This post follows from this one, and this one, in which I began sharing commentary on a post on the Logos Academic Blog. Here, a comment is made that appear context-less, so I would preface them here by saying that some (nay, many) serious believers tend to want to consider every possible source together, amassing “evidence” in a huge theological grain silo. Should Genesis, Romans, Ezekiel, John, and 1Thessalonians all use the word “world,” they would throw those uses in with Augustine and Calvin and Piper and others and say, “Now this is solid.” I demur. One text at a time, please.
Sean: The comments about systematic theology are wide off the mark. It is biblical theology (as a discipline, not as in “theology that is biblical,” which all should be) that tends more towards the atomistic–“e.g., I’m doing Pauline theology, therefore I will not look at the Synoptics to inform an answer.” It is systematics that, by definition, “ensures that we read the entire Bible together without separating corpora from each other,” whereas, most often, biblical theology does not.
Also, we systematic theologians will start taking the findings of biblical studies/biblical theology more seriously once you guys are able to reach a consensus about, well, anything. 😉
Me: What an entirely different perspective you bring. As for “atomistic,” I suppose the charge could be leveled at either perspective, depending on what one considers to be the “atoms.”
I would assert that the goal should be no means be to “read the entire Bible together without separating corpora from each other.” To do so, or even to hint at the supposed need or advisability of doing so, is to operate from within a particular viewpoint (worldview) regarding scripture. I reject that viewpoint, preferring to consider each document as it stood originally — as much as that is possible — and also to consider authorship and historical context, as appropriate. I have little interest in any text scholar’s studies being taken more seriously by a discipline appears to be built on extra-textual, historical constructs. Biblical studies, as a discipline, carries some subjectivity, to be sure (and some imagination and speculation may be valuable in any pursuit), but the worthy text scholars are guided by sound principles that hark back to the original (language and document and rhetoric and author), however indistinct the precise original may prove to be in a given case.
I have said the above in an effort not to influence you (there appears to be little chance of our influencing one another here) so much as to present to anyone less informed that there are (at least) two ways. Wherever text scholarship and any kind of theological pursuit are found in conflict, I choose biblical studies.
Finally, I will share what I consider the most substantial, worthy contribution from someone else on the original article.