NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Crossway Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Here is an introductory text to the subject of Biblical theology by a professor who teaches it at Southern Seminary. Some might ask what Biblical theology is and secondly, why is it important.
The author James Hamilton define biblical theology as “the interpretive perspective reflected in the way the biblical authors have presented their understanding of earlier Scripture, redemptive history, and the events they are describing, recounting, celebrating, or addressing in narratives, poems, proverbs, letters, and apocalypses.” As Hamilton further explain the meaning of biblical theology he notes that biblical theology is the biblical worldview. Those familiar with worldview and apologetics should thus start seeing its importance for the believer.
The opening page of the book beautifully makes the point of why biblical theology is vital, with the author recounting the passing away of a friend who knew the Lord. It is a reminder that what we believe is an issue of heaven and hell and thus to know what the Bible really is about and the content of the biblical worldview is something practical and significant for life now—and for eternity.
The book is divided into three parts with the first covering the Scriptures’ “big story” that essentially capture the Bible’s one main idea. The second part of the book looks at the symbols throughout the Bible and how they contribute in our understanding of God’s main story. The third part of the book focuses on the church and how believers fit into the meta-narrative of Scripture.
If you know your Scripture well, part one of the book should be nothing new. However, even if you think you are familiar with the Bible, one can still spiritually benefit from this portion of the book, since we always profit from being in God’s Word and being reminded of the Gospel. I enjoyed the second part of the book the most, which explores “patterns,” “types,” and other symbols in the Scripture. Here Hamilton gives plenty of types that point to the Messianic hope of the person and work of Jesus Christ. One example that stood out to me was how the author interpreted Exodus 12:46 of the Lamb during the Exodus not to be broken, in light of Psalm 34:20 that later point towards Christ’s crucifixion. Somehow I never saw the connection of it before even though it was before my very eyes! I appreciated part three of the book which I saw was the author’s attempt to answer the existential question at the end of the day, “What does biblical theology have to do with me?” If we as believers are the church, and the Bible uses various motifs and symbol to describe the church, then biblical theology tells us who we are in Christ, what our identity is, etc.
Contrary to what some may think, biblical theology as a discipline is not “right theology” in the sense that other theology or method of theology is automatically “unbiblical.” I appreciate the author making it clear in the book that biblical theology is not opposed to systematic theology; that to engage in Biblical theology is not automatically “biblical” nor is systematic theology inherently “unbiblical.” Here I wish Hamilton could have gone on to explore more of the possible rich relationship between systematic theology and biblical theology. In my own life, as the result of my exposure to biblical theology it has shaped the way I teach and present systematic theology so that I’m not just “proof-texting” out of the Bible to prove a doctrine. I now make it a point to note the flow of Scripture and how a particular verse’s redemptive historical context help demonstrate the doctrine in question and also develops the doctrine as Scripture progresses.
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