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BEN C. OLLENBURGER
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries
“The Old Testament is a theological book. Hence, a presentation of the ‘theology of the Old Testament’ requires no particular justification.” 1 We may contrast these opening sentences of Rolf Rendtorff’s Old Testament theology with David H. Aaron’s judgment, certainly not new to him, that the Hebrew Bible contains very little theology or none at all.2 “The Bible,” Aaron says, “is replete with beliefs and ideologies about God, politics, social order, ritual, etc.,” but not theology. Even so, scholars have not refrained from “imposing constructed theologies upon Tanakh,” from which it strictly follows that “scholarly attempts to describe such a theology are essentially irrelevant to the furtherance of our understanding of Israelite ideas.”3 What then makes the Old Testament a theological book, on Rendtorff’s view, such that Old Testament theology requires no particular justification? If I have understood him fairly, Rendtorff holds that the Old Testament is a theological book, thereby justifying Old Testament theology, for three reasons: (1) the Old Testament or Tanakh is, or has been “until modernity”—in any event, it should remain— of foundational (grundlegende ) significance to Judaism and Christianity, and respectively, to the their faith and life; 4 (2) the final and canonical form of the Old Testament has enjoyed and should enjoy that significance, thereby justifying a canonically oriented Old Testament theology; (3) this canonical re-narration of the texts in (Hebrew) canonical sequence helps to recover their theological intentions, which can then be interconnected thematically. 5
1 Rolf Rendtorff, Theologie des Alten Testaments: Ein kanonischer Entwurf (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, vol. 1, 1999), p. 1. 2 David H. Aaron, Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and Divine Images (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 17. 3 Aaron, Biblical Ambiguities , p. 17. 4 I take Rendtorff to mean that the Old Testament or the Tanakh is “foundational” if apart from it a community could not fulfill its commitment (before God) to be that kind of community. 5 Rendtorff, Theologie , pp. 1-3. He discusses the different canons, and the
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Biblical Interpretation 11, 3/4
7 E. for example. would alarm a great many of those who have proposed or “fabricated” Old Testament theologies. on one hand. aims. and contemporary academic biblical studies on the other.” BibInt 10 (2002).” in A. his italics). That disjunction. 267-304. pp. on pp. Secular Humanism. The quality of Rendtorff’s contributions to academic biblical studies is not in question. and the disciplines it comprises.). Bernd Janowski.” They differ. and criteria of assessment. pursued in and for the academy. Congress Volume Basel 2001 (SVT 92. Rendtorff and Aaron understand different things by “theology. Neither does the conclusion drawn in the preceding paragraph imply criticism (or. pp. Not Knowing Which Way to Fly:’ Biblical Scholarship’s Marginality. Lemaire (ed. I will stipulate here that. Let me hasten to add that I intend no criticism of Rendtorff in drawing this conclusion. of Old Testament theology. . Scripture—does and should nourish terms for referring to them. 3 and 8. Rendtorff and Aaron together imply such a disjunction. and the Laudable Occident. perhaps even a disjunction. Rendtorff and Aaron serve but as examples. for the purposes of this essay. and that (b) Old Testament theology thus needs no particular justification. “there are only biblical theologies when scholars or religious communities insist on their fabrication” (Biblical Ambiguities. 6 Compare Jacques Berlinerblau. 2002). much less try to adjudicate or resolve them.7 Regardless. “academic biblical studies” refers to biblical scholarship. from which they derive their rationale. and Old Testament theology has its justification. 17. The first few pages of that work’s first volume serve my purposes here by virtue of their straightforward claims that (a) the Old Testament is a theological book. for that matter. According to Aaron.6 Putting it that way suggests a distinction. between the two—a disjunction between Old Testament theology and contemporary academic biblical studies. 241-76. “‘Poor Bird.618 ben c. would agree with Rendtorff on two matters. Stephen Fowl. ollenburger The Old Testament is thereby a theological book. These are matters for exploration and of dissent. vol. Old Testament Theology (New York: Harper & Row. p. “Theologie des Alten Testaments: Pläydoyer für eine integrative Perspective. 1. The Old Testament—in Fowl’s case. approbation) of Rendtorff’s Old Testament theology. 120. neither entirely representative. in turn. His reference to “re-narration” quotes Gerhard von Rad. then.g. over whether the Tanakh/Old Testament is in any sense a theological book. p. Leiden: Brill. least of all by me. It is not my aim to assess these differences and possible disagreements. 1962).
“Die Bedeutung des Alten Testaments für den christlichen Glauben. The Old Testament is indeed a Christian entity. xix. pp. 1997). Oxford: Blackwell. However. I will return to Davies’s puzzlement. pp. for different reasons. 1998). . “Introduction. this underwrites his claim that any description of its contents will be inevitably a “confessional account” and. if systematic. the claim a non sequitor. 13-21.” Davies observes.” p. 10 The reverse is true as well. Davies. 10 From this it does not follow that any description of its contents will be a confessional account. While Old Testament theology’s function may puzzle him. Engaging Scripture: A Model for Theological Interpretation (Oxford: Blackwell. Philip Davies agrees.” JBTh 12 (1997).” it has its place in the church (or in the seminary as part of the “church domain. further. 51). Fowl. or any interests at all: “The function of ‘Old Testament theology’ puzzles me. Page numbers here and in the following pages refer to this book. The observation is true. theological interpretation. Whose Bible is It Anyway? (JSOTSup 204. and Harnack (among others) notwithstanding. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. of the kind Fowl commends.” Davies says. 78). which is not his alone. and systematically descriptive accounts of it— those requiring “evaluation” of its contents—will not necessarily 8 Stephen E. even if it tries to be rigorously descriptive. The Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Blackwell Readings in Modern Theology. 1995). with its limiting effects. whose concerns “presuppose a setting within Christian or Jewish communities. emphasis his). pp. The Nicene Creed is a Christian entity. 181-92. Wolfhart Pannenberg. Marcion. and this requires theological reading and interpretation of scripture. Davies insists that it cannot help being confessional. is “confessional. will “serve the Christian religion” (p. descriptions of its contents need not be confessional.). whatever these may be. Schleiermacher. to serve as or to further theological interpretation of Scripture. 9 Philip R.” in Fowl (ed. by way of asking Whose Bible is It Anyway? 9 In his terms. 79. Fowl argues that biblical (including Old Testament) theology has been too much the child of modernity. “What is the purpose of doing and redoing it?” (p. “The ‘Old Testament’ is a Christian entity. and thereby about discourse(s). it does not exist apart from the New Testament. Davies further agrees with Fowl. xvi. that Old Testament/biblical theology may not serve confessional interests.discoursing old testament theology 619 the faithful life of Christian and (as Tanakh) Jewish communities. but after a tour through his remarks on the confessional character of Old Testament theology.” 8 On this point. or two of them.
in these cases. Metaphor and Religious Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kripke. “Naming and Necessity. in this instance. pp. pp. following Saul Kripke. of a Hebrew (or Greek) biblia. CA: University of California. 57-89. The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkely. Cunningham might abjure my “hence. The Writing of History (New York: Columbia University.” 12 But in so defining and (but only co-) constituting its object. Radical Orthodoxy (London: Routledge. 1999). then. donated by an object inhabiting them as its attributes. or the practice of describing. a descriptive practice and discourse—a description and. implicitly ontological. 253-355. 1972). 1986). this is the case with Old Testament theology. It operates concepts. which are not simply. representation—evinces or “shows” what is therein unrepresentable as its own absent other (remarks conscious of de Certeau). Heterologies: Discourse on the Other (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. and Graham Ward (eds.). 127. Description. is not innocent.” My reasons for thinking otherwise are indicated elsewhere.11 Descriptions depend on and serve what Janet Martin Soskice. Reidel. is definitional. whether in dialogue with. and hence particular.” in D. much less immediately. 73-75. 149. Mutatis mutandis . but of the Old Testament. 1984). Description. and precisely when it is descriptive of its object as the Old Testament. can but amount to provisional and powerful redescription. a form of representation. 12 Janet Martin Soskice. the same obtains regarding non-confessional descriptions of the Old Testament—not. has called “linguistic communities. pp. the creed is being treated in other than creedal fashion. definitive (a mildly Kantian remark). in “Mennonite Theology: A Conversation Around the Creeds. an other discourse.” Mennonite Quarterly Review 66 (1992). . Davidson and G. but its status as a canonical entity precisely constitutes its eligibility for such non-confessional description. Conor Cunningham.” which are also “communities of interest and investigation. in resistance against. Catherine Pinkstock. 13 Michel de Certeau. hence an other community. “Wittgenstein After Theology.” whose “descriptive vocabulary … is embedded in particular traditions of investigation and conviction. Davies’s point that Old Testament theology cannot help being 11 Cf. Harman (eds. by intention or effect.13 Description. hence. 1985).” in John Milbank.). 1988). for example. or in disregard of an other.620 ben c. pp. instruments of description. the Christian religion. Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht: D. Indeed so. They may serve investigation of imperial religion or of hegemonic discourse(s). Notoriously. including an other description. ollenburger serve. Davies may counter that.
Thereby we can achieve a “single ‘biblical scholarship. Discourse defines particular groupings who. how truth is sought. we should want a single discipline. then. Davies’s “discourse” resembles my own. This singularity escapes us. A single discourse. and so also a single world-view. 27). constitutes itself as a site of struggle: a defensive struggle for an exclusive identity and control. Davies suggests. what human [sic] are here for. But he goes on to say that “[e]ach discourse also conveys or implies an ideology that defines the ‘community’ that shares and possesses that discourse. . 27. identify themselves with its user-group and implicitly or explicitly exclude others from that group. Davies says. namely: Communication governed by a set of conventions agreed between the participants. and thus on condition of agreement on how the world works.discoursing old testament theology 621 confessional serves his larger concern: “the principles of a selfconsciously non-confessional discourse” (p.” These “accounts” are what Davies means by a discourse. his emphasis). in using it. and so on. and variously conceived questions (and philosophy!) should be either bracketed or discussed. what knowledge is. but that answers to them should be assumed and taken for granted 14 “It would seem to me self-evident that …” (p. in place.” A discourse. A discipline.’” which entails having “common criteria of evaluation. conventions that do not have to be specified but are either carried by signals in the communication itself or indicated by external contexts. a concern energized by his conviction—one whose truth seems to him self-evident 14—that “a confessional discourse and a non-confessional one cannot possibly combine to form a single discourse” (p. the reality that it constructs around itself.” Not that these perennially contested. what knowledge is. numinous. then.. which we can achieve only on condition of a single discourse. what humans are here for. In other words. above. renders possible that primary disciplinary singularity. 26-27). and so on. Choice of discourse is a form of social identification (p. This becomes the more evident when Davies puts a single discourse in service of “a single discipline” (p. 16) of biblical scholarship. if a putative discipline comprises “radically different accounts of how the world works. how truth is sought. It pays to attend to what Davies means by discourse. use of language and philosophy . and reflect its ‘social world’. borrowed remarks about description. 27). 25).. requires “a coherent world-view” as part of its justification (pp.
Theology and the University: A Response to Philip Davies. discourse and conviction in the university— ”in the non-confessional university.” Poetics 14 (1985).15 Thus does Davies define a “field” of cultural production that I referred to above as academic biblical studies. a 15 In the body of his argument Davies seems (p. which Davies invited. p. could ever achieve the singularity Davies envisions seems both undesirable and unlikely. as conditions for participation in a singular. 13-44. 1977). “Culture and Religion. or metaphysical assumptions that aren’t accepted by all parties to the discussion” Warranted Christian Belief [New York: Oxford University Press. p. See David Swartz. 80. 51) to entertain what Alvin Plantinga calls “Duhemian” (after Pierre Duhem) biblical criticism.”19 “The” university. .”17 and ineluctably produces its heterodox rival: “Orthodoxies call into existence their heterodox reversals by the logic of distinction that operates in cultural fields. context of the “structured space” for the field of academic biblical studies. provides the institutional. religious. Watson’s extended reply. exposes Brevard Childs and Frances Watson to searing criticism for transgressing irresponsibly the non-confessional discursive boundaries of academic biblical studies. for example. 397.”18 Orthodox “criteria of evaluation” in biblical studies. Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. self-policing discourse and academic discipline. “Bridging the Study of Culture and Religion: Pierre Bourdieu’s Political Economy of Symbolic Power. Whether the practice of academic biblical studies. pp. 19 Francis Watson. as the meeting of what Bourdieu called habitus and field (“the space of possibilities”). sometimes insistently. thus political and economic. in Whose Bible is it Anyway? . 1997). “which delimits the universe of possible discourse . ollenburger (as if doxa). in this case. 16 Pierre Bourdieu. 169.622 ben c. “The Market of Symbolic Goods. argues against Davies for the inclusion of expressly confessional. pp. his italics. To adopt terms I borrowed earlier. alternative descriptive vocabularies have emerged. have been vigorously challenged in recent decades— criteria that once were themselves (in Bourdieu’s sense) heretical. which “doesn’t involve any theological. in Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (New York: Routledge. “Bible. 18 Swartz. 17 Bourdieu.” Sociology of Religion 57 (1996).16 Davies here advocates a strict orthodoxy. 12. Judith Butler offers criticism of Bourdieu. 2000]. together with specific communities of interest and investigation … and conviction.” JSOT 71 (1996). Davies. 71-85.” p. p. confessionally Christian.
53. 19779). Perhaps the strongest criticism Davies lodges against theology (biblical scholarship included) as confessional discourse—as emic.” Whence does this criticism arise. critical capacity is limited to exercises in self-regulation. The more tractable issue concerns the character of academic biblical studies as non-confessional. is that of an “insider. would use “the categories of the culture being described. pp. p. Together they tend to confirm Bourdieu’s remarks about the structure of conflict as paradigmatic in all fields of cultural production.” much less of ancient societies that may have produced them.” Merely self -critique (p. but primarily to different discourses. 337. Biblical Criticism in Crisis? The Impact of the Canonical Approach on Old Testament Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. What principally distinguishes academic. is “etic”: it “uses the categories of the scientific observer.21 In Davies’s terms. where symbolic and cultural capital are at stake. p.20 It is also the contested space of an academic-exchange economy. Whether a university may or should include confessional and self-consciously non-confessional (as well as anti-confessional) discourses. an emic “description of a society.” Emic description. Profound matters divide them. Brett. the dis20 Davies. we may leave aside. 11. one may ask. not just to contrasting descriptions of “bibles. “A Response. Watson. by contrast.” contrasted with the “etic” discourse of the academy. 6. 58586.” pp. Watson appears to be quoting from Mark G. . Whose Bible. which holds open to criticism its “own beliefs and practices. Watson. Brett cites the relevant literature. “A Response. 21 Gottwald. 48). etic discourse —its “main feature”—on Davies’s view.discoursing old testament theology 623 field from which both Davies and Watson protest their exclusion. in other words. 42). 15-16. in other words—is that “its academic.” p.” while etic description is “external” (p. Here lies its contrast with properly academic and thus etic discourse. But these are refracted in a debate about what’s seriously discussable in the university. 1991). and whither does it go? As Davies not only grants but insists. Confessional discourse Davies characterizes as “emic. or in one region of its disciplined discourses and places.” or “self-critique. borrowing them from Kenneth Pike by way of Marvin Harris. etic discourse. 33). Davies refers these distinctions. to be sure. NY: Orbis. The antagony between Davies and Watson sustains the economy. is that it “permits and stimulates criticism of its own practices and beliefs” (p. The Tribes of Yahweh (Maryknoll.” Academic discourse. Norman Gottwald introduced these terms into biblical scholarship.” for example.
ollenburger course of academic biblical scholarship. p. Otherwise. critical capacity is limited to exercises in self-regulation. hence external. Of course. “excludes emic discourses” (p. Indeed. discourse performed on it does not. in order to assess such criticisms as it may receive or generate. It will not depend on the very beliefs and practices that it describes or inspects. emic discourse (that “its academic. as if by an insider. description of the discourse of academic biblical studies in its own categories. which the discourse itself permits and stimulates. Davies’s strong criticism of confessional. it becomes “a barren species of discourse” (p. Neither should it amount to a criticism. in Crisis. Who offers such criticisms. or more than one.” or “selfcritique”) loses much of its force. But Davies has proffered an emic.” See Brett’s comments. once more. 42). 785. . “The discourse of the academy. then it may not be performed in the categories of biblical scholarship. Tribes. What is the option—external regulation? In this regard. as Davies uses the term. p. has beliefs and practices that are its own. for that would be to perform an emic discourse. 18. Continuing briefly in Davies’s terms. and obviously. that a community or guild or discipline assesses—in its own (emic) discourse(s)—some product of an etic.624 ben c.” Davies says. in order to promote and to nourish its own beliefs and practices. Any academic discipline or field—the academy itself—must and does perform an emic (in Davies’s sense) discourse. it is Davies’s argument that academic discourse should be vigorously self-regulating and self-critical. emic and etic accounts both (if both are available) serve precisely that theory and thereby the discipline of anthropology. These may be subject to criticism. respectively gathered and proffered. Gottwald has “explanations” where Davies has “descriptions. and who assesses them? If this critical discourse shall be etic. Gottwald does not aim to 22 Gottwald.” Most notably. do not aim principally (or at all) to sustain and nourish the cultures and practices of which they are a theory-driven and theory-building account. an insider’s. Davies uses the terms etic and emic in ways different from Gottwald’s remarks about their use in “ethnological theory. amount to a criticism. That this disciplined discourse includes—that it draws from and (poaches) upon—an ensemble of other academic discourses does not affect the point. perchance thereby coming to revise some among its beliefs and practices. 48).22 These accounts. Certainly.
One of his aims.” by contrast with “external” theories that have as their aim reflection on.” Philosophy and the Human . of “foundational (grundlegende ) importance.). without argument. through critique). does not seek so much to explain some dimension of social life (or all of it) as to “define the understandings that underpin different forms of social practice.” 24 Along the way I adverted to the interest. 794). and with reference to Rendtorff. that Old Testament theology is indeed confessional. 2002]. 25 “Theory and Value in the Social Sciences. by confession. 26 Charles Taylor calls such theories “self-defining. empirical evidence underdetermines the choice of theory. in whatever space or place. Theology is here defined. 668. tradition. of course. directly or by indirection (for example. then. pp. communities of faith and practice for whom it remains. Neither. to biblical and Old Testament theology—to theory. is to “present … the preconditions for a new theological method” as a “replacement for ‘biblical theology’”23 We have returned. 24 Such communities. p. “Social Theory as a Practice. (for example) the practice of anthropology. could academic biblical studies. As Mary Hesse noted long ago. Social theory as self-defining. 26 Adapting John B. p. p.” in Hookway and Pettit (eds. Old Testament theology aims to nourish. on which his massive theoretical argument bears and depends heavily. A detour through Davies has problematized the distinction. extant pre-monarchic Israel. Thompson’s remarks. as “a scientific account of the divine manifestation in history” (p. 208. which thus depends on non-empirical criteria. in that sense. and conviction-specific character of description. 1981). in Critical Hermeneutics: A Study in the Thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and the improvement of. 206). 1-16. 1978).” 27 23 Tribes. Whom or what do they serve? And how is such service rendered? Early on. but it has also prepared the conclusion. and that the theory-driven account of it should enable the actors to reflect on and to change their practice as so described. That is to say. I suggested a distinction between academic biblical studies and Old Testament theology. Sugirtharajah’s counsel that they “should be prepared to give up the very texts themselves” (Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpreation [New York: Oxford University Press. or reaffirmation. then.discoursing old testament theology 625 nourish the culture of a no longer. 25 One such criterion is that the description of a practice should be recognizable by actors engaged in a practice as a description of what they are practicing. which it turns out is also theory-driven.S. could not follow R. if ever. Action and Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. so also then description. 27 Charles Taylor.
p. “requires certain descriptions to make sense.”29 A theory. see p. to scripture. to foster theological interpretation on behalf of a community’s living faithfully before God. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.626 ben c. but as one of the community’s ongoing discursive practices. On external theories. their practices will be referred. p. 29 Taylor. yet still necessarily for such communities: in their perhaps argumentative. cannot hope to reform or transform a practice if actors cannot recognize themselves in the description. both the description of their practices and reflection on them. But some such communities also want to acquire a more fully “theoretical” understanding of their practices. pp. vol. or reformed. Scripture-reading practices. But the “setting within Christian or Jewish communities. or if they cannot reflect on their practice as described. Stephen Fowl argues that biblical theology’s “dominant tradition” is too much the child of modernity. or purified practice. pp. then. are mutually imbricated with.”30 As noted earlier. ritual. scripture figures directly or indirectly. particular convictions. The practices themselves. of the formulation here is just to provide the constitutive understanding necessary for the continuing. to make it possible to continue it. critical and constructive. 101. his italics. . or the use of it. 28 Taylor. will include direct or indirect reference to scripture. p. 13-17. 108. or perhaps to reform it or to purify it. 105. to put it on a securer basis. are partially constituent in and constitutive of such communities—“essential to their living faithfully before God. For some communities. one might say. 28 “A practice. 54. 2. 93. among other things. dispositions. 30 Fowl. In them. not only when these come under duress. and affections. these may count among their “pre-theoretical understandings” (Bourdieu’s doxa ).” which Fowl assigns theological Sciences (Philosophical Papers. The point. ollenburger A theoretical formulation in this sense renders a “pre-theoretical understanding” explicit. 1985). moral ones. Engaging Scripture . perhaps due to intractable dissensus regarding or new challenges to the convictions sustaining and deriving from them. and too implicated in an academic economy that fragments theology. too. directly or (sometimes very) indirectly. in order to rescue a practice. conversational. In such communities. especially linguistic. yet common life. 108.” Taylor goes on to say. 31 Fowl. 31 Perhaps so.
pp. Atlanta: SBL. to similar effect. Old Testament theology is non-violently parasitic. and so their (quite variously understood) faithfulness before God. and Bakhtin. 2000). Engaging Scripture . having no academic “place.” in Alice Ogden Bellis and Joel S. 182-83. That is why Old Testament is constantly redone. and resists global definitions of the relation between Christian scripture’s two testaments. is Certeau’s term. “Poaching. It neither possesses nor conducts a singular and insular discourse. Brueggemann.]. Ellen F. Certeau. 35 Kathryn Tanner. 83-94. Yeago [eds. 34 “Biblical Theology as Provisional Monologization: A Dialogue with Childs. In particular. 1997). “Losing a Friend: The Loss of the Old Testament to the Church. Buckley and David S. and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures (Symposium Series. and Old Testament theology as a species of it. 117. Kaminsky (eds. 180-83. but poaches on—without despoiling—whatever resources may serve its occasional purposes.35 It has no anxieties about boundaries or disciplinary control.” discursively undermining theology’s fragmentation temporally and locally. Knowing the Triune God [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. corresponds to the space Davies assigns (confessional) Old Testament theology. Rainer Albertz. 33 Even when Old Testament theology elevates itself above the practices of (not?) everyday life to propose a particular panoptic vision. The Practice of Everyday Life . Christians. p. “The Stranger.). Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. 283).discoursing old testament theology 627 interpretation (see above). This is also why it is continually redone. pp. pp. “Hat die Theologie des Alten Testaments doch noch eine Chance?” JBTh 10 (1995). Origen’s (and Gregory of Nyssa’s) metaphor of plundering or despoiling the Egyptians (Fowl. p. And it marvels at the mystery of how God’s world works.” of course.” BibInt 6 (1998). 162-80. including the changing discourses of academic biblical studies.32 Attending the contexts of temporally and locally various Christian communities.34 In these cases. 2001]. or an orchestration.” in James J. Old Testament theology can engage the sorts of interpretive improvisations that diverse Christian practices require for both their description and their reflection. Stephen Fowl and Eugene Rogers adopt. Jews. Biblical theology. it constitutes a “provisional monologization. as always. as if for a friend. Davis. 33 32 .” can mark a “practiced space. Rogers.” in Dennis Olson’s superbly monstrous terms. One trusts. of the material under its temporally abstracted gaze. Old Testament theology carries a brief for the Old Testament. pp.
628 ben c. which should practice a self-consciously non-confessional and only “etic” discourse. It argues that such practices and convictions of certain communities provide the context and purpose of Old Testament theology. . ollenburger Abstract Stephen Fowl has argued that biblical (so Old Testament) theology is too beholden to academic biblical studies. to nurture theological interpretation of scripture. Traversing Davies’s argument and his use of “discourse. Philip Davies has argued that Old Testament theology is inevitably (Christian) confessional and has no place in academic biblical studies.” this essay makes brief and unassuming reference to Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau in moving toward Charles Taylor’s definition of “self-defining” social theories. and too far removed from settings in particular communities of faith.
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