Three More Books on the Bible: A Critical Review -- By: D. A. Carson

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 27:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Three More Books on the Bible: A Critical Review
Author: D. A. Carson

Three More Books on the Bible: A Critical Review

D. A. Carson

The “more” in the title refers to an essay I wrote with a similar title more than twenty years ago, viz., “Three Books on the Bible: A Critical Review,” JETS 26 (1983): 337-67.

D. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

The last few years have witnessed the publication of several books on the Bible, most of which are in some measure innovative. In addition to the three I shall review in this essay, one cannot overlook Peter Jensen’s The Revelation of God,1 which makes the gospel central to his development of the theme of revelation; Timothy Ward’s Word and Supplement: Speech Acts, Biblical Texts, and the Sufficiency of Scripture,2 which relies rather heavily—a bit too heavily, in my view—on speech-act theory to address the accumulating problems that have arisen in recent decades over the notion of the sufficiency of Scripture; and Kevin Vanhoozer’s, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology,3 which in some ways is as much a book about how to read the Bible—though, remarkably, without any need for a Scripture index—as it is a book about an innovative way to form a systematic theology. Reflecting on these three, which I am not going to discuss, makes me wonder if I should have doubled the length of this essay and titled it “Six More Books on the Bible”—but then I’d have to ask myself why I did not include several other recent contributions.4 So I have restricted myself to the following three, all of which are

interesting, helpful, and problematic—all three in very different ways. In other words, there may be some gain within the compass of one essay in reflecting on three such different books, for the stance each adopts and the innovations each introduces shed light on the other two.

I. John Webster

A. Content

Webster’s book, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch,5 is the most intellectually demanding of the three. Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen and the editor of the International Journal of Systematic Theology, Webster first presented the four chapters of this book as the Scottish Journal of Theology lectures in 2001. The first of the four chapters is the most innovati...

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