Saturday, August 8, 2015 4:52 AM

Scholars and Throw Away Theology

Saturday, August 8, 2015 4:52 AM
Saturday, August 8, 2015 4:52 AM

Biblical scholarship has always suffered the most at the hands of scholar’s; scholars who in the pride of their own mind lose track of God’s eternal power. I found this quote in a preface by the author of a commentary on Acts. M. C. Parsons writes of an exchange that he had with another colleague. Notice the underlined portion of this quote. (The underline is my emphasis) How could a man of God, scholar or layman, make such a comment—throw away or not. God does not write any “worst theology”.

I have worked on Acts for more than twenty-five years, producing various articles and monographs, with a goal, eventually, of producing a full-length commentary. The actual writing of the commentary took place during the 2006–2007 academic year and was especially intense during the spring and summer of 2007, during which time I had a research leave. Taking up my post in a small cubicle in my university’s library, I spent eight or more hours each day engaging with and engaged by the narrative of Acts. My sustained experience with this portion of scripture has profoundly deepened my respect for the literary skills and theological vision of the author who produced it. That respect stands in contrast to the critical reception of Acts among those (perhaps many) who still view the Lukan corpus as the unwanted stepchild among the New Testament writings. That disregard was encapsulated for me in a throw-away comment by a colleague in the field, who, upon learning that I was writing a commentary on Acts, quipped: “You have the best story with the worst theology in the New Testament!” I must now register my strong disagreement with the latter part of this assessment; Luke’s literary skills in communicating his story are matched if not exceeded by the theological vision that undergirds that story. If this commentary in some small way makes that theological vision a bit more transparent to the modern reader, then it will have achieved my aspirations for it.[1]

God has a verse for this type of pride.

2 Ti 3:7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

[1] Parsons, M. C. (2008). Acts (pp. xiii–xiv). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

« back