The Continuation Of ‘A New Exchange’: Theological Interpretation Of Scripture In Retrospect And Prospect -- By: Grant D. Taylor

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 04:2 (Winter 2013)
Article: The Continuation Of ‘A New Exchange’: Theological Interpretation Of Scripture In Retrospect And Prospect
Author: Grant D. Taylor


The Continuation Of ‘A New Exchange’: Theological Interpretation Of Scripture In Retrospect And Prospect

Grant D. Taylor

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Since this edition of Southeastern Theological Review discusses and gives examples of theological interpretation of Scripture (hereafter TIS), readers may desire a definition of TIS. Several forums, introductory books, and a dictionary1 have covered this ground, so that this essay will not seek to do likewise. Instead, this brief essay will endeavor to show that as it is generally practiced today TIS represents what Karl Barth (1886-1968) believed was one of the primary goals of his Church Dogmatics: “… the initiation of a new exchange of views about the question of proper theology, the established knowledge of God, and the obedient service of God among men.”2 Of course, by “new exchange” Barth did not exclude all the theological interpretations of scripture that preceded his work. Rather, he hoped his Dogmatics would facilitate new discussions. In particular he hoped to break out of old historical-critical discussions (though in general he accepted the critical conclusions of the OT and NT scholars of his day) to break into what he called “the strange new world of the Bible.” Since Barth has greatly influenced many current practitioners of TIS, the past and present of TIS owes much to this “new exchange” Barth initiated.

The goal of this essay, then, is to research selected roots of TIS to illumine its characteristics as presently practiced. This survey will provide background material for the next section, which will sketch some implications for the prospects of TIS. The final section proposes epistemological and ethical reasons for making the sufficiency of Scripture primary in doing theology. To look forward, then, we begin by looking back to see from whence TIS came.

Theological Interpretation Of Scripture In Retrospect

Proponents of TIS position themselves in a particular way, both positively and negatively, toward the history of biblical interpretation.3 Theological interpretation of Scripture stands over against the kind of interpretation represented in the famous 1787 address of J. P. Gabler and for the kind championed by Karl Barth in the 20th century. Gabler and Barth serve in this essay as two exemplars, but not necessarily the verifiable originators, of contrasting approaches.4 Given the expanse of the period and scope...

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