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Types of Christian Theology

Types of Christian Theology

Hans W. Frei
George Hunsinger
William C. Placher
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Types of Christian Theology
    Book Description:

    Hans W. Frei (1922-88) was one of the most important American theologians of his generation. This book makes available the work in which he was engaged during the last decade of his life. Based on his 1983 Shaffer Lectures at Yale University and his 1987 Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham, it presents Frei's reflections on issues and options in contemporaryrepresented theology, especially on the relation of theology to biblical interpretation and on the place of theology as an academic tradition.

    In the book Frei proposes classifying theologians according to whether they see Christian theology primarily as an academic discipline or as an internal activity of Christian communities. He describes fie different variations of these views. the first, represented by Immanuel Kant and Gordon represented, regards theology as a philosophical discipline within the academy. The second, represented by theologians as diverse as represented represented, David Tracy, and Carl Henry, correlates specifically Christian with general cultural structures of meaning. The third type, represetned by represented represented and Paul represented, occupies the middle of the spectrum. The fourth type, represetned by Karl Barth, emphasizes the internal descriptive task of theology but remains open to ad hoc correlations with concerns of the wider culture. the fifth, which includes D. Z. Phillips and other Wittgensteinian fideists, opts for pure self-description though this group defends its position with philosophical arguments that, oddly enough connect it with the other end of the spectrum. Frei argues in favor of the third and fourth options. In his view, theologians like Schleiermacher and, even more, Barth, although often seen as polar opposites, enable theology to remain most faithful to the priority of the ecumenically attested literal sense in biblical interpretation.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16188-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    Hans W. Frei’s projected history of Christology in the modern period was cut short by his death on 12 September 1988. It was to be a major project for which he had been preparing through most of his academic career, and those who knew him and his scholarship looked forward to it with high anticipation. As his friends and colleagues, we knew that he had worked out a typology by which to organize the material, and we knew that he had sketched some of what he wanted to say in the Shaffer Lectures he delivered at Yale Divinity School in...

  4. Editorial Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    When we undertook the task of assembling for publication Hans Frei’s typology of modern Christian theology, we were acutely aware that the book Frei wished to write could no longer be written; we have thus decided to make available some obviously fragmentary manuscripts without disguising their unfinished character.

    Frei’s papers included a complete manuscript of the Shaffer Lectures as he had given them, nearly complete manuscripts of the Princeton lectures, parts of the Cadbury Lectures (some early fragments and then roughly the last three of his eight lectures), and a short grant proposal he had written to the National Endowment...

  5. 1 Proposal for a Project
    (pp. 1-7)

    I propose to complete a book on types of modern Christian thought, which will itself be part of a larger project on the figure of Jesus of Nazareth in England and Germany—in high culture, ecclesiastical and otherwise, as well as popular culture—since 1700.

    Modern Western religious thought (and Christian thought as its chief instance) was shaped first in England and then in Germany, and the estimate of the person of Jesus has been at the heart of it. My present project is an attempt to sort out the varieties of high-culture religious rather than historical efforts during this...

  6. 2 Introduction
    (pp. 8-18)

    The general theme of these chapters is Jesus Christ and interpretation. The book will be a reflection in theology, and more or less a reflection in modern theology; for being an academician by nature and vocation, I find that certain themes in modern academic theology have set me to thinking. One of them is a kind of informal agreement at least among Protestants, and probably among Roman Catholic theologians also, that the central persuasion of Christian theology, not so much to be defended as to be set out, is that Jesus Christ is the presence of God in the Church...

  7. 3 Theology, Philosophy, and Christian Self-Description
    (pp. 19-27)

    I propose to draw a brief map of modern theology, chiefly Protestant, largely for purposes of locating the spot from which I believe one can most productively explore the relation of hermeneutics—that is, theory of interpretation—not so much to biblical interpretation itself as to the Christian religion. The map I shall draw is not impartial; it is more like theNew Yorker’s notorious map of the United States—in which New York City eclipses the Midwest and allows only a glimpse of the West Coast, with China just beyond—than like a segment from the U.S. Geological Survey....

  8. 4 Five Types of Theology
    (pp. 28-55)

    In the first type that I am proposing,theology as a philosophical disciplinein the academy takes complete priority over Christian self-description within the religious community called the Church, and Christian selfdescription, in its subordinate place, tends to emulate the philosophical character of academic theology by being as general as possible or as little specific about Christianity as it can be, and the distinction between external and internal description is basically unimportant. In Gordon Kaufman’s monograph,An Essay on Theological Method, the task of the theologian is to search out the rules governing the use of the word or concept...

  9. 5 Some Implications for Biblical Interpretation
    (pp. 56-69)

    How does the kind of layout we have prepared for ourselves influence one’s choice or choices in regard to biblical interpretation? A lot depends on what one wishes to do. It is not the case, of course, that one of these types, even if one finds a pure representative for it, will guide us to a right interpretation of the Bible. For let us assume that the notion of a right interpretation of the Bible is itself not meaningless, but it is eschatological. The Christian community is gathered inhope, and that extends to as ordinary a task as that...

  10. 6 Ad Hoc Correlation
    (pp. 70-91)

    Schleiermacher is a controversial case because many writers have consigned him to the second type; Professor Brian Gerrish of Chicago tends in that direction. But Professor Stephen Sykes tends to agree with me. The point here is that Schleiermacher identifies theology in two ways: as a practical discipline whose unity lies in its aim, the training of people in the conceptual skills necessary for ministry in the community defined by specific Christian life and language use; and as a historical and philosophical inquiry into the “essence” of Christianity, that is, as an academic discipline grounded in a unitary theory of...

  11. 7 The End of Academic Theology?
    (pp. 92-94)

    It is necessary to refer again to Karl Barth at this point. He proposed that Christian hermeneutics is a procedure whose taxonomy or phenomenology may be very simply set forth in three logically distinct but in fact united elements:explicatio, meditatio, applicatio. Applicatio, the last of these, is for him the transition from the sense to the use of scriptural texts. In his “rules” for using philosophical schemes or some subjective modality in reading, he was talking aboutmeditatio. The proponents of type 5 may be described as saying thatat best, understanding the Bible—and Christian language more generally...

  12. Appendix A: Theology in the University
    (pp. 95-132)
  13. Appendix B: The Encounter of Jesus with the German Academy
    (pp. 133-146)
  14. Appendix C: Eberhard Busch’s Biography of Karl Barth
    (pp. 147-164)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 165-170)
  16. Index
    (pp. 171-180)