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Beyond the Bible

Moving from Scripture to Theology

series: Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology

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"Marshall offers a vigorous engagement with interpretive rules and procedures of special concern to 'evangelical' interpreters of the Bible."--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

Applying scriptural insight to contemporary issues is one of the most important, yet most difficult, tasks that the church faces. The Bible, though written long ago, can speak authoritatively to contemporary ethical, doctrinal, and practical issues. Respected author I. Howard Marshall offers guidance for this perennial task in Beyond the Bible.

Using a "principled approach," Marshall moves from Scripture itself to contemporary understanding and application of Scripture. He examines how principles can be established from Scripture, whether explicitly or implicitly, and explores how the continuing development of insight can provide us with guidelines for the ongoing task of developing and applying Christian theology. Responses from Kevin Vanhoozer and Stanley Porter are included.

Students and scholars of the Bible and theology will be interested in this latest work from I. Howard Marshall, and it offers an accessible approach to a perennial topic of concern that pastors, church leaders, and interested laity will appreciate.

Beyond the Bible is the first book of the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology series. Produced in partnership with Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, this series gathers leading authorities to succinctly assess the major issues faced by the twenty-first century church and present their findings in a way that is rewarding to scholars yet accessible to students, pastors and laity. Readers will gain a fresh understanding of important issues that will enable them to take part meaningfully in discussion and debate. Series editors are Craig A. Evans and Lee Martin McDonald. Forthcoming series volumes will include contributions from J. D. G. Dunn, John J. Collins, and Craig Evans.


"Professor Marshall offers a vigorous engagement with interpretive rules and procedures of special concern to 'evangelical' interpreters of the Bible. He boldly seeks a way between 'liberal' and 'fundamentalist' alternatives, rejecting the reduction of 'liberals' and the closure of 'fundamentalists.' His argument, sure to evoke ferment among interpreters, shows how faithful and disciplined evangelical thought can attest to the dynamism of biblical faith that in turn issues in a development of doctrine well beyond any frozen categories. Marshall's argument, offered with great care, is an important contribution to the fresh, ongoing conversation."--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Apostle Paul told us 'not to go beyond the things that are written.' So what should we make of an evangelical biblical scholar who goes 'beyond the Bible'? Marshall, the scholar in question, wants to build a bridge from the Bible to its present-day application and, more especially, to make the bridge itself biblical. Does he succeed? His respondents, Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Stanley E. Porter, inspect the bridge for weak spots. Is it biblical, for example, to dilute or dump one biblical message for the sake of another because the first one--say, divine judgment as expressed in horrific images--may seem disagreeable with more loving parts of the Bible and does in fact violate popularly accepted moral standards in our civilized world? Do these standards incline us to set one part of the Bible against another and prejudice one part over the other? Is it even possible to avoid such prejudicial treatments? Read, watch these friends spar with each other, and decide for yourselves. The questions are fundamental, and our answers to them will to a significant extent determine the future of evangelical Christianity."--Robert H. Gundry, professor emeritus, Westmont College

"This collection of lectures by Howard Marshall, with responses by Vanhoozer and Porter, probes once more into the primary issue for all evangelical hermeneutics: how to move from the then and there to the here and now and how to do so while keeping our interpretive and theological integrity at both ends of the hermeneutical spectrum. Part of the pleasure of reading these lectures is that the authors agree on the essential matters, while offering some differing--yet stimulating--viewpoints as to how best to pull off this crucial hermeneutical enterprise. I am glad to commend it to the larger biblical and theological community for consideration."--Gordon Fee, Regent College

"The disciplined study of the Bible in its original languages and historical context is an enterprise in which evangelicals have taken a not insignificant part. Here one of their most distinguished practitioners questions how researching the historical meaning can elucidate the Word of God for us today and generates an inner-evangelical debate about identifying the biblical principles on the basis of which this 'leap' might be performed. It is the emphasis on 'biblical principles' that reveals the evangelical slant given to this hermeneutical discussion. Yet this is a book which proves that, whatever our Christian confession, we can all benefit from overhearing one another's conversations."--Frances Young, University of Birmingham

The Author

  1. I. Howard Marshall

    I. Howard Marshall

    I. Howard Marshall (1934-2015; PhD, University of Aberdeen) was emeritus professor of New Testament exegesis and honorary research professor at the University of Aberdeen. He authored or edited numerous books, including Concordance to the Greek New...

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"What happens when a premier New Testament exegete seeks to answer the question of how you get from the 'then' of the biblical text to the 'now' of the listening church of today? The answer is provided in this provocative little book by I. Howard Marshall, one of the most respected evangelical scholars of our time. . . . Marshall seeks to develop a hermeneutical way between liberal and fundamentalist methods, between 'reductionism' and 'closure,' as Walter Brueggemann calls it. The argument is important and the response is equally important. This little book is a wonderful work-out for all who take the modern hermeneutical enterprise seriously, which should be all serious students of the Bible."--ACT 3 Review

"The strengths of this book are its brevity, its structure, and its rallying call. It introduces and wrestles with the tough questions without taking up too much of the reader's time. Structurally, it has allowed two responses from evangelical experts in the area that force the reader both to entertain new ideas based on the original lectures and to go beyond them. And it did indeed inspire me anew to break down the theological/biblical wall. . . . Awareness and stimulation are in themselves important contributions, and this book should be commended."--Jace R. Broadhurst, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"A highly accessible and engaging introduction to the task of biblical interpretation through which [Marshall] outlines the foundation of a progressive evangelical hermeneutic rooted in a developmental model of revelation. . . . While this book is written by evangelicals for evangelicals, its value is in no way limited to that community. Indeed, insofar as constructive theology is most fruitfully practiced within and for actual faith communities, the parochial nature of such a study is a welcome element. As such, those outside of this particular community . . . can still benefit from the insights of this internal conversation and, most importantly, from the common hermeneutic questions every faith community must grapple with as it seeks to bridge the perennial gap, famously formulated by Krister Stendahl, between what the Bible meant and what it means today. . . . The essays of this book are best understood as important prolegomena to further thinking on the relationship between the Bible as an authoritative text for faith communities and the ongoing tasks of constructive theology."--John W. Vest, Review of Biblical Literature

"The goal of Marshall's concise but substantial book is to provide clear and instructive guidelines that develop doctrines that will respond to ecclesiological and ethical issues not addressed or even imagined by the biblical authors. . . . The most significant contribution of the entire book is Marshall's argument that we can continue to develop theology on the basis of how doctrine is developed within Scripture. . . . One who wants to read Scripture responsibly will find this a reasonably clear and helpful guide by a respected New Testament exegete."--John Harrison, Christian Chronicle

"Anyone wanting to remain current with evangelical discussions that seek to understand and explain the fundamental relationship between Scripture and claims made for both doctrine and ethics will find this volume useful."--Nelson D. Kloosterman, Mid-America Journal of Theology

"Marshall makes a strong case for working out the premises of the Bible to their logical conclusion, and that is a welcome challenge."--Bob Haskell, Evangelical Review of Theology

"[Marshall] is a leader among evangelical scholars noted for his balance and perceptive insights into New Testament texts. In this slim volume he tackles the problem of how to move from the biblical world to our own contemporary contexts. . . . Two other evangelical scholars offer responses to Marshall's ideas, Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Stanley Porter--their lively agreement and disagreement with Marshall makes for a fascinating exchange. This is an excellent text for college and seminary use with helpful Scripture and subject indices."--Barbara E. Bowe, RSCJ, Catholic Library World

"Marshall raises important issues, both explicitly and implicitly. . . . Within the compass of this brief work, Marshall has done well in laying out the issues. . . . While Marshall is not the first to raise many of the issues, this volume, with its agenda for a progressive evangelical hermeneutic may well, because of the stature of its author, become something of a watershed. It deserves a careful and substantial response."--John A. Davies, Reformed Theological Review