The Enlightenment is responsible, I believe, for the fragmentation of theology into the various disciplines that now view each other with suspicion. I have never seen a good systematics professor feel threatened by exegesis or biblical theology. Quite to the contrary, the professors I had in seminary spent half to two-thirds of their time in exegesis. On the other hand, I wish I had a dollar for every single time I’ve seen in a commentary, “That’s a systematic category, and we can’t talk about that.” If you believed most exegetes today, systematic theology has no place at all in the theological curriculum. Richard Gaffin, however, said it best: “Biblical theology follows the plot line of the Bible, whereas systematic theology is a plot analysis.” But this wedge between biblical theology and systematic theology (of which exegetes seem to me to be utterly unaware: witness the blatant open theism of John Goldingay in his OT theology and in his commentaries, about which no one seems to be commenting) is part of a far larger fragmentation of theology that started with Schleiermacher’s Enlightenment-influenced Kurze Darstellung (translated here), wherein he parceled out theology into various disciplines. Schleiermacher’s work precipitated the great German theological encyclopedias of such men as Hagenbach, Rosenkranz, Rothe, von Hoffmann, Heinrici, Räbiger, as well as the English works of Schaff and Cave.
The problem with this whole system (Hagenbach’s system of division into exegetical, systematic, historical, and practical was much more influential than Schleiermacher’s own of philosophical, historical, and practical, and wound up being decisive in the formation of university faculties, and, later, when the universities banned objective theology in favor of religion, seminaries) is that increasingly different methodologies start competing instead of complementing each other.
What is vitally important for theologians today to recover is the generalist theologian. This was a comment made by Carl Trueman at a talk he gave a year and a half ago at the PCA General Assembly. That is what sparked me to do research into this fascinating area (the interdependence of the various disciplines) that is practically abandoned. The only modern works are by Ebeling, Pannenburg, Farley, and Muller, and the most recent one (Muller) is now showing some signs of age. It is past time for a more recent treatment. There is an historical treatment now of the German university system that has a fairly decent discussion of the theological encyclopedia. However, there is nothing modern in the way of a complete systematic treatment of the subject.
My post here is an expansion of a comment I made over on Biblical Theology.