I’ve had the fortune this summer of working on two projects that stand apart for me among the many book projects to which I attend. I am sure all of the authors with whom I work would like for me to tout their latest writing project. And if I had the time, I would. Despite the sometimes mundane tasks of cleaning up commas and repairing sentence structure, I really do get to have my hands in the making of a lot of wonderful books. A person could get lost for hours browsing the titles we publish.
Out now is Michael Gorman’s terrific new book on the atonement: The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement. As with all of Gorman’s books, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Newly appointed Dean of the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Joel Green, says this about the book:
With this biblically and theologically mature study, Michael Gorman shifts our focus away from fascination with the how of the atonement and toward reflection on the what: What does Jesus’s death accomplish? The result is a richly textured statement of how the atonement reaches deeply into the scriptural story of God’s mighty acts in order to present the consequences of the cross for the church’s faith, hope, and love.
Currently in the proofing stage is C. Clifton Black’s Reading Scripture with the Saints. In this book Black takes the reader on a tour of interpreters of scripture who have been both careful and formed readers of Christianity’s sacred texts. He uses “saint” flexibly to refer to magisterial figures who have been “set apart” in the cultural imagination. Given that description, I think the reader should be intrigued by the Table of Contents:
- Introduction Chapter 1. Welcome
- Patristic Stirrings
- Chapter 2. Trinity and Exegesis ”In which Trinitarian doctrine frames a reading of Ecclesiastes”
- Chapter 3. Serving the Food of Full-Grown Adults “Augustine preaches First John in the fifth and twenty-first centuries”
- Chapter 4. Listen ”Benedict rules today’s biblical exposition”
- Middle Ages
- Chapter 5. Transfigured Exegesis ”Twenty centuries of interpreters teetering on Mount Tabor”
- Chapter 6. Doubtless Thomas ”In which Aquinas probes the Fourth Gospel’s Prologue”
- Chapter 7. Luther Times Three “’Have Mercy on Me, O God,’ Martin cries across two decades”
- Some Early Moderns
- Chapter 8. “Not of an Age, But for All Time” ”King James’s Job suffers with Shakespeare’s Lear”
- Chapter 9. Searcher of the Oracles Divine ”Accompanying Charles Wesley on two breathtaking journeys from Jerusalem to Jericho”
- Chapter 10. American Scriptures ”Washington and Lincoln: biblical exegetes”
- Chapter 11. Until Later
In chapter 2 Black shows himself to be a tour guide with positions and commitments of his own. His Ten Theses for biblical interpretation with a trinitarian understanding harmonize well with the rising voices in the choir of theological interpretation. He says much about each thesis. I simply list them here and encourage you to get the book when it is available (hopefully) next month.
- Considered reflection on the triune God is appropriate to exegesis that attends to the Bible’s theological character.
- If, as the historic church has confessed, the Trinity is a true and faithful expression of the God whom it worships, then that doctrine inevitably bears on the church’s understanding of the Bible as Holy Scripture, its inspiration and sanctification, prior to its disciplined exegesis.
- Even as theology arises from worship, the native habitat for a Trinitarian approach to Scripture is the church and its ancillary communities, like schools of theology, whose special vocation in service to the gospel is the strengthening of the church’s ministry.
- No academic exegete is required to practice scriptural interpretation as herein characterized, nor is every student required to study the Bible as Christian Scripture.
- For Christian theological exegetes, Trinitarian doctrine tends toward a less sectarian, more comprehensive, and arguably less problematic framework within which to read Scripture.
- The components of a Trinitarian confession—the integrity of Persons that voluntarily respect the space between themselves and one another, thereby fructifying loving freedom—suggest a salutary framework within which to consider the variety of biblical texts, the diversity of interpretive methods, and the inevitable divergence among Scripture’s interpreters.
- A Trinitarian hermeneutic does not abjure historical criticism en bloc. It embraces and opens up historical investigation while challenging historicism’s fatalistic imperialism.
- A Trinitarian approach to exegesis is eschatologically pregnant, affirming God’s freedom to dynamite interpretive obstacles and to guide Scripture’s faithful readers to fresh, truthful insights.
- By its nature Trinitarian exegesis of Scripture engages the interpreter intimately. Properly construed, the relationship is not merely that of “subject matter” and “investigator.” Rather, it is nothing short of “Lover” and “beloved.”
- So understood, scriptural theology recognizes no insuperable division between scholarly and devotional reading, even though the needs of different communities respect differences of emphasis.