Brevard Childs writes (481),
“the major function of Biblical Theology is to provide a bridge for two-way traffic between biblical exegesis and systematic theology’s reflections on the subject matter.”
Here’s my view (“Biblical Theology and Preaching,” 199) of what we’re after when we do biblical theology:
“When we do biblical theology we are trying to lay hold of the perspective from which the biblical authors have interpreted earlier biblical texts and from which they write. We are looking for the matrix of assumptions and conclusions that necessitate the statements made by the biblical authors. We are trying to get at the world view that gives rise to the assertions the biblical authors make.”
As for the relationship between exegesis, systematic theology, biblical theology, and dogmatic theology, I would say:
“we can also view biblical theology, systematic theology, and historical theology as equal tools, each of which can be used to sharpen our exegesis and theology. And the reality is that all these methods are used in teaching Christians, which makes them all dogmatic theology” (GGSTJ, 47).
So I’m not sure it’s helpful to speak of biblical theology as a bridge discipline, because I see the goal of biblical theology as seeking to understand what the biblical authors assumed about the world’s true story (i.e., redemptive history), the symbols they employ to summarize and interpret that story (images, patterns, types, etc.), and the place of Christ and the church in that story and those symbols.
As I see it, if we become confident about how the biblical authors interpreted these realities, we should adopt their perspective. Once we do that, which is to say, if we understand biblical theology (always subjecting our conclusions to the Scriptures), I’m not sure a bridge is necessary.
If I were to refer to biblical theology as a “bridge,” what I would mean is that it’s a bridge from the thought-world that characterizes fallen, rebellious humanity into the thought-world of the biblical authors. Or again, a bridge from the symbolic-universe of the wicked world that is ranged against God and his Messiah into the symbolic-universe reflected in the Scriptures.
But that bridge is to be crossed but once, and once across the chasm, there’s no reason to return.
Am I missing something?