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The KLC Scripture Collective

The KLC Scripture Collective operates under the leadership of Rev Dr Craig Bartholomew, the Director of the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge, and consists of four Seminars: the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar (SAHS), the Scripture and Doctrine Seminar (SADS), the Scripture and Church Seminar (SACS), and the Scripture and the University Seminar (SAUS).

Scripture is the field in which is hid the pearl of great price, the Lord Christ. There is thus an immense amount at stake in our engagement with Scripture and in healthy biblical studies.

The KLCSC has its origins in the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar (SAHS), established by Dr Bartholomew in 1998. It was conceived as an ambitious eight-year project to address key issues at the heart of a renewal of biblical interpretation that was rigorous and in the service of the Church. Since then SAHS has continued to meet each year at the Society of Biblical Literature in partnership with the Institute for Biblical Research. It has also given birth to three further seminars: the Scripture and Doctrine Seminar, the Scripture and Church Seminar (practical theology), and the Scripture and the University Seminar.

Each year in November KLC Scripture Collective organises a series of seminars and an Annual Meal held in North America in partnership with the Institute for Biblical Research at Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion.

The Four Seminars

The Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar

The Bible is made up of a library of books that came into existence over hundreds of years. Biblical hermeneutics asks how we can approach and interpret this inspired corpus to hear God’s address today.

A Brief History

The first of The Scripture and Hermeneutics consultations took place in Cheltenham in April 1998. The theme for this meeting was the crisis in biblical interpretation and the sort of answers to it being proposed by advocates of speech act theory such as Anthony Thiselton, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Kevin Vanhoozer, all of whom were present. We were not agreed at this consultation whether speech act theory has the resources to take biblical interpretation forward, but it became clear that any attempt to renew biblical interpretation in the academy would require a process with multiple consultations to address the key areas we thought required attention.

Thus was born The Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, a project based in Theology and Religious Studies at The University of Gloucestershire, where it was headed up by Craig Bartholomew. Our second consultation was held in September 1999 at Selwyn College, Cambridge, at which Prof Brevard Childs and Prof Walter Brueggemann were present. The theme of that consultation was the crisis in biblical interpretation. Not all of us were agreed that there was a crisis but we all agreed that a renewal of biblical interpretation was urgent, hence the title of the first volume, Renewing Biblical Interpretation.

From 1998 – 2008 the Seminar was a partnership project between British and Foreign Bible Society and The University of Gloucestershire. Later in the process Baylor University and Redeemer University College joined in the venture as partners. In its first phase the Seminar identified eight topics that required attention and each year for eight years it organised an international, interdisciplinary seminar somewhere in the world to address one of these key issues. A volume in the Scripture and Hermeneutics Series (Paternoster and Zondervan) emerging from each consultation was published each year (volumes). The final volume in the Series, The Bible and the University, was published in 2007.

 

Since the completion of its initial eight volume series SAHS has continued to publish, producing Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Eerdmans), edited by Craig G Bartholomew and David Beldman, and in 2016 A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation (Baker Academic) appeared, edited by Craig Bartholomew and Heath Thomas.

In 2016 and 2017 SAHS focused on the theme of the kingdom of God. In 2018 it engaged in a dialogue with Jeremiah Unterman’s Justice For All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics (Philadelphia: JPS, 2017), an important new work on the ethics of the Hebrew Bible.

In 2019 the topic of SAHS was “A Critical Engagement with Oliver O’Donovan’s ‘Ethics As Theology’ Trilogy”, building out from the 2002 SAHS volume: A Royal Priesthood? The Use of the Bible Ethically and Politically. A Dialogue with Oliver O’Donovan (Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, Volume 3). A stellar group of scholars from multiple disciplines revisited and engaged O’Donovan’s ongoing work in a review panel, especially his recent “Ethics as Theology” Trilogy (Self, World and Time; Finding and Seeking; Entering into Rest), with the aim of exploring some new trajectories in contemporary Christian Ethics.

The Committee

Dr. David Beldman (Redeemer University College); Dr. A.J. Culp (Malyon College, Australia); Dr. Matthew Emmerson (Oklahoma Baptist University); Revd. Dr. William Olhausen (Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin); Amber Bowen (PhD candidate, University of Aberdeen).

For any enquiries regarding the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, contact Dr. David Beldman or Dr. AJ Culp.

The Scripture and Doctrine Seminar

SADS focuses on the intersection of Scripture and Doctrine. Historically doctrine has developed as the church needed to give an account of what it believed and to protect itself from heresy. SADS explores the move from Scripture to the formulation of doctrine, and how doctrine and tradition illuminate our reading of the Bible. Insofar as doctrine captures the message of the Bible it also provides an indispensable lens through which to read Scripture and informs our faithful witness to Christ in His world.

In 2016 and 2017 SADS focused on Divine action in Hebrews, particularly in relation to the ongoing priesthood of Jesus. In 2018 the seminar launched a two-year theme addressing the relationship between Scripture and Doctrine via reflections on theological anthropology. In an effort to avoid discussing the Scripture-Doctrine relationship in the abstract, this two-year focus on theological anthropology served both to illustrate the relationship between Scripture and Doctrine, and offer constructive and contemporary proposals for theological anthropology. The format included invited paper presentations followed by respondents and Q & A. For more information, contact Benjamin T. Quinn (bquinn@sebts.edu) or Luke Stamps (rlstamps@andersonuniversity.edu).

The Committee

Kevin Vanhoozer (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Scott Hahn (Franciscan University, Steubenville), Craig Bartholomew (KLC), Luke Stamps (Anderson University; chair), Steve Harris (Redeemer University College), Geoffrey Fulkerson (Henry Center), and Benjamin Quinn (SEBTS).

The 2019 Programme was as follows:

Benjamin Quinn (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), Presiding

Marc Cortez (Wheaton College)
Should We Ground the Image in the Incarnation? The Old Testament and Christological Anthropology (20 mins)

Ellen Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary)
Augustine’s Hermeneutic of Love and its Relation to Image (20 mins)

Steve Harris (Redeemer University College)
Image and Resurrection (20 mins)

Break (15 mins)

Fred Sanders (Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University), Respondent (10 mins)

Hans Madueme (Covenant College), Respondent (10 mins)

Discussion (55 mins)

For any enquiries regarding the Scripture and Doctrine Seminar, contact Dr. Luke Stamps.

The Scripture and Church Seminar

The Scripture and Church Seminar explores the interface between Scripture and church, covering the terrain that is normally referred to as Practical Theology.

In 2016 SACS had a great inaugural session in San Antonio. With approximately 70 in attendance, Dr Bill DeJong (McMaster Divinity College) presented on “Which Way Now? Pearls and Perils Along the Uncertain Path of Practical Theology.” Ken Herfst (Redeemer University College) presented on “Broad Brushstrokes for a Potential ‘Scripture and Church’ Agenda,” and Dr Michael Wagenman (Western University and Redeemer University College) presented on “Pondering Practical Theology: Proclamation and the Problem of Propaganda.”

In 2017 SACS met for the second time around the theme of The Kingdom of God and Everyday Liturgies. The following papers were presented.

  • Dr Vince Bantu, “Biblical Interpretation and Liturgical Performance in Global Christian Perspective” (Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri)
  • Dr Ryan O’Dowd, “Dark Things in the Depths: Wisdom, Confession, and the Kingdom of God” (Cornel University, Ithica, New York)
  • Dr Ruth Padilla-deBorst, “The Kingdom and Everyday Liturgies in the New Testament” (PhD, Boston College).
  • Dr Dru Johnson, “Placebos, Elevator Buttons, and High Powered Lasers: How Ritual Ethics Enable Us to See the Kingdom of God” (The King’s College, New York City)

The 2018 theme for the Scripture and Church Seminar brought into focus the complex relationship between the church and the Kingdom of God. Questions which were considered with an interdisciplinary panel of presenters included:

  • How does Scripture shape a church of covenant subjects of, or partners with, the King?
  • How does Scripture disclose the church as the community gathered before the King?
  • What insight does Scripture provide for how the church is to live as dual citizens of the Kingdom of God and earthly political nation-states?
  • Since Scripture reveals to us the ever-present God who is King, what does it mean that the Church is the Worshippers of the King-Who-Is-Always-Present?

The theme for 2019 was “Communicating the Kingdom”. Under this banner we heard papers and moderated a panel discussion on the following sub-topics, with their associated questions:

i. ‘Hearing the Gospel of the Kingdom’ – Jeannine Brown (Bethel University, St. Paul, MN): What does the gospel of the Kingdom have to say to the twenty-first century church? At what points do Jesus’s kingdom parables, discourses and signs offer encouragement and sustenance to a struggling post-Christendom church? At what points do they disrupt and destabilise the order that we have constructed or inherited?

ii. ‘Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom’ – Koert Van Bekkum (Theological University, Kampen, NL): How are we to convey the meaning of Jesus’s Kingdom proclamation and its present implications, within a contemporary context in which notions of kingdom and kingship are alien to the experience of many, and there is deep and widespread suspicion of authority claims and totalizing narratives?

iii. ‘Dramatizing the Gospel of the Kingdom’ – David Starling (Morling College, Sydney, Au): How should the liberating incursion of the Kingdom of God be demonstrated and dramatized in the conduct of contemporary Christians and in the shape of our churches and the various other institutions that we create and maintain?

Committee: Dr. Bill DeJong, chair (Blessings Christian Church; Redeemer University College); Dr Susan Bubbers (The Center for Anglican Theology, Liturgy, And Spiritual formation, Inc.); Dr. Dru Johnson (The Kings College, New York City); Dr. Ken Herfst (Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario); Dr. Michael R. Wagenman, chair (Western University, London, Ontario), Genevieve Wedgebury (The Kirby Laing Institute for Theological Ethics, Cambridge, UK).

For any enquiries regarding the Scripture and Church Seminar, contact Dr. Bill DeJong.

The Scripture and the University Seminar

  • In 2019 the Scripture and the University Seminar initiated a multi-year project to explore the issue of the relationship between Scripture and the University.

    While theology used to be considered the ‘queen of the sciences’, and theology was inextricably tied to the explication of Scripture, the role of the study of Scripture and theology in the university is in a very different place today. Given that the university has been traditionally committed to the reality and acquisition and passing on of knowledge and wisdom, and given that Scripture is likewise committed to the twin realities of knowledge and wisdom, the study of the relationship of Scripture and the university is fitting and holds great promise.

    This study group will consider both ‘meta’ or foundational issues concerning the relationship of Scripture and the university, as well as more specialized and particular studies which focus on particular academic disciplines and their relationship to the reality and truth of Scripture. The goal of these sessions is to produce thoughtful and insightful essays which meaningfully explore and explicate the relationship between Scripture and the university.

For enquiries regarding the Scripture and the University Seminar, contact Dr. Brad Green  or Dr. Eric Johnson.

  • The 2019 programme was as follows:

    Brad Green (Union University), Welcome (10 mins)

    Eric Johnson (Houston Baptist University)
    Scripture and the University: Vision for the Seminar (20 mins)

    Daniel Strange (Oak Hill College)
    Scripture and the University: Meta-Madness and the Academic Endeavour (20 mins)

    Break (10 mins)

    Mary Poplin (Claremont Graduate University)
    Scripture and the University: Man is a Tower: Biblical Insights into Justice, Ethnicity, Immigrants, Gender, Left / Right, Equality / Equity (20 mins)

    Grant Macaskill (University of Aberdeen)
    Scripture and the University: On Identifying the Object of Study (20 mins)

    Break (5 mins)

    Discussion (45 mins)

The Ethos of our Seminars

1. The Seminars are academic

The Seminars recognise the fundamental importance of opening the Book of Scripture at all levels in our cultures, but the Seminars themselves are an academic initiative, embodying rigorous scholarship in the service of the church.

2. The Seminars are interdisciplinary

Meir Sternberg rightly notes that biblical studies is at the intersection of the humanities, and the Seminars are based on the understanding that at this intersection interdisciplinary insight is required if biblical studies is to be saved from some of its isolation and fragmentation, and for new ways forward to be forged. It has been a delight at our consultations to find philosophers rubbing shoulders with educationalists and theologians, and missiologists working with literary scholars to renew biblical interpretation.

3. The Seminars are Christian

Modernity has marginalised faith in the great public areas of culture, but this is a travesty of a Christian perspective in which faith relates to the whole of life. The one rule of the Seminar is that we are not free to keep our faith out of our reflections; on the contrary we want our faith to be at the heart of our work as Christian scholars.

4. The Seminars are ecumenical

Based out of the Kirby Laing Centre in Cambridge, the Scripture Collective is rooted deeply in the Evangelical faith. However, a range of Christian perspectives are represented within the Seminars. As the Seminar has developed the growing Catholic participation, for example, has been deeply enriching.

5. The Seminars are communal

The modern academy is deeply individualistic. However, we recognise that a renewal of biblical and theological interpretation will require communal work. And a great aspect of the Seminar is the emerging sense of community amongst participants.