I want to start a series of posts on Biblical Theology. Having just finished a Masters of Religion in Biblical Theology, one would think that this is a topic that I’ve got figured out. While in some ways I feel very familiar with this area of study, in other ways, I still feel very much like a novice. Of course, anyone who has spent much time studying this area understands well why that is the case…because nailing down Biblical Theology is like “trying to nail jello to the wall.” What this series of posts will consist of are actually sections of a paper that I recently wrote on the Nature, History, and Practice of Biblical Theology. I want to share one section at a time and try to get feedback from whomever may wander across this blog. Perhaps if enough people share these posts with everyone they know, we’ll get a good conversation going after finding a few other nutters out there that love Biblical Theology. Just FYI, as you will see, the paper is written using both formal and personal styles. It is just as much a personal reflection as it is an academic composition. Finally, what follows is the introduction to the paper, giving a brief history of why I began this pursuit in the first place. Hopefully it whets your appetite.
It was with great excitement that I began this class called “Reading in Biblical Theology.” The reasons for my excitement were manifold. First, I had taken an Old Testament survey class during my first semester in seminary. More than ever before, following this class, I understood that there is great coherence and continuity throughout the Scriptures. I knew that God was telling a story and that it had ramifications in my own life. Not long afterward, I took a course structured around a proposed Biblical theology of faith, hope, and love. I was greatly edified by the class and encouraged to pursue a greater understanding of what Biblical theology is. My pursuit continued by taking a class in New Testament theology. Once again, I found the material to be very enriching and challenging. I found that the Bible was a source of life; however, one problem still remained. While I found myself being challenged and enriched by Biblical theology, I still had no idea what it was precisely. I had read numerous books that all fell under the rubric of Biblical Theology, but I did not understand what it was exactly that qualified them for that classification. I had a great amount of trouble defining it. I knew that I wanted my own study of Scripture to have the vitality and vigor that I found in the works that I was reading, but how could I do that if I did not understand what Biblical Theology was and how one practices it?
This desire led me to arrange this reading course around the following four questions: 1. What is Biblical Theology? 2. What is the history of its practice? 3. How does one do Biblical Theology? 4. What are some of the major themes within Biblical Theology? We will explore the first three of these questions in the rest of our study, commenting just briefly in various places on our question of themes.
Before we commence our study, a few words must be said concerning the form of writing that I will be employing. First, this is a personal study. This means that it will primarily be written in first person and incorporate a good deal of personal reflection and synthesis as has already been seen in this introduction. While I hope that others are able to read and be informed and encouraged, my primary goal is to allow my own voice to speak. Second, though this will be a highly personal study, I do hope to interact with several Biblical Theologians throughout. I would encourage any reader to become familiar with every book or article in the bibliography. Again, it is in reading these works and others like them that has created the burden for my own study.