On The Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: The Indirect Identity Thesis, Reformed Orthodoxy, And Trinitarian Considerations -- By: Nathaniel Gray Sutanto

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 77:2 (Fall 2015)
Article: On The Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: The Indirect Identity Thesis, Reformed Orthodoxy, And Trinitarian Considerations
Author: Nathaniel Gray Sutanto


On The Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: The Indirect Identity Thesis, Reformed Orthodoxy, And Trinitarian Considerations

Nathaniel Gray Sutanto

Nathaniel Gray Sutanto is a PhD candidate in systematic theology at New College, University of Edinburgh.

I. Introduction

The Theological Interpretation of Scripture (hereafter TIS) movement within the academy has received a wide range of responses from within the evangelical community, from suspicion to open curiosity to excited engagement. Such responses are appropriate, as the ideas that bind the movement as a whole are indeed concerns that evangelicals should be excited about: a growing discontent with the historical-critical paradigm, the rejuvenation of the use of Christian theology in biblical interpretation, and a renewed appreciation of pre-critical interpretative methods. Evangelicals have long echoed many of the deconstructive critiques lodged against the historical-critical paradigm by the advocates of TIS,1 yet evangelicals have had a complex relationship with the wider academy since the rise of modernism. Thus, it is only expected that the traction that the movement is gaining in the academy would be a particular point of interest for evangelicals.2 But what is it, exactly, that makes it so new, fresh, or unique within the academy? While many within evangelicalism have critically and appreciatively analyzed the movement, an analysis from the perspective of a Reformed orthodox tradition is still rare. I will thus offer one such attempt in this article.

For the purposes and scope of an article such as this, it is best to focus on one particular advocate of TIS as a representative of the whole. Other than the few shared characteristics described above, the movement remains notoriously elusive to the attempt of precisely defining its project, as its advocates often employ mutually exclusive approaches to hermeneutics and exegesis. Thus, an attempt at a critical yet appreciative analysis of the movement as a whole would simply be counter-productive. In agreement with a recent study, then, Francis

Watson, currently research professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Durham, will serve well as a test-case to analyze major strands of the whole.3

Francis Watson’s published work is both comprehensive and demanding. Again, I will thus limit myself to the books and articles that most explicitly deal with the issue of theological hermeneutics, and even within those works I must be selective. I aim at analyzing some ...

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