• Christian Theology and the Bible is a section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Our task is to explore the intersection between the disciplines of Christian Theology and Biblical Studies. Does or can such an intersection exist? What then could be or would be theological exegesis? What is its relation to religious communities, the history of interpretation, historical theology, history of confession and doctrine, so-called Higher Criticism, etc.?
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Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision

Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision: Critical Engagements with Agamben, Badiou, Zizek, and Others,
edited by Douglas Harink. Theopolitical Visions 7.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60608-662-9 / 350 pp. / $39 / paper

Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers

The apostle Paul was a man of many journeys. We are usually familiar with the geographical ones he made in his own time. This volume traces others—Paul’s journeys in our time, as he is co-opted or invited to travel (sometimes as abused slave, sometimes as trusted guide) with modern and recent Continental philosophers and political theorists. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Benjamin; Taubes, Badiou, Zizek, and Agamben—Paul journeys here among the philosophers. In these essays you are invited to travel with them into the regions of philosophy, hermeneutics, political theory, and theology. You will certainly hear the philosophers speak. But Paul will not remain silent. Above the sounds of the journey his voice comes through, loud and clear.

“Is it good news that Zizek, Badiou and Agamben have refound Paul? I am not yet sure, since this may signal a new route into the Word or a new route out. Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision offers urgent instruction on how to keep this a route in. And that is very good news indeed. A powerful, brilliant, and urgent book!”
—PETER OCHS, University of Virginia.

“To the surprise of many, the apostle Paul has brought new energy to continental philosophy. But to date, the ‘Pauline turn’ in contemporary theory has been rather isolated from scholars in biblical studies—where Paul is undergoing a different kind of reconsideration. Finally, this volume changes all of that, bringing together philosophers, biblical scholars, and theologians to assess and engage the ‘postmodern Paul,’ intimating a Pauline revolution that not even Zizek could have dreamed.”
—JAMES K. A. SMITH, Calvin College

“This collection of essays forms a front that takes on recent philosophical interpretations of Paul by the likes of Heidegger, Benjamin, Taubes, Badiou, Zizek, and Agamben with the best voices in contemporary theology and biblical studies. What you get is nothing less than a new composition of the very core structures that make up theology, critical theory, and biblical studies—indeed the humanities as such! In this way, these arguments enact a very Paulinean Event that stands toe-to-toe with philosophy’s greats figures in order to identity the truth of God’s act in History—The Scandal of the Incarnation!”
—CRESTON DAVIS, Rollins College

“In this wonderful collection of essays, an adept team of scholars, expertly marshaled and framed by Douglas Harink, engages with the intriguing conversation currently unfolding between the apostle Paul and certain modern European theorists. The result is a dialogue rich with insights flowing in both directions—from modern theory to new (or recovered) angles of illumination on Paul, and from the apostle’s charged texts back to the presuppositions and conceits of modern theory. That the view of Paul often pressed is ‘apocalyptic,’ in the sense of drawing on the seminal work of J. Louis (Lou) Martyn, makes the analysis still richer. The result is a book that both educates and delights.”
—DOUGLAS A. CAMPBELL, Duke Divinity School

“There is a rich education to be had within these covers. On the one hand, the essayists offer crucial insights into what all the fuss is about regarding the philosophical rediscovery of the apostle Paul, and readers come to appreciate his varied fate in the hands of Taubes, Badiou, Agamben, and Zizek. On the other hand, these secular despoilers of Paul are themselves despoiled here, and Christian theology has set before it a wealth of provocations to better faithfulness and understanding. Taken together, these essays illumine the contours of the apocalyptic gospel of God at the heart of Paul’s own witness and make plain its import for contemporary political thought. Philosophers and theologians alike are well reminded—indeed well warned—of the dynamite they take into their hands when, in quest of a better human politics, they turn to Paul.”
—PHILIP G. ZIEGLER, University of Aberdeen

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Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic at SBL 2010

From the Theology and Apocalyptic blog:

In addition to the two additional meetings at the AAR this year, the “Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic” group will be hosting its first Society of Biblical Literature session at this year’s annual meeting of the SBL.  The session will be a critical book review panel of Joseph Mangina’s forthcoming commentary on Revelation (from the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible).  Panelists will include Kathryn Greene-McCreight (St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Haven, CT), Richard B. Hays (Duke University), and Nathan Kerr (Trevecca Nazarene University).  Ryan Hansen (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) will chair the session and Joseph Mangina (Wycliffe College) will be present to respond to the panelists.

Following the panel, there will be a brief business meeting to discuss proposing a new SBL program unit under the theme, “Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic,” in which biblical scholars and theologians might explore how apocalyptic has shaped Christian theology in the NT and throughout history, and how it might shape contemporary Christian theology.

Details about the time and location of the session will be made public when available.

SBL 2010: Teaser

More details forthcoming. For now there are three sessions planned for the Christian Theology and the Bible group:

1. Patristic readings of Genesis 1-3

2. A book review panel on Kavin Rowe’s World Upside Down

3. Theological/exegetical readings of Acts

Hebrews and Christian Theology

A new book of interest:

The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, edited by Richard Bauckham, Daniel R. Driver, Trevor A. Hart, and Nathan MacDonald (Eerdmans, 2009).

A significant dialogue between biblical scholars and theologians.

The contributors to this substantial volume examine a number of key theological themes in the letter to the Hebrews: the person and nature of the Son, his high-priestly work, cosmology, the epistle’s theology of Scripture, supersessionism, the call to faith, and more.

Contributors: Edward Adams, Loveday Alexander, Harold W. Attridge, Richard Bauckham, Markus Bockmuehl, Daniel Driver, Douglas Farrow, Trevor Hart, Richard B. Hays, Stephen R. Holmes, Morna Hooker, Edison M. Kalengyo, Mariam J. Kamell, Bruce L. McCormack, Nathan MacDonald, I. Howard Marshall, R. Walter L. Moberly, Carl Mosser, Mark Nanos, Nehemia Polen, John Polkinghorne, Ken Schenck, Oskar Skarsaune, Daniel J. Treier, John Webster, Ben Witherington, Terry J. Wright.

Fowl on History and Historical Criticism, pt. 8

This is the eighth in an eight-part series of excerpts from Stephen E. Fowl’s forthcoming volume in the Cascade Companion series. Theological Interpretation of Scripture will be released later this summer by Cascade Books.

Theological Interpretation of ScriptureContents
Introduction: What Sort of a Companion Is This?
One – Scripture: Its Nature and Place in God’s Drama of Salvation
Two – Theological Interpretation and its Relation to Various other Concerns
Three – Practices and Habits of Theological Interpretation
Four – Prospects and Issues for the Future
Five – Guests at a Party

The series of posts will follow Fowl’s sustained discussion of history and historical criticism in the second chapter. Feel free to comment.

Part one Part two Part three Part four Part five Part six Part seven

=============================

If there is to be a revival of theological interpretation of Scripture among scholars and students, we must re-learn how to grant theological concerns priority over other concerns. I recognize that this is a somewhat open-ended aim. This openness is because it will not always be clear how and in what ways the priority of theological concerns will need to take shape in specific times and places. Theological interpretation will always to some degree be constituted by ongoing arguments and debates about how to bring theological concerns to bear on scriptural interpretation. At the very least, however, granting theological concerns priority will involve a return to the practice of using Scripture as a way of ordering and comprehending the world rather than using the world as a way of comprehending Scripture. Although this was the standard practice prior to the 18th century, we today will have to re-learn this habit for our own time. Before exploring this in more detail, I want to discuss other concerns that impinge on theological interpretation. In particular, I want to now take up the discussion of biblical theology, which I started above.

Fowl on History and Historical Criticism, pt. 7

This is the seventh in an eight-part series of excerpts from Stephen E. Fowl’s forthcoming volume in the Cascade Companion series. Theological Interpretation of Scripture will be released later this summer by Cascade Books.

Theological Interpretation of ScriptureContents
Introduction: What Sort of a Companion Is This?
One – Scripture: Its Nature and Place in God’s Drama of Salvation
Two – Theological Interpretation and its Relation to Various other Concerns
Three – Practices and Habits of Theological Interpretation
Four – Prospects and Issues for the Future
Five – Guests at a Party

The series of posts will follow Fowl’s sustained discussion of history and historical criticism in the second chapter. Feel free to comment.

Part one Part two Part three Part four Part five Part six

=============================

First, theological interpretation of Scripture never really stopped. Although it was largely exiled from academic biblical studies, Christians have been interpreting Scripture theologically because their identity as Christians compels them to do so. Reading Scripture theologically is first and foremost a practice of the church. It does not depend on the support of academics for its survival. Nevertheless, disciplined, scholarly attention to interpreting Scripture theologically can only benefit the practice within the church. Second, numerous generations of scholars came of age when historical criticism was the dominant form of academic biblical studies. Thus, the interpretive practices and strategies that arise when theological concerns and aims are given priority in Scriptural interpretation fell into desuetude. Moreover, the academic practice of theology was separated from the practice of academic biblical studies. These two disciplines came to jealously guard their autonomy, making it difficult for scholars to try to work in both fields. It has only been in the past two decades that the scholars have started to bridge the gap between theology and biblical studies with the aim of re-invigorating the practice of theological interpretation.

Fowl on History and Historical Criticism, pt. 6

This is the sixth in an eight-part series of excerpts from Stephen E. Fowl’s forthcoming volume in the Cascade Companion series. Theological Interpretation of Scripture will be released later this summer by Cascade Books.

Theological Interpretation of ScriptureContents
Introduction: What Sort of a Companion Is This?
One – Scripture: Its Nature and Place in God’s Drama of Salvation
Two – Theological Interpretation and its Relation to Various other Concerns
Three – Practices and Habits of Theological Interpretation
Four – Prospects and Issues for the Future
Five – Guests at a Party

The series of posts will follow Fowl’s sustained discussion of history and historical criticism in the second chapter. Feel free to comment.

Part one Part two Part three Part four Part five

=============================

Let me be clear at this point. The recognition that we all view the world and its past through a set of lenses and not immediately does not mean that all lenses result in 20/20 vision, that all lenses are equal. For my purposes it is sufficient to note that if the dominance of historical criticism depended on the assumption that the world and its past were immediately available to us, then the recognition that the world is not immediately available must also affect the claims of historical criticism. As a result, in the past thirty-five years, professional biblical scholarship has seen an explosion of interpretive strategies driven by scholars with particular sets of interests and commitments that go beyond presenting the past as it actually was. The most prominent of these are feminist and Marxist/liberationist strategies for interpreting the Bible.

As a result the field of biblical studies today appears much different, and more fragmented than it did even fifty years ago. The concerns and practices characteristic of historical criticism are still around. They exist in a chastened form, however. Historical critics can no longer claim to offer us an immediate view into the past. Rather, they pursue their specific historical investigations as one among many sets of scholarly interpretive interests. The demise of the conceptual apparatus that allowed for the dominance of historical critical interpretation of the Bible has not led to the elimination of historical criticism, nor should it. It has, however, opened the door to critical approaches to the Bible that do not grant those particular historical concerns priority over all others. This means in theory that there is now room for theological concerns to re-enter the scholarly realm. This has been slow to happen for a variety of reasons.