Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Biblical Theology at BiblicalTraining.org

Biblical Theology may be expressed as seeking to understand a particular portion of the Bible in light of all of biblical history. What role does a particular story, psalm, or prophecy have to do with God's intended purpose in revealing himself and his mission in the whole of Scripture? At biblicaltraining.org, Miles Van Pelt, Craig Blomberg, and Tom Schreiner lecture in a series on biblical theology as it relates to the Old Testament, the Gospels, and Paul's writings, respectively.

I have not formally studied biblical theology, and I have read very little on the subject, but I am strongly convinced that our understanding of the Bible has been severly impacted by scholars who reject the integrity of the Scriptures. Many argue that the first five books of the Bible were written by various persons or groups, and that they were assembled much, much later. Others see more than one author for books like Isaiah. Not only does this undermine the integrity of individual books, but it quickly discounts views of the whole of the Old Testament as a cohesive document. If the foundation will crack, the whole will crumble.

Van Pelt demonstrates well the purpose behind the order of the Hebrew Old Testament, as opposed to the arrangement of the books in English. The order we see in our English Bibles seems to be traced back to Jerome as he sought to reach his Greek, western thinking audience who preferred a chronological, linear, logical arrangement, emphasizing chronology, authorship, and genre. The Hebrew Old Testament order, however, seems to exhibit different priorities.

Van Pelt shows how the original order of the Old Testament books fits nicely with the division of the New Testament books. He aligns Genesis with Revalation as bookends to the whole of Scripture. Next, he sees Exodus-Deuteronomy as the birth, life, teachings, and death of the covenant mediator, Moses. This fits nicely with the Gospels, the books that document the birth, life, teachings, and death of the covenant mediator, Jesus. Clearly, there are differences, but the similarities are striking. Next, Van Pelt sees a relationship between "the Prophets" -- Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve other prophets -- and the book of Acts. Both of these sections describe the history and preaching of the covenants. Last, Van Pelt shows the relationship between "the writings" -- Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles -- and the epistles of the New Testament. These writings record how we should live within the covenant.

I find this analysis fascinating. It helps me understand that there are some times that I will never be able to ask, "What would Jesus do?" He was unique, the greater Moses, and he mediated the New Covenant to us. Similarly, we cannot always ask, "What would David do?" He, too, was part of the Covenant history, and life for us will probably be different. God's design for David was to point us to a better King, Jesus. Daniel and Ruth, on the other hand, were good examples for us concerning how we should live as aliens and strangers in this world. This place is not our home, and we should seek to live life in a way that communicates this fact (1 Peter 1:1-2).

I am sure God has more to reveal to us concerning this! I want to know more!

~ Todd

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