Historical science came into its maturity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This does not mean that all the problems of a scientific historiography were settled, but at least the historians know what the problems are. Herbert Muller (The Uses of the Past, pp. 35 ff.) and Hans Meyerhoff (The Philosophy of History in our Times, pp. 18 ff.) are forthright in listing them.
Biblical studies have also entered into a period of maturity in reflecting upon the character of biblical history. The pioneers were Cocceius, Bengel, Beck, and von Hofmann. These men saw the raw materials of theology in the great saving and revealing acts of God in Israel, in Christ, and in the Church. These saving acts were not unrelated but formed a history, in fact, a special history, a Holy History. This history is temporally prior to the Scriptures, but the Bible supplies out only authoritative access to it. The Scriptures, in turn, are to be interpreted as the inspired account of this special Holy History (cf. J. C. K. von Hofmann, Interpreting the Bible). This has led to a large acceptance of the Holy History method of interpreting the framework or backbone of Scripture. The most famous example in our times is O. Cullmann’s Christ and Time. K. G. Steck is correct in pointing out that a general method of historical interpretation is to be differentiated from any narrow scheme of Holy History (Die Idee der Heilsgeschichte, p. 10).
The truth is somewhere between a strict theory of Holy History and the view of the post-Reformation theologians who stressed emphatically the revelatory character of Scripture itself. In attempting to do justice to the elements of truth in both these positions, we propose the following theses concerning the relationship ...1
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