Anthony Thiselton is the world's best scholar on how to read and interpret Scripture on the art and "science" of hermeneutics. Unfortunately, his prose falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. Now a confession: along with others, I will stand in line to buy Thiselton's dense tomes so I can read them. Why? For no reasons other than his brilliant syntheses, his knack for bringing scholarly literature into focus, and his uncommon common sense that, like someone who can deftly tap rocks and bring forth diamonds, sheds deep light on dense subjects. But I never crack open Thiselton without knowing it will be hard work.
The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, what might be called his third volume on the process of interpretation, discusses how it is that we "do doctrine." Completing The Two Horizons and New Horizons on Hermeneutics, this book examines both why we should study how we do doctrine (he calls this the "hermeneutics of doctrine") and how major themes in Christian doctrine can be illuminated by watching how those doctrines have been put into words by a multitude of scholars (and he knows the literature better than anyone). Over the course of more than ten chapters, he covers the doctrines of humanity, the atonement, the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, Trinity, ecclesiology, and eschatology.
The reason Christians need to read The Hermeneutics of Doctrine is because of Thiselton's argument that, properly understood, doctrine involves the disposition of belief, which always includes formation and leads on to transformation. Each doctrine he examines, whether he says so with clarity or not, maps how these three terms are at work. In so doing, Thiselton reminds us that any piece of theology that does not lead to worship, absorption ...1
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