School
“A scholarly yet readable synthesis that both anchors and vivifies the intelligence of the Christian faith.”—Henri A. G. Blocher, Faculté Libre de Théologie Evangélique
“A stellar lineup of established and emerging Reformed theologians.”—Suzanne McDonald, Western Theological Seminary
“Every chapter repays careful reading and reflection.”—Stephen R. Holmes, University of St. Andrews
“In providing a set of resources for the wider church, the volume is characterized by lucid, patient, and temperate exposition of key themes.”—David Fergusson, University of Edinburgh
“This is a gift to the entire church: the solidity, maturity, resourcefulness, and sagacity of these chapters provide theologians from all confessions with a statement of Christian doctrine from an identifiably Protestant perspective.”—Fred Sanders, Biola University
“An outstanding collection on Reformed dogmatics from some of the sharpest minds in the contemporary business.”—Ivor J. Davidson, University of St. Andrews
“No one will fail to be challenged, edified, and spurred on to further study of Scripture with the help of our theological forebears.”—David VanDrunen, Westminster Seminary California
Michael Allen (PhD, Wheaton College) is associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.
Scott R. Swain (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of systematic theology and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Allen and Swain coauthored Reformed Catholicity.
For more information on Christian Dogmatics, click here.
Transported two thousand years into the past, readers are introduced to Antipas, a Roman civic leader who has encountered the writings of the biblical author Luke. Luke’s history sparks Antipas’s interest, and they begin corresponding. As Antipas tells Luke of his reactions to the writing and of his meetings with local Christians, it becomes evident that he is changing his mind about them and Jesus. Finally, a gladiatorial contest in Pergamum forces difficult decisions on the local Christians and on Antipas.
While the account is fictional, the author is a highly respected New Testament scholar who weaves reliable historical information into a fascinating story. Bruce Longenecker is able to mix fact and fiction to offer a fresh, engaging, and creative way to learn about the New Testament world. This updated edition, now with improved readability and narrative flow, will bring the social and political world of Jesus and his first followers to life for many students of the Bible.
Praise for the First Edition
“Longenecker provides, by means of an informative and delightful fiction, a remarkably clear and accurate picture of Christian existence in the eastern Mediterranean world of the first century. One comes away from this book—a ‘historical novel’ in the best sense—both charmed and informed. It is a thoroughly delightful read, from which both beginners and experts will profit.”—Paul J. Achtemeier, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia
“Longenecker’s Letters present in a fascinating and compelling way the contexts of Second Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman urban life. And the narrative he weaves is not only believable but also engaging, both academically and personally.”—Joel B. Green, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Bruce Longenecker brings early Christianity to life. The characters are vivid and believable, and they introduce the reader to a rich historical and cultural context….This book is both a delight to read and a reliable guide to the beginnings of Christianity.”—Frederick J. Murphy, College of the Holy Cross
“A savvy and creative introduction to the New Testament world, disguised as a collection of ‘lost’ letters between Luke and several well-positioned members of Roman society. The genius of the book lies in its fusion of current New Testament scholarship with a very plausible, personal narrative….Anyone hunting for a reliable, if not always comfortable, guide to the dangerous world of first-century Roman Christianity should be glad these papers were finally ‘discovered.’”—Bruce Fisk, Westmont College
“This fictional correspondence is not true, but it certainly could have been. Longenecker writes a very engaging account of several characters who, in their different ways, came to experience and respond to the risen Jesus Christ through Luke’s narrative.”—Stanley E. Porter, McMaster Divinity College
“This book is a creative and enjoyable story that is true to much of what we know about early Christianity in its environment. The narrative both teaches and engages the imagination as to how events in late first-century Pergamum might have happened.”—Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School
Bruce W. Longenecker (PhD, University of Durham) is professor of religion and W. W. Melton Chair of Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Thinking through Paul, The Cross before Constantine, and Philippians and Philemon in Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament.
For more information on The Lost Letters of Pergamum, click here.
The following is an excerpt from Gerald Bray’s The Church.
No event has ever shaken the church as profoundly as the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. There had been schisms before, such as that of the Donatists, but they had been peripheral. There had been splits caused by extraneous factors, such as the isolation of the Celtic churches after the fall of the Roman Empire, but they had been healed fairly easily once contact was restored. There had even been breakaway movements caused by theological disagreements, such as that of the monophysites of Egypt and Syria and the Nestorians, but they did not touch on the fundamental character of the church itself.
However much they disagreed with one another, all sides in these disputes claimed an episcopal succession that they could trace back to the apostles, and they organized their ministry and worship in much the same way. The Donatists and the Celtic church have now disappeared, but the non-Chalcedonian churches still survive and are regarded with sympathy by the Eastern Orthodox, who recognize the fundamental similarities between them—similarities that they do not share with either the Roman Catholics or the Protestants of the Western tradition. It was the Reformation that challenged this common pattern and forced the Christian world, or at least its Western half, to think through its principles of ecclesiology for the first time.
In the early sixteenth century there were still a few dissenting groups from earlier times, but they were localized and not very influential. Some Lollards survived in England but were so obscure that almost nothing is known about them, and there were Waldensians in the Alps, survivors of a medieval dissident movement originally led by Peter Waldo (1140?–1218?). The Hussite movement in Bohemia was far more influential than either of these, but it too was a regional phenomenon that did not spread beyond its Czech-speaking homeland. The pope did not lose much sleep over them, nor did he worry unduly about the Eastern churches, most of which were under Islamic rule or else so remote (in Russia and Ethiopia, for example) that they hardly mattered from a Western perspective.
Protestantism was something else altogether. The surviving Lollards, Hussites, and Waldensians quickly aligned with it—not the other way round—and it was to leave an indelible mark on the Christian world. In the course of a single generation, from about 1520 to about 1560, Western Christendom was torn in two and a new kind of Christianity came into being.
©2016 by Gerald Bray. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on The Church, click here.
Renowned evangelical theologian Gerald Bray provides a clear and coherent account of the church in biblical, historical, and theological perspective. He tells the story of the church in its many manifestations through time, starting with its appearance in the New Testament, moving through centuries of persecution and triumph, and discussing how and why the ancient church broke up at the Reformation.
Along the way, Bray looks at the four classic marks of the church—its oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity—and illustrates how each of these marks has been understood by different Christian traditions. The book concludes with a look at the ecumenical climate of today and suggests ways that the four characteristics of the church can and should be manifested in our present global context.
“Solid, shrewd, and most thorough, this superlative survey of God’s people on earth past and present will be a boon not only for seminarians but also for many more of us besides. It is a truly outstanding performance.”—J. I. Packer, Regent College
“Here is a fresh overview of the church and its history, theology, and current challenges in today’s world. Gerald Bray is an ordained evangelical Anglican, but he writes with such great sympathy and wisdom that this telling of the church’s story will edify the Lord’s people everywhere.”—Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School
“Anyone who wonders whether ecclesiology matters—or even where it came from, in all its present diversity—should read this book.”—John L. Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Comprehensive in scope, ecumenical in tone, orthodox in confession, and insightful from beginning to end….I suspect it is destined to become the go-to classic for an overview of Protestant ecclesiology.”—Bryan Litfin, Moody Bible Institute
“I know of almost no one else who could write a book like this. Gerald Bray’s unique global-mindedness and catholic awareness are put on full display in this analysis of the development of the church throughout the ages and across the continents.”—Michael Allen, Reformed Theological Seminary
Gerald Bray (DLitt, University of Paris-Sorbonne) is research professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama; distinguished professor of historical theology at Knox Theological Seminary; and director of research at Latimer Trust, Oak Hill College, London. A prolific author, he has written many books, including God Is Love, God Has Spoken, The Doctrine of God, and Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present. Bray is a minister in the Church of England and serves as editor of the Anglican journal Churchman.
For more information on The Church, click here.