Developments in My Field of Study — Biblical Studies & Theology Are Talking Again!

Jeremy Bouma on March 25th, 2014. Tagged under .

Jeremy Bouma

Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) has pastored on Capitol Hill and with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan. He founded THEOKLESIA, which connects the 21st century Church to the vintage Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at jeremybouma.com.

9780310492238When in seminary I liked to describe the difference between biblical studies and theological studies in this tongue-in-cheek way:

Biblical studies is about studying what the Text says and how to figure out what it says through a variety of means; theological studies is about studying what other people have said about the Text, and sometimes why they said what they said given their historical context.

Unfortunately such a distinction has often engendered unnecessary division and splits among these two important facets of the academy and the Church.

Darian Lockett, professor of New Testament at Biola University and author of Understanding Biblical Theology, is excited about marked developments in his field of study that have sought to integrate biblical studies and theology once again.

He notes that for church going people this is assumed—of course studying the Bible and theology go together! But as Lockett explains, "in the academy for the last couple of hundred years with the rise of historical criticism you couldn't take that for granted."

Which is why he is excited to see two important developments of biblical scholars over the past decade that is shifting this status quo. Watch the video below to better understand these twin developments and where biblical and theological studies are trending.

-Jeremy Bouma, Th.M. (@bouma)

Do you agree with Lockett's perspective on developments in biblical and theological studies? What's trending in this wing of scholarship that excites you?

(Can't see the video? Watch it here.)

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"Developments in My Field of Study" exposes developments and trends within various fields of biblical studies by showcasing leading evangelical voices who have a pulse on its direction. Our goal is to help students and pastors, teachers and interested Christians alike to understand where various fields are moving for the sake of gospel ministry and teaching.

  • Ron Boyer 5 years ago

    I believe this should answer the question: http://www.gci.org/theology

  • Phil Faris 5 years ago

    This is a frustrating discussion, in that the short video was too brief and the book is reportedly too technical. I went to Amazon to read reviews of the book and to see more (using “read inside”) and found that Lockett raises important topics and points of view but leaves a lot of considerations unresolved. This is good, in a way, since the topic really does need more discussion. The current tension between the theology departments and all the rest at seminaries and Bible colleges reflects a tendency for theologians to presume that they hold the high ground and that only other theologians can effectively engage them about these issues.

    This blog article and the video and the Amazon reviews did bring up two interesting points: First, they highlight the definition of Biblical studies as looking for the meaning of the texts and Theological studies as looking at what others have said about the texts. (Though, I doubt that theologians would like this clear and simple distinction.) Second, one reviewer wished that Klink and Lockett had considered the value of Theology as a tool for the process of interpreting the Bible, essentially as one component of Biblical Theology. My own distinction (as a Bible teacher currently writing a Hermeneutics textbook) would emphasize that Theology per se is just the results of hermeneutics or a collection of interpretations that others have already done, which in turn may or may not influence the interpretations that we ourselves develop in the course of “doing” hermeneutics. Seen in this light, both Historical Theology and Biblical Theology (and even Systematic Theology) are all just sets of interpretations that may influence people as they read and study the Bible for themselves. This might be contrasted with Jaroslav Pelikan’s presentation of the “development of doctrine” as if Theology itself is more than just a set or sets of current interpretations of the Bible but a thing that takes on a life or existence for itself.

    In the end, the question is whether it is really important for preachers today to learn how to do hermeneutics themselves or whether it is only necessary to build on the theological traditions that they inherit.