The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Kasemann

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The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Kasemann, by Roy A. Harrisville and Walter Sundberg. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1995. 282 pp. $20.00 (paper). ISBN 0-8028-0873-5.

THIS BOOK is preeminently a survey of modern historical-critical study of the it Bible. After a review of the precritical way in which the Reformers read the Bible, there is a chapter-by-chapter discussion of major figures selected as representative proponents of such diverse approaches to the Bible as those associated with rationalism, liberalism, idealism, salvation history, historicism, fundamentalism, and the theology of the cross.

If the plan of this book is oriented around great figures and movements of thought, its subject is the viability of churchly use of historical-critical method. The authors note that historical criticism of the Bible originated in the opposition between the dogma of the church and the new liberal political philosophy of emergent modern Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The intent was to measure the meaning of Jesus' message according to the norms of Enlightenment morality and rationality. The confident assumption, which still drives historical criticism today, is that historical study is what determines the standards of meaning and value that are used to interpret scripture. …