Samuel Lucien Terrien (March 27, 1911 â€“ February 6, 2002) was a French-American Protestant theologian and biblical scholar. A professor at Union Theological Seminary for thirty-six years, he is known for his biblical commentary, particularly for his scholarly contributions to the study of JobJohn S. Tanner, "â€˜Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?,'" in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 266. and the Psalms in the Old Testament and for his book, The Elusive Presence (1978), in which he presented a new theology of the presence and absence of God written largely in the context of cult, not covenant. It incorporated both Old and New Testaments in a broader ecumenical context and introduced a way for future theologians to ask how the presence of God is experienced by engaging the wisdom traditions to explore how â€˜empirical observation can testify to a divine presence in human life just as visionary experiences can.' Terrien's articles and books on the Book of Job have been influential among theological scholars. His study of the Psalms, culminating in The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary (2003), is an extensive exegesis of the Psalter that offers a meticulous translation of the texts as well as their theological significance.
Theocentricity of all life in wisdom literature/theology of presence and absence
Through the study of wisdom literature, Terrien understood a biblical theology that was about God's presence rather than covenant, a presence as the center of Biblical faith, yet one that remains elusive. He "entered into the world of the Bible through probing ancient secularism; he now found in its theocentrism, and its persistent quest for the presence of God in his absence, a voice for the new age." Although his focus is primarily on the Old Testament, Terrien carries his treatment of the central theme of the presence of God into the New Testament in an important effort to shed new light on the relationship between the two testaments. This theology of presence is a unifying theme between them, yet his approach was also a dialectic one. As Walter Brueggemann explains, "Terrien's main effort is to show that the sapiential and hymnic materials must be centrally included in an Old Testament theology. Negatively he argues that the historical-covenantal materials have been unduly and disproportionately stressed. Thus, he seeks to establish a balance in which the covenantal/historical materials are seen as one side of a dialectic, but not the whole matter." For Terrien, cultus and presence have dominance over covenant. He argues that the hiddenness of God becomes a means to access the divine presence, while preserving God's freedom, understanding God's presence today to be continual, but elusive and intangible, never breaking into human history in any discretely identifiable event.
A biblical theology of manhood and womanhood
Terrien began early to explore a biblical theology, in both Old and New Testaments, that was unique in the ancient world and gave women as well as men an equal and full standing as humans. In an introduction to his book, Till the Heart Sings, Phyllis Trible called the theology â€˜the first, and to date, the only full-blown biblical theology of womanhood and manhood." According to Terrien, Biblical theology regards woman as â€˜the crown of creation' if one examines the overall perspective of the Bible and its gradual composition and canonization. The book's thesis upholds a vision of sexual relations in the Bible that promotes mutuality and equality between women and men. Terrien stated that the Bible, both Old Testament and New, advances a theology of manhood and womanhood unique in the ancient world. This theology turns away from sexism and misogyny to confer upon woman as well as man the full stature of humanity.
Best Book Relating to the Old Testament, Biblical Archeology Society (BAS) 1997 (The Iconography of Job). A festschrift was published in his honor, Israelite Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel Terrien, Eds. John G. Gammie, Walter Brueggemann, W. Lee Humphreys, James M. Ward. (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, Union Theological Seminary, 1978)
Category:American biblical scholars Category:American Christian theologians Category:Union Theological Seminary (New York City) alumni Category:Union Theological Seminary (New York City) faculty Category:1911 births Category:2002 deaths