Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present

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Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present. By Rowan A. Greer. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2006, Pp. xxxiii, 244. $29.95, paper.)

Rowan Greer has given us an extensive, diligent, and scholarly survey of the way some Anglicans have dealt with the issues of interpretation of scripture. He ably demonstrates the various ways the Bible has been studied and where reason, tradition, natural religion, science, and historical criticism have been used and misused since the sixteenth century.

Especially helpful is his summary of the approaches of John Tillotson, Joseph Butler, and William Paley, for they each were enormously influential in Anglican history. I know of no better short description of historical criticism with its subheads of source criticism, form criticism, and redaction criticism, even if its contribution to understanding scripture is somewhat problematic. Sir Edwyn Hoskyns's skeptical view is favorably quoted. There can be "little surprise if the intelligent observer grows skeptical of the ability of the historian to reach conclusions in any way satisfactory" (178). Also the summary of Luke Johnson's critique of the Jesus Seminar is especially valuable.

Greer commendably confesses to "prejudices" with which he approaches his work, "a rather odd mixture of Anglo-Catholic and latitudinarian sensibilities" (xxxii). This approach is clearly shown in omitting any acknowledgement of evangelical Anglicans. No mention is made of the latitudinarian Gilbert Burnet's contemporary and superior theologian, William Beveridge, or the incomparably influential biblical exegete of fifty-six years in a Cambridge parish, Charles Simeon. Nor is there any mention of the work of John Stott, Tony Thiselton, Stephen Neill, Charles Moule, J. I. Packer, Leon Morris, or N. T. Wright.

This omission is particularly glaring in the face of extensive and somewhat sympathetic treatment of Maurice Wiles, Dennis Nineham, Michael Goulder, and Don Cupitt, who range from heterodoxy to atheism. …