Reading Isaiah as Christian Scripture

God takes no bull from us…

Posted in Humor, OT Theology, Theological Interpretation by Bacho on March 6, 2011

Here is just one peculiar example of why we need:

a.Grow in our capacity to read in the original languages

b.Updated English translations

Psalm 50.9:לא-אקח מביתך פר

Literal: not-I-will-accept from-your-house bull

RSV: I will accept no bull from your house

NRSV: I will not accept a bull from your house

Is YHWH not willing to take any bull from us in the literal or figurative sense?  What, albeit wrong but intriguing implications might the more colorful reading have on our theology?  Preaching possibilities seem to be endless…

Theodore Vriezen: How to Understand the Old Testament prophets?

Posted in Hermeneutics, OT Theology, Reading the Bible as Scripture by Bacho on November 26, 2010

“Prophets do not live a mystical life close to God, but they see Him working through contemporary events.  In their prophetic teaching it is not of paramount importance that they had been granted such a deep understanding of the events of their days (as if they had such political judgment), but that they experienced the reality of God in all that happened; it was the will of god that drove on the Assyrians and used them as a rod in His hand.  Here is no mystical vision but the understanding of faith, which sees reality as the fulfillment of the will of God…Therefore everything they see happening is significant, fully significant.  The downfall of Israel and Judah is significant; it is God’s judgment, for the course of history is no incomprehensible tragic happening enacted against an obscure background, but these obscure happenings are the footprints of God in His judgment, who in this way prepares the ground for His Kingdom.”  [Th. C. Vriezen, An Ourline of Old testament Theology, 57]

A Question Waiting to be Answered

Posted in Hermeneutics, Historical Criticsm, OT Theology by Bacho on September 29, 2010

Iain Provan raised an interesting question in his paper presented at the “Bible and Theology” conference at King’s College London in April 1995:

“The discipline of OT theology…clearly has (or at least should have) a future in the Church. Does it have a future in the Academy? There are really two questions disguised here, of course. Can the discipline be academically justified, and will such justification make any difference? That it can be justified I have no doubt. Persuading others of its street-credibility may be another matter, in a context where the rationalist-materialist-reductionist paradigm of education still holds so much sway and still seems to many self-evidently to define the territory within which proper academic discourse may occur. Yet in some ways it is much easier to argue now for a legitimate place within the Academy for the kind of discipline I have been describing than it was even ten years ago.”  [Published as an article in Scottish Journal of Theology under the title CANONS TO THE LEFT OF HIM: BREVARD CHILDS, HIS CRITICS, AND THE FUTURE OF OLD TESTAMENT THEOLOGY]

Well, fifteen years have passed.  What kind of an answer can we give?  Do we face a changed landscape today?  Has the disciple of OT theology found its permanent place in the Academy?

Karl Barth and The Word of God

Mark I. Wallace, The Second Naivete: Barth, Ricoeur, and the New Yale Theology (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1995)

Reading Wallace’s book I am struck by how crucial for Barth is notion of the Bible as the Word of God.  It is here that everything hangs in balance.  Wallace would go so far as state, “To understand Barth’s theological hermeneutic, one must first grasp his doctrine of the Word of God.  This category not only provides the foundation for his hermeneutic but also the main support for his theological project as a whole.”  [3]

Both Barth’s theology and his hermeneutics find their entry point in this center, “Barth’s theology seeks to be theonomously governed by its free submission to the Word of God- the “center” of Christian theology that “is not something under our control, but something which exercises control over us.”  The focal point of his theology is a nonsystematic “center” that has the capacity to decenter and reorient our expectations as to how it should normatively function in Christian dogmatics.”  [4]  Crucial factor in Barth is that he never seeks to authenticate his claim of the Bible as the Word of God by any external measure, “Barth never seeks to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible as a form for the Word of God because he axiomatically presumes Scripture to be a faithful witness to the divine event.  “We will not ask: why the Bible? and look for external grounds and reasons.  We will leave it to the Bible itself…to vindicate itself by what takes place [in it].”  [5]  As any other classic the Bible has a certain “acquired authority,” even though there is no empirical test or measure by which the reliability of this authority can be conclusively demonstrated.  According to Wallace, “Only those who accept this axiom and have been “gripped” by the biblical subject matter can adequately interpret Scripture.  If the Bible claims to be revelatory, then it should be read as such and interpreted accordingly.  Barth acknowledges the circularity of this claim, but maintains that without the operative presupposition that the Bible mediates the Word of God no sound hermeneutic can be sustained.”  [5]

Wallace would offer the following summary, “This, then, is the fiduciary component of Barth’s hermeneutic: Scripture is trusted because in the past and the present it has functioned as a faithful witness to the divine reality by virtue of its role as God’s Word written.”  [5]

Baker’s Dozen of Modern OT Theologies…

Accodring to Wikipedia, “The oldest known source, but questionable explanation for the expression “baker’s dozen” dates to the 13th century in one of the earliest English statutes, instituted during the reign of  Henry III (1216–1272), called the Assize of Bread and Ale. Bakers who were found to have shortchanged customers could be subject to severe punishment. To guard against the punishment of losing a hand to an axe, a baker would give 13 for the price of 12, to be certain of not being known as a cheat. Specifically, the practice of baking 13 items for an intended dozen was insurance against “short measure”, on the basis that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen.”

Lest I be accused of missing any significant work, here is a list on my top thirteen modern OT Theologies:

13.Jacob, Edmund. Theology of the Old Testament. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958.

12.Brueggemann, Walter. Old Testament Theology: An Introduction. The Library of Biblical Theology. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008.

11.Clements, Ronald E. Old Testament Theology: A Fresh Approach. Marshalls Theological Library. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1978.

10.Vriezen, TH. C. An Outline of Old Testament Theology. Newton, MA: Charles T. Branford Company, 1960.

9.Zimmerli, Walther. Old Testament Theology in Outline. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1978.

8.Gerstenberger, Erhard S. Theologies in the Old Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

5.Waltke, Bruce. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Zondervan, 2007.

6.Rendtorff, Rolf. The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament. Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005.

5.Terrien, Samuel. The Elusive Presence: Toward a New Biblical Theology. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978.

4.Eichrodt, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Westminster John Knox Press, 1967.

3.von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology, 2 vols.  Westminster John Knox Press , 2001.

2.Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology, 3 vols.  IVP Academic, 2003-2009.

1.Childs, Brevard. Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1993.

I know, that this list will not satisfy all.  So if you are tempted to grab your theological axe…What would you would add?  Any of these you would remove?  Why?