Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Thoughts on Part 1 of Scripture's Doctrine & Theology's Bible

Some thoughts on 'Part 1' of the significant Scripture’s Doctrine and Theology’s Bible edited by Markus Bockmuehl and Alan Torrance.

The purpose of this book is as described by Markus Bockmuehl ‘to commend and to exemplify’ the ‘critical task’ to rediscover the aged dance performed by exegesis and dogmatic/theology (p.13).

Wagner in the first essay, following Brevard Childs, points out the essential task for us to actively engage with the early Christians’ appropriation of the Septuagint to help us to in our search for our Christian’s Bible.

In order to do that, Wagner helpfully clear some misconceived assumptions in our search for the Septuagint. For example, we shouldn’t assume the existent of a single Septuagint canon or text at that time, and we must not to take the Septuagint as ‘an alternative tradition disconnected’ from the Hebrew Scripture (p.19). He suggests at the end of the essay that the Spirit-driven mechanism ‘sanctification’ of Scripture articulated by John Webster enables us to extend our canonical reading to the Septuagint.

I am not as concern as Wagner to re-open the already closed and impasse question of the Christian canon. In fact I doubt the validity of his concern. Since we don’t have any assurance regarding the existent of a fixed Septuagint in the time before fixation of the Christian canon in the first few centuries A.D, then what Wagner was doing is just beating around the bushes, or at least until the discovery of a fixed text. Yet his essay would serve well to commend the critical task the book attempts at.

Bockmuehl in the second essay of the book finely exemplifies the task to theologize from the Scripture. He picked the dialog between Ernst Kasemann and Raymond Brown on the doctrine of the church as his case study, trying to find out whether can we get arrive at any doctrine from studied conducted on the New Testament?

After describing and assessing the works of both giants, Bockmuehl reveals his sympathy with Brown’s findings. He then asked whether the New Testament’s testimony on the church be normative to our understanding and construction of the identity of the church. He concludes in the positive. Bockmuehl’s examination is impressive especially in his 3 suggestions to sharpen the focus of the question (p.39 onwards).

R.W.L. Moberly's section over the much contending verse John 14.6 discusses the often neglected outline which the verse should be understood from within. His purpose is to see how Johanine Christology should be appropriated in Jewish-Christian dialogue. (p.46)

The verse is not merely about what others, including myself, have often take as Jesus' exclusive claim over and against all other religions/philosophies/way of life. Moberly shows that the verse is about "Jesus' going to the Father via the cross is a way of self-giving love whose content becomes definitive for others also to come to, and to know, God as Father." (p.52)

I'm convinced with Moberly's exegesis yet the only puzzle that I have is his choice of John's gospel. Since it is for the purpose of Jewish-Christian dialogue, wouldn't the sypnotic, particularly Matthew's gospel, be more appropriate in the sense that there are more common ground to set the dialogue going and to see the nuanced differences between the both?

In his essay, N.T. Wright, being consistent with his narrative reading of the New Testament, proposed that we view doctrine as “portable stories”. Hence doctrines to Wright are synopses of a grander narrative found within the New Testament writings. This essay is vintage N.T. Wright.

Hardly I'll have much contention with the good bishop. I think his framing doctrine as portable narrative is more explicable and closer to the function of doctrine than a proposition-like affirmation of creeds.


Kar Yong said... have read this book already. I have yet to touch it....looks like it has to wait for a little while. Been reading up books on Romans in the past few months!

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Ya, managed to squeeze a bit of time in 2 weeks to read it. :)