1. Elizabeth Farians, "Justice, The Hard Line," Andover-Newton Quarterly, March, 1972 p. 199.
2. This is the approach of many of the liberation theologians. See, for example, Hugo Assmn, Theology for a Nomad Church (New York: Orbis, 1976), pp. 54-55; Bonino, pp. 61-83; Fiorenza, "Feminist Theology," pp. 30-44; Moltmann, pp. 103-105; Segundo, pp. 120-122. The difficulties some liberation theologians exhibit in understanding scripture are pointed out by John Howard Yoder, "Exodus," Sojourners, 5, 7 (September 1976) pp. 26-29, and Stanley Hauerwas, "The Politics of Charity," Interpretation, 31, 3 (1977) pp. 252-262. Liberation theology is often used as a basis for feminist thinking.
3. Wahlberg, p. 103.
4. J. M. Ford, "Tongues-Leadership-Women," p. 195.
5. Devor, p. 368.
6. M. Daly, The Church and the Second Sex, p. 39.
7. J. M. Ford, p. 195.
8. Devor, pp. 378, 379, 381.
9. Van der Meer, p. 45.
10. For an example of systematic evaluation of the worth of scriptural teaching on the basis of the "cultural setting" of the New Testament, see Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, "Understanding God's Revealed Word," Catholic Charismatic 1, 6 (Feb./Mar. 1977), p. 7.
11. This approach is taken by Jewett, Man as Male and Female, pp. 111-147, and V. Mollenkott, "Women and the Bible," pp. 20-25.
12. M. Daly, The Church and the Second Sex, pp. 41-42.
13. This is a noticeable feature of much contemporary Christian literature. Some, for example, Robin Scroggs, in "Tradition, Freedom and the Abyss," pp. 94-95, simply equate the "insights" of contemporary culture with the truth and baptize them as "Christian." The liberation theologians rally around the revolutionary praxis, while others take as their starting point the Western notion of personal freedom, or the doctrine of this or that psychological theory. In all of these, the search for a new foundation is generated by the inability to ground one's Christianity in scripture as the authoritative word of God.
14. For the same point well made from the perspective of a literary critic, see C. S. Lewis, "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," in Christian Reflections, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1967), pp. 158, 161-166.
15. The Bultmannian attempt to arrive at the authentic
Christian message has been one of the most influential variants in recent
years. Bultmann approached this area with the presupposition that in scripture
we find not only the Spirit of God, but also "other spirits." The task,
then, is to ferret out what is genuine revelation from what is not. Bultmann
writes: ". . it is a matter not only of the relativity of the word, but
also the fact that no man-not even Paul-can always speak only from the
subject matter. Other spirits also come to expression through him than
the Spirit of Christ. Hence the criticism can never be radical enough."
("Karl Barth's Romerbrief in zweiter Auflage," ChrW 36 (1922), pp. 372f.,
cited in James M. Robinson, and John B. Cobb, The New Hermeneutic, II (New
York: Harper and Row, 1964), p. 31.
The search for a "canon within the canon" is part of the attempt to discover what is genuine revelation within the scripture and what is not. The "quest for the historical Jesus" is likewise a part of this attempt but, although more widely known, is only tangentially relevant to the issues in this book. The search for a "canon within the canon" is related to some traditional theological approaches which in fact and often in theory work with views of scripture which see parts of the scriptural material as more central than others. Luther's approach to justification by faith would be a particularly influential example here. Some of the moderate approaches to "the canon within the canon," like that of Dunn in Unity, pp. 374-376, seem close to such traditional approaches insofar as the accent is on certain parts of scripture having greater weight or centrality. Kasemann, on the other hand, in "Begriindet der neutestamentliche Kanon die Einheit der Kirche?" in Das Neue Testament als Kanon, ed. Ernst Kisemann (Gbttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1970) makes very explicit that the concern is to find a canon which is authoritative within the New Testament because, in his view, the various strands within the New Testament are too much at odds with one another to be a unified canon. Nonetheless, a gulf divides approaches like Dunn's from the traditional discussions because of the failure to accept the whole New Testament as authoritative and inspired. Barr's approach in The Bible in the Modern World (New York: Harper and Row, 1970) pp. 159-161, is only superficially closer, because of his inability to find a successful place for the inspiration of the whole canon. Brevard Childs in Biblical Theology in Crisis analyzes the shortcomings of these approaches very well (see especially p. 102).
16. There are other places where contradiction has been asserted, e.g., between Gn I and 2, between I Tm 2:1 and Rom 5:12-21, etc. The two major purported contradictions are between Jesus and Paul, and between Gal 3:28f and the rest of Paul's teaching. Some, like Devor, p. 380, see the contradictions even within one passage in Paul.
17. It would be difficult to overestimate the influence
of Hegel upon modern Christian thought. In bringing together the results
of modern philosophical reflection and Lutheran Christianity, he was able
to convince many Christian thinkers that the traditional distinctions between
the human and the divine, secular history and salvation history, etc.,
were no longer tenable. This was foundational for contemporary theological
Where Christianity saw itself as different from secular philosophy, Hegel understood this dialectical opposition as finally overcome in the aufgehoben. The result is a secular philosophy called "Christianity." Kierkegaard correctly assesses the effect of this maneuver in the following journal entry:
The greater honesty in even the most bitter attacks of an earlier age upon Christianity was that the essentially Christian was fairly well allowed to remain intact.On Hegel's understanding of Christianity see, Stephen Crites, In the Twilight of Christendom (Chambersburg, Pa.: American Academy of Religion, 1972) pp. 35-57; Stephen Crites, "The Gospel According to Hegel," The Journal of Religion 46 (1966), pp. 246-263; and Emil L. Fackenheim, The Religious Dimension in Hegel's Thought (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1967).
The danger in Hegel was that he altered Christianity-and thereby achieved agreement with his philosophy.
In general it is characteristic of an age of reason not to let the task remain intact and say: No-but to alter the task and then say: Yes, of course, we are agreed.
The hypocrisy of reason is infinitely treacherous. That is why it is so difficult to take aim. (X4 A429, nd 1851)
18. The analytical, oppositional tendency has prevailed since the advent of the historical-critical method and is dominant today The Biblical Theology movement, with its concern for the unity of the New Testament, has been perhaps the major exception to this statement.
19. As was noted above, the principle of understanding some parts of scripture by means of other parts of scripture is a good Christian principle. Traditional interpretation of the Old Testament, for instance, relies on interpreting it by means of the New Testament. However, it is unacceptable for Christians to eliminate the authority of one New Testament passage by pitting it against another.
20. Throughout this book it has been necessary to stress the difference between two perspectives. The perspective of a Christian who believes the New Testament to be the inspired word of God is different from someone who does not believe this. Most scripture scholarship is written from the perspective of someone who is not a Christian, even when it is written by Christians. The criteria are different when using the two perspectives. The question of how to deal with what one perceives as discrepancies or contradictions is another example of a place where the two perspectives come in. When one is looking at the scripture from the perspective of someone who has no faith, or when one is arguing for the reliability of scripture to those who have no faith, it is impossible to begin with the principle of the unity of scripture or with the view that there cannot be contradictions. The substantial unity of scripture, or the harmony of scripture, is exactly what must be proved. On the other hand, that does not mean that someone arguing for the reliability of scripture has to actually handle all discrepancies or dismiss scripture. There is such a thing as making too good a case. From the apologetic point of view, it is enough to establish the substantial unity and harmony of scripture to establish its reliability. The demand to handle all difficulties is an unreasonable demand, especially in view of the incompleteness of historical evidence for the scriptural period.
21. The concern of this discussion is with places where
the New Testament intends to teach us. Other areas where contradictions
or discrepancies may seem to arise-such as discrepancies of historical
fact-are not included in this discussion.
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