An indepth study of the history, principles, and practice of Biblical Theology (BT), as well as a review to evaluate the diverse secondary literature and the scholarly debates surrounding BT. Emphasis is on the theology of the scripture as it is traced through the entire history of redemption from creation to new creation, in which the diverse genres and literary devices are closely studied as a tapestry of complementary themes that portray God’s purposes through many motifs, prefigurations, types, symbols, prophecies, metaphors, images, and themes. The perspective taken is that of the unity and continuity of divine revelation evidenced in the gradual unfolding of the redemptive, missional, purposes of God in Christ. A key practical objective of the course is to explore through exegetical work the correlations between the covenant of creation and the covenant of redemption as the gospel is progressively unveiled from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:21.
Students increase in their grasp of the whole story of Scripture in order to be able to interpret and teach every text of the Bible as part of the whole, in contextual relation to broader contexts (chapter, book, testament, Bible), and particularly in expounding on the mission of God in his covenant-promises that come to completion in Jesus the Messiah. Emphasis is on practicing contextual biblical-theological exegesis so that students strengthen their habits of reading that produce interpretations consistent with all of Scripture, and especially how both Testaments form a unified whole telling the grand metanarrative of creation, fall, and redemption/recreation. In this sense, BT as a theological-hermeneutic provides a unifying and clarifying interpretive approach that generates skills and habits in reading the entire Bible as one progressive history of redemption, taking that history on its own terms as a unified text and theology that testifies to Jesus Christ. This approach develops student acumen in practicing literary analysis, understanding cultural backgrounds, and doing BT and systematic theological analysis (since it intrinsically corresponds to systematic theology by both informing it and being formed by it). Students also gain a greater understanding of the history of the interpretation of the Bible and the debates related to the modern developments of BT.
The pressing need of this generation, steeped in a culture that has produced many fragmented and disjointed readings of the Bible, is for missionaries and pastors, laypeople and professors who teach the Bible as a unified revelation of God’s glory from creation to new creation, in which every part has a profound significance in relation to the whole. In this way, the widely popular moralistic preaching and teaching and understanding so prevalent today will be countered by a more vigilantly biblical and gospel-oriented, Christ-centered, message of God’s creational and redemptional mission for his creation. Biblical Theology is the greatest foundation available to us to build a theology that is consistent and coherent and thus provides extraordinary resources for living life missionally for the gospel as communicated from a unified revelation of redemption, of one God, one way of salvation, one people of God. In sum, as a theological-hermeneutic, BT provides a unifying and clarifying interpretive approach that generates essential skills and habits in reading the Bible redemptive-historically.
The course is committed to the study of God’s word through the diligent study of the whole of the Bible as one unified revelation of God’s missional purposes of both creation and redemption.
BT is intrinsically missiologically-driven by its quest to read and understand the entire Bible from the perspective of the divine origin and execution of God’s mission in creation and redemption from the beginning to the end of the Bible, and how God’s people of all ages and nations have a profound role in that mission.
BT is by definition contextual, in that it is about the multiple contexts of every text in the Grand Narrative of God’s missional redemptive purposes and that can only be understood in their Messianic context. Thus, paradigmatically, BT sets the example for our re-presentation of the Bible for every generation and national, cultural context.
God’s message of salvation for all the nations in the Bible becomes riveting in clarity through a BT understanding of the unified message that God’s way of redemption is the same for all peoples in all times, and that all people as children of Adam and Eve become the children of Abraham by grace through faith; as equal inheritors of all of God’s promises, we are co-laborers in his present and eternal kingdom.
BT helps us to discover that God’s purposes concern his entire creation and that all of scripture has relevance for our life lived in God’s creation, and therefore its value is profound for our generation that so often thinks and lives in a dualistic way, hoping for some spiritual “heaven” (upper story) while missing the reality that all of our embodied human life lived under the Lordship of Christ is spiritually significant.
BT guides us in reading the whole of the Bible, every text, as a revelation of the person and character of the Creator of the universe, the “Living God,” the “I am that I am,” the Alpha and the Omega, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Instead of taking every text as just some “moral” exemploristic lesson, that so often burdens believers today with works theology, BT clarifies how we come to know who God is, what he has done, and what he has promised; we are then brought to much more profound thanks and worship of him in all his glory, as we walk by faith in his glorious presence waiting for the consummation of those promises when Jesus returns.