Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Interlude for a Book Note

Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch. John Webster. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 152 pp.

This slim volume in CUP's new series, Current Issues in Theology, pleads for reconsideration of the locus on Scripture. Webster here augments previous work on the canon with straightforward proposal of the Bible's role in the Triune God's economy of salvation. Here Webster shows that sketches of biblical authority and the canon carry with them implicit ecclesiologies and theories of divine action. Webster himself modifies Barth's significant discussion of biblical theology in Church Dogmatics I/2 by expanding and discussing the role of tradition and the act of reading. Webster goes beyond the British Isles to engage the proposals of Robert W. Jenson as well as Eilert Herms and many in between. But such asides are confined to the notes. All in all, I found an excellent and provocative study that argues for Scripture's authority as antecedent to the Church's hearing. Yet, like Barth, I continued to wonder at the constant refusal to see the word of God hidden under the human actions and speeches that constitute the Church. Webster, after all, proposes a Reformed view here and such a view always seems to pleasure in what is often called Chalcedonian distinctions that see human and divine together but without confusion. I look forward to re-reading this book and enaging it in my own work on this matter. It does come from that Reformed view but follows Barth's own proposal for the okumene.

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