The Hermeneutics of Doctrine
My sincere thanks to Eerdmans for a review copy of Anthony C. Thiselton, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2007). What a delight it was to receive that in the post, I can tell you!
I consider Anthony C. Thiselton an academic role model. His commentary on 1 Corinthians is the best of its kind, his work on hermeneutics is jaw droppingly well researched, and he now shows how well read he is on theological questions. Essentially, Thiselton asks whether 'a more significant interaction between hermeneutics and doctrine [may] play some part in rescuing doctrine from its marginalised function and abstraction from life, and deliver it from its supposed status as mere theory' (xvi).
His new book, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, provides all manner of important and original insights seeking to answer this question. The first section explores reasons to pursue the hermeneutics of doctrine, while part two answers possible objections to the project. Part three (the main part of the book) then examines a variety of major doctrinal themes, including anthropology, sin, the atonement, Christology, the Trinity and much more besides.
The book is simply superb, a real delight to read. And you know, when reading Thiselton, you will learn plenty for the time spent studying! So many points could be noted as demonstration of this, but for reasons of time I will limit myself to one: It seems to me that his hermeneutical critique of Bultmann in chapter 17 blows apart the justly famous German's claim that Easter is 'nothing other than the rise of faith in the risen one'. Yet he manages this critique at the same time as positively drawing from Bultmann's legitimate insight that to claim 'Jesus is Lord', for example, is a self-involving assertion involving existential language. The whole argument is penetrating, balanced, lucid and learned.
Here is Craig G. Bartholomew's essay, "Three Horizons: Hermeneutics from the Other End―An Evaluation of Anthony Thiselton's Hermeneutic Proposals," European Journal of Theology 5.2 (1996): 121-135. And here is Scot McKnight's glowing review. That's three witnesses, so: Buy it, study it, re-read it and enjoy it!