I’ll walk through chapter 3 of Joel Green’s Seized by Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture in a series of posts (In case you haven’t picked it up, I’m numbering these posts by chapter rather than by post. Like I did with chapter 1, I’ll number the rest of these–probably not properly done–3a, 3b, etc.). For now, let me begin with a few words of introduction and an index of his main points in the chapter, by which I will organize my reflections. Previous posts are here: One, One-A, Two.
Joel is now ready to discuss resources for this enterprise of reading the Bible specifically as Scripture, which he has pointed out is a theological commitment on the part of the Church–that this is a Word from God to the Church Universal with the aim of forming us as the people of God, the body of Christ, in his image. “Reading the Bible as Christian Scripture entails putting the theological disciplines back together” (p. 63). By this, Green is including the academic disciplines of theology and biblical studies as well as spiritual disciplines of the Church–worship, prayer, hospitality, etc. Joel is interested in re-introducing theology and biblical studies to one another for meaningful conversation and collaboration in the academy (I remember conversations about this while a student of his in seminary; see also his book Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology and his commentary in the series that followed the book, 1 Peter). But he is also interested in returning the primary location of meaningful work with the biblical text to the Church. In this respect, he aims not to “bridge the divide” between academy and church, but to reject the premise that there is a divide. The division that we witness is artificial. We do not need to reform a present reality so much as we need to wake up and recognize that what we are accepting as reality is not the case after all.
“The predominant image would no longer be ‘building a bridge’ from biblical scholarship to ecclesial community, or ‘crossing the bridge’ from text to sermon, or journeying from exegesis to biblical theology to systematic theology to ethics. Instead, biblical studies would self-consciously locate itself within the church, just as the church works out its identity and mission for the sake of the world” (p. 66).
In this vein, historical and textual analyses “must take their place alongside other commitments rather than above them” (p. 65). Those other commitments include “such dispositions and postures as acceptance, devotion, attention, and trust” (p. 65) as well as practices of the life of faith like those mentioned above.
With that said, we will turn to the following four “theological presumptions, protocols, and resources” that Joel develops in the rest of chapter 3, each in their own post:
Reading the Bible as Scripture must be…
1. Ecclesially Located
2. Theologically Fashioned
3. Critically Engaged