Paul House is the author of Old Testament Theology (IVP, 1998), one of my favorite biblical theology texts (also available in Logos). I highly recommend it for understanding the theological purpose driving each block of the OT text. This weekend I discovered 20 lectures Dr. House delivered at Beeson Divinity School in 2002 on OT theology. Those lectures are available online from biblicaltraining.org where users can stream the lectures online and—after a free registration and login—download the mp3s for free. For the lectures click here.
“Biblical theology is principally concerned with the overall theological message of the whole Bible. It seeks to understand the parts in relation to the whole and, to achieve this, it must work with the mutual interaction of the literary, historical, and theological dimensions of the various corpora, and with the inter-relationships of these within the whole canon of Scripture.”
This definition is taken from the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Biblical theology (BT) is one of the most rewarding ways to study the Bible and especially if you have good tools. Here are a few of the best BT resources I have used in the past:
From Eden to the New Jerusalem: Exploring God’s Plan for Life on Earth by T. Desmond Alexander ($14). Often BT is theme-centered and here Alexander takes the theme of God’s dwelling place and walks from Genesis to Revelation. God’s hope of global presence on the earth (Eden) was shattered by sin. Later, God’s presence on earth is concentrated with a nation (Israel), then in a tent (tabernacle), then in the city of Jerusalem (the temple), then to the Savior (Christ as the tabernacle; John 1:14), then to a group (the Church), and—in the future restoration—God’s presence will dwell across a rejuvenated planet (New Earth). If you have never read any BT, this little book by Alexander is a wonderfully developed and well-written example of how BT is done.
Also, on this topic of God’s dwelling presence it should be noted that a more detailed work is G. K. Beale’s contribution to the New Studies of Biblical Theology series (edited by D.A. Carson), titled: Temple and the Church’s Mission: Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God ($20). I highly recommend it. But if you are new to BT stick with Alexander.
Another very good general intro to BT and it’s major themes of study see According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy ($16).
Biblical Theology by Bruce Waltke and Gordon Fee ($60). This collection of 23 lectures (29 hours in length) was recorded in 1995 at Regent College. Waltke covers an intro to BT and OT BT in 12 lectures. Gordon Fee covers NT BT in 11 lectures. The collection is packaged with two PDF files: a massive 390-page OT lecture outline (Waltke) and a 125-page NT lecture outline (Fee). An outstanding resource.
The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology by Charles H. H. Scobie ($36). A thematic approach to BT that sketches out the connections between the OT and the NT on 20 major themes of the Bible under four broad headings of God’s Order, God’s Servant, God’s People, and God’s Way. A one-volume BT of the entire Bible will leave the reader unsatisfied at times but for thematic scope Scobie is useful and especially if you are new to the discipline of BT.
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology ($34). Contributions from the best biblical theologians including D.A. Carson, Alexander, Scobie, and Graeme Goldsworthy. It’s comprised of three sections: (1) essays that provide a wonderful intro to BT, (2) a look at the theology of each canonical book of the Bible, and (3) articles on the 200 most prominent biblical themes. It illustrates how BT is done canonically and thematically.
I came to value the NDBT when I took a BT course at RTS-DC (Futato/VanPelt). It is the most often referenced dictionary in my library as evidenced by the fact that I own three copies—one printed copy in my home office, one printed copy in my work office, and an easily searchable electronic version in Logos. Some books would be a bargain if they were twice the cost. The NDBT is one of them.
Old Testament Theology by Paul R. House ($27). The most readable single-volume BT of the OT, House is always inspiring and packed with theological punch. Slightly more advanced readers will appreciate Bruce Waltke’s An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach ($30).
Introduction to Biblical Theology by D.A. Carson. I list this out of personal curiosity. This is a course taught each autumn at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I’m told that after an intro to BT, Carson teaches through 20 various themes from Scripture. As hard as I’ve tried, I have been unable to find any existent audio recordings of this course or even copies of personal notes from students of the course. If you do have notes from this course, and you are willing to share them, please let me know in the comments. [UPDATE: Daniel passed along two versions of student notes from the course. Thanks a ton!]
Other works that come to mind (like Geerhardus Vos) but I’ll stop.
So what about you? What other BT works have you benefited from?
A gem from the classic book by Geerhardus Vos—Biblical Theology (p 358):
“[Jesus] regarded the whole Old Testament movement as a divinely directed and inspired movement, as having arrived at its goal in himself, so that he himself in his historic appearance and work being taken away, the Old Testament would lose its purpose and significance. This none other could say. He was the confirmation and consummation of the Old Testament in his own person, and this yielded the one substratum of his interpretation of himself in the world of religion.”
From Justin Taylor:
John Piper on John Sailhamer’s just-published magnum opus, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (IVP, 2009):
To all pastors and serious readers of the Old Testament—geek, uber geek, under geek, no geek—if you graduated from high school and know the word “m e a n i n g,” sell your latest Piper or Driscoll book and buy Sailhamer.
There is nothing like it. It will rock your world. You will never read the “Pentateuch” the same again. It is totally readable. You can skip all the footnotes and not miss a beat.
Last week, when Piper got the book, he tweeted: ” I feel like a greedy miser over a chest of gold.”
The Psalter goes on to protest about how things are in the world (Ps. 3; 4; 5). Here a link between politics and ethics on one hand and prayer on the other becomes more overt. The world’s not being as it should be may be a reason for human initiative; it is certainly a reason for prayer. Ethical commitment without calling on God appropriates too much responsibility to us as human beings.
The Psalms will later declare that “Yhwh reigns” or “Yhwh is king” or “Yhwh has become king” (e.g., Ps. 96:10). Generally speaking, it does not look as if this is the case. Israel’s world often looked like one in which Pharaoh or Sennacherib reigned, not Yhwh, as our world does not look like one in which Jesus is Lord. Like us, then, when Israel entered worship and declared that Yhwh reigned, it was often making statements that went against the evidence. It was creating a world.
Admittedly, talk of “creating a world” could be misleading. The Psalms’ conviction is that in the real world (as opposed to the world that we see) Yhwh indeed reigns. In worship we are making the already-real reality in our ears and before our eyes. We may then be inspired to go and live out our ethical and political commitment in the world outside worship in the knowledge that the world in which Yhwh reigns is indeed the real world. But we would be unwise to make that a covert way of reckoning that it is our task to bring about Yhwh’s reign, which would be laughable if it were not a Christian that is alive and well. (p. 27)
FYI—This latest volume is the third in Goldingay’s large OT theology project:
Surveys estimate that around 8-percent of contemporary Christian sermons derive their origin from texts in the Old Testament. A good thought from the late OT scholar Gleason Archer:
“How can Christian pastors hope to feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?”
– G. L. Archer, “A New Look at the Old Testament,” Decision, August 1972, page 5.
Things that make you go hmm.
Full disclosure: I receive a nice diet of O.T. preaching. The Rolling Stones title was too good to pass up.