The course explores the Christian doctrine of Scripture: Its development over time, its shape and practice in the various Christian traditions, its relevance to biblical studies, and its relationship to the other topics of systematic theology. Special attention is given to the relevance of the doctrines of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, salvation, and Church in informing a thoroughly Christian vision and critique of biblical practices.
When biblical doctrine and practice are thoroughly grounded and understood in terms of the rest of the Christian faith, Christians can better appreciate the power of Scripture, the reading practices of different traditions, and the promise and pitfalls of biblical criticism. The crises of faith many experience when being introduced to these things can also be eased. As students learn to see the Bible according to theological categories, their doctrines of Scripture will strengthen, their biblical practices will mature and be enriched, their regard for biblical studies will rise, and their power to serve the Church through the ministry of the Word will grow. These are the ultimate goals of the course.
Thirty-two hours of lecture and discussion; eight hours of seminar-style discussion on required texts.
Breck, John. The Power of the Word in the Worshiping Church. St. Vladimir's, 1986, or
Davis, Gerald L. I Got the Word in Me and I Can Sing It, You Know. U. Pennsylvania, 1985.
Goldingay, John. Models for Scripture. Eerdmans, 1994.
Grant, Robert M., with Tracy, David. A Short History of Interpretation of the Bible. Fortress, 1984.
Hauerwas, Stanley. Unleashing the Scripture. Abingdon, 1993.
Jones, L. Gregory, and Buckley, James J., eds. Theology and Scriptural Imagination. Blackwell, 1998.
McKim, Donald, ed. The Authoritative Word: Essays on the Nature of Scripture. Wipf & Stock, 1998.
Achtemeier, Paul J. The Inspiration of Scripture. Westminster, 1980.
Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine. MacMillan, 1958.
Barr, James. Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism. Westminster, 1983.
Barth, Karl. Homiletics. Westminster, 1991.
Bauckham, Richard, ed. The Gospels for All Christians. Eerdmans, 1998.
Bloesch, Donald. Holy Scripture. InterVarsity, 1994.
Evans, John H., Jr. We Have Been Believers. Fortress, 1992 (selections).
Felder, Cain Hope, ed. Stony the Road We Trod. Fortress, 1991 (selections).
Hagen, Kenneth, ed. The Bible in the Churches. 3d ed. Marquette, 1998.
Kelsey, David. The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology. Fortress, 1975.
Marsden, George. Reforming Fundamentalism. Eerdmans, 1987 (selections).
Pinnock, Clark H. The Scripture Principle. Harper and Row, 1984.
Smith, Elizabeth J. Bearing Fruit in Due Season. Liturgical Press, 1999.
A 7-page paper on a topic in the doctrine of Scripture; four 2-page responses to texts to fuel in-class discussions; and an in-class presentation on a discussion text, or a 7-page commentary on a particular article of faith on Scripture.
PREREQUISITES: A minimum of twelve units of completed coursework.
RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Elective.
FINAL EXAMINATION: No.
This is not just a course in biblical
hermeneutics that is, a review of how Christians have interpreted
Scripture and a set of prescriptions for how Christians should
interpret Scripture. It is a course in the doctrine of Scripture,
which seeks to appreciate just what Scripture is why it
works as it does; its relationship to God, the Church, and the
world; its qualities of truth, power, and revelation; and its
role in salvation.
Our main resources will be the history of biblical interpretation; the main categories of systematic theology (particularly Trinity, Christology, salvation, Church, and eschatology); and the roles the Bible plays in the various Christian traditions of worship and evangelism Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and Evangelical/Charismatic.
The course follows a rough chronological outline which mixes together: (a) a "salvation-historical" narrative of the Bible's role in the life of God's people; (b) a deliberate application of the categories of systematic theology, particularly Trinity, Christology, salvation, Church, and eschatology, to explore the relationships between Scripture and God, creation, and redemption; and (c) seminar-style discussion of particular proposals for the doctrine and practice of Scripture. The format of the first two will be lecture with Q&A. In the third, class participants will give brief presentations on recent theological projects concerning the doctrine of Scripture, and the class will discuss them.
The course aims to familiarize
students with the Bible's own history in the Christian tradition,
to strengthen the connections they see between biblical studies
and theology, to give them the theological categories with which
to appreciate Scripture and evaluate doctrinal and hermeneutical
practices and proposals (such as the evangelical doctrine of inerrancy
and Fuller's confession of infallibility), and equip them to use
Scripture powerfully in their own ministries.
I firmly believe that as students learn to see the Christian Bible not just phenomenologically or existentially, but also according to the categories of Trinity, Christology, salvation, Church, eschatology, and Church- and salvation-history, their doctrines of Scripture will strengthen, their biblical practices will mature and be enriched, their regard for precritical, critical, and postcritical biblical studies will rise, and their power to serve the Church of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Word will grow. These are the ultimate goals of the course.
1. Class attendance and participation
2. A seven-page research paper on a prominent theme in the doctrine of Scripture (such as allegory, inerrancy, the "hermeneutics of suspicion," and so on).
3. In-class presentation on a text for discussion, or a seven-page reflection on a particular tradition's article of faith or confession on Scripture (typically, but not necessarily, the writer's own).
4. For each text discussed in class, a two-page response or argument, to fuel the in-class discussion.
I. Premodern Practice
and Doctrine of Scripture
Readings: Grant/Tracy; Goldingay (part 3); Breck or Davis
Sessions 1 and 2:
People of the Book: Israel's Encounters With God's Words
(Bright; Tarazi; Terrien; Childs; Kugel and Greer; Mulder)
The Bible at Ground Zero: Scripture in the Life of Jesus (Dodd; Grant/Tracy)
Words as the Will of the Father: God's Ethical Investment in the Words of Scripture (Athanasius)
Spirit-Christology and the Bible's Inspired Humanity (Balthasar)
Treasures Old and New: Scripture's New Life in the Early Church (Dodd; Hays)
Christology and Catechesis: Premodern Interpretation in Alexandria and Antioch (Grant/Tracy; Simonetti)
The Greatest of These Is Love: Augustine and Allegory (Augustine)
Word as Sacrament (Augustine; Athanasius; Macquarrie; Wainwright)
The End of Scripture: The Bible as Icon (Augustine; Cunningham; John of Damascus; Theodore of Studium)
Liturgy of the Word: Scripture as an Instrument of Worship (Breck; Wainwright)
Discussion: John Breck, The Power of the Word in the Worshiping Church
Discussion: Gerald Davis, I Got the Word in Me and I Can Sing It, You Know
The Word Preached: Luther's Reformation
II. The Crisis of Modernity
Readings: Grant/Tracy; Goldingay (part 1); McKim
Just the Facts: Modernity and Historical Criticism (Barr; Käsemann)
Word as Witness (Barth; Newbigin; Pinnock)
Biblical Critics: Hermeneutics of Suspicion (Käsemann; Schüssler Fiorenza; Trible)
The World of Fuller Seminary: Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Marsden; Packer; Lindsell; Hubbard; Pinnock)
Discussion: McKim, The Authoritative Word: Essays on the Nature of Scripture
III. Postmodernity: Recovering the Community of Scripture
Readings: Grant/Tracy; Goldingay (part 2); Jones and Buckley; Hauerwas
Vatican II: Culminating a Catholic Biblical Revolution (Newman; Providentissimus Deus)
God and Narrative at Yale: Postmodernity and Postliberalism (Frei; Kelsey; Hauerwas)
Discussion: Gregory Jones and James Buckley, Theology and Scriptural Imagination
The Gospels for Whom? Word and Community (Barr; Bauckham)
The Bible Everywhere Else: "Two-Thirds World" Biblical Practice
Scripture and Tradition: Two Things or One? (Staniloae; Barth; Dulles; Congar; Newbigin)
Discussion: Stanley Hauerwas, Unleashing the Scripture