The Issue Of Biblical Scholarship: An Editorial -- By: J. E. Luchies

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 004:2 (Oct 1961)
Article: The Issue Of Biblical Scholarship: An Editorial
Author: J. E. Luchies

The Issue Of Biblical Scholarship:
An Editorial

J. E. Luchies

Wheaton College

The Biblical scholar, oriented within the evangelical theological tradition, is immediately confronted with a primary issue the moment he commences his theological effort. This issue necessitates a definitive position from which he can then proceed to the analytic and interpretative answers to the ever-widening theological issues. That primary issue is: must my starting-point in Biblical scholarship be the authoritative and declarative nature of the Bible as the Written Word of God, or must my point of departure be within the theological structure of accepted dogma, however derived—intuitively, rationally, or biblically?

The answer to this issue is not a simple one. Those who accept the second alternative, i.e. theological structure is primary, do not deny the relevance of Biblical scholarship. In fact, there has been an astonishing resurgence of Biblical investigation, both literary and historical. Those who adopt the former position, i.e. theological scholarship begins within the structure of the Bible, have more and more honored the relevance of systematic theological structure and the ability of the theologian to think into and through the contemporary theological issues, including the wider cultural and social implications of those issues.

What then is the precise point at issue? Those who take their starting-point within a theological structure assert that the relevance of the Bible in theological scholarship must be determined by interests outside the nature of the Bible as the Written Word of God. Ah interpretation of the Bible therefore becomes the meaning of the Bible. The Bible thus becomes theologically successful when it speaks meaningfully within the activity or deliverance of human faith or reason, i.e. not antecedent to but successive to these.

Those who take their starting-point in the nature, of the Biblical revelation (for the evangelical that means within the unique deliverance of the mind of God in the Written Word, verbally inspired, not just through the Written Word) assert that in every theological issue the attitude of the theologian is one of listening to the divine promulgation of divine truth. He does not only read the Bible, he listens to it. Theology is the analysis and synthesis of the knowledge that God has of all things, which He has conveyed to and adapted to human understanding. Although this knowledge of God given in the Written Word is soteriologically intended in its primary significance, the wider implications of truth in every sphere of human history are involved. The only possible starting-point for such theological endeavor must be divine-truth-as-...

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