Practicing the Gospel in A Post-Critical World: The Promise Of Theological Exegesis -- By: Joel B. Green

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 47:3 (Sep 2004)
Article: Practicing the Gospel in A Post-Critical World: The Promise Of Theological Exegesis
Author: Joel B. Green

Practicing the Gospel in A Post-Critical World:
The Promise Of Theological Exegesis

Joel B. Green

[Joel Green is dean of academic affairs and professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, 204 North Lexington Avenue, Lexington, KY 40390.]

The argument I want to put forward is a straightforward one. I want to insist that, if we are to engage in a genuinely theological exegesis of Christian Scripture, the both disciplines, biblical studies and systematic theology, must change.

In making such a claim, I grant that, when I describe “biblical studies” and “systematic theology,” I am referring to two aggregates of interests and practices that resist narrow definition. I further grant that those who practice biblical studies and those who practice systematic theology may find in my presentation that their work has been, at least to some degree, caricatured. By way of response, I offer two reflections.

First, I recognize that aggregates are masses held together by something, by some adhesive agent that invites examination. Within theological schools, although the departments of biblical studies and theological studies may share a relationship of mutual respect and even support one another as representatives of what are often known as “the classical disciplines,” the assumptions and practices they represent are constitutive of two different, stable, epistemic communities, each regulated by standards of excellence and aims that are generally mutually exclusive. Only rarely does one find mutual respect giving way to the sort of integrative work or interdisciplinarity where fresh epistemic trails are blazed, where the concerns of, say, systematic theology actually shape the ways in which biblical studies is conducted. More pervasive has been the suggestion that it is the task of the student to search for paths of integration among the thickets of a curricula whose presuppositions mask, perhaps even hinder, integration. More pervasive are those scholars who are trained according to accredited standards that guard the one discipline from what are typically regarded as the naive or colonizing efforts of the other. From the side of biblical studies, the consequence of such developments is the ghettoizing of biblical studies and an identity crisis for practitioners of this discipline. As Werner G. Jeanrond remarked already a decade ago, “What can the study of the Bible offer to the diverse interests of students late in the twentieth century? What is the contribution of biblical studies to the academy, to society at large and to the

different Jewish and Christian communities? In other words, what is the discipline of...

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