Book Review

Scholarship in service of the church

Book Title: Doing Theology for the Church: Essays in Honor of Klyne Snodgrass

Authors: Rebekah A. Eklund (ed.)
John E. Phelan, Jr (ed.)

ISBN: 978-1-4982-0535-1

Publisher: Wipf & Stock, Eugene, OR: 2014, R476.19*

*Book price at time of review

Review Title: Scholarship in service of the church


Albert J. Coetsee1symbol

1Die Gereformeerde Kerk Uitschot, South Africa

Corresponding author: Albert Coetsee,

How to cite this book review: Coetsee, A.J., 2016, ‘Scholarship in service of the church’, In die Skriflig 50(1), a2166.

Copyright Notice: © 2016. The Authors. Licensee: AOSIS OpenJournals. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

How do we show our appreciation in academic circles for someone who has done years of devout study and research in a specific field? We honour him or her with a Festschrift. In the book Doing Theology for the Church, precisely that is done for the world renowned New Testament scholar, Klyne Ryland Snodgrass.

Klyne Snodgrass (born 28 December 1944) served as professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He had a privilege that few scholars have: he served at this one institution for four decades (1974-2015). During these 40 years he busied himself with in-depth scholarship, teaching and pastoral leadership – not just at the seminary, but also for the Evangelical Covenant Church and the wider church in general. From 1992 onwards he also served as editor of Ex Auditu: An International Journal of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture.

Snodgrass published on numerous subjects. He is probably best known for his work in the parables (especially his book Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus), Ephesians, the hermeneutics of identity, the often controversial issue of women in ministry and Paul’s views on the law.

What is notable about Snodgrass’ scholarship and teaching is his great emphasis and creed: biblical scholarship should be done in service of the church. This is clearly reflected in the title of this Festschrift: theology should be done for the church. This is also made clear in the foreword, tribute and preface of the book, where former students and colleagues recall some of the greatest impressions he has made on them.

In Doing Theology for the Church, Snodgrass’ students, colleagues and friends interact with the main foci of his current and past research by contributing essays of their own. Accordingly, the book is organised around five themes: ‘Gospel and Parables’, ‘Paul’, ‘Inner-Biblical Interpretation’ (how to read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation as a coherent whole), ‘Women and Ministry’, and ‘Identity’. An overview of these different essays around these five themes can be given as follows:

Gospel and Parables

Rebekah Eklund balances the tensions in Jesus’ last words on the cross by giving an account of the harmonising approach, historical-critical approaches and a canonical approach to these words.

Robert Johnston makes use of Snodgrass’ descriptions of Jesus’ parables in order to identify the criteria that may enable a modern day film to be classified as a parable.

Darrell Bock investigates the ‘claim on the world’ dimension of the kingdom of God in a number of Jesus’ parables.


Stephen Chester argues that early Protestant exegesis (specifically that of Luther and Calvin on Galatians 5:6) is far more concerned than is often allowed to embrace Paul’s concern to promote works.

Max Lee gives a sketch of Galen of Pergamum’s program for moral transformation, especially the mentor-disciple relations that support the program, in order to demonstrate how this can help us to understand the concept of imitatio Pauli in 1 Corinthians.

Richard Longenecker investigates Paul’s unique metaphor of ‘adoption’ (huiothesia) in speaking of the relationship of God’s people to God himself.

John Phelan gives an overview of and conclusions from the writings of Jewish scholars who have been taking another look at (or [re]reading of) Paul the Jew over the last few decades.

Nicholas Thomas Wright argues against the sharp disjunction between the first two main sections of Romans (chapters 1-4 and 5-8), and that the whole of Romans 1-8 has to do with ‘justification’. From this he suggests (against Snodgrass) that Paul speaks of Gentile Christians in Romans 2:25-29 who fulfil the law through faith in Christ and a life in the Spirit.

Inner-Biblical Interpretation

Jan du Rand explores the theme of theodicy in Revelation 6:9-11 and 4 Ezra.

Robert Hubbard expounds inner-biblical exegesis (IBE) by giving an overview of its origins and a description of what it is.

Women and Ministry

Jo Ann Deasy explores the struggle women have in developing a pastoral identity in evangelical congregations. She proposes that one of the main reasons for this struggle is the lack of a clear ecclesiology of the pastoral role.

Ekaterina Kozlova investigates Mary Magdalene’s persistent inquiry regarding the location of Jesus’ body in John 20 against the background of proper ancient funerary protocol and mortuary rites.


James Bruckner engages in the conversation about human identity, Christian identity and sexual identity by arguing that the stories that God tells about us in Scripture are the source of our ultimate identity.

Paul Koptak investigates the model of identity that comes through the five poems in the book of Lamentations, and how it speaks to the personal identity of Christians and the corporate identity of the church.

Scot McKnight probes three elements of a Pauline sense of identity: the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church, the reshaping of gender ‘in Christ’ and the unleashing of the Spirit that reshapes our identity into a new creation.

Hauna Ondrey investigates Cyril of Alexandria’s hermeneutics of identity in the Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, in which he designates the church’s way of life and distinguishes the church from pagan and Jewish communities.

John Painter studies identity in the Fourth Gospel, or more precisely, the implied appropriate response to the revelation in the Jesus of the Fourth Gospel.

In addition to these essays, the book also contains a bibliography of the works of Snodgrass by Stephen Spencer.

Although the essays in Doing Theology for the Church cover a variety of subjects, the quality is of the highest standard. The book will be of special interest to scholars who are themselves studying subjects along the line of the five themes of the book. Moreover, it will be of special interest to those who would like to honour and remember their colleague, mentor, teacher and friend.

As theologians we can learn a great deal from Snodgrass. Among others, we can learn from him to be church-conscious theologians who have the goal of enabling people to handle the word of God well, and to proclaim it well. We wish him all the best in his ministry during his years of retirement.

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