What Is Biblical Theology?

What is biblical theology? It’s an attempt to get at the unstated assumptions from which the biblical authors make their statements. The only access we have to those assumptions are the statements they make. Take Leviticus, for instance. The book has all these instructions for offering all these sacrifices, but it never states the rationale for those sacrifices. At least, it never states that rationale the way people living over 3,000 years after the book was written in a vastly different culture would like to have the rationale stated. So from what the book does say, biblical theology attempts to get at the rationale that Moses, in this case, has for the instructions, and which the original audience of the book knew, making it unnecessary for him to spell it out.

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  1. Jim, I like Brian Rosner’s definition: “T]heological interpretation of Scripture in and for the church. It proceeds with historical and literary sensitivity and seeks to analyse and synthesize the Bible’s teaching about God and his relations to the world on its own terms, maintaining sight of the Bible’s overarching narrative and Christocentric focus (Brian Rosner, ‘Biblical Theology,’ in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, eds. T.D. Alexander and B.S. Rosner [Leicester, England: IVP, 2000]: 10).”

  2. Mike and Jim,
    Whatever happened to your biblical theology blog that you all were a part of with Steve Dempster and Desi Alexander? I had hopes that it would be my absolute favorite blog and then it sort of died out…

      1. Life? Is that a valid excuse!? I’m thankful that you and Mike still blog regularly on your own, but sad that I can’t get enough of what the other two guys have to offer!

  3. Biblical Theology occupies a position between Exegesis and Systematic Theology. It differs from Systematic Theology, not in being more Biblical, or adhering more closely to the truths of the Scriptures, but in that its principle of organizing the Biblical material is historical rather than logical. Whereas Systematic Theology takes the Bible as a completed whole and endeavours to exhibit its total teaching in an orderly, systematic form, Biblical Theology deals with the material from the historical standpoint, seeking to exhibit the organic growth or development of the truths of Special Revelation from the primitive pre-redemptive Special Revelation given in Eden to the close of the New Testament canon.

    — Geerhardus Vos “Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments”

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