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Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice [Paperback]

By Daniel J. Treier (Author)
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Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.54" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2008
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801031788  
EAN  9780801031786  

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Item Description...
Theological interpretation of Scripture is a growing trend in biblical interpretation, with an emphasis on the contexts of canon, creed, and church. This approach seeks to bridge the gap between biblical studies and theology, which grew wide with the ascendancy of critical approaches to Scripture. Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture is the first clear, systematic introduction to this movement for students. The book surveys the movement's history, themes, advocates, and positions and seeks to bring coherence to its various elements. Author Daniel Treier also explores what he sees as the greatest challenges the movement will have to address as it moves into the future. This helpful book is appropriate for pastors and lay readers interested in biblical interpretation.

Publishers Description
Theological interpretation of Scripture is a growing trend in biblical interpretation, with an emphasis on the contexts of canon, creed, and church. This approach seeks to bridge the gap between biblical studies and theology, which grew wide with the ascendancy of critical approaches to Scripture. "Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture" is the first clear, systematic introduction to this movement for students. The book surveys the movement's history, themes, advocates, and positions and seeks to bring coherence to its various elements. Author Daniel Treier also explores what he sees as the greatest challenges the movement will have to address as it moves into the future. This helpful book is appropriate for pastors and lay readers interested in biblical interpretation.

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More About Daniel J. Treier

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Daniel J. Treier (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Blanchard Professor of Theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture and the coeditor of several books, including the award-winning Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.

Walter A. Elwell
(PhD, University of Edinburgh) is emeritus professor of biblical and theological studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where he taught for nearly thirty years. He is the coauthor of Encountering the New Testament and the editor of numerous reference works.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General   [2774  similar products]
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A Helpful Contribution of Definition and Direction  Apr 29, 2009
One of the vexing aspects of engaging in the conversation about theological interpretation is the problem of definition. Scholars and theologians from varying backgrounds and disciplines are claiming "theological interpretation of Scripture," while employing methods and producing results that span the interpretive grid. In Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture, Daniel Treier seeks "to tell the story and map the major themes of this movement" and also "to address some tough questions to clarify its future direction" (11). Treier defines the movement broadly as one that "seeks to reverse the dominance of historical criticism over a churchly reading of the Bible and to redefine the role of hermeneutics in theology" (14).

Treier divides the book into two main sections. In part one, he charts the "catalysts and common themes" of the movement, which include an interest in precritical interpretation (chapter one), the possibility of a "ruled" reading which takes account of Christian doctrine (chapter two), and the role the community plays in discerning and arriving at meaning (chapter three). In part two, Treier delineates the areas where proponents of theological interpretation have sharp disagreements. These differences include the assumptions and positions involved in engaging biblical theology (chapter four), general hermeneutics (chapter five), and various social locations (chapter six). In this section, Treier asks if theological interpretation can bridge the gap between biblical studies and theological reflection, if secular theories of reading and interpretation have any bearing on biblical texts, and if interpreters of Scripture should be mindful of global social contexts.

One notable feature of this book is the analysis of theological interpretation that Treier offers in a concluding chapter. Synthesizing his previous material, Treier asserts that theological interpretation uses the ideas of canon, creed, and culture to engage the Scriptures with and for the church. However, for Treier, the church does not participate in the theological process merely to take part in an informed discussion about the Bible. Rather, "the ultimate interpretive interest of the church is to know God in a holistic sense" (204). Theological interpretation seeks to utilize all the various "lenses" of literary and theological reflection in order to produce "a coherent vision of who God is and who that calls us to become in Christ" (203). Treier calls this perspective the "widest-angle lens" which puts the task of interpretation into proper focus (203). These perspectives also function as a map that guides the church on its pilgrimage to know and respond rightly to God. To illustrate this practice, Treier provides a sustained case study throughout the book concerning the "Image of God" (Imago Dei). In doing this, Treier relates the themes of each chapter to this doctrinal concept, and in the conclusion, he summarizes the role that exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, systematic theology, and practical theology play in its full explication. For Treier, this "sketch" of theological reflection provides a "pattern for thought" that can guide the interpreter in his pursuit of "prayerful contemplation" (199). Thus, Treier engages in the process of theological interpretation even as he introduces the concepts.

Some readers, though, might object to Treier's framing of the issues, as even the ordering of an "introduction" involves debatable interpretive decisions. Others may also see a few gaps in the "prehistory" of the movement that Treier develops, though this is likely a feature of the introductory nature of the work rather than a result of oversight. A further concern relates to the chapter on globalization. Treier recognizes that while the other issues he treats "are frequently addressed at length by advocates of theological exegesis, globalization is not" (157). He quickly moves from this concession to an extended discussion of postcolonial thought and the rise of Pentecostalism in "the global south" (157). Because this emphasis is in some ways unique to Treier, readers would benefit from a more detailed discussion of its relevance and connection to the idea of theological interpretation, especially in light of Treier's acknowledgement that "this chapter evokes more questions than answers" (182). One also notices Treier's heavy reliance on the cultural analysis of Philip Jenkins. Nevertheless, Treier's basic point in this chapter is well taken. As the Bible is being read, cherished, and interpreted in diverse contexts, "non-Western voices can no longer be marginal as they once were. We must listen" (186). This emphasis resonates with Treier's similar interest in demonstrating the ecumenical benefit of a widespread return to the practice of theological interpretation (20-33).

Through his clear structure and concise content, Treier achieves his aim of providing scholars, students, and pastors with a succinct introduction to this burgeoning movement. The two parts of the book quickly highlight the unity and significant diversity of the movement. Further, while Treier's primary dialogue partners are the ones at the forefront of the theological interpretation movement (e.g., Stephen Fowl, Francis Watson, Kevin Vanhoozer), he also interacts with a wide range of related scholarship (e.g., the canonical approach of Brevard Childs and Christopher Seitz). In addition, Treier constantly references the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, thus making his study a fitting companion volume to this other important work in the field. Though Introducing Theological Interpretation appears early in the movement, it offers a contribution of definition and direction. To borrow his own metaphors, Treier's work can function as a set of lenses to bring the contours of this movement into focus and can serve as a roadmap to chart some of the trajectories the church and the academy will need to follow in order to recover the "Christian practice" of theological interpretation of Scripture.

Also in SBJT 12.3 (Fall 2008), 111-12.
Comprehensive, helpful  Nov 14, 2008
This book serves as an excellent primer on the subject of theological interpretation of Scripture, and a great supplement to the Dictionary for the Theological Interpretation of Scripture, which Daniel Treier helped edit. Here, Treier traces the emerging "theological interpretation" movement, demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge of the relevant secondary sources on the subject. He concludes each chapter by offering an illustrative case study on the Imago Dei which applies the principles discussed.

In Part I, chapter 1, he begins by looking at church history and how many scholars seek to recover the pre-critical interpretative spirit of several church fathers, whose interpretations have always been more spiritually beneficial to the community of faith than those of biblical critics. In chapter 2, he also explores the role of the "Rule of Faith" and Christian doctrine in interpretation. Here he demonstrates how "doctrine shapes both the questions we ask of biblical texts and the ways we communicate our answers."

In the final chapter of Part I, Treier examines the role of virtue in theological exegesis, looking at Lindbeck, Fowl, Vanhoozer, et al. He concludes by summarizing Fowl's two-fold distinction on the relation between virtue and theological interpretation: virtue-through-interpretation (how such interpretation aids in cultivating virtue) and virtue-in-interpretation (how virtue aids interpretation). Treier notes how there is widespread agreement in the former, but the latter poses several problems. How do we impose virtue as a criterion within interpretative practice? What counts as virtue? Such questions belong to the enduring challenges to theological interpretation, which he addresses in Part II.

Beginning Part II, in chapter 4, Treier discusses the modern debate in biblical theology and its role in theological interpretation. With information already familiar to those who have read the DTIB, he follows the development of the Biblical Theology Movement as a discipline of its own. In the rest of what feels like a very short chapter, he defines three proposals for the "future" of biblical theology: an approach of progressive revelation (advocated by D. A. Carson), the canonical approach (Christopher Seitz), and the theological interpretation of Scripture approach (Francis Watson, Brian Rosner). The last approach sees biblical theology as bridge discipline between Scripture and systematic theology, though the waters are increasingly muddied about what this looks like as definitions of 'theological interpretation' and 'biblical theology' remain a bit fluid.

In chapter 5, he offers one of the deepest and most helpful discussions in the entire book, looking at the role of general hermeneutics in theological interpretation. He begins by looking at the contribution of Hans-Georg Gadamer and then follows responses by both Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, developing the hermeneutical discussion through the 20th Century and beyond. Within this broad, quick, yet deep overview, one will encounter Ricoeur, Hirsch, Thisleton, and Vanhoozer.

In the attempt to bridge general and special hermeneutics, the discussion of virtue comes up once again, with Aristotle's sophia and phronesis categories coming into play. In Treier's estimation, Vanhoozer's dramatic model presented in "The Drama of Doctrine" offers the church the best model for remaining virtuous in its application of Scripture, since it both embodies the "appropriate" concept of drama and appeals to phronesis with its appeal to improvisation. In improv, an actor spontaneously reacts to the script, necessitating the 'actor' having become a certain type of person in order to faithfully relate to the script in their performance. Treier begins to move the discussion forward by quoting Jens Zimmerman on how the Incarnation might have implications for general hermenuetics and theology (which you simply need to read for yourself), but he stops. One wishes there might have been some more constructive thinking after mapping out the major players and thinkers, but alas . . .

The final chapter relates to globalization, the global South, and the importance and value for Western theology in reading outside one's own culture - something not done near enough in today's literature.

The overview here is not so much constructive if not instructive, but this was Treier's expressed purpose and it is a resounding success in this respect. The book will serve to help give an overview of where the modern discussion came from, who its major voices are, and what it looks like in practical application to the Christian community. A quick, useful read if you have the time.
Great introduction  Aug 4, 2008
This book is a very helpful and readable introduction to theological interpretation. Treier has not only read the relevant and important material in this area (he was an associate editor for the 'Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible'), but he has the ability to clearly layout the central aspects of the movement in a way that students can understand. The book includes discussion of figures such as Barth, Watson and Fowl (among many others) and engages with fields and topics like the rule of faith (including pre-critical interpretation), biblical theology, general hermeneutics, and global theology as they relate to theological interpretation. The intro also interacts with Roman Catholic interpretation (esp. Matthew Levering's new work) which is a plus. At the end of almost every chapter Treier enters into a discussion on the image of God based on the descriptions that were just presented. This was very helpful because it provided an example of how this is fleshed-out rather than leaving you with a mere theory or history of how this "could" be done.

While the book is appropriately instructive, it does contain controversial elements. For example, Treier writes that "the presuppositions of interpreters have often had a bad name in biblical studies... Presuppositions are 'baggage' to be set aside as much as humanly possible in a quest for 'objectivity.' This metaphor points to an alternative, however: baggage usually carries with us that which is essential, not that which we need to get rid of. What if presuppositions are not a threat to objectivity but rather an aid in preserving it?" (202). Some will cheer on such questions, yet others will become uncomfortable with the idea of even asking them. Nevertheless, these are important questions, and Treier's book helps present possible answers. Overall, I highly recommend this book. It also includes a seven page "suggested reading" at the end and helpful index.

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