Theological Interpretation Of Scripture And Evangelical Systematic Theology: Iron Sharpening Iron? -- By: Daniel J. Treier

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 14:2 (Summer 2010)
Article: Theological Interpretation Of Scripture And Evangelical Systematic Theology: Iron Sharpening Iron?
Author: Daniel J. Treier


Theological Interpretation Of Scripture And Evangelical Systematic Theology: Iron Sharpening Iron?

Daniel J. Treier

Uche Anizor

Despite the hubbub in academic circles about theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS), discerning a succinct definition remains somewhat difficult, and implications for evangelical church life may not be readily apparent. The first goal of this essay is therefore to clarify how TIS as a general perspective seeks to help theology be more biblical, and biblical studies more theological. Secondly and more specifically, we can then address the usefulness of TIS for evangelical systematic theology (ST) in seeking to serve the church(es). Beginning descriptively is appropriate since one of the present authors has already worked to map the relevant terrain.1 Moreover, since ST is arguably the most theologically integrative disciplinary nexus for both the evangelical academy and church, it serves as a fitting point at which to provide general orientation to TIS. Focused on what we should say about God, God’s works and God’s will today, ST elicits special reflection on the end results desired by evangelical practitioners of TIS. After all, as evangelical systematic theologians, both of the present authors interact with all other theological disciplines in order to bear coherent, contemporary witness regarding divine self-revelation in Scripture.

Accordingly, the first section of this essay provides an overview, before the second section probes the value of TIS under the rubric of “iron sharpening iron,” examining various relationships of concern to evangelical ST. The suggestion here will be that TIS might strengthen the bonds of intellectual friendship between these various spheres—by encouraging their participants to

offer each other constructively critical, yet loving and supportive, dialogue.

(Re)Introducing Theological Interpretation Of Scripture

Because of the confusion noted above, we open our story of TIS by offering a summary definition. The theological interpretation of Scripture is the reading of biblical texts that consciously seeks to do justice to their nature as the Word of God, embracing the influence of theology on the interpreter’s enquiry, context, and methods, not just results.2 An expansion of that definition follows as this section tells the story of the recent recovery of TIS, thus detailing the principal aims and internal tensions of this “movement,”3 which finds initial unity in raising questions about so-c...

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