What role do varied understandings of the church play in the doctrine and interpretation of Scripture?
In The Church’s Book, Brad East explores recent accounts of the Bible and its exegesis in modern theology and traces the differences made by divergent, and sometimes opposed, theological accounts of the church. Surveying first the work of Karl Barth, then that of John Webster, Robert Jenson, and John Howard Yoder (following an excursus on interpreting Yoder’s work in light of his abuse), East delineates the distinct understandings of Scripture embedded in the different traditions that these notable scholars represent. In doing so, he offers new insight into the current impasse between Christians in their understandings of Scripture—one determined far less by hermeneutical approaches than by ecclesiological disagreements.
East’s study is especially significant amid the current prominence of the theological interpretation of Scripture, which broadly assumes that the Bible ought to be read in a way that foregrounds confessional convictions and interests. As East discusses in the introduction to his book, that approach to Scripture cannot be separated from questions of ecclesiology—in other words, how we interpret the Bible theologically is dependent upon the context in which we interpret it.
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Brad East is associate professor of theology at Abilene Christian University. He is also the author of The Church: A Guide to the People of God, The Church’s Book: Theology of Scripture in Ecclesial Context, and The Doctrine of Scripture. His essays have been published in numerous academic journals as well as The Christian Century, Christianity Today, Commonweal, First Things, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point, and more.