Joel Green, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in California, wrote an article back in 2004 that I just discovered this afternoon. It's called "Practicing the Gospel in a Post-Critical World: The Promise of Theological Exegesis" (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 47 no 3 S 2004, p 387-397). Since I'm in the biblical studies orbit, the terms "theological exegesis" or "theological interpretation" are not new to me, but I found Green's explanation of it very helpful and I thought you might, too.
Green says that the main hurdle to overcome in understanding the Bible is not the historical distance between me and the text (i.e. the 2000-year gap), but the theological distance between belief and unbelief. Because the Scriptures are written for the benefit of the people of God, in order to truly understand them we must be part of the believing community.
This is huge! Do you have any idea how many schools offer a doctorate in biblical studies but ask students to leave their faith at home? There is a sense in most university settings that faith clouds our ability to read the Bible objectively. To be scholarly, faith must be put aside. This has been a sobering part of the search for PhD programs, but an important issue to think through. I agree that faith is a biased perspective from which to read the Bible, but un-faith is no less biased! And those who bar faith from the classroom end up with skewed interpretations of the Bible because the Bible was intended for the faith community! So ... three cheers for schools where faith is integral to the learning process and professors who are brave enough to say it publically!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.