When I lived in Massachusetts, my wife and I would go to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra once in a while. I like music as much as the next person, but I did not have enough technical knowledge of music theory and composition to really appreciate what was going on in each concert. It happened, though, that prior to the concert, on one particular evening, the conductor offered to give a lecture before the concert where he would help to pre-guide novice listeners to the concert. He offered behind-the-scenes sorts of tips. He helped us to fine tune our ears to hear the details. Essentially, he gave enough information to enrich our understanding.
Imagine if someone could do this for SBL for you….
In comes Stephen Fowl. The Wipf & Stock (Cascade Series) Theological Interpretation of Scripture ‘companion’ does this sort of thing that the conductor did for the beautiful but complex symphony. As a ‘companion’ at the party of scholars discussing ‘theological interpretation of Scripture’ (TIS), Fowl is a skilled and eloquent guide.
The ‘party’ metaphor is one that Fowl uses throughout the book. He treats the book as a friendly introduction to a gathering of bible and theology scholars who have been debating and discussing an important issue. In about 100 pages, Fowl masterfully succeeds in giving the tyro a succint and useful lay of the land.
In the first chapter, Fowl gives a view of Scripture itself and how Christians are meant to interact with it and what role it plays in ‘God’s drama of salvation’. Then Fowl moves on to define how TIS is related to various other critical matters. Thirdly, Fowl highlights certain ‘practices’ and ‘habits’ of TIS. Finally, he briefly considers the ‘prospects’ for the future. The book closes with a short set of profiles of the other ‘guests’ at the TIS party.
A more detailed interaction with Fowl’s book will follow in other posts. For now, let me say that this was a delight to read. I had lunch with Fowl last year at SBL and he is a humble and wise scholar. His Philippians commentary (Two Horizons) was a great inspiration to me and I was also not disappointed at all with this book. This is another great volume in what looks to be a very promising series from Wipf & Stock.