Receiving the Bible in Faith: Historical and Theological Exegesis

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There is a tension between classic and modern approaches to the Bible that continues to drive discussion today. For traditional theology, the Bible was divine revelation and a Church Father could say we listen to God when we read. For critical history, the Bible was a collection of writings from the past to be read no differently than any other book. The weight of the tension falls on those who wish to combine the two approaches without being false to either. This book comes to the issues through sustained examination of contemporary writers committed to the faithful practice of both theology and history: biblical scholars Raymond Brown and Brevard Childs, and theologians Juan Luis Segundo and Henri de Lubac. Drawing especially on Brown and de Lubac, David Williams concludes that faithful reception of the Bible as Scripture involves both full application of historical studies and open acceptance of a Christological focus. Separating the biblical witness from history threatens to break contact with the communities of biblical Israel and the apostolic Church, just as failing to see that in these last days, God spoke to us through a Son threatens to reduce the Bible to a merely historical artifact. To avoid the first difficulty, Williams argues for recognition of the Bible as a complex union of human and divine intentions where historical work is necessary to distinguish and maintain the integrity of each. To avoid the second, he sets the four traditional senses of Scripture within a Christocentric framework as a means of actualizing the textual witness in the present. The book should prove helpful to students as an overview of some of the issues involved, while more advanced readers will appreciate its analysis of recent scholars as well the attempt to integrate and adapt their insights.