Book Review -- By: Richard J. Perhai

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 13:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Book Review
Author: Richard J. Perhai


Book Review

Richard J. Perhai

Brian Shealy

Students in Doctor of Philosophy Program

Baptist Bible Seminary

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

The Salvation Historical Fallacy? Reassessing the History of New Testament Theology. Robert W. Yarbrough. Leiden, The Netherlands: Deo Publishing, 2004. v–xiv + 402.

Robert Yarbrough is Associate Professor and Chairman of the New Testament Department at Trinity International University as well as editor of Trinity Journal. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree from Aberdeen in New Testament and serves also as adjunct professor in numerous international seminaries.1

In The Salvation Historical Fallacy? Yarbrough seeks to answer why such a disparity exists in NT theological studies, with a diachronic study that compares and contrasts the dominant NT theological heritage of Baur-Wrede-Bultmann with the “minority report” of Hofmann-Schlatter-Cullmann (xiii, 3). Yarbrough hopes to redress the neglected salvation historical approach relative to a hermeneutics and historiography of NTT (4-5).

The former “critical orthodox” trio essentially embraces a Kantian or neo-Kantian epistemology, not finding the NT text a viable record of revelation, but instead an expression of subjective experiences and reflections on them (7; e.g., Baur believed “the New Testament texts … reflect only ‘the reflex of the subjectivity of the author’”[10]). The latter trio fundamentally reject the Enlightenment or post-Enlightenment philosophy and triumphalism of positivism, while seeking to empirically exegete and synthesize the theology of the NT, accepting the premise that the NT text provides a reliable record of not only first-century witnesses to and reflectors on Jesus, but also a reliable record of actual first century events themselves (e.g., Hofmann 40 and Schlatter 117). Yarbrough effectively contends that the former trio have dominated NT theological studies, and that often the latter trio have not been given fair press.

He chronicles this primarily by asking the duo of trios three questions: “1. What is New Testament theology? 2. What

epistemological stance is reflected? 3. What view of history is employed or implied?” (338; cf. 164-65). Chapter 1 contrasts Baur and Hofmann, who is given little press outside this book. Chapter 2 compares Wrede and Schlatter. Chapter 3 surveys mid-twentieth-century OT theology particularly as related to the salvation historical perspective to show that Cullmann was not alone in promoting it (163). Chapter 4 chroni...

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