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Living and Active : Scripture in the Economy of Salvation
(Sacra Doctrina: Christian Theology for a Postmodern Age)
Telford Work

0802847242 Retail Price: $35.00
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Format: Hardcover, 343pp.
ISBN: 0802847242
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pub. Date: November 2001

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From The Publisher:

For all of the Bible's popularity, confusion reigns about what the Bible is, its relationship to God and to its human authors and readers, and its proper use. Living and Active answers these fundamental questions by looking anew at Scripture from the perspective of Christian doctrine.

Rather than treating the Bible as a sourcebook for theology, Telford Work uses systematic theology to build a compelling new doctrine of Scripture that allows us to see the Bible at work accomplishing God's purposes in the world. Throughout the book, Work incorporates insights from the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, and evangelical traditions. He also interacts with patristic theology, historical-critical methods of interpretation, and postmodern thought. As a result, Living and Active is the most relevant and ecumenical statement of Scripture now available.


A lively conversation about the nature of scripture is essential to the health of Christian theology. In recent years that conversation has become moribund, settling into hardened categories while arguments swirl around texts, communities, and hermeneutics. In Living and Active Telford Work breathes fresh air into the doctrine of scripture. His book, by creatively and perceptively drawing on a wide range of theologians and traditions, should reinvigorate the conversation.
—Jonathan R. Wilson

Telford Work has written a book of extraordinary theological breath. More importantly, he has written a book that signals a new day for evangelical reflection on scripture. It is a sad reality that many evangelicals are still trapped in liberal-conservative debates regarding scripture, opting for such theologically bankrupt terminology for scripture as ‘infallible’ and ‘inerrant.’ Finally, with Work’s text we have a vision of scripture that is theologically rich, ecumenically sophisticated, and intellectually powerful. My great hope is that this book will make its way into the hands of those who teach theology in Christian colleges and seminaries. Students may then actually be given a vision of scripture that is grounded in the triune life of God and the life of the church rather than in intellectual nervousness.
—Willie James Jennings

Work has set himself the task of examining the role of the Bible in the postmodern world. He does so in the post-Enlightenment climate of hostile criticism, which he calls ‘Biblioclasm,’ a position comparable to the iconoclasm of former ages. Rather than go over old debates about hermeneutics, Work sets out his vision of the role of the Bible in God’s plan of salvation. While this thesis adopts the language of evangelical piety, it is developed with considerable sophistication. It draws on the insights of Athanasius and Augustine in the early church and of Barth, Balthasar, and Barr in the present. Above all, it is an invitation to an intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage of discovery.
—Colin Brown


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About the Author

Telford Work is assistant professor of theology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Richard B. Haysxiii
IntroductionThe Crisis of Scripture1
1.The Beginning of Scripture: The God of Word33
I.Athanasius: The Word's Self-Involvement in the World36
II.Augustine: The Divine Ontology of Biblical Practice50
III.Barth: The Threefold God and the Threefold Word67
IV.Balthasar: The Word of the Holy Spirit100
2.The Mission of Scripture: A School for All the World125
I.My Hope Is in Your Word: Scripture's Cosmic Mission to Israel130
II.The Language of the Logos: Scripture and Jesus167
3.The End of Scripture: God's Word in Faithful Practice215
I.Church as the Bible's Community215
II.Beyond Argument: The Humanity of Churchly Biblical Interpretation234
III.The Bible's Life in the Church261
IV.Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever: The End of Scripture301
AfterwordThe Measure of Scripture: Evaluating Systematic Bibliology315

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