Status report

I’m spending most of my work time at the moment on the SCM Study Guide to Christian Doctrine – a fairly throrough reworking of the on-line doctrine course that I wrote over the last three years. I’m in the middle of the second chapter, on ‘Knowledge of God’. The first chapter is really just an orientation exercise, explaining what sort of thing I mean by ‘theology’, so this second chapter is the first really substantive material in the book. And, after a couple of weeks’ working on the book, the enthusiasm I originally had for the project has finally kicked back in. Today’s challenge: I want to write about the ways in which ‘knowledge of God’ is not like knowledge of objects, and argue that it is in some ways like knowledge of a piece of music, and in other ways like knowledge of how to play a game – without giving up on a fairly robust realism. And while keeping all this at first-year undergraduate, introductory text-book level.

All of which means that I’m not really thinking about Mark, or about biblical hermeneutics at the moment. (Though the chapter I’m writing does involve an extended exegesis of parts of 1 John, so I hope I haven’t leapt over some horrible biblical studies vs. systematic theology divide in my mind.) But a break from Mark is probably a good thing: I had one of those ‘I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about – or whether, indeed, I am talking about anything’ moments when writing the previous, abortive entry on providence – nearly always (with me) a sure sign that I’ve started asking the wrong question, or at least mis-phrasing the question. I am aware of a niggling worry about my ability to acquiesce in Mark’s use of these prophetic texts, but can’t quite formulate that worry in a way that will allow me to address it.

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