Marquette Scripture Project



The first meetings of the Marquette Scripture Project took place as informal discussions in the hallways and lunchroom of the theology department at Marquette. At a certain point we realized that we ought to give a name and some structure to our frequent and sustained conversations on theological interpretation, and so the Marquette Scripture Project was born. The inspiration for our name comes from the Scripture Project that met at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ and produced the fine collection of essays in the book The Art of Reading Scripture (edited by Richard B. Hays and Ellen F. Davis, 2003).

We are a scholarly community that meets regularly to read and discuss Christian Scripture and its theological interpretation from an interdisciplinary perspective. We prioritize the study of the primary (biblical) texts, but also complement our reading, as beneficial, with secondary classical and formative texts addressing theological interpretation. In view of the Second Vatican Council’s affirmation of Scripture as the “soul of sacred theology,” we desire to deepen our understanding of the normative import of Holy Scripture across the disciplinary areas of biblical studies, historical theology, ethics and systematic theology. In the context of an ecclesiastically and religiously diverse theology department we view reading and reflecting on Scripture as a fundamental ecumenical activity. We do not assume the priority of any one model of interpretation, but we seek to cultivate a robust and critical conversation on the theological character of Scriptural interpretation across the boundaries of ecclesial tradition and academic specialization. The past ten years of academic theology have witnessed a burgeoning interest in the topics of theological interpretation and the history of exegesis. Yet in the flurry of new commentary series, academic journals and SBL groups, many basic questions related to the meaning and methods of theological interpretation remain unsettled. Our gathering is a “project” insofar as we see an opportunity to help clarify and shape this discussion. Yet aside from addressing important methodological issues we believe the activity of theological interpretation of Scripture to be the essence of what it means to do theology.

Research Questions
Some of the questions that guide this project are as follows:

  • What is theological interpretation? Does it have “methods”? If so what are they?
  • Is historical-critical interpretation of the Bible a form of theological interpretation? What is the relationship between theological exegesis and historical-critical exegesis?
  • What is the role of Scripture in ethics?  How do Christian practices and biblical interpretation inform, enrich and/or critique one another?
  • Is it possible to talk about the unity of Scripture in the light of modern biblical criticism? How should Christians read and interpret the Old Testament?
  • What can contemporary readers of the Bible learn from the history of pre-modern exegesis?
  • How should Christian beliefs and ecclesial commitments affect biblical exegesis?
  • What, concretely, does theological interpretation of Scripture look like?

Our Banner
The banner of the blog is deliberately focused on John 1:14 in order to indicate some of the commitments of the project.  Because, as the fourth evangelist says, “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” in a particular time and place, we are committed to careful historical study of the text.  At the same time, because it is the divine Word who became flesh, a Word who transcends time and space, these historically conditioned, incarnational texts continue to speak through the ages down to our own day.  The goal of this seminar is to integrate both these dimensions of the Scriptures so that, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, the study of the sacred page might once again become, “as it were, the soul of sacred theology.”

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