On Twitter yesterday I made an observation followed by a question. I said that Paul Griffiths' Decreation is, in my view, the most thought-provoking,
stimulating, exhilarating work of systematic theology written since the
first volume of Robert Jenson's systematics was published in 1997.
Then I asked: What are other plausible candidates from, say, the last two decades?
I thought of half a dozen off the top of my head, then started adding others' replies to the list. See the (lightly curated) resulting list below.
A few preliminary comments, though. First, everything on the list was published (for the first time) in 1998 or later. That's arbitrary, but then, all lists are; that's what makes them fun.
Second, your mileage may vary, as mine does; I think some of these books are in a league of their own compared so some of the others. But I've tried to be broader than just my own preferences.
Third, candidates for this list are works of Christian systematic theo…
Over the last few semesters, teaching both upper-level Bible majors, most of whom plan on going into some kind of formal ministry, and freshman non-majors, who are required to take a sequence of two courses on the New Testament, I've noticed a number of assumptions shared among them. My students are by and large low-church Texans: non-denominational evangelicals, Baptists, Church of Christ-ers, and the like. They are diverse in terms of race and ethnicity and socioeconomic background, but quite similar in terms of ecclesial and theological identity and commitments.
By the end of last year I realized there were two primary "isms"—but let's call them theological demons—I was implicitly seeking to exorcise in class: biblicism and Marcionism (or supersessionism). Upon reflection, as I plan to teach some upper-level majors this semester in their one and only Theology course before graduation (it all comes down to me!), I realized I have a lot more theological demons in vi…
For some time now I have been convinced that the issue at the root of all conversation and controversy regarding historical criticism and theological interpretation of the Bible is anachronism. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to write an article on the topic in the next year or two; I've touched on the theme in a paragraph or two in a couple of articles already, but it deserves a treatment unto itself. Until then, let me use Wesley Hill's wonderful book Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters as an occasion to discuss what's at play here.
Programmatically: The fundamental hermeneutical first principle of self-consciously historical-critical study of the Bible is that such study must avoid anachronism. Two hermeneutical values underlie or spin off this principle: on the one hand, what makes any reading good is whether it is properly historical; therefore, on the other hand, all reading of the Bible ought to avoid anachronism—or to say the sa…