A review of recent big books on the Bible, Part Five: Andrew Shead


22/08/2016 by Chris Green

41TsLvFnmrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Mouth Full of Fire: The Word of God in the Words of Jeremiah (New Studies in Biblical Theology) Andrew Shead (Nottingham, IVP: 2012)

OK, this is a cheat, because it sneaks in through the back door.  But Shead’s impressive biblical theology work on the book of Jeremiah, along the way also produces a mighty fine doctrine of scripture, and engages with Barth’s doctrine, leaving the Swiss in tatters.

Fundamentally, Shead has seen that Jeremiah is a book about God’s words (not the plural – this is not a hunch or suggestion from God, but a word-by-word message), given to – we could really say ‘incarnated in’ – the prophet, who is then treated by God’s people as badly as they treat the message itself.

I recently had to do some work on Jeremiah, and Shead’s work was more illuminating at the theological level than anyone else, but in addition he has also paid such attention to the details of the text that he actually cracked the structure and themes as well.

But Shead’s real benefit for us is in the two aspects I have already flagged up.

First, he shows that Jeremiah’s awareness of his task means that he would today have signed up for full, plenary and verbal inspiration. His task was to transcribe (several times) God’s words, and they are what we now have.  True, this is one of the more complex books of the Bible to make that claim about, because of the questions of tradition and history, but nonetheless it is one the text itself makes. Anyone of the view that verbal inspiration was a view (not just a vocabulary) that arose in the sixteenth or nineteenth centuries now has some serious work to do, to counter the evidence Shead marshalls.

Second, therefore, Shead dismantles Barth’s confusing distinction between ‘the word of God’ and ‘the words of man’.  Barth’s theological agenda is well known, and has been dissected by David Gibson, both in his own book and in the Carson collection, but Shead’s exegetical work shows just how untenable Barth’s position is; it can only really be adopted by someone paying more attention to their own agenda than a biblical model.

This is not always an easy read, but those of us who have to preach Jeremiah already know the world of long books – both the prophet’s own, and those who write about it. An excellent starting point for a tough-minded preacher.

One thought on “A review of recent big books on the Bible, Part Five: Andrew Shead

  1. […] A review of recent big books on the Bible, Part Five: Andrew Shead […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Shortlisted for “Most Inspiring Leadership Blog, 2018”

New resource

Pastors are busy, and leading a church is a demanding task.  That’s why I wrote this e-bookchecklist: The Pastor’s Checkup – The Top 10 Questions every pastor needs to answer (and helpful stuff if you can’t)

There’s only way to get it is by subscribing to my  (occasional) email newsletter here.


God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Legal stuff

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2018 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: