The Bible is made up of a library of books that came into existence over hundreds of years. Biblical hermeneutics asks how we can approach and interpret this inspired corpus to hear God’s address today.
A Brief History
The first of The Scripture and Hermeneutics consultations took place in Cheltenham in April 1998. The theme for this meeting was the crisis in biblical interpretation and the sort of answers to it being proposed by advocates of speech act theory such as Anthony Thiselton, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Kevin Vanhoozer, all of whom were present. We were not agreed at this consultation whether speech act theory has the resources to take biblical interpretation forward, but it became clear that any attempt to renew biblical interpretation in the academy would require a process with multiple consultations to address the key areas we thought required attention.
Thus was born The Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, a project based in Theology and Religious Studies at The University of Gloucestershire, where it was headed up by Craig Bartholomew. Our second consultation was held in September 1999 at Selwyn College, Cambridge, at which Prof Brevard Childs and Prof Walter Brueggemann were present. The theme of that consultation was the crisis in biblical interpretation. Not all of us were agreed that there was a crisis but we all agreed that a renewal of biblical interpretation was urgent, hence the title of the first volume, Renewing Biblical Interpretation.
From 1998 – 2008 the Seminar was a partnership project between British and Foreign Bible Society and The University of Gloucestershire. Later in the process Baylor University and Redeemer University College joined in the venture as partners. In its first phase the Seminar identified eight topics that required attention and each year for eight years it organised an international, interdisciplinary seminar somewhere in the world to address one of these key issues. A volume in the Scripture and Hermeneutics Series (Paternoster and Zondervan) emerging from each consultation was published each year (volumes). The final volume in the Series, The Bible and the University, was published in 2007.
Since the completion of its initial eight volume series SAHS has continued to publish, producing Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Eerdmans), edited by Craig G Bartholomew and David Beldman, and in 2016 A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation (Baker Academic) appeared, edited by Craig Bartholomew and Heath Thomas.
In 2016 and 2017 SAHS focused on the theme of the kingdom of God. In 2018 it engaged in a dialogue with Jeremiah Unterman’s Justice For All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics (Philadelphia: JPS, 2017), an important new work on the ethics of the Hebrew Bible.
In 2019 the topic of SAHS was “A Critical Engagement with Oliver O’Donovan’s ‘Ethics As Theology’ Trilogy”, building out from the 2002 SAHS volume: A Royal Priesthood? The Use of the Bible Ethically and Politically. A Dialogue with Oliver O’Donovan (Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, Volume 3). That volume engaged O’Donovan’s Desire of the Nations. A stellar group of scholars from multiple disciplines revisited and engaged O’Donovan’s ongoing work in a review panel, especially his recent “Ethics as Theology” Trilogy (Self, World and Time; Finding and Seeking; Entering into Rest), with the aim of exploring some new trajectories in contemporary Christian Ethics.
The 2019 programme was as follows:
Introduction: Heath Thomas, Oklahoma Baptist University (5 min)
Ian Clausen, Villanova University, Panelist (15 min)
Craig Bartholomew, Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (Cambridge), Panelist (15 min)
Kristen Deede Johnson, Western Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Break (15 min)
Matthew Arbo, Oklahoma Baptist University , Panelist (15 min)
Amber Bowen, Trinity College, Bristol (UK) , Panelist (15 min)
Discussion (35 min)
Closing: William Olhausen, Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Member (5 min)
Committee: Dr. Heath Thomas (Oklahoma Baptist University); Dr. David Beldman (Redeemer University College); Dr. A.J. Culp (Malyon College, Australia); Dr. Matthew Emmerson (Oklahoma Baptist University); Revd. Dr. William Olhausen (Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin); Luke Wisely (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge).
Contact details: Heath Thomas email@example.com