‘Happy Birthday’ to John Barton

And I’m back! In true blogger style, after a few months of commitment, this site was allowed to go fallow for nearly two years. Perhaps my return was inspired by this event:

On Saturday the 16th June, some 20 or so former DPhil students of Prof John Barton met at Campion Hall, Oxford, for a celebration of his 70th birthday and academic work. Though I missed part of it because of taking a wedding, it was a great day with papers presented on a wide variety of subject, reflecting the diversity of John’s research interests. The theme was ‘the Bible and the Academy’ and all the papers explored, to some extent, issues to do with the interface between critical biblical scholarship and the university. My paper examined the appropriateness of defining some uses of Scripture in the New Testament as ‘typological’, when there is no clear evidence in the interpreting text for an understanding that the cited text has multiple referents, such as to Israel in the past and the Church in the present. This was inspired in part by John’s caution regarding the theological interpretation of the Bible:

“One cannot establish what the Bible means if one insists on reading it as necessarily conforming to what one already believes to be true – which is what a theological reading amounts to…It is on the whole those who believe in “moving beyond” criticism who are most prone to read their own theological systems into the scriptural text, and this is just what we should expect” John Barton, Biblical Criticism, 164.

There are plans for a conference book! If my paper makes the cut, I’ll tell you more.

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