Biblical theology is a discipline that is long overdue for biblically-based scholarly attention in a more public, accepted and permeating manner. The Biblical Theology Movement, as spearheaded by Brevard S. Childs in the 1940s-60s, did not accomplish what it set out to do in reaction to the source and form criticism of liberal theology. Until the last ten to fifteen years, biblical theology as a discipline had been lying almost dormant in terms of major influence within the broader theological world.
There have been a number of major biblical theology works that have had a significant and timeless influence upon the Christian world. Authors such as Geerhardus Vos, William VanGemeren, Daniel Fuller, Walter Kaiser, Graeme Goldsworthy and Charles H. H. Scobie have made classic contributions to the cause. But regardless of how long these works have been around, one wonders if they have had the impact they and others had hoped for.
Perhaps the work accomplished by biblical theologians in the past 10-15 years signals the rise of a new biblical theology movement, one that will take Scripture seriously as we have it and not as we might assume or wish it to be—not just biblical theology in regards to the whole canon but applying that same method to its various sub themes.
With God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, James Hamilton Jr. makes a significant contribution to the growing number of books seeking to tackle the daunting task of canonical biblical theology. Hamilton sees biblical theology as concerning itself “with what the Bible meant for the purpose of understanding what the Bible means” (p. 45). Thus, the purpose of biblical theology
is to sharpen our understanding of the theology contained in the Bible itself through an inductive, salvation-historical examination of the Bible’s themes and the relationships between those themes in their canonical context and literary form (p. 47).
From this purpose we see Hamilton’s binocular-like view of biblical theological method. The first lens looks at the canon itself. “I will interpret the Protestant canon, and the Old Testament will be interpreted in light of the ordering of the books in the Hebrew Bible” (p. 44). This is consistent with how biblical theology has been practiced traditionally. After all, the word “biblical” in this context implies dealing with the whole cannon. Read more...