Biblical Theology is a subject which has received insufficient attention in recent years, in part due to the over-specialization of scholarly work in the last several decades. Very few scholars operate at a scholarly level with the whole of the Christian canon. In this essay I talk both about the proper methodology to do a Biblical Theology, dividing it into a discussion of the God who is the center of the biblical symbolic universe (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) followed by the narrative thought worlds of the OT and NT, and in turn followed by an examination of the theologizing that was done out of these thought worlds and into particular contexts. What is notable is the increasingly Trinitarian nature of the canon after the Christ event, hence the subtitle of my recent monograph on biblical theology—The Convergence of the Canon.
Clement of Alexandria read and interpreted scripture theologically, doing so principally to encourage his fellow Christians who are capable of this to be formed as mature, complete or perfect(ed) persons of faith whom he calls true Gnostics, true knowers. In so calling them he works against the practice of almost all his contemporary Christian thinkers who reserve such language for those they deem heretics. For Clement the true Gnostic is then the mature, perfect (as complete) person of faith who exhibits certain qualities, among which a freedom from passions (apatheia) is a prime example. In the seventh book of his Stromateis (Miscellenanies) he exegetes 1 Corinthians 6:1–17 and in doing so points to the personal qualities, indicative of the true Gnostic, suggested there. These include perfection or completeness, impassibility, a capacity to forgive a wrong done to oneself as the capacity to actually not-remember grievances, and a likeness to God, and which demonstrate a person truly “having been formed by the Lord’s teaching.”
By tracing the use of the word raʿ through the narrative bookends of Job, the reader is immersed in Job’s reversal of fortunes and invited thereby to consider how one might rightly respond to such afflictions. In one sense, Job accuses God directly for his plight. And yet, like other OT narratives, the book of Job does not conclude with an expression of divine culpability, but rather with a narrative conclusion that sets Job’s ultimate response in stark contrast to his initial characterization. For reading communities afflicted by evil, those responsible for the final form of the book were evidently more interested in providing resources for spiritual formation than determining where to posit blame.
This essay traces the interpretive trajectory of John 19:28 from the Patristic period into modernity, focusing especially on its spiritual and ethical importance for Mother Teresa of Kolkata. Linking the Johannine text with Matthew 25:31–46, Mother Teresa saw all forms of human abandonment as echoes of Jesus’ thirst on the cross, and her response was to quench his thirst for love through acts of loving attentiveness. By exploring the development of Mother Teresa’s journey with John 19:28, this chapter shows how individuals and Christian tradition itself gets spiritually formed through contemplative engagement with Scripture, and it also distils principles around the reading of Scripture for spiritual formation.
This essay presents a rendering of Augustine’s interpretation and application of Romans 5:5 as central to his case against Pelagius. As a statement in favor of divine grace over and against an appeal to works righteousness, the essay argues that Augustine engages Romans 5:5 to demonstrate that humanity’s greatest need is the transformation of their will, and God’s greatest solution is grace, which leads to more faithful moral action. Regarding moral formation and the theological interpretation of Scripture, Augustine’s use of Romans 5:5 to express moral transformation is best seen in letters written to two individuals (ep. 140 to Honoratus and ep. 145 to Anastasius) who had requested insight from Augustine on Christian life and practice. These letters provide much needed examples of Augustine’s thinking and application of his theology of grace against Pelagius. By highlighting these two examples from Augustine, readers will gain greater clarity on the relationship between the theological interpretation of Scripture and spiritual formation.
The primary aim is to expand the existing work on pneumatologically oriented ethics through engaging Aquinas’s theology of moral habituation. The contribution to this scholarly work has three aspects. First, it is shown that the fundamental theological principle undergirding Aquinas’s moral theory is the grace of the Spirit moving a believer to act for the good. Thomas understands the grace of the Holy Spirit primarily as a motive force. Here he employs Aristotle’s view of motion. The change from a readiness to do evil to a readiness to do the good is only possible because the Spirit energizes such a movement through sanctifying grace and auxilliary grace. The second aspect consists of highlighting the crucial role that the gifts of the Spirit play in relation to both grace and virtue in the theory. Third, the way in which Aquinas’s scripturally derived rule of faith shapes his thinking in this area is highlighted.
Recent New Testament scholarship has drawn attention to the importance of hospitality in the theology and practices of Jesus and the earliest Christians, especially in Luke-Acts. What has often been overlooked, however, is the relationship Luke-Acts maintains between hospitality and the Christological interpretation of Scripture. By closely analyzing three passages that depict this relationship (Luke 16:19–31, 24:13–35, and Acts 8:26–40), this chapter argues that Luke-Acts presents hospitality as an important presupposition for its Christological interpretation of Scripture. Building on this hermeneutic, it will then suggest how the church might better unite hospitality and scriptural interpretation in the on-going work of spiritual formation.
Latin American and Latino readers of the New Testament emphasize the role of the Spirit for moral formation in their interpretations of the book of Acts. René Padilla highlights the intersection between the doctrine of the Spirit and holistic mission. Dario López uncovers links between the work of the Spirit and social transformation. Pablo Richard’s reading of Acts develops pneumatology from a liberation theology perspective. Justo González interprets references to the Spirit in Acts in light of complex Latina/o realities in the United States. Their exegetical contributions have the potential to enrich the practice of theological interpretation of Scripture because they engage the New Testament from an explicitly ecclesial perspective.