Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Not critical enough" (Barth)

"What the theology and biblical scholarship of the next decades must accomplish is a single flow of what modernity's theology separated as dogmatic reflection, exegesis, and speculation" (Robert Jenson, Canon and Creed, 121)
And I couldn't agree more! Much exegetical work produced by New Testament scholars often lacks the crucial follow-through. It can make plenty of comments about socio-historical contingencies, and the grammar and syntax of a given text, but so often falls short of thinking through what they claim the text is talking about. This is one key reason why Campbell's Deliverance of God is ahead of the rest in that field, and why the bibilcal exegete cannot duck systematics. As Barth saw years ago, the historical-critical scholars are not critical enough!

8 Comments:

At 1/31/2012 11:23 PM, Blogger Frederik Mulder said...

Perfectly said! To some extent the legacy of JP Gabler...

 
At 1/31/2012 11:27 PM, Blogger Frederik Mulder said...

But I do think that Campbell's Deliverance of God is way out of line when it comes to his speculation about the role of the letter carrier ...

 
At 2/01/2012 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super comments.

 
At 2/01/2012 12:44 AM, Blogger Doug Chaplin said...

Chris, I wonder how you cash this out?

For example, I think you could argue that Campbell equates the "correct" historical-critical exegesis of Paul with a satisfactory dogmatic interpretation. If it's dogmatically questionable (as penal substitution is) it can't be the right historical understanding, and since JT is theologically and philosophically questionable, it can't be what the historical Paul means.

I'm sympathetic to much of what Campbell is doing, but I puzzle that his attempt to claim a rigorous historical understanding of Paul that fits his theology is founded on a theological reading which treats Hab 2:4 as a Messianic (christological) text.

 
At 2/01/2012 5:20 AM, Anonymous Richard Burridge said...

OK Chris, fair enough. Maybe Biblical scholars cannot duck the systematics which have to follow through. But what about the converse? Systematicians cannot duck biblical criticism and just read the text naively as so often - and that, and the Biblical text, comes first!

 
At 2/01/2012 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who has to preach every Sunday, let me say thank you.

 
At 2/01/2012 10:25 PM, Blogger Phil Sumpter said...

Picking up on Burridge's 'converse' question, I'm interested that you use the phrase 'follow through'. Does that imply a particular oder: first historical exegesis and then theological reflection?

 
At 2/01/2012 11:01 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks all for your comments

Thanks, Frederik, yes, I blame the Germans for this!!

As far as Campbell’s historical speculation goes, I think it is plausible, and his whole approach solves problems nobody else has!

Richard Burridge! An honour to have you visit my blog! I couldn’t agree more. I am reminded of Russell Reno’s comments in the Brazos commentary series preface: ‘Theology has lost its competence in exegesis. Scripture scholars function with minimal theological training. Each decade finds new theories of preaching to cover the nakedness of seminary training that provides theology without exegesis and exegesis without theology’

Phil, well spotted! After I had written my post and reread it, I thought of that precise phrase and thought “that suggests something I don’t mean”. But I couldn’t be bothered to change it! I don’t want to imply to imply epistemological or ontological order. Perhaps some methodological ordering is called for, but again, I meant none of this.

Doug, what a great comment. I think Doug’s approach to what counts as a good reading is helpful here. I’ll post on that soon, I reckon.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home