More thoughts on Biblical/Theological Education

More thinking out loud. I think there are two distinct tasks that need to be approached:

1. Understanding the Biblical writings within their original setting as theological documents intended to be formative for God’s people (a generalisation I know)

2. Drawing together the findings of such study in order to address the questions concerning our following Jesus today that we want to bring to Scripture, in conversation with such activity from church history

I would be happy to label these Biblical Studies and Theological Studies respectively.[1]

Of course the first will in many instances be received as a fresh address to us (especially NT writings), and we should not keep them at an arms length, we should study them as living word rather than as ancient artifacts. But because in many instances we will require the whole counsel of Scripture to answer our questions, and because we do not want to inadvertently transform the text in the quest to answer our questions, we need to seperate the tasks.

How might this be embodied in an educational setting? I would have to say that those who teach should not be confined to one task or the other, for concern this may result in competence in one but not the other, and in the case of Theological Studies, knowledge of and an ability to work with the Biblical texts skillfully would be a necessity. So there would still be courses on individual biblical writings and groups of writings (e.g. prophets, Paul’s letters, etc.) which would form the backbone of the curriculum, and then courses on various themes and issues that draw on such work to shape our following of Jesus.

Let me know your thoughts…

[1] I don’t see much of a place in Christian biblical/theological education or ministry training for the sort of speculative theology or goals often persued in contemporary biblical studies such as source criticism that (I think) do not provide resources for following Jesus.


One thought on “More thoughts on Biblical/Theological Education

  1. Ha I have a comment – and have now studied enough to understand what you are saying so as to make a comment.
    If you are equating Biblical studies with exegesis (technical term i know) then it should always include the contemporary implcations or it is simply academic. So Biblical studies would include 1. and 2.
    Theological studies is the overarching stuff that comes up with doctrines, that affects how we live; yes. But primarily affects how we look at scripture. What we mean when we say God, etc.
    It both comes from your point 1. and must be anchored there, But also then informs how we – the layperson – looks at scripture and interprets it into our situation.
    Your Mum :)


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