Item description for Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Current Issues in Theology) by John Webster...
Overview May we speak, in the present age, of Holy Scripture? And what validation of that claim can be offered, robust enough to hold good for both religious practice and intellectual enquiry? John Webster argues that while any understanding of scripture must subject it to proper textual and historical interrogation, it is necessary at the same time to acknowledge the special character of scriptural writing. His book is an exercise in Christian dogmatics, a loud reaffirmation of the triune God at the heart of a scripture-based Christianity. But it is written with intellectual rigor by a theologian who understands the currents of modern secular thought and is able to work from them towards a constructive position on biblical authority. It will resonate with anyone who has wondered or worried about the grounds on which we may validly regard the Bible as God's direct communication with humanity.
Publishers Description May we speak, in the present age, of holy scripture? And what validation of that claim can be offered, robust enough to hold good for both religious practice and intellectual enquiry? John Webster argues that while any understanding of scripture must subject it to proper textual and historical interrogation, it is necessary at the same time to acknowledge the special character of scriptural writing. His book is an exercise in Christian dogmatics, a loud reaffirmation of the triune God at the heart of a scripture-based Christianity. But it is written with intellectual rigour by a theologian who understands the currents of modern secular thought and is able to work from them towards a constructive position on biblical authority. It will resonate with anyone who has wondered or worried about the grounds on which we may validly regard the Bible as God's direct communication with humanity.
Citations And Professional Reviews Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Current Issues in Theology) by John Webster has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Christian Century - 10/19/2004 page 33
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Studio: Cambridge University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.48 lbs.
Release Date Nov 10, 2003
Publisher Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521538467 ISBN13 9780521538466
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More About John Webster
John Webster is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen. His published work includes a number of books on the theology of Karl Barth, on the nature and interpretation of Scripture, and on Christian dogmatics, including Confessing God. He edited The Oxford Handbook to Systematic Theology, and is an editor of The International Journal of Systematic Theology. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
John Webster has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Current Issues in Theology)?
read this book on-line Feb 10, 2008
Since I needed to read this book before it arrived (I live overseas), I paid extra to read it full text online. It is not a smooth process. Slow and sometimes the pages do not load right away. Must be a better way. I think I would enjoy the book more in print and after discussing it in class, I plan to go back to it now.
Brilliant, engaging, and inspired Mar 31, 2006
This little book is not a light read. Webster writes at a high level of discourse and assumes the reader is familiar with theological terms and developments. As a masters level student, I read this at the tail end of my first year and still felt I was only grazing the surface. Webster is particular with his word usage, serving the purpose of delivering a very punctual, direct message. He uses terms that require industry specific familiarity, nearly to the scholar's level. It is not enough to look up the unfamiliar words in a dictionary, as the words are nuanced according to current-day use. That said, John Webster was certainly targeting his scholarly peers with this book. It is fascinating and brilliant. He addresses the both the liberal and fundamentalist position over scripture as arrogant and overstepping the authority given to the church by God. The main thrust is that the church should come before God on its knees in humility, instead of "lording" over the Scriptures. The church should not act like God, thus "limiting" God. It should not claim to know things it can not know. The church should not worship its own authority, but allow God to continually make and rebreak it, to continue to allow God's truth to speak... Jesus upholds the church, just as he upholds the individual believer. The church never "arrives", never has it all figured out. God's revelation has not stopped. The Scriptures are not God's Word without the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it is just a book. The Holy Spirit is required for truth from the Scriptures to be grasped. This is because God's revelation is being continually revealed to us. The Scriptures are living and breathing and powerful because of the HS. We should be open to God's leading. We can not read the Bible and force our interpretation on the Bible. Instead, we should approach it with humility before God and wait for him to reveal it to us. We should maintain our understanding of it in humility. Neither the individual nor the church is ever an authority over the Scriptures. The Scriptures are in continued authority over the church, and with the HS will reshape the church over and over, perserving truth. This is much like how walking with God is a faith proposition. To try to define it and box it up, or to create a list of rules and say "this is walking with God" is to miss the point. The church must do the very same thing with regard to the scriptures.
Above head-height Apr 14, 2005
I really should downgrade the original 2-star rating as per my former comment below. But I'll leave it.
I quit trying to read this book. I have offered it to a Pastor friend of mine with the challenge of reading AND understanding what it is that Webster is attempting to say. And I say, 'happy trails'. Not me. Waste of my money and time.
My 2-star rating was simply a preliminary to approach my comment.
Although I am only 20 or so pages into this book I am already disconcerted. I have had to re-read passages to attempt to grasp Webster's point.
What is the point of phrasing a book in such a way that it is severely restrictive in readership. Already, before even touching on content, the application is narrowed, for not many can go there. It requires a highfalutin vocabulary, probably available only to graduate and post-graduate theological/philosophical minds.
I have read 'theological' books for some time, and enjoy (and am quite interested in, from a 'what's going on?' perspective) the current discussions on interpreting Scripture. Webster's approach, according to the write-up, was particularly attractive to me, as I stand squarely on the Divine source and His intention to be understood at all levels.
I will wade through this one for that reason. But .. wow!
Brilliant! Nov 26, 2003
Hurray! At last a robustly trinitarian and systematic account of Scripture! Webster lays out succinctly, and with refreshing clarity, a doctrine of Scripture in terms of the doctrines of God (chapter 1), the church (chapter 2), and salvation (chapter 3), and then turns, in the final chapter, to a consideration of the role of Scripture in the task of theology. Rejecting critical detachment from his subject, refusing distraction by debates in modern hermeneutics, and setting aside even such pertinent issues as Scripture's relation to tradition and proclamation, Webster has written an urgent and focused account of the nature of Scripture and its role in the economy of grace.
Chapter 1, `Revelation, sanctification and inspiration'. Webster argues that a doctrine of Holy Scripture must be based on a prior account of divine communicative activity; everything to be said about Holy Scripture must be `subservient to the self-presentation of the triune God' (6). Webster then describes this self-presentation in terms of revelation, sanctification, and inspiration. Revelation is `the life-giving and loving presence of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Spirit's power among the worshipping and witnessing community' (12). `The "sanctification" of Scripture (its "holiness") and its "inspiration" (its proceeding from God) are aspects of the process whereby God employs creaturely reality in his service' (8-9). Speaking of Scripture in terms of these three particular aspects of divine communicative activity preserves the priority of divine action, what Webster calls `proper dogmatic order'. Particularly helpful are Webster's explanation of his choice of the term `sanctification' to depict God's use of Scripture, along with his critique of descriptions of Scripture as divine accommodation, as analogous to the hypostatic union, as testimony, as a means of grace, and as taking `servant form' (Berkouwer).
Chapter 2, `Scripture, church and canon'. Where God is communicatively present, says Webster, there also is the church. The church, therefore, is rightly described as the `creature of the word', and so a doctrine of Scripture must also address Scripture's relationship to the church. According to Webster, `The definitive act of the church is faithful hearing of the gospel of salvation announced by the risen Christ in the Spirit's power through the service of Holy Scripture' (44). Webster then offers suggestive sketches of the visibility and apostolicity of the church, Scripture's authority within the church (`its Spirit-bestowed capacity to quicken the church to truthful speech and righteous action' (52)), and the church's act of canonisation.
Chapter 3, `Reading in the economy of grace'. What then does God's communicative presence, within the communion of the church, achieve in the individual reader of Scripture? In this deeply moving, even devotional, chapter, interwoven with seasoned advice from the likes of Calov, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, and Zwingli, Webster portrays the act of reading Scripture as `an instance of the fundamental pattern of all Christian existence, which is dying and rising with Jesus Christ through the purging and quickening power of the Holy Spirit. Reading Scripture is thus best understood as an aspect of mortification and vivification: to read Scripture is to be slain and made alive' (88).
Chapter 4, `Scripture, theology and the theological school'. The `Current Issues in Theology' series to which this book belongs is intended for `upper-undergraduates and graduate students of theology, as well as...Christian teachers and church professionals'. It is appropriate, then, that the one particular, non-dogmatic issue Webster chooses to address is the role of Scripture in the theological tasks of formulating doctrine, catechesis, and training church leaders. Taking his cue this time from Ursinus, Webster argues that theology, in all its tasks, is `a simple sketch or outline of the different parts of Christian teaching with an eye to their scope and interrelations. There is no organising principle,...and no interest in defence or apologetic commendation: the aim is simple summary description' (113). Theology, therefore, is `not a set of improvements on Scripture', but is rather `most properly an invitation to read and reread Scripture, to hear and be caught up by Scripture's challenge to a repentant, non-manipulative heeding of God's Word' (130). Webster then concludes this extraordinary account of Scripture with Calvin's `Jeremiah' prayer and a poignant appeal from Augustine's sermons on the Gospel of John.