What Hath Biblical Exegesis to do with Theology?

We must make a case for our theological constructs from sound exegesis of Scripture, but we must dialectically come to sound exegesis of Scripture within Scripture’s own context and ontology. In other words, sometimes what appears to be ‘self-evident’ to the exegete from Scripture might not be if the exegete has not first critically attended to prior theological and/or hermeneutical issues that either are plaguing or enhancing their exegetical projects. In other words, to simply appeal to ‘straightforward’ exegesis in support of one’s theological conclusions usually ends up being an exercise in tautologous circularity. Douglas Campbell helps establish my point when he writes this in regard to interpreting the Pauline corpus in particular (but de jure it applies to interpreting Scripture in general):

[M]oreover, we can all now also be more presuppositionally self-aware, and our conversation more hermeneutically sophisticated, confident in the realization that this does not entail interpretive relativism. We must be more honest at times about what we are bringing to the text — our hopes and fears. But we also need to trust the text to resist any false impositions (and our interpretive traditions and communities will of course assist us at this point). A broader and more complex interpretative conversation should ensue, involving theology, hermeneutics, church history, and modern philosophical and political history, in addition to the standard New Testament discussions of provenance and meaning. And the latter should also be a more integrated conversation. Reading Romans involves more than mere exegesis; it must included distinguishable issues of argumentation, theological coherence, and presuppositional influence as well. Only when these are included does our interpretative process hold out the prospects of genuine insight and progress. [Douglas A. Campbell, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 936.]

In other words in order to discount certain theological conclusions or formal positions, we must do more than simply appeal to facile exegesis or readings of the text of Scripture. On the face of things, depending on the rhetoric used, our exegesis might ‘sound’ sophisticated and strident (even incorrigible); but, in principle, on further review, it may well not be.

I know this post is speaking in generalities, but I have something specific in mind; something that I will have to detail at a later date.

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