Home > New Testament, Theology > The wall of separation between Biblical Studies and Theology

The wall of separation between Biblical Studies and Theology

I am told that there is a progression in theology among various related disciplines.  One takes the insights from the discipline above it, does it’s thing, and passes on its insights to the next discipline.  Generally it goes like this:

Biblical studies

Biblical theology

(Historical theology)

Systematic theology

Practical theology

Historical theology fits in there somewhere, but it doesn’t generally depend on advances in Biblical theology, even in theory.  That’s why I put it in parentheses.

The problem I have with this model is that I never see it practiced.  Um, pretty much ever.  A few, like N.T. Wright or Kevin Vanhoozer have noticed the problem and lamented.  Wright writes popular level theology books.  Vanhoozer edited a dictionary.  But what I mean is, doesn’t it seem like theologians ought to spend all their time reading New Testament theology rather than other systematic theologians?  Shouldn’t they be interacting with biblical scholars and synthesizing their conclusions into a cohesive picture for the church? Likewise, shouldn’t biblical scholars attempt to hand their conclusions on to the theologians?

One difference, I suppose, is that biblical studies can be pursued as a secular discipline; systematic theology cannot.  But for almost all of us, the reason we even care about biblical studies is because of the bearing it can have on the church.  Why are we not doing more to make that a reality?

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Categories: New Testament, Theology
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