The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology

By Charles H.H. Scobie | Go to book overview

D. The Method of Biblical Theology

Our survey of the history of BT has demonstrated very clearly that the question of methodology is of fundamental importance. A way out of the present impasse in biblical studies and the development of a new approach to BT are conditional upon the working out of an appropriate methodology.


D-1. AN INTERMEDIATE BIBLICAL THEOLOGY

There can be no return to the situation of an integrated biblical theology that existed before the rise of the modern historical approach. Yet the pursuit of a totally independent biblical theology has led to an impasse. What does hold promise is an approach that sees BT as a bridge discipline, situated between the historical study of Scripture on the one hand and its use by the church in its faith and life on the other. (For the bridge metaphor, cf. Goldsworthy 1981: 43; Childs 1992: 481; Knierim 1984: 47 speaks of a “relay-station.”) This may thus be termed an intermediate biblical theology.

The proposal advanced here may be illustrated as follows:

Historical → Biblical → Faith and Life
Study ← Theology ←of the Church

Historical-critical study of the Bible still has an important role to play (cf. above, C-1.3). The books of the Bible must be interpreted in the first instance against their historical background; questions of authorship, date, destination, purpose, and so on must be based on a critical assessment of the evidence; and study of individual books and authors must be based on painstaking exegesis that aims to understand the meaning of the text in its original setting. But the limits of historical criticism must be kept in mind. The method can generally yield only possible or probable, not certain, results. No historian is free from

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