Sunday, June 04, 2006

When exegetes only read exegetes

Anything Richard Bauckham writes is worth taking very seriously. His NT Christology lectures and seminars in St Andrews made a big impact on me in my undergrad years, and were a major factor that drove me further in my own thinking. His enormous breadth of knowledge, spanning church history, modern systematic theology and biblical exegesis in Paul, Peter, the Gospels, Revelation etc etc. should command the respect of anyone – see here for his list of publications.

This is what Moltmann had to say about Richard’s critical engagement with The Coming of God in God will be All in All (1999):

‘I am grateful to Richard Bauckham for reading my theological exposition exegetically too. In doing so he is a rare example of his discipline. Otherwise exegetes only read exegetes, and theologians only theologians. For the full multiplicity of standpoints we need more cross-readings; for after all both he and I still believe in the unity of theology in its diverse disciplines.’ (232)


At 6/04/2006 2:56 PM, Anonymous dan said...

I have greatly enjoyed the exchanges that have occured between Bauckham and Moltmann. It is fantastic to see such a great theologian and such a great biblical scholar dialoguing with each other.

However, I do remember being rather disappointed with Moltmann's response to Bauckham's criticisms in the book that you quote (at least I think it's in that book... it's been awhile since I've read it). Despite Moltmann's affirmation of the unity of theology he seems to respond to Bauckham by distancing theology from exegesis.

At 6/04/2006 3:27 PM, Anonymous Jim B said...

Must confess I'm not really familiar with Bauckham (I guess my interests lie more on the theology side of things.)

Can you give, have you given, or can you point me to sort of an intro on Bauckham?

Jim B(not West)

At 6/04/2006 3:59 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Dan,
"I do remember being rather disappointed with Moltmann's response to Bauckham's criticisms in the book that you quote"
Moltmann was even rather sharp in places. I think that the joining of theology and biblical studies is a difficult but necessary task for the Church to take more seriously in the coming years.

Hi Jim B,
Into to Bauckham is not easy to recommend- he has written so broadly. A nice read would be his God Crucified - a good place to start, anyway. He writes very smoothly, I think - and I tend to put down his books/articles thinking to myself: 'well put like that, he is obviously right'!

At 6/04/2006 7:12 PM, Anonymous dan said...


I completely agree with you that the joining of theology with biblical studies is a crucial task that the Church needs to prioritise over the coming years. That's why I was so disappointed in Moltmann's response to Bauckham. He seems to say one thing in the passage that you quote and then he says something completely different in his response.

The bringing together of biblical studies with theology is actually a large part of the reason why I decided to do graduate work in theology after doing an undergrad in biblical studies. However, in my thesis, I am attempting to bring the two disciplines together. Of course, when push comes to shove, my own bias is to give biblical studies the place of privilege so that theology is rooted in biblical studies, and not vice versa.

At 6/04/2006 7:29 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

It is perhaps a bit utopian to think that the theologicals and the exegticals are ever going to spend much time sending messages across the vast ugly ditch that separates them. I think the best we can hope for is that some exegetical types will write some exegetical theology. Bauckham has done this and another name the comes to mind is Murray J. Harris who has done some very technical stuff like "Jesus as God" and his writings on the resurrection.

Theologicals and the exegticals use different methodologies do not speak the same language. Exegticals have enough difficulty communicating with one another. For example, M.Parsons/M.Culy (Acts Balyor, 2004 page 210) commenting on Acts 10:36 TON LOGON take issue with Fitzmyer (AB), Witherington, Barrett (ICC) and A.T. Robertoson. Parsons and Culy invoke the topic-comment metaphor which has been floating around in the linguistic world for several decades, but stating that TON LOGON is topicalized is going to leave those who work within what I have referred to in the past as the Mounce/Wallace framework out in the cold, clueless. In other words the majority of NT exegticals are going to be left out of the discussion, whereas the bible translation consultants are going to nod their heads and say yes TON LOGON is topicalized.

getting somewhat off topic here.

At 6/04/2006 7:51 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

an after thought:

By the way, if anyone is thinking about obtaining the forthcoming books in the series edited by M.Parsons/M.Culy, you should keep in mind that not all the contributers are using the same framework. I have been told that some second generation disciples of Halliday's functionalism (former students of S.E. Porter) might be writing volumes for this series. Since Porter's take on Halliday is a far cry from S.Dik and T.Givon not to mention Chomsky, this series may end up being rather uneven unless the editors are going to play the role of thought police. Just a thought ....

At 6/04/2006 7:56 PM, Anonymous jim b said...

with a title like that I can say I'm I definitely will have to look him up.

At 6/04/2006 9:57 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Dan,

"Of course, when push comes to shove, my own bias is to give biblical studies the place of privilege so that theology is rooted in biblical studies, and not vice versa."

Yea, me too. Have you read the Between Two Horizons commentary series introduction book? I mentioned it here.

At 6/04/2006 10:00 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Clay,
Yes, series can be rather uneven. Do have a look at the Two Horizons intro that I mentioned in my last comment to Dan - only two are out at the mo, but they are probably already uneven!
And with exegetes specialising more and more, not just thematically but also methodologically, I understand your synicism - a difficult but necessary task lays ahead. Thiselton did a pretty good job in his Cor commentary though.


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