The Changing Future of
Old Testament Theology: A Postscript
Si finis bonus est, totum bonum erit.
— Gesta Romanorum
I END THIS SURVEY WITH SEVERAL OBSERVATIONS, ASSERTIONS, AND a proposed series of steps designed to lead to biblical theology engaging contemporary faith. Old Testament theology, as can be seen in this book and in The Collapse of History, has become a vital discipline once again. Its voices are many and disparate, they speak out of different methodologies, contexts, and often conflicting epistemologies, but they should be heard and become dialogue partners in theological conversation that seeks to express both the Old Testament's and the current church's religious understanding. This variety of approaches and interpretations may be characterized as fragmentation or as diversity, implying a richness of insight that offers many opportunities for conversation. In my judgment, the present discussions issue from an enriching diversity that brings life to ancient texts. At times, representatives of these approaches engage in dialogue, but too often they either ignore or criticize each other. When serious conversation does not occur, there is a significant loss for the entire discipline.
The primary question that stimulates all Old Testament theology is the knowledge of God and how it is obtained. And here is a major area of disagreement. Where does the knowledge of God reside: behind the text in the social location of the biblical texts, which in Old Testament theology is only to be described; in the theological approach based on the historical reconstruction of Israel that leads to either a center and a systematic formulation or to a synchronic and diachronic number of understandings of ancient Israel and early Judaism; in the original and then the present community, which interprets the text from its own social location; in the interaction of text and readers, both past and present, that produces mean-