Recovering the Feast of Scripture – an Excerpt from A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation

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.

Cover ArtIn 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.

New Release: A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation

Cover ArtRecent 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.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 18, 2016

Cover ArtTim Harmon, at Western Seminary’s Transformed blog, reviewed Ingolf Dalferth’s Crucified and Resurrected.

“Dalferth’s work here is to be lauded, as it exemplifies contemporary scholarship of the first order. With an acute awareness of the past, Dalferth yet skillfully operates within and seeks to advance the present social and theological milieu.”

At Euangelion, Michael Bird reviewed The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life, edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica.

Union with Christ, by J. Todd Billings, was reviewed by Dan Glover.

Craig Bartholomew’s Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics was reviewed by Steve Bishop.

“Perhaps the best book on hermeneutics yet written!”

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 4, 2016

Cover ArtCraig Bartholomew’s Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics was the Book of the Week at Exegetical Tools.

“Truly a tour de force of the many methodologies, historical precedents, and disciplines that are wrapped up in the process of interpreting the Bible.”

Exegetical Tools also featured two posts on specific aspects of Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, Craig Bartholomew’s Philosophy of History Drawn from the Old Testament Worldview and Eight Guidelines for a Trinitarian Hermeneutic.

At Pneuma Review, Amos Yong reviewed Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World by Frederick J. Murphy.

David Wilhite’s The Gospel According to Heretics was reviewed by Nate Claiborne.

Cover ArtThe Gospel Coalition interviewed Bryan Litfin about his book Early Christian Martyr Stories.

“The appetite for these stories was huge. People wanted to learn about their heroes’ adventures, and they wanted to feel close to those heroes and even seek their aid.”

RJS, at Jesus Creed, completed a series on J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Norman Wirzba, author of From Nature to Creation, was interviewed at Christian Humanist Profiles.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 5, 2016

Cover ArtUsing and Enjoying Biblical Greek, by Rodney Whitacre, was reviewed at Exegetical Tools.

“A valuable tool for anyone who has taken one year of Greek or one who is a little rusty and wants to return to one’s first love. The format is easy to follow and the examples are good at illustrating points discussed in the book. For someone who has kept their Greek and uses it on a daily basis, I find chapter six alone is worth the price of the book…If you are learning Greek or use Greek daily, this is a book worth having on your shelf and working through.”

Also at Exegetical Tools, a series on D. A. Carson’s classic Exegetical Fallacies.

RJS, at Jesus Creed, explored J. Richard Middleton’s critique of rapture theology in A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Cover ArtIntroducing Biblical Hermeneutics, by Craig Bartholomew, was reviewed at Sojourner Theology.

“An excellent introduction to the task of biblical interpretation….Bartholomew has produced a volume that is both comprehensive and readable, and his hermeneutical vision captures the essence of biblical revelation well….This is a monumental achievement in the field of biblical interpretation and the pastor, teacher or student would do well in referring to it often.”

Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker was reviewed at Resistance & Renewal.

At Scriptorium Daily, Fred Sanders discussed a section on Trinitarianism in Stanley Porter’s Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament.

 

Barth, Calvin, and Reformed Exegesis – an Excerpt from Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics

The following is an excerpt from Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, by Craig Bartholomew.

——–

The truth is that Church Dogmatics and Barth’s other works are an exegetical resource that has been sadly neglected by biblical scholars. But what of the claim that Barth is an enemy of theological orthodoxy? Might this not support keeping him at arm’s length? There is certainly room for theological critique of Barth, but what must be understood is Barth’s theologically conservative reaction to the liberalism of his day, and his recovery of the Bible as Scripture, involving at its core a reappropriation of the Reformed tradition and of Calvin in particular.

Barth’s recovery of the Reformed tradition was so damaging to liberalism because he had been one of them. However, as a young pastor he found that liberalism was bankrupt in the aftermath of World War I when it came to addressing his congregation in the European context.

….In his lectures on Calvin, Barth recognizes the unique contribution of Calvin as an expositor of Scripture to the Reformation: “Scripture did not play quite the same part in Reformed Protestantism as in Lutheranism. Its dignity here was one of principle as it never was in Lutheranism, no matter how highly the latter regarded it.”

Cover ArtThe big issue for Reformed Protestantism was “how to give God, the true God, the glory, how to do it here and now,” and against the backdrop of medieval Catholicism, its answer was to look to the Bible as the final norm in faith and life….

Barth identifies three characteristics of Calvin’s exegesis that he finds exemplary. First, there is the extraordinary objectivity of his exegesis. At times Calvin does engage in eisegesis—”if we read nothing into the Bible, we will also read nothing out of it”!—but his exegesis is always characterized by a concern to stay close to the text and to do justice to what is actually there.

The example Barth gives of Calvin’s eisegesis is that Calvin assumes the unity of the message of the Bible when he reads it: though Scripture is polyphonic, the diverse voices are all seeking to say the same thing.

Second, there is the uniformity of Calvin’s exegesis. By this, Barth refers to Calvin’s concern to attend to individual books in their literary totality and to the whole of Scripture: “If in principle it is seen to be right to listen to the Bible, then we should listen to the whole Bible.”

In his commentary work, for example, he is always concerned to expound the whole of a book and not just the parts that have been influential. Calvin’s premise of the verbal inspiration of the Bible did not prevent him from critically examining the trustworthiness of the Bible, but it did give “him a consistent zeal to track down the content of the whole Bible, a zeal incidentally that would also stand historical investigation of the Bible in good stead.”

The third characteristic of Calvin’s exegesis is its relevance. By relevance, Barth is not thinking of application to the cultural and historical context, but the sense that this is God’s Word addressing us. Calvin is at pains to attend to the particularity of texts, but at the same time he is busy with a living dialogue across the centuries. Barth gives the example that when Calvin expounds Paul, “We believe Calvin the more readily because he is not deliberately trying to make us believe but simply setting out what he finds in Paul, yet not, of course, without being able or even trying to hide the fact that he himself believes it. This quiet kinship between the apostle and the exegete speaks for itself.”

©2015 by Craig G. Bartholomew. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

——–

For more information on Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, click here.

New Release: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics

Cover ArtRenowned scholar Craig Bartholomew, coauthor of the bestselling textbook The Drama of Scripture, writes in his main area of expertise–hermeneutics–to help seminarians pursue a lifetime of biblical interpretation.

Integrating the latest research in theology, philosophy, and biblical studies, this substantive hermeneutics textbook is robustly theological in its approach, takes philosophical hermeneutics seriously, keeps the focus throughout on the actual process of interpreting Scripture, and argues that biblical interpretation should be centered in the context and service of the church–an approach that helps us hear God’s address today.

——–

“Sophisticated work on truth, listening to Scripture, biblical theology, tradition, historical-critical methods, canon, philosophy, history, literature, theology, and academic inquiry….Above all it stresses the need to listen to Scripture and to God. I warmly commend this book.” – Anthony C. Thiselton, University of Nottingham

“Craig Bartholomew has been laboring in the fields of biblical interpretation and hermeneutics for years, and this book represents the abundant harvest, gathering fruit from many academic fields.” – Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Any individual interested in biblical hermeneutics should have this volume on a readily accessible shelf. Any classes on the subject should have it as an indispensable vade mecum….Highly recommended.” – James D. G. Dunn, Durham University

“An academically seasoned hermeneutic to be performed in the presence of God and centered in the church–what he refers to as ‘faith-full’ biblical interpretation. Bartholomew’s gift to his reader is the opportunity to think deeply about Scripture in the company of a seasoned scholar.” – Jeannine Brown, Bethel Seminary San Diego

“A smorgasbord of evangelical learning in the service of hearing God’s word in our day. A lifetime of wide reading and reflection has gone into this project.” – Christopher Seitz, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

“With consummate skill Bartholomew weaves together theology, philosophy, history, and exegesis…. This book will undoubtedly be a landmark in hermeneutics for many years to come.” – Mary Healy, Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics is a triumph. Craig Bartholomew provides a clear and gripping account of what it means to hear Scripture as God’s Word.” – C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

“A milestone for biblical interpretation….The volume is vintage Bartholomew: extraordinarily learned, exceptionally readable, and constructive in its proposal. Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics is the standard to which I shall return again and again.” – Heath A. Thomas, Southeastern Baptist Theological 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, including Ecclesiastes in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series. He is also an associate editor of the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible and the coauthor, with Michael W. Goheen, of The Drama of Scripture, Living at the Crossroads, and Christian Philosophy.

For more information on Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 19, 2015

Cover ArtAt First Things, Peter Leithart discussed Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution.

“Gathercole finds a common theme running through alternatives to substitutionary conceptions of atonement: They emphasize the cosmic and oppressive power of Sin, but downplay the role of specific acts of sin—sins—in Paul’s theology.”

Justin Mihoc and Joshua Mann reviewed the second volume of Craig Keener’s commentary on Acts for RBL.

“[Acts: An Exegetical Commentary] has already become, and will certainly remain for a long time, a standard reference work in Acts studies. His encyclopedic opus is certainly to be praised and valued by scholars as the most extensive study of sociorhetorical exegesis of Acts.”

Johnny Walker, at Freedom in Orthodoxy, reviewed Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation.

“Wonderful in its clarity and in its breadth of engagement with contemporary positions and proposals. His own account deserves a wide-hearing and will be something of a bench-mark I’m sure for Catholic account of the role of Church and Scripture in God’s self-witness to the world.”

Larry Hurtado reviewed Early Christianity in Contexts, edited by William Tabernee.

“For readers who might want to push out their own frontiers of knowledge of early Christianity, this book will be a gold mine.”

Also, Early Christianity in Contexts was reviewed by Peter Head at Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Herman Bavinck’s Essays on Religion, Science, and Society was reviewed by Dayton Hartman at For the Gospel.

The Bonhoeffer Center reviewed Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament, by Stanley Porter, was reviewed at The Washington Book Review.

Peter Williamson, author of Ephesians and Revelation in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, was interviewed at Catholic Bibles.

Finally, congrats to J. Richard Middleton, whose A New Heaven and a New Earth won the Word Award for the category of Biblical Studies.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 22, 2015

Cover ArtNijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Jeffrey Weima’s BECNT volume on 1-2 Thessalonians.

This is the most thoroughly-researched, soundly-argued evangelical academic commentary to date, and it will serve students and pastors well for a very long time. Weima has spent a lifetime researching these letters and there is hardly a soul in the world…who knows these letters and the history of their study better.

Paul Heintzman’s Leisure and Spirituality was reviewed by Andrew Spencer at Ethics & Culture, Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint, Casey Hough at The Renewed Church, and Nate Claiborne.

Fred G. Zaspel, at Books at a Glance, reviewed Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole.

Defending Substitution is a text that will sharpen understanding of this vital doctrine. It is easily accessible for Christian readers generally, but it is a book pastors and teachers especially will read to great profit. When we preach that “Christ died for us! Christ died for our sins!” we desperately want to be clear. And for that clarity Gathercole has rendered a wonderful service to the church.

Defending Substitution was also reviewed by James at Thoughts, Prayers & Songs, and Simon Gathercole was interviewed on The Christian Humanist Podcast.

At An Accidental Blog, Steve Bishop reviewed the recent Paideia volume on Galatians by Peter Oakes.

The Washington Book Review reviewed Matthew Schlimm’s This Strange and Sacred Scripture.

The Brookside Institute recommended Encountering the New Testament by Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough, and The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

Justin Taylor shared Albert Mohler’s recommended books list for Preaching Magazine, with Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God and Terry Muck, Harold Netland, and Gerald McDermott’s Handbook of Religion taking the top spots.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 20, 2015

Cover ArtIntroducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda, was reviewed on Odd Is The New Normal.

What this book does, in its amazing depth of research, is gather together thousands of years of theology and tradition into a single place…You can tell that this book was coauthored by teachers (good teachers) in their ability to organize and present such complicated material in a manner that is approachable and enlightening.

Bob on Books reviewed Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu, co-authors of Our Global Families, wrote a guest post for A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

At Transpositions, Brett Speakman reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

Jordan Hillebert, at Reformation 21, reviewed Atonement, Law and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob Prahlow reviewed Thomas O’Loughlin’s The Didache.

Asbury Journal reviewed The Story of Jesus in History and Faith by Lee Martin McDonald, Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist, Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl, and The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

At Solidarity Hall, John Medaille wrote Pop Culture and Total War, a reflection on Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire.

Andrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed on Dr. Bill Maier Live.