I was asked some time ago now if I considered myself a “theologian” or a “Bible scholar”. This was in a context (seminary) where there seemed to be a fair divide among students of each focus and I know it is that way in other institutions than just the one I found myself in. At any rate, my response at the time was “theologian” which shocked the individual inquiring because they knew my experience with the Biblical languages and texts, my grasp of ANE history and culture, etc. Apparently this individual had already considered me a “Bible scholar”.
After the initial shocked look (one I expected when I replied the way I did knowing the questioner), I was asked why that was my answer. I said, because I believed “theologian” belonged to the Church specifically while “Bible scholar” did not necessarily. Perhaps that is an unfair distinction. Both could belong either to the Church or not, but from my perspective at the time I felt it more imperative to confess with the Church concerning Scripture. I was not willing to think of studying the Scripture apart from the confession of faith as a member of Christ’s body.
And then last year I was asked in my interview where I now teach “What do you intend to be as a result of finishing your doctoral work?” For some reason at that moment I no longer felt so clearly a “theologian” much less a “Bible scholar” (or anything else for that matter…other than “finished with the dissertation” 🙂 ). However, that conversation lingered with me for my five hour drive home. And I still return to it. I had affirmed in myself that my aim was to be a “Biblical theologian” thinking that the best combination of both worlds: word and confession.
Then I encountered the following statement by Graeme Goldsworthy:
“The Biblical theologian that does not strive to be also a dogmatician will be less effective as a biblical theologian, and vice versa.” (Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000], p.57)
Categorization is always problematic because while it highlights some elements it likely de-emphasizes others which may be equally essential. This points, once again, to the necessary interplay of the meditation and proclamation of Scripture as a canonical whole (a far more Christian practice than simply a study of individual texts) and the confession of the Church (which reminds one of the place within Christ’s body and redemptive history). So perhaps now I might consider myself “Biblical-theologian-dogmatician”. So what are you and why?
I have managed to acquire an extra copy of Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson’s, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology(Kregel Academic, 2011). This volume approaches the text via the historical/literary/theological method where these three aspects must be considered carefully in order to move toward a proper interpretation of Scripture. The volume’s approach begins with discussion of the canonical elements (because of the place this text has within the community which affects all else), moving to genre discussions (with analysis of specific passages), and finally discussing issues like discourse, syntax, and word studies. This is the opposite direction that a number of other texts have taken and it is (in my opinion) a more welcome approach for teaching students how to properly interpret Scripture. (The wonderful folks of Kregel Academic also offer quizzes and power-point slides for professors adopting this text).
With that said, I am going to give away 1 copy of this book to a randomly selected commenter to this post (with a maximum of four entries per person and one entry per each of the following):
Leave a comment answering the question: “What is your favorite genre of Scripture and why?”
Link to this giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with a link to your FB post.
Link to this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment with a link to your Twitter post.
Re-blog this giveaway linking to this post.
The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 13th at 11:59PM. The winner will be announced Thursday morning. Happy commenting. 🙂
Due to shipping costs I am only offering this giveaway to those residing in the U.S. and Canada. I will contact the winner privately to obtain a shipping address.
In Sunday School this week we covered Genesis 1. Something that struck me was verses 29-30:
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Gen 1:29-30 NIV)
Whereas some have taken this as some sort of Pre-fall diet plan to get healthy (it isn’t), I realized it is making a VERY significant claim theologically. In the ancient Near Eastern stories of the creation of humans (see Atrahasis Epic), people were made to feed the gods. They did feed themselves, but only as they would “sustain the gods”. And the gods (Igigi) were said to toil hard at making food and led (by their rebellion under the toil) to the creation of humans.
In the Genesis 1, however, it is the God of Israel who feeds people and creatures alike. There is not even a mention of God eating (to be fair God is described as eating later in the canon). Now THAT is a theological claim we should not miss. This God, the god of Israel, is the one who feeds all of creation and has created in order to care for creation. And the work was not toilsome to begin with, but simply attending to the garden of God (Gen.2-3). And it was God Himself who watered the dwelling of humans and gave them freely to eat. This is the God of Israel. This is the God of the Church.
Now that’ll preach!
Today was a tear-filled day as I announced my resignation to Karlstad Assembly of God effective the end of July. I have been asked to join the faculty of Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, ND as Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies. I will be teaching primarily Old Testament, but also hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation) and homiletics (preaching) even while I continue my PhD studies through Bangor University – Wales, UK.
This is an exciting adventure before us, but it is heart-wrenching to leave our church and community that we have grown to love deeply.
There have been many tears shed in our family even as we look with anticipation to what the Lord has for our future. We ask you all to join with us in praying for the Lord’s blessing and care through this transition as we are sent out for new opportunities to be and to make disciples elsewhere.