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In his influential address, “Discourse on the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology, and the Right Determination of the Aims of Each,” Johann Philipp Gabler (1753–1826) lodged the programmatic proposal that scholars ought to distinguish between biblical and systematic theology. In his lecture, delivered at the University of Altdorf in 1787 (the year the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia), Gabler urged his colleagues to place their theological edifice more overtly on a scriptural foundation: “There is truly a biblical theology, of historical origin, conveying what the holy writers felt about divine matters.” Gabler claimed that a biblical theology conceived along these lines would provide the historical and rational scientific framework enabling systematic theology to relate biblical truths to contemporary life and thought. …
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This article originally appeared in Themelios.