THE THEOLOGY AND INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
F. F. BRUCE
WHATEVER may be said about the interpretation of the Old Testament, the propriety of talking about its theology has been repeatedly questioned. Can one in fact speak of the theology of the Old Testament in anything approaching a unitary sense? We can readily speak about the theology of Jeremiah or the theology of the Chronicler, but when we think of the Old Testament as a whole, should we not speak rather of the variety of its theologies? What is there in common between the theology of Judges and the theology of Second Isaiah? We may reply at once: 'A recognition that Yahweh, the righteous God, is Lord of history'--but should we have thought of asking the question, let alone of offering a reply, did it not so happen that Judges and Isaiah 40-55 are included in the same corpus of 'sacred' literature?
In an article published in 1960 under the title 'Is there an Old Testament theology?' Preben Wernberg-Møller distinguished two senses which the word 'theology' might bear in that question. On the one hand it might mean 'systematic theology, and more particularly, Christian systematic theology (because the starting-point is then the New Testament)', while on the other hand it might be 'firmly based on a critical linguistic, philological and historical study', in which case it would be used 'in a purely descriptive, non-committal way of the religious contents which may be detected in the Old Testament writings themselves, either in the smaller units, or