Marquette Scripture Project

Theology is exegesis

The chief task of Christian theology is exegesis. The reason for that is devastatingly simple: ‘Jesus Christ as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture is the one Word of God.’ Theology is exegesis because its matter is Jesus Christ as he communicates himself through Holy Scripture. And so attention to Holy Scripture is not only a necessary but also – in a real sense – a sufficient condition for theology, because Scripture itself is not only necessary but also sufficient. One way of writing the history of modern theology would be to trace the sad fate of Scripture’s sufficiency and its reduction to merely necessary status. The counter to this is: exegesis, exegesis and exegesis. The task of exegesis is far too important to be devolved upon biblical technicians. But if modern theology demonstrates a failure on this score, it does not lie primarily on the part of the guild of biblical scholars, but on the part of dogmatic theologians, who have all too often abdicated responsibility for exegesis, and rested content with genres and modes of argument which have encouraged the conceptual takeover of the biblical gospel. Christian theology is properly evangelical, because it is generated by the gospel. But part of securing that evangelical character will be recovering a rhetoric for theology which simply lets Scripture be. Work on that task – which, in their different ways, Barth and Bonhoeffer also deemed theology’s central preoccupation – is scarcely begun.

– John Webster, “Reading the Bible: The Example of Barth and Bonhoeffer”


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This entry was posted on May 20, 2011 by in Exegesis.
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