The Shifting of the Ground

[The problem with] twentieth-century Old Testament theology was its inability to come to terms with history as it had been understood in nineteenth-centry criticism and as it continued to operate rather uncritically in the twentieth century. We have already seen how, since Gabler in 1787, Old Testament study was generally understood as a historical study. The emergence of history as a primary co-discipline of Scripture study at the end of the eighteenth century signaled the determination of Bible scholars to break free of church interpretation that had longed regarded philosophy as its proper co-discipline.

The embrace of history as the proper perspective on biblical texts reflected the spirit of the nineteenth century and was undoubtedly an attempt to be scientific rather than confessional. Therefore the great historical enterprise of the nineteenth century asked primarily historical questions.

—Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament