Original Research - Special Collection: Christina Landman Festschrift

The role of theology in the interpretation of the Bible: Towards a synergy between theological and historical approaches to biblical studies

Pieter G.R. de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 1 | a5205 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5205 | © 2019 Pieter G.R. de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2018 | Published: 28 May 2019

About the author(s)

Pieter G.R. de Villiers, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


This article evaluates the origins, nature and role of historical criticism in biblical studies as a discipline and its relationship with spiritual or theological readings of biblical texts. It firstly analyses the roots, origins and nature of historical criticism that dominated biblical studies as a discipline in modernity. It then investigates a critical response to historical criticism in the recent renaissance of theological and spiritual readings of the Bible. In this investigation, it discusses how recent hermeneutical developments confirm that the two approaches, though clearly different, can function in a meaningful synergy to come to a more authentic and adequate interpretation of the Bible. The article concludes with an evaluation of this synergy, which is not about simply joining the two, but reflects a fixed pattern in which each one has a particular role to play.


Historical criticism; Hermeneutics; Spirituality; Biblical spirituality; Biblical studies


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