Biblical theology

Biblical theology

Biblical theology is a discipline within Christian theology which studies the Bible from the perspective of understanding the "progressive history" of God revealing God's self to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. It particularly focuses on the epochs of the Old Testament in order to understand how each part of it ultimately points forward to fulfillment in the life mission of Jesus Christ.

Biblical theology seeks to understand a certain passage in the Bible in light of all of the biblical history leading up to it and later biblical references to that passage. It asks questions of the text such as:

*How much does this person or group know about the attributes of God?
*To what extent are God's plans revealed, such as future plans of sending Jesus as the messiah?
*How has Israel responded to God's interactions with them up to this point?

Biblical theology seeks to put individual texts in their historical context since what came before them is the foundation on which they are laid and what comes after is what they anticipate. Biblical theology is sometimes called the "history of special revelation" since it deals with the unfolding and expanding nature of revelation as history progresses through the Bible.

The motivation for this branch of theology comes from such passages as Luke 24.27: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to [the disciples] what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." The assumption of this text seems to be that the Old Testament anticipated the messiah and that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Thus, Biblical theologians suggest that, in order to understand the intended meaning of a Biblical text, one must understand what the text points toward or back to. For instance, when reading about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament, Biblical theologians follow the trajectory the Bible lays out for that system (namely, pointing to Jesus as the true sacrifice), and likewise, when a New Testament text refers back to the Old Testament (for example, Jesus being the son of David and heir of his covenant), they try to understand that text against its proper, specified background.

Biblical theology can be compared with and is complemented by systematic theology in that the former focuses on historical progression through out the Bible while the latter focuses on thematic progression. Systematic theology deals with a single topic in each place it is dealt with, whereas biblical theology seeks to follow the flow of "redemptive narrative" as it unfolds. In this way, biblical theology reflects the diversity of the Bible, while systematic theology reflects its unity.

The Christian concept of progressive revelation differs from the Islamic understanding in which successive revelations of God might annul former revelations, completely replacing them with a new truth. The Christian model within biblical theology sees the concept of progressive revelation as progressive revelation of new truth which supports, expands, and stands upon former revelations of God's truth like brick laying. This progressive revelation ultimately climaxes in Christ, and ends with the New Testament acts of the Apostles under the direction of the Holy Spirit awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus.

The discipline of biblical theology is primarily associated with viewpoints that also adhere to a belief in biblical inerrancy and biblical inspiration. Consequently, the work of Walter Brueggemann, Rudolf Bultmann, and other such scholars who reject these beliefs is not dealt with in the discipline. While it does engage with the work of philosophy and cultural and personal experience, it gives the Bible priority over each of these other lines of thought.

The work of Geerhardus Vos ("Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments"), Herman Ribberbos ("The Coming of the Kingdom"), Graeme Goldsworthy ("According to Plan", "Gospel and Kingdom"), and Vaughan Roberts ("God's Big Picture") have helped popularize this approach to the Bible.fact|date=March 2008 They summarize the message of the Bible as being about "God's people in God's place under God's rule and blessing" (in Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom, Paternoster, 1981).

External links

* [ The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline] - classic definition of Biblical theology by Geerhardus Vos (1894)
* [] - writings of Geerhardus Vos, who is sometimes called "the father of Reformed Biblical Theology"
* [ "Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary"] - has been printing biblical-theological material in the Calvinistic tradition since 1986
* [ Beginning With Moses: The Biblical Theology Briefings] - articles, essays and book reviews by various scholars in biblical theology
* [ The Reemergence of Biblical Theology: What is Going On?] from "Catalyst" (United Methodist perspective)
* [ WWW Biblical Theology Index]
* [ Biblical and Systematic Theology: A Digest of Reformed Opinion on Their Proper Relationship]

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