The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus

By Barrick, William D. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2002 | Go to article overview

The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus


Barrick, William D., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus. By R. W. L. Moberly. Cambridge Studies in Christian Doctrine 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, xii + 263 pp., $64.95.

Agenda-driven interests at the close of the twentieth century lobby for a redefinition of biblical interpretation and theological thinking that would legitimize and propagate certain social trends. Without claiming infallibility for traditional exposition, R. W. L. Moberly exposes shoddy thinking on all sides. All protagonists are challenged to lay aside political, cultural, and confessional agendas.

At the start, the author proposes "to develop an account of biblical interpretation in relation to the question of God" (p. 1). Near the end, his thesis is that "identity, integrity, and growth in relationship [between God and humanity] revolve around the paradoxes of a certain kind of self-giving (kenosis) to enable life in profound interrelationship (perichoresis)" (p. 234). To set the stage for the discussion, Moberly critiques three essays: James Barr's "Does Biblical Study Still Belong to Theology?" in The Scope and Authority of the Bible (Explorations in Theology 7; SCM, 1980); C. K. Barrett's "What Is New Testament Theology?" in Jesus and the Word and Other Essays (T. & T. Clark, 1995); and George Aichele's "Introduction" in The Postmodern Bible (The Bible and Culture Collective; Yale University Press, 1995). He concludes that all three essays are, to a certain extent, defective: "Although the Collective realize some of the defects and omissions in the kind of approach represented by Barr and Barrett, their own concerns to escape individualism and to engage with structural issues of the public exercise of power show a complete failure to engage with the critical content of the Bible and of the Jewish and Christian faiths rooted in it" (p. 38). His goal is to wed a more structural understanding of theology and faith to an engagement with contemporary issues in postmodern life (p. 37). Interpreting the Bible relates directly to resolving the question of God and its effect on how people live.

Chapter 2 focuses on Luke 24 as the primary text for defining and illustrating how one's discernment of God affects how one lives. Chaps. 3-5 are committed to a detailed exposition of Gen 22:1-19 and an examination of the Christological/typological interpretations of W. Vischer and G. von Rad, the Jewish interpretations of M. Roshwald and J. A. Levenson, the feminist hermeneutics of P. Trible and B. Groth, and the antihero expositions of D. N. Gunn and D. N. Fewell and P. …

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