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Moving From the Bible to Theology – Five Quick Thoughts

December 16, 2009

Here are some quick thoughts about Zondervan’s Four Views of Moving Beyong the Bible to Theology.

  1. The Good – How to move from the Bible to Theology is a fantastic topic and very timely. The Bad – The authors rarely stayed on topic (more on this below).
  2. The Good – A good line-up of contributors – all have written on the topic extensively. The Bad – A few of the contributors spend a good bit of their time summarizing their work on the topic and how it has faired over time.  I understand that could be helpful in a “4-Views” book,  but it was overdone and contributed little to the conversation.
  3. The Good – Daniel Doriani and Kevin Vanhoozer – moved beyond the Bible using a trajectory (pun absolutely intended) set by Scripture. The Bad – Walter Kaiser and William Webb – moved beyond the Bible by using a trajectory set by cultural or principled norms.
  4. The Bad (The Good has expired) – After the editors received the chapter contributions, they should have changed the title to Moving Beyond the Bible to Ethics.  Only Vanhoozer (and at times Doriani) actually stuck with the task at hand of moving beyond the Bible to Theology.  The rest of the contributors used their method to answer ethical questions of euthanasia, abortion, women in ministry, slavery, etc.  These are important questions, but it was not what the book advertised.  There was little talk on synthesizing biblical data towards a prolegomena, christology, soteriology, or eschatology.  A few of the chapters ignored theology completely and bordered on total pragmatism.
  5. The Bad –  Other than Doriani, clarity and orderliness seemed like a real problem for the authors.  Vanhoozer was certainly organized and winsome (as usual), but he got a bit carried away with his metaphors – a little abstract over/against clarity.  It was a little difficult to follow Webb and Kaiser’s reasoning.  They jumped back and forth to separate ethical questions so much that it was difficult to see how their method related at times.

I don’t suggest this book.  It fails to deliver what it promises.  Instead, I suggest you read a thorough review of the book in an academic journal.

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