Friday, April 03, 2009

There is only one term: Neither Biblical studies or Theology

A friend recently commented on my post on 'Biblical' theology insisting that there is a contrast between Biblical Studies and Theology, while I was trying to say that there is no such contrast. But is there really a contrast for a Christian?

If you are a Christian and a New Testament scholar, you have to be well-versed in Old Testament. If not your studies on all the things happened in the NT don't make much sense.

If you are a Christian and an Old Testament scholar, you have to be good in NT. If not there can't be any Christian meaning in your studies.

And theologians have to do their work based on the Bible, something that biblical scholars do. If a theologian don't do that, he is anything but a theologian.

And when a biblical scholar discusses with a theologian over issues, say homosexuality, they have to discuss the interpretation of the Bible. Their contention that is grounded over what that passage means is essential for the discussion.

Hence, it is not an issue where the biblical scholar argued from Romans 1 while the theologian argued from psychology. If that's the case, the theologian is not doing theology but psychology, making her studies un-Christian. Why the need for theologians if we can learn from the psychologists directly?

On the other hand if a biblical scholar thinks that theology only stemmed from the Bible alone, then she is just doing history, not biblical studies, often making her studies irrelevant. What does someone who lived more than 2 millenia ago has to do with us?

Thus the theological discussion is always a negotiation between our understanding of the Bible and our understanding of everything else. I know that if I say that there is only biblical studies or theology, I will be making either one side unhappy. Hence I chose to make both sides unhappy or at least no qualms. I'm suggesting a familiar and historical term to categorize this enterprise: Divinity.

And the best part is that this term helps to make clear what do M.Div, B.Div, and D.D mean. :)

3 comments:

davinci said...

last time, Watchman Nee type of church leaders, always see OT as shadow of NT, and explain OT under the light of NT.

but now, the mainstream scholarship emphasize, see OT as per se...

thats y, some say, such trend is , dechristianize of the OT..

The OT commentaries that I am reading now, seem telling me,,," back to OT" as per se,.,,,

Kar Yong said...

and now in NT studies, we are talking about NT use of OT, be it quotation, allusion or echoes of OT....

So looks like NT is more holistic :-) haha

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY and davinci,

Talking about OT and NT, I came across this quote which is intriguing:

‘… if eschatology is concerned with the reaching of a goal, then there can in principle be no eschatology in the Old Testament. It is only possible in and through the history of Jesus Christ’. - Adrio König