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writing things down…

I’m still here & theological commentaries are coming

Quick note to remind myself that I still have this blog and that I have every intention of making it a portal to my professional life. Instead of posting I have been preparing for a lecture I have to give to the class for which I am a TA this summer. This just happens to be the course I will be teaching in the Fall, so good prep now will save time in October. I have also added a bit to my resource pages. I have set up a skeleton of categories for those pages with no resource yet listed. In addition, I am working on a spreadsheet that will lay out the different parts of the four exegesis textbooks I am exploring. All of these activities relate to Exegetical Methods and Practice somehow. Aside from exegesis things I am tossing around the idea of a review and comparison of two new theological commentary series.

The first volumes of Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (BTCB) and Two Horizons New Testament Commentary (THNTC) have recently arrived on bookstore shelves. The goals of these commentaries are similar. The BTCB “is designed to serve the church–through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth–and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible;” while the volumes of THNTC “aim to help pastors, teachers, and students engage in deliberately theological interpretation of Scripture.” (emphasis mine) I have been aware of these series for some time. Since the 1998 session of SBL, THNTC has been under consideration. The papers from that gathering were collected and published the next year in one volume that was to serve as the background to the commentary series. Between Two Horizons (BTH) is a much-recommended book. After seven years the commentaries are finally coming out. I am less familiar with the history of BTCB but I do remember a session at SBL 2004 that was dedicated to the series.

The BTCB volumes will be penned by “leading theologians” who are “to read and interpret Scripture for the twenty-first century, just as the church fathers, the Reformers, and other orthodox Christians did for their times and places.” The list of contributors is rather impressive and includes Stanley Hauerwas, Jaroslav Pelikan, and my two interlocutors Kevin Vanhoozer and Stephen Fowl. Similar to the BTCB, the THNTC aims to “offer section-by-section exegesis of the New Testament texts in close conversation with theological concerns.” The THNTC is a little more ambiguous when characterizing its contributors. They are simply “leading scholars,” which could refer to theologians, biblical scholars, ethicists, etc. However, in looking at the contributors to BTH, one will quickly see that the Two Horizons project is comprised mostly of biblical scholars. Interestingly, Fowl is one of the first to publish a volume in THNTC and Vanhoozer cntributed a chapter to BTH. The fact that Fowl and Vanhoozer are involved in both projects says something about not only the breadth of their expertise but also about the way theological intepreters need not be pigeon-holed as either a biblical scholar or a theologian. Indeed, the very nature of theological interpretation would shun such exact characterization. For the record, Fowl’s specialization is New Testament (see his his faculty page); while Vanhoozer is senior research professor in systematic theology. At any rate, it might not be a completely inaccurate observation to distinguish the BTCB and the THNTC by their contributors: theologians and biblical scholars, respectively. But it also might not be an inaccurate observation to say that with these commentaries the line between theologians and biblical scholars has gotten blurrier.

I am shooting from the hip here. I really do plan to formulate more cogent thoughts on the matter and look to publish a review article. [Note to any journal editors: call me!]

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