Biblical Theology

Book Review - A Theology of Luke & Acts

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Last year, under the editorial direction of Andreas Kostenberger, Zondervan began the Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series.  The first installment was Kostenberger’s contribution A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters. The BTNT series seeks to provide a biblical theology of the entire NT in eight volumes with a biblical/thematic approach.

This year the next volume is A Theology of Luke and Acts by well known Luke commentator Darrell Bock. Darrell Bock has written a few other books on Luke and Acts: Luke (IVP), Luke (NIVAC), Luke (BECNT), and Acts (BECNT). A Theology of Luke and Acts is not a commentary but rather a thematic look at the biblical theology of Luke and Acts as a literary unit.

Purpose of Luke-Acts

The essential purpose for Luke-Acts is “to show that the coming of Jesus, Christ, and Son of God launched the long-promised new movement of God. The community that has come from his ministry, the suffering these believers experienced, and the inclusion of Gentiles are part of God’s program promised in Scripture” (p. 29). According to Bock, Theophilus needed assurance that this new movement (Christianity) was a legitimate work of God given the amount of persecution it underwent. Luke assures him that the persecution is not a judgment of God but rather part of the plan of God to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

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Book Review - Christ-Centered Biblical Theology

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In recent years biblical theology has enjoyed something of a comeback. A robust, Christ-centered, confessional variety of biblical theology is becoming more and more widespread and influential. And if we wanted to find someone to thank for this development, Graeme Goldsworthy’s name would come up on anyone’s short-list. His books Gospel and Kingdom, The Gospel in Revelation, and Gospel and Wisdom touched a nerve in the 1980s, and his later book Preaching the Gospel as Christian Scripture was picked up by many a Gospel preacher. Some have bristled at what they think is his wild approach to typology. And indeed, for many who pay attention to this theologian from down under, his approach to the Bible is nothing short of revolutionary. His redemptive-historical approach to the Bible has made the Old Testament come alive to thousands of rank-and-file Christians the world over.

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Book Review - God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment

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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.

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