Monday, May 09, 2011

George Eldon Ladd ‘single-handedly reinvigorated’ ‘the Evangelical Mind’

Justin Taylor has picked up a paragraph from Scot McKnight’s brief review of the recently published biography of George Eldon Ladd:
I don’t believe our goal as Bible or theology scholars is to be deemed among the finest of scholars or to find a place at the table, but to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to the gospel and to orthodox theology and to academic rigor. Yes, we are to work to discover and to be creative, but the driving passion to prove ourselves at the feet of others falls short of a true Christian telos. I’d put it this way: we are called to be faithful, whether we are accepted or not.
McKnight summarized: “Ladd single-handedly reinvigorated evangelical scholarship and D’Elia tells that very story…. George Eldon Ladd was a Titan, his work irreplaceable, and his impact incalculable.” I’ve also had the opportunity to read and comment on Ladd’s impact. Here’s a paragraph from Donald Hagner’s Introduction to the Revised Edition of Ladd’s 1974 work:
Without question Ladd’s theology reflects the orientation of a specific interpretive community, that known widely as “Evangelicalism.” It was Ladd who was especially instrumental in helping many fundamentalists to see for the first time not merely the acceptability, but the indispensability, of historical criticicsm. Evangelicals – at least many of them – have become more open to many of the conclusions of critical scholarship (in regard to, for example, the authorship and dating of New Testament writings and the implications for the development of the New Testament) in the twenty years since Ladd wrote (in 1974). They continue, however, to share the basic convictions embodied in Ladd’s approach to biblical theology. For all the actual diversity in the New Testament writings there remains an unforced and genuine unity among them at the same time. For all the historical particularity of these writings they continue to possess a normative authority for the church. And if, as J. Reumann has recently written, “the ultimate test for any biblical theology will be whether it enables faith and obedience to God’s word,” that practical concern was close to the heart of Ladd. Ladd’s interpretive community continues to cherish the goals of faith and obedience. At their best, evangelicals will cultivate openness to all that increases faith and leads to a more effective obedience (pgs 19-20).


  1. I love Ladd's work. His "Theology of the New Testament" is beautifully written and clear. One of my favourite books in my library.

  2. Hi Matt, I refer to it often.

  3. If only Ladd was not a premillenialist!

    This book is a valued part of my library, too.


  4. Constantine, you can't have everything. :-)

  5. What's the largest difference between the grammatical-historical method championed by inerrantists and the historical-criticism method championed by non-inerrantist LibProts?

    Here's an excerpt from Roger Beckwith concerning what happened in England in the 19th century:

    "All things considered, therefore, the revolution in Biblical study which began in England with Essays and Reviews, and the similar revolution which preceded it in Germany a hundred years before, is a revolution which did more harm to the Church than so far as it taught us to approach the Bible unbelievingly, it has hindered the mission of the church ever since. It lies at the root of many of the calamities which have afflicted the church in our own day, and from which, until we repent of unbelief, the church will never recover."

    From HERE.

  6. TUAD, yes, a great deal of harm was done. Beckwith also said this:

    The ‘accepted results’ of critical study tend to be taken for granted as a basis for one’s own further study, and radical questions are rarely asked about them. When they are asked, and in a public manner, the presumption is against those who ask them, and any attempt the questioners make to turn back the tide of critical opinion is disregarded, as self-evidently perverse. New ideas receive an open-minded reception, but attempts to revive old ideas are, not unnaturally, seen as simply reactionary.

    I am merely an observer and a reporter of these processes, but I would have to say, from what I've read, not just Ladd's method, but what I've seen among other NT scholars generally, is kind of jiu jitsu done upon the skeptics. And I think that the body of work I'm seeing that addresses such things as "the Bauer/Ehrman thesis," the Jesus Seminar, the NPP, etc., in various commentaries, is not only very satisfying intellectually, but is also along the lines such that it can be said that these writers are "guarding the deposit of faith" in a very effective and even inspiring way.