The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

By Burgess, John P. | Interpretation, July 2011 | Go to article overview

The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture


Burgess, John P., Interpretation


The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture by J. Todd Billings Eetdmans, Grand Rapids, 2010. 235 pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-08028-6235-8.

J. TODD BILLINGS, PROFESSOR at Western Theological Seminary, offers an excellent introduction to the art of interpreting Scripture theologically. Billings argues that those who would go straight to Scripture for their theology are naïve; every Bible reader already has a functional theology. What is necessary is to let the church's rule of faith guide and correct us. Only then will Scripture invite us into a Trinitarian drama in which the Spirit unites us with Christ and empowers us to participate in the Father's work of transforming us, and indeed all creation, to show forth God's love and glory. Along the way, Billings reviews key books on hermeneutical theory, pre-modern biblical criticism, feminist biblical criticism, and Scripture as drama. He is a good teacher, organizes material clearly, and makes scholariy insights accessible to a wider church audience. I found especially compelling his reflections on how interpretation of Scripture in different cultural contexts (past and present) enriches the church's faith, even as Scripture critiques every culture and exposes sinful dimensions of every act of interpretation.

While avoiding simplistic liberal/conservative stereotypes, Billings argues that Bible readers must choose between a "Trinitarian" and a "Deistic" hermeneutic Either God enters history from beyond us and makes Godself known to us through Scripture, or the Bible is a projection of human ideals about the good life. …

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