Thursday, May 5, 2011

J. R. Daniel Kirk: Theological Interpretation of the Bible

There has been, in some corners of biblical studies, a strong reaction to the theological interpretation of scripture. Rather than read the Bible as a theological book, some would rather read it only as a history of Judaism and Christianity and nothing more. There is a resistance to interpreting the Bible in ways that can be applied to our modern setting.

I remember one review of my first book in which the reviewer accused me of doing "biblical theology." Some of you will know what he meant and the way he meant it. On the one hand I reacted because he was accusing me of not being aware of modern methods and understandings of biblical studies. On the other hand, I found it hard to interact with him because what he was really saying was that what I had done was theological interpretation and therefore not a valid approach.

J. R. Daniel Kirk is assistant professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Today on his blog Storied Theology, he "confesses" that he is a theological interpreter of the Bible. He does a good job at explaining why this is a valid approach and how one can be aware of and sensitive to critical issues and still do theological interpretation. At one point he has this to say:

The theology I am for is a theology that takes the Bible seriously–and that Bible as we know it is, in part, the Bible as critical scholarship has opened our eyes to it. And what it means for me to be a Christian is to continue to build theology for the church trusting that this Bible we actually have is, in fact, the Bible that God wants us to have.

It is a nice piece and I encourage you to read it. I think his description would fit my own approach in many ways.

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