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The Marks of Scripture

Rethinking the Nature of the Bible

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What is the Bible and what is it for? In recent years, the nature of Scripture has often been described in terms of a Chalcedonian incarnational analogy: just as Jesus is both human and divine, so Scripture is both human and divine. And the function of Scripture has been understood as informative: it imparts information to humans about God. These ways of looking at Scripture are not wholly sufficient, however, for teaching us what the Bible is and what we should expect it to do.

Written by a theologian and a biblical scholar, The Marks of Scripture offers a fresh model for understanding Scripture as God's Word. Daniel Castelo and Robert Wall show that Scripture is not simply informative (an account of what God has done), it is also formative--a statement of what God is doing today and an instrument God uses in the ongoing work of the sanctification and equipping of believers. The authors work out the four Nicene marks of the church--one, holy, catholic, and apostolic--as marks of Scripture, offering a new way of thinking about the Bible that bridges theology and interpretation. Their ecclesial analogy invites us to think of Scripture in similar terms to how we think of the church, countering the incarnational model propagated by Peter Enns and others.

1. The Ontology and Teleology of Scripture
2. Speaking of Scripture
3. Unity
4. Holiness
5. Catholicity
6. Apostolicity
7. The Church's Practice of Scripture


"In this important contribution, Daniel Castelo and Rob Wall propose an understanding of Scripture that avoids the problems inherent in the old incarnational analogy. To read their deft and decisive exposition of the role of Scripture in salvation and sanctification is to feel immediately that they have moved the discussion away from sterile categories to fruitful theological ground. My hope is that this groundbreaking work will receive a wide and attentive hearing."

Michael Legaspi, associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies and Jewish studies, Penn State University

"The collaboration between biblical scholar Robert Wall and theologian Daniel Castelo has produced a book that challenges the church to think critically about what Scripture is and what purpose it serves. Their fresh church-Scripture analogy will stimulate the reader's imagination about the triune God's work in the world and about the canon of Scripture as an ongoing means of grace. Castelo and Wall manage to uphold the theological interpretation of Scripture without discounting the text's complexity or streamlining its witness. This book is a great contribution to the church, and the volume poses a welcome challenge for all who claim to be interpreters of a text that is first and foremost about a God who never ceases to engage the world."

Carla Swafford Works, associate professor of New Testament, Wesley Theological Seminary

"For those who affirm Scripture's authority and its continuing relevance, Castelo and Wall provide an original way for understanding and applying Scripture. They ask two key questions: What is Scripture? (the ontological question), and, What is Scripture for? (the teleological question). Castelo and Wall propose an ecclesial (church-Scripture) analogy that views Scripture both as canon and as a means of grace. As such, the four historic marks of the church--one, holy, catholic, and apostolic--help us better to understand what Scripture is and what it is for, serving as a means of grace to justify and sanctify people. They conclude by applying their ecclesial analogy to exegesis, describing the practical role of Scripture in providing the Holy Spirit with a sanctified means by which to form a holy people. In a progressively skeptical world, Castelo and Wall help Christians to understand and defend the authority of Scripture, and to apply it to real-life issues."

Donald Thorsen, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University and Seminary

"Castelo and Wall offer a fresh and thought-provoking set of proposals for how to think about Scripture, in a discussion which is attractively grounded in and directed toward the practices of the church. Whether we end up agreeing or disagreeing, their book makes a sharp case for the usefulness of analogy to challenge and clarify settled ideas on this topic."

Jennie Grillo, assistant professor of biblical studies, University of Notre Dame

"In this short monograph, Daniel Castelo and Rob Wall offer not only a fresh look at the nature and purpose of Scripture but also a fresh way of doing this kind of collaborative investigation. Here, students of the Bible will find chapter after chapter that explore the 'marks' of Scripture in new and creative ways. This visionary work is destined to contribute to conversations about Scripture that treat the Bible as a theological category capable of enriching and transforming the lives of those who read in community."

John Christopher Thomas, Clarence J. Abbott Professor of Biblical Studies, Pentecostal Theological Seminary; director of the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies, Bangor University, North Wales

The Authors

  1. Daniel Castelo

    Daniel Castelo

    Daniel Castelo (PhD, Duke University) is associate dean for academic formation and the William Kellon Quick Professor of Theology and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. He previously taught at Seattle Pacific University. He...

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  2. Robert W. Wall

    Robert W. Wall

    Robert W. Wall (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington. He has written many journal articles and authored or coauthored numerous books,...

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