scientific study of religion that is open to theological claims. This compatibility between the believer's 'insider' stance and the 'outsider' stance of the historian or social scientist allows theology to study Israelite, Jewish, and early Christian religion by every available rational method, but without abandoning its own rather different aim of deepening and correcting contemporary religious faith.
One consequence of this concordat between faith and reason is that biblical scholarship can, if it wishes, go its own way without reference to the religious interests of most readers of the Bible. Historical, literary, or sociological study can be pursued from purely academic interest. Even the study of biblical religion, involving all these approaches, can be carried out without much thought of relating the results to one's own religious understanding. It is often not clear whether a piece of biblical scholarship has been undertaken out of a purely historical interest, or in the hope of clarifying, or even in the hope of discrediting, Christianity or Judaism by close attention to an important part of their tradition.
Most of the interpreters to be considered in the following chapters made their aims clear and, as one would expect from innovators, their respect for the truth as they saw it outweighed their respect for inherited opinions. All expressions of religious faith are historically conditioned and ultimately inadequate. The identity and continuity of religious traditions depends more on the same scriptures being interpreted than on the interpretations themselves being identical. But that insight was born of historical study, and the midwives were not popular. The most famous and least popular of all was prevented from taking up his professorial appointment. David Friedrich Strauss was instead compelled to take very early retirement, as the next chapter relates.
BARR, J., The Bible in the Modern World ( London, 1973).
----- Explorations in Theology 7 ( London, 1980).
CHILDS, B. S., Biblical Theology in Crisis ( Philadelphia, 1970).