The Trials of Biblical Studies
In the United Kingdom and in countries heavily influenced by British usage (such as Australia), ‘theology’ is a large category that includes biblical studies, historical theology, systematic theology, and much more. The ‘trials of theology’ are then the trials encountered in any of the disciplines covered by the large label ‘theology’. This usage is worth recognizing, for in America and in countries heavily influenced by American usage (such as Canada), ‘theology’ is a narrower category, usually referring to systematic theology. Because this chapter on biblical studies is included in a book on the trials of theology, clearly the former usage prevails here: students in biblical studies – devoting years to studying the Old Testament or the New Testament – face a variety of challenges that need to be thought through and understood. As for the word ‘trials’, I take it to include not only the elements that make competence in biblical studies hard work, but also those elements that constitute temptations to sin. True, these are trials of rather different kinds, but perhaps not so distinct as one might first think, as we shall see.
For convenience, I shall group these trials into various domains.