There has been something of a “renaissance” in the publication of “whole bible” theologies in recent years. Where does your contribution stand in relation to these other works?First of all I think we should celebrate the publication of whole bible theologies. What an encouraging sign that Christians in our age want to understand the whole counsel of God. Evangelicals, in particular, play a leading role here, for we believe that the scriptures cohere, that there is a unified story instead of sound and fury signifying nothing.Second, I won’t mention all the other works that have been written, but I can say I have read and profited from them immensely. Generally speaking my work is less technical and hence more accessible than some of the works out there. I wanted to write a book that a busy pastor, college student, or interested layperson could grasp and understand. Whether I have succeeded or not is for others to say.Third, I wanted my book to focus especially on scripture itself instead of what other scholars say. I wanted to show inductively by quoting or referring to scripture that the theology I presented was in accord with what the biblical writers were saying. This is not to say that I didn’t learn a great deal from many other scholars in my research and study. They were immensely helpful.
What are you trying to capture with the title “you will see the king in his beauty”?The words come from Isaiah 33. I wanted to emphasize why it matters that the Lord is king. The story is about God conquering Satan, sin, and death. But why would we want to be on the winning side? It is because in the new creation (the new Jerusalem, the new heavens and earth) we will see the king in his beauty. We will be enraptured by our God and Jesus Christ forever.
Its been a fairly common theme in academic circles that a whole bible theology cannot be done or should not be done. Some suggest that labeling the Jewish Tanakh as the “Old Testament” is inherently racist and/or imperialistic. What’s your take on the “possibility” of a whole Bible theology?
Your question relates to what I said in answer to the first question. As evangelicals we believe in a unified story, in a canon that coheres, in a narrative that goes somewhere. Academic scholarship has typically maintained that there are different and even contradictory theologies in the scriptures. But as evangelicals we believe in diversity with an overall unity. Is our stance imperialistic toward the OT? It all depends upon your stance toward biblical revelation. We believe that the message of Jesus and the apostles, rightly interpreted, points toward an old covenant and a new covenant. We don’t believe we are imposing our own biases on scripture but receiving and transmitting the revelation given to us. We understand why those from other perspectives would disagree. The exclusivity of the Christian gospel has always been scandalous.
The question of “method” in particularly acute when attempting the bridge the Hebrew and Christian canon. What is your approach to “method” in terms of historical reconstruction of the literature, the reading of individual texts, and relating them across the canon?I don’t engage in historical reconstruction in writing my biblical theology. Instead, I accept the canonical shape of the scriptures and the text as it has come down to us as the source for biblical theology. I read the texts from a certain perspective. I assume they are telling a unified story, but I also believe it is imperative to listen to the contribution of each writer and piece of literature.
The whole thing.