Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lutheran Study Bible - a temporary pause in the conversation

I am continuing my study of the two Lutheran Study Bibles but I am taking a look at some ideas that are new to my personal study. I am coming up on what is called the historical critical method.

I do not want to give up my study because I am entering water that is over my head. I acknowledge that I cannot make up for a lifetime of non-study of a profound subject of Biblical knowledge with a few quick forays into the subject. I do hope, however that I can learn something even if it is only a small part of the over-all topic. Better something than nothing so long as I do not deceive myself into thinking that the something is everything.

Helpful, I think, is a review by Daniel L. Miglore of a new book "The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus" (by Dale C. Allison, Jr.) from the January 26, 2010 issue of The Christian Century. "Critical literary-historical study of the Gospels can indeed be a valuable help and corrective to faith and theology. It can shake up entrenched and complacent orthodoxies. It can remind the church of the full humanity of the incarnate Lord. It can expand the church's awareness of the richly diverse testimony to Jesus in the church's foundational documents. But one thing is clear to both Allison and this reviewer: the picture of Jesus constructed by historians who seek to go behind the Gospel witnesses can never substitute for the Jesus attested to by those witnesses and confessed by Christians in all times and places as Emmanuel, Savior, and crucified and risen Lord. It need be no insult to the labors of Gospel historians to affirm, as Allison rightly does, that "the Gospels should be preached as they stand, as canonical literature."

"Refusing to replace the Jesus of the canonical Gospel witness with any of the pictures offered by the Jesus historians has nothing to do with an anxiety to protect fossilized dogmas. On the contrary, it is only when the Jesus attested to in scripture is recognized as embodying both our true humanity and the sovereign grace of God that faith and theology are deeply and permanently radicalized, far beyond the purported radicalism of every quest for the historical Jesus."

Daniel L. Migliore is emeritus professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of The Power of God and the Gods of Power (Westminster John Knox).


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