Great post, Mike (on the definition of BT), I like Rosner’s definition. It is interesting, in light of developments since that definition was published, that the first two words you cite are “Theological Interpretation.” The developments I’m thinking of are the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible and Daniel J. Treier’s recent book Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture.
In a footnote in the introductory chapter of a book I’m working on [Lord willing, my book on the center of biblical theology will appear in the fall of 2010–please pray for me!], I briefly interact with Treier’s fivefold typology of ways to relate biblical theology to theological interpretation of Scripture.
Here is part of that footnote:
Daniel J. Treier has presented a “fivefold typology of ways to relate” biblical theology to “theological interpretation of Scripture,” and it seems to me that most evangelical biblical theologians would see themselves as occupying both Treier’s second and fourth categories—believing biblical theology that is both historical (category two) and literary (category four). Treier understands himself and “theological interpretation of Scripture” to be in the third category. Treier concedes that D. A. Carson, his example of someone who belongs in category two with its historical emphasis, has balanced his approach with more literary sensitivity, which Treier says belongs to category four (Daniel J. Treier, “Biblical Theology and/or Theological Interpretation of Scripture?” SJT 61 , 16–31, the note on Carson is on p. 26 n. 24). Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that a historical emphasis prevailed among evangelicals in the twentieth century, with more and more attention being given to literary/narrative features near the end of the millennium and at the beginning of the twenty first century.
Note: Treier does not claim that theological interpretation of Scripture is the perfect balance of literature and history. . . I am responding to aspects of his categories not reproducing them.
A question regarding the relationship between theological interpretation of Scripture and biblical theology:
In the essay noted above, Treier writes (30): “The process of a biblical theology discipline . . . will involve a more historically and literarily focused approach, whereas the process of a systematic theology (or interdisciplinary theological interpretation of scripture programme) will involve a more literarily and philosophically focused approach.” It thus seems that Treier understands biblical theology as starting from history and exegesis and moving toward whole Bible, Christian theology (at least for evangelicals), while theological interpretation of Scripture starts from literature, philosophy (and perhaps historically orthodox systematic theology) and moves toward whole Bible, Christian theology. Is this an accurate way to think of these two programs (BT and th. int. of Scrptr): that both are, in a sense, moving in the same direction from different starting points?