Henry’s Christmas List #1

My first suggestion is a gift for the theologians on your Christmas list. It’s Herold Weiss’s book Meditations on According to John: Exercises in Biblical Theology.

My key reason for putting this one on my list of Christmas suggestions is that it demonstrates the practice of biblical theology. There is sometimes a great gulf fixed between biblical studies and theology. The two disciplines take different approaches. But at some time we’re going to come to theology, even when our primary emphasis is on the more detail interpretation of scriptural passages, and if we start from theology, we’re eventually going to get to the nuts and bolts. Biblical theology stands between these points — looking at the theology expressed by a biblical passage, book, or writer.

One of the things that troubled me in my own biblical and theological education was that I was so often taught endpoints and conclusions, and spent so little time learning how those conclusions were reached. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not the fault of my professors: There simply isn’t time to take every conclusion apart down to the ground and study how to build it again.

What Herold Weiss has done in this book is demonstrate how one can study a book of the Bible, looking for theological indicators. Underlying this is a great deal of historical, literary, and linguistic study. At some point after, you’ll get to systematic theology. But right here, you’ll watch as the later structure begins to take place.

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