Should Biblical studies continue to exclude theological concerns from its agenda? What is the real significance of the new literary, canonical and feminist approaches that have established themselves as alternatives to the conventional historical-critical methodologies? These are question of crucial importance for contemporary Biblical studies. Francis Watson contends that the new approaches make it possible to rethink the relationship of Biblical studies to Christian theology. If interpretation is determined in part by the perspective of the interpreter, then it no longer makes sense to insist that historical questions about the test’s origins must always be given priority over explorations of its theological potential.
Indeed, given that the primary location of the Biblical text is the Christian community, the object of investigations must be the Biblical text in its final, canonical form. Historical questions about its circumstances of origin are less significant than its role in furthering the process of theological and hermeneutical thought. Watson therefore engages critically with the work of, for example, Barth, Childs, Derrida, Frei, Lindbeck, McFadyen and Schussler Fiorenza. He also offers examples of a Biblical interpretation that gives precedence to theological concerns, drawing on texts from both Old and New Testaments. The outcome is a major challenge to the fundamental methodological assumptions of historical-critical Biblical scholarship.
Francis Watson is Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen and was formerly Reader in Biblical Theology, King's College London. Previous publications include Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles, Text, Church and World, Text and Truth and Agape, Eros, Gender.