writing things down…


Richard Briggs has recently published a review of my book in the Heythrop Journal (50:1).  Needless to say, Briggs did not think to well of the book.  Since I am new to this, reading a highly critical review kind of hurt at first. I should expect some criticism. In fact I know that there are many criticisms to be made. Knowing this does not make it any easier to see those criticisms in print. And, I suppose, it would be pretty shallow of me to try to respond to every criticism made.  Briggs is spot on with a good bit of what he calls into question; some things, though, I would want to defend. But, I will not do that here.

He does raise the issue of “how to go on and actually practise theological interpretation,” saying that exploring a text to demonstrate how my approach to theological interpretation would look would have made my arguments stronger. This is not the first time I’ve heard this criticism. My adviser, Don Hagner, made a similar point when the project was at the dissertation phase. At the time I avoided such an exercise because I was ready to be done. Since then, however, I’ve reflected more on the suggestion, and I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to show my approach to theological interpretation in action is impossible. I don’t believe anyone can demonstrate theological interpretation in full. That is an implicit point in my argument. Theological interpretation, to my mind, is a constellation of practices performed by the Christian community for which the biblical texts are sacred texts. I agree we ought to get on with interpreting the text, but I don’t think any one exercise will capture what it is I am trying to make theological interpretation out to be. Some interpretations contribute better to the conversation than others. I could have possibly offered a contribution, but any attempt to demonstrate my approach would inevitably fall short.

I’m still feeling the sting somewhat. I’ll get over it eventually.

(By the way, Angus Paddison offers a shorter, more neutral review in Expository Times [120: 7], and as I noted earlier R. W. L. Moberly reviews the book in the Journal of Theological Studies.)


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