Article

Biblical Theology in the Old Testament

Leo G. Perdue and Joseph McDonald

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online December 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0067
Biblical Theology in the Old Testament

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The origins of modern Old Testament theology may be traced to the late 18th century, when German Enlightenment scholar Johann Gabler rejected the prevailing view that the role of the Bible was to set forth divine truths for the discipline of church dogmatics to arrange in systematic order. Instead, Gabler tried to mediate between biblical theology as a historical exercise whose object was to reconstruct the history of Israelite religious ideas and biblical theology as a tool of systematic theology whose goal was to address modern situations by means of the salient, universal ideas of the Bible. This distinction, which allowed for the differentiation between ancient belief and modern faith, held sway in biblical theology until the late 20th century (Classical Old Testament Theologies). Recently, however, some of the foundations of this approach, such as the primacy of human reason as a source of knowledge and the unquestioned dominance of the historical-critical model of biblical interpretation, have been badly eroded. Gabler’s dichotomy that had reigned so long began to dissolve, and the two areas started to entwine in a common enterprise. History came to be at least partially eclipsed in Old Testament theologies that emphasized the role of creation, and some canonical approaches displaced it almost entirely (The Transition from History to Creation and Canon). This trend has only accelerated with the rise of a variety of newer methods, such as feminist, liberation, and postcolonial strategies, that grow from traditionally underrepresented cultural contexts (New Approaches to Old Testament Theologies). While theology has always reflected the changing cultures and geographies of scholars, their ethnic identities, and their different worldviews, this has been explicitly acknowledged only recently. In an irreversible move, we have passed beyond the heady days of the search for a single biblical theology. Now numerous approaches and descriptions flood the field of Old Testament theology. This rich variety, reflective of the diversity of human communities and cultures, can provide new insights into what it means to be human.

Article.  12138 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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