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Christian Theologies of Scripture: A Comparative Introduction

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Christian Theologies of Scripture: A Comparative Introduction [Paperback]

Justin S. Holcomb
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 2006 0814736661 978-0814736661 annotated edition

All religious traditions that ground themselves in texts must grapple with certain questions concerning the texts' authority. Yet there has been much debate within Christianity concerning the nature of scripture and how it should be understood—a debate that has gone on for centuries.

Christian Theologies of Scripture traces what the theological giants have said about scripture from the early days of Christianity until today. It incorporates diverse discussions about the nature of scripture, its authority, and its interpretation, providing a guide to the variety of views about the Bible throughout the Christian tradition.

Preeminent scholars including Michael S. Horton, Graham Ward, and Pamela Bright offer chapters on major figures in the pre-modern, reformation, and early modern eras, from Origen and Aquinas to Luther and Calvin to Barth and Balthasar. They illuminate each thinker's understanding of the Christian scriptures and their views on interpreting the Bible. The book also includes overview chapters to orient readers to the key questions regarding scripture in each era, as well as chapters on scripture and feminism, scripture in the African American Christian tradition, and scripture and postmodernism.

This volume will be indispensable reading for students and all those interested in the nature and authority of Christian scripture.

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Editorial Reviews


“This volume does what its title promises: it gives an introduction to Christian theologies of scripture, and it does so very well.”
-Religious Studies Review


“[I]t represents more than a collection of essays. It is a helpful, at times profound, mapping of Christians’ reflections on their Scriptures.”
-Choice, Recommended


“Provides a state-of-the-art introduction to how Christian theories of scriptural interpretation have been intimately bound up with beliefs about life with God, examining both the outlooks of movements and periods, and the contributions of great theologians. No one with an interest in theological exegesis of biblical hermeneutics can afford to miss this book.”
-David S. Yeago,Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

“What does it mean to call biblical writings the ‘word of God’? This fine collection of readable essays based on current research gives an excellent overview of Christians' answers to that question from the third century to the present and undermines widespread caricatures and over-simplifications.”
-David H. Kelsey,Yale Divinity School

About the Author

JUSTIN S. HOLCOMB is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology and philosophy at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and Emory University. Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press; annotated edition edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814736661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814736661
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and a professor of theology and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and Emory University. Justin holds an M.A. in Theological Studies and an M.A. in Christian Thought from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University. He serves on the boards for REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments).

Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clear and Concise Introduction April 30, 2006
Holcomb has gathered a brilliant group of essays which provide a rather useful introduction to the place of Holy Scripture in the thought of theologians and theological movements from the early church through the current day. A reader should not expect some sort of predetermined rubric as to the issues discussed in each essay. That is, the essays do not attack systematically questions such as "Did X view the Bible as the Word of God?" or "Did X view the Bible as inerrant?" and so on. But the essays are better off for that fact: though an introduction, this is not a book for simplistic thinkers, apologists, or culture warriors. Each essays begins on the broad canvas of each theologian or movement and merely highlights the place and, more importantly, the function of Scripture on that canvas.

Each reader's preference as to the best essays in the volume will largely be determined by his theological interest (early church, medieval, modern, etc.). I found with final section particularly satisfying, particularly Stephen Murphy's peice on Scripture in African American theology and spirituality.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to understand April 28, 2006
The most useful course during my time in seminary was The History of Christian Doctrine. Reading this book has brought back many memories of what I learned in that very detailed course. I recommend this book as a good overview of how scripture has been interpreted since the inception of the Christian Church. The individual chapters are more like introductions to their subjects but will wet your appetite to learn more. Whatever your view of scripture this book will challenge your thinking. My view of scripture fits mostly with those before the Neo Orthodox period but the chapters on Schleiermacher and Barth really caused me to think through my personal convictions regarding the Word of God. So if you have not grappled with the question of Authority and the Word of God, this would be a good place to start.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical April 29, 2006
This book was money and time well spent. We of the Christian faith usually fail to recognize that the way we read scripture at our point in place and time is not the only way it has been read. Indeed, many others in whom the Spirit dwells have read it differently. To understand those alternative readings of scripture is not to undermine the foundation of our faith, but to enrich it with the experience of those who have gone before. Well written enough for a finicky reader and objective enough for an armchair scholar. Some chapters could have been more comprehensive (e.g., the patristic era.) Any serious teacher of scripture, clergy or layman, should have this under their belt as essential background knowledge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mapping the Bible July 2, 2012
This collection of essays about the theology of scripture is a good source for summary and update in the mid-2000's of major points in Church History, Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies. Each chapter has a concise summary of the theologian and his work and times. We are adding this volume to our recommended reading for the Introduction to Theological Studies course. Dr. Justin Holcomb is now Executive Director of Resurgence, a pastor with Mars Hill Church and adjunct professor of Theology and Culture for RTS.

In his introduction to the book, Dr. Justin Holcomb, the editor, describes this exercise as a "mapping" of the different approaches in Christianity about how to understand the Bible. That is an excellent way to present the broad sweep of years and scholars. But the work turns out to be worshipful and helpful in thinking through better routines for Bible study and application to all of life.

In this survey, the approach is multi-faceted with these emphases: comparative, historical, applied and authentic. And it does arrive at "essential" practices for knowing Jesus and His Word better and better. Quite a trick given some of the heavy content and academic patterns, especially in the past 200 years. Even as a survey, the team of authors get to the best of the giants of the faith as well as some problems in each era of the church. Even with disagreement on material in the latter chapters about liberalism, it brings us the news, good and bad, from the sometime esoteric world of academic theology.

In his introduction to this first section, Lewis Ayers points out that the plain sense of the Word, the "perspicuity," is such a blessing for the Christian for the reliability and validity of the Bible.
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