R.W.L. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis, Old Testament Theology (New York, CUP, 2009), xxiv + 252 pp.

R.W.L. Moberly, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation at Durham University, has offered up the second book in the new series, ‘Old Testament Theology’ (the other being the volume on Jeremiah by Breuggemann). Many of those who would read this review know that Moberly is my thesis advisor, so I am naturally somewhat predisposed to appreciate his work, and this volume is no exception. Hopefully, however, this review will be helpful to others.

Moberly begins his work by discussing exactly what a “theology of Genesis” should be. He discusses traditional historical criticism and ideological criticism, but proposes his own canonical and confessional theology whereby Genesis is understood “within the context of continuing traditions of faith, life, and thought” (12). Thus, Moberly’s work is significantly different than many “theological” studies of the book of Genesis, and is, in fact quite different than one would expect of a book titled, The Theology of the Book of Genesis.

The content of the book is a series of nine studies of particular texts that have significance for Genesis as received Scripture today, as well as two methodological studies on reading Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50. One of the strengths of this book is (more…)


The current temperature in Portland, OR = 107!!!

Way too hot!

Daniel J. Treier, Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerAcademic, 2008).


Daniel Treier begins his manual on theological interpretation of Scripture by tracing a brief history. Beginning with the reaction against historical criticism and the seminal work of Barth he traces the influence of Barth through his focus on the ‘subject’ of the text, the fact that  “one must enter into or participate in its meaning” and reading “with more attention and love” (p. 16). He traces briefly traces this trend through such scholars as Brevard Childs, David Kelsey, Hans Frei, George Lindbeck, Stanley Hauerwas and Francis Watson (pp. 18-20). After discussing the attempt to recover theological interpretation in the evangelical (pp. 21-25) and Roman Catholic (pp. 25-33) traditions, Treier turns to a brief examination of the ‘Postmodern turn’ (pp. 33- 36). This section functions as both a brief history of and introduction to the issues surrounding this thing called theological interpretation of Scripture.


Now Treier turns to the first part of his introduction to theological hermeneutics by examining three common themes held among those who claim to do theological interpretation. The first of these is the attempt to recover ancient Christian practices (ch. 1: ‘Recovering the Past’). Treier notes that there is a resurgence of those trying to recover their Christian heritage by practicing in line with historical Christianity. He identifies three practices that are used in an attempt to recover this ancient Christian practice: 1) reading as piety (pp. 41-45); 2) reading about Christ (pp. 45-51); 3) reading for Christian practice, with a special emphasis on the fourfold sense of Scripture (pp. 51-55).


The second chapter deals with the concern of “Reading within the Rule(s).” This chapter is about the practice of interpretation within the context of (more…)

I have been slightly inactive on this blog for a while but that is because my final deadline for my ThM thesis loomed large. Well, I can say that I have officially turned in the final draft of my thesis. Whew!

Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint (New York: T & T Clark, 2004), xvii +196 pp.

The newest introduction to the Septuagint, by Jennifer M. Dines, is also perhaps the most brief on the subject. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it successfully provides, for the uninitiated reader, an introduction that is accessible. It is a curse, however, because it is forced to only briefly interact with a subject that is among the most complex and technical in all of biblical studies.

Her study is broken down into 7 chapters. The first chapter is an attempt to get a working definition for the Septuagint, this discussion reveals the complexity of the term ‘Septuagint.’ She ends by reminding the reader that “at the material level, the LXX ‘is’: a vast diverse corpus of religios texts in Greek” (p. 24). The second chapter is the first to deal with the origins of the LXX; she interacts mainly with the Letter of Aristeas and the works of Aristobulus on the LXX. These sources, Dines, concludes “agree on situating [the LXX] in the early third century BCE, as an initiative of Ptolemy” (p. 38). The third chapter is the second on the issue of the origin of the LXX. Here Dines focuses on the various translations of the LXX, noting that even in Aristeas the first translation was just the Pentateuch, and the various modern hypotheses for the impetus of the translation and the translation style (e.g., interlinear vs. free rendering). She concludes by (more…)

So I originally intended to write book reviews on this blog for all of the books that I read in order to 1) force myself to summarize the content of the book after reading it, 2) to have a place where I can keep my summaries and 3) to allow others to benefit from my take on my readings. However, I have turned out to be a less than regular blogger and I haven’t been diligent in my book reviews. I am currently way behind in my book reviews but I intend to catch up. Below is a list of books that I have read recently and hope to have reviews of soon. This is my way of committing myself to finishing these reviews.

  • Paul Rhodes Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition
  • James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered
  • Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel
  • R.W.L. Moberly, The Old Testament of the Old Testament: Patriarchal Narratives and Mosaic Yahwism
  • Kenton L. Sparks, God’s Words in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship
  • Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint
  • Martin Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture

One of the benefits of doing graduate studies is you begin to be well versed in a few fields. One the things that this has instilled in me is a sense of epistemological humility. Another way of putting this is that there are very few things that I would say that I know and there are an extremely few things that I would say that I know and if you disagree, you are wrong. 

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about. I often read introductory books or listen to introductory courses on subjects that I have a fair bit of knowledge about. When I do this I am very aware of times when the author or teacher says things like, ‘scholars now say….’ While this type of statement is often true, other times it is merely a gloss for ‘really there is a lot of scholarly debate about this subject, but the best people that I have arbitrarily chosen based on my limited knowledge of the subject say this.’ 

What this type of rhetoric does is imply to the student, who is there to learn from the ‘expert’, that this statement that the expert has made is a ‘fact.’ Maybe I am too postmodern in my thinking but I am afraid there are very few things that can be said to be fact. Facts always are interpretations of data, and while data may just be data, for it to be meaningful it must be interpreted as fact. Interpretations, however, are always open to question. So what we may assume is fact is actually a careful argument made by experts that is actually based on a number of assumptions and other facts, which are in turn interpretations of their own. 

It is not only academics, however, that are guilty of what I will call epistemological arrogance. I recently heard someone say on a Christian radio station that “the more archaeology we uncover, the more the Bible is proved to be historically true.’ Now there are whole schools of thought that would take issue with this statement. The problem with this situation is that the person on the radio is not an archaeologist nor a biblical scholar, they are merely repeating what they heard ‘some expert’ say.

This kind of rhetoric is, I think, damaging, especially for Christians. For once we have begun to perpetuate things that are really arguments and points of view as fact we have begun to deceive those who are not in a position to know the difference. This is especially true in matters of faith. Once we have convinced people of the fact that the Bible is proved historically true by archaeology, then when that ‘truth’ is called into question by this or that archaeologist then people’s worldviews are questioned.

What I have come to treat as axiomatic for my life is a kind of epistemological humility wherein I am unquestionably sure of very few things so that I would say that I know them and if you disagree you are wrong, and in turn am questionably sure of a very many things wherein I would say that I think them and if you disagree then let’s have a conversation and see if we can’t get closer to the truth. 

I am not a pluralist, I believe there is objective truth. But I am drowning in the amount of information that I do not know for sure, and I have studied a few things extensively. I wonder if things like church splits, denominational fights and academic snobbery would be greatly lessened if we admitted that most of the things that we say we know we only think. And if we could, in epistemological humility, come together to try and find the truth, even if, in the end, we merely agree to disagree. We could, after all, both be wrong.

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