Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

What Is Theological Exegesis? Interpretation and Use of Scripture in Barth's Doctrine of Election

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

What Is Theological Exegesis? Interpretation and Use of Scripture in Barth's Doctrine of Election

Article excerpt

What is Theological Exegesis? Interpretation and Use of Scripture in Barth's Doctrine of Election. By Mary Kathleen Cunningham. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1995. 95 pp. $10.00 (paper).

Instead of focusing on Barth's theoretical remarks about his hermeneutics, this book takes a more practical approach to his use of Scripture. It analyses a chief theme in the Church Dogmatics-the doctrine of election-from the standpoint of Barth's actual exegesis of a single verse: Eph. 1:4 (which states that God chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world, that we shall be holy and blameless before him"). The book examines how Barth makes an argument for why this verse should not be read, as it usually is, in relation to a concept of Logos asarkos (that is, a pre-existent Logos who only later assumed the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth), but in relation to an understanding of Jesus Christ "in the beginning, with God" as both the Subject and object of election, and hence as both God and human, and not merely a fleshless Logos (p. 12). Specifically, Mary Kathleen Cunningham analyzes how Barth's exegesis of this passage-and a cluster of related Johannine texts-is intrinsically related to his core theological beliefs (in, e.g., the Trinity, Christ, grace), and how these beliefs, in turn, are only given proof in his very exegesis of Scripture. Although she compares this mode of exegesis with standard historical-critical approaches to the same passages, her intent is not to reject historical criticism-or even evaluate which approach is superior-but to bring to the fore the distinctive nature of Barth's own internal logic. In this analysis, Cunningham presupposes Hans Frei's reading of "biblical narratives as realistic narratives that mean what they say rather than as historical sources or as symbols or mythical expressions of truth" (p. …

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