Discerning Intention

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February 8, 2012 Tags: Biblical Interpretation

Today's video features David Wenham. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Today's video features Revd. Dr. David Wenham, Senior Tutor in New Testament at Trinity College, Bristol, and author of several books on the New Testament, and is courtesy of filmmaker Ryan Pettey, director/editor of Satellite Pictures.

In today's video, Revd. Dr. David Wenham discusses how defending the Truth of scripture doesn't always require an ultra-literalistic interpretation.He sympathizes with those who fear that liberal theology gives away too much of the bible and notes that there are parts of Genesis to be taken literally, but he insists that those who seek the true meaning of scripture must respect the intention of the authors, whether we are reading the Gospels, parables, or Genesis. As he says, "Sometimes the most literal interpretation is not always the right interpretation."

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


David Wenham has been a faculty member at Trinity College since 2008. Previously the Vice Principal of the college until 2011, he is now Tutor for the rural context students in the Woodbridge Group of Churches in Wiltshire. He studied Theology at Cambridge University as an undergraduate and later earned his PhD in research on the Gospels from Manchester University. He also taught New Testament at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University for 24 years. David has published widely on the Gospels and on Paul. He is Chairman of the New Testament Group of the Tyndale Fellowship, and a member of the Society for New Testament Studies. He has recently been honored by the University of Bristol with the title Research Fellow.


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Jon Garvey - #67813

February 10th 2012

Wenham’s a conservative scholar (as are the rest of the Wenham clan, one of whom I went to college with). I note that the distinction he makes is between the non-literalness of historical detail (which he attributes primarily to genre intention, but elsewhere also to essentially “trivial” differences in ancient and modern natural philosophy) and theological truth, which he takes to be non-negotiable.

The differentiation between Evangelical and Liberal theology, he says, hinges on this. It’s a key distinction. You recognise the Liberal by the dilution of  theological truth (in Genesis, in this case).

You can get a flavour of his approach from his book on Paul’s theology which, contra the common view that it re-invented Christianity, he argues is entirely dependent on and consistent with it. It’s probably not worth asking him about ANE background, however, as he’s a New Testament scholar.


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