“The single-plan-through-Israel-for-the-world was called into being by God as the means of addressing and solving the plight of the whole world. The ‘covenant’ in my shorthand, is not something other than God’s determination to deal with evil once and for all and so put the whole creation (and human kind with it) right at last. When will this become clear to the geocentrists? Dealing with sin, saving humans from it, giving them grace, forgiveness, justification, glorification- all this was the purpose of the single covenant from the beginning, now fulfilled in Jesus.” 74 Justification: God’s Plan, Paul’s Vision by Tom Wright (N. T. Wright)
Again this highlights how the bulk of biblical narrative has been somewhat ignored by Christians and even bible teachers. There is no adequate understanding of why God called Abraham and through him the nation of Israel. Without this crucial dimension, biblical understanding will always have the element of premature birth, where there is a sense of malnutrition a state.
At times I think this is largely due to people (seminary students especially, and pastors) reading the bible being largely influenced by systematic theology. Systematic theology largely deals with principles and implications that are collected form various passages of the bible and it ends up being called doctrine or teaching. For example the doctrine/ teaching of God. Normally disciplines such as historical and cultural context of texts are largely ignored.
One of my lecturers (teaching hermeneutics) also made a comment on the parody of systematic theology. First year seminary students jumped into the bandwagon of learning systematic theology without having ‘proper’ hermeneutical understanding of the text.
So my thoughts on the this particular problem (the parody of reading the bible bent on systematic theology) is to see if there is a possibility of meshing up systematic theology and biblical exegesis together. I’m not saying that we simply throw away systematic theology, after all, personally I have been shaped well by the discipline of systematic theology.
My point here is to state that we need both. Both play integral parts to helping us understand the bible. One needs the grand overview of doctrinal teachings as well as the contextualized consideration of passages in the bible. I’m not sure if anyone has taken the time to look into detail in all this exhaustively. I do know of some books that deal with the subject.
It would be interesting to see, in the future both these disciplines would be treated as one. Now that would be something.