Periodical Reviews -- By: Jefferson P. Webster
BSac 171:683 (July-September 2014) p. 360
By The Faculty and Library Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
“The Continuation of a ‘New Exchange’: Theological Interpretation of Scripture in Retrospect and Prospect,” Grant D. Taylor, Southeastern Journal of Theology
Recent years have seen the flourishing of a distinctive approach to biblical interpretation dubbed the “Theological Interpretation of Scripture.” Grant D. Taylor, of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, seeks to place the movement in its larger historical context, while assessing its prospects for future development; he then concludes by arguing for the “sufficiency of Scripture” as “primary in doing theology.”
Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) arose within the church to challenge the hegemony of the historical critical method, which had become increasingly separate from, if not hostile to, the theological concerns that motivated biblical interpretation for centuries. Taylor traces this latter movement to the seminal work of J. P. Gabler, who “sought a pure biblical theology founded upon the work of historical criticism that abstracted parts of the Bible from the whole” (p. 119). As a result of Gabler’s endeavors, the Bible became “a literary resource for historical study of the Christian religion instead of historical revelation for theological reflection and Christian living” (p. 120). The consequences of this perspective reach far and deep, even into the interpretive practices of current evangelicalism.
Though Karl Barth was not the originator of TIS—his teacher, Adolph Schlatter, was an important precursor—Barth’s influence is inescapable. With his call for a “new exchange” of ideas between dogmatics and biblical interpretation, centered on a view of revelation that is thoroughly Trinitarian and Christological, Barth “serves as the ‘motivation and model’ for TIS” (p. 121). In Barth’s view, as described by Taylor, “no neat separation exists between religion and theology, between the church and the academy, or therefore between biblical and dogmatic theology.” Thus, the ecclesial and academic contexts that had been sundered by Gabler and others were brought “back together” (p. 121) by Barth, and his endeavors provided the stimulus for the current “ ‘ecclesial location’ in TIS” (p. 122). Furthermore, his ideas inspired the works of others, most notably the biblical theologian Brevard Childs, whose development of the “canonical” approach along with the conviction that the “subject of the literal sense is Jesus
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