Biblical Theology – a Definition

by

What is “Biblical Theology”? Well, broadly put, it could be any theology that seeks to trace its origins from the Bible. It can also be used polemically: I do Biblical Theology but you do Dogmatic Theology, ergo, my Theology is more Biblical than yours! Probably the best definition I’ve found is that given by Brian Rosner (who is an Australian which ensures that all of his theological judgments are infallible when he speaks ex terra Australis). Rosner writes:

[T]heological interpretation of Scripture in and for the church. It proceeds with historical and literary sensitivity and seeks to analyse and synthesize the Bible’s teaching about God and his relations to the world on its own terms, maintaining sight of the Bible’s overarching narrative and Christocentric focus (Brian Rosner, ‘Biblical Theology,’ in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, eds. T.D. Alexander and B.S. Rosner [Leicester, England: IVP, 2000]: 10).

As I see it the constituent elements are:

  • Recognition of the ecclesial context of biblical intepretation
  • Attention to the Bible’s teaching on the Bible’s own terms and language
  • Placed in the context of the Bible’s redemptive-historical story-line
  • Emphasizes the christocentric centre of revelation

How does that sound for an operating definition for us to use here?

Advertisements

15 Responses to “Biblical Theology – a Definition”

  1. bzephyr Says:

    Does this operating definition adequately express the idea that Biblical theology seeks to find coherence in the whole? I can almost see an over-emphasis on the Bible’s diversity still fitting into this working definition, and I would think it could say a little more about the unity of the Bible. However, I do acknowledge that the words “overarching narrative” or “redemptive-historical story-line” hint at this, and so does “Christocentric focus/centre.”

    In light of this, I really appreciate the convictions expressed by Scott Hafemann and Paul House (2007) in the introduction to Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity, (a recent volume that Stephen Dempster had a major part in) that…
    (1) “the Bible is a unity because it is the word of God, who is a unified and coherent being, and that a unified biblical theology should thus span the entire range of the Scriptures because they are all part of the written word of God”
    (2) “to do biblical theology is not merely to survey the contents of the Bible. In pursuit of an understanding of God and his ways, a biblical theology that spans the canon seeks not only to unpack the content, but also to establish the conceptual unity of the Scriptures as a whole as they unfold in human events.”
    (3) “these days doing whole-Bible biblical theology most likely should be a collaborative effort. The subject matter of biblical theology and the literature associated with it have grown too complex and the questions too many for most of us to pursue the task by working alone.”
    Obviously, you guys are working together on this blog under this third conviction, and I applaud your efforts! Looking forward to it.

  2. greenbaggins Says:

    Building on the above comment, I wonder also if the nature of the Bible as an organic unfolding of God’s truth, so crucial to BT, is as obvious in Rosner’s definition as it is, say, in Vos.

  3. John C. Poirier Says:

    Mike,

    I don’t care for the attempt to define “biblical theology” using the terminology of “theological interpretation”. As I see it, most of those rallying under the banner of “theological interpretation” are resolutely anti-historical criticism, and they intend the label “theological interpretation” to mean, first and foremost, precisely that sort of putting away of so-called Enlightenment reading strategies. For the life of me, I don’t understand how any reading of a theological passage shouldn’t be called “theological interpretation” (which is to say that the term really should be so underwhelming as to be useless), but that, of course, is a far cry from what is now being called “theological interpretation” in a technical sense.

    I know that proponents of “theological interpretation” are happy to acknowledge a certain lesser place for historical criticism, but they are not happy to say that historical criticism really gives us the true meaning of a passage, preferring instead to resort to canonical and narrative approaches, based on fundamentally opposed poetics.

    In short, I think that we cannot recover a truly biblical theology until we shut the door to this latest trojan horse.

  4. ryan Says:

    A great post that I think this blog could deal with is what is the difference between Biblical theology and systematic? I doubt a consensus would be reached but I have been in seminary for three years now and still no one can really answer this question.

  5. Philip Walker Says:

    As a layman to laymen, I tend to describe BT as “theology the way the Bible develops it” (or some variation on that theme). However, I can see that that assumes that people are basically agreed on evangelical doctrine, so that things like Scriptural unity and Christo-centricity are at least understood, if not consistently practised.

    This weblog looks like it should be a good read. I’ll be adding it to my watch-list.

  6. David Parker Says:

    I like that definition, and I also like what Philip Walker has emphasized about Biblical development of theology. I would also contend that one must do Biblical theology before systematic theology.

  7. Biblical Theology and “Theological Interpretation of Scripture” « Above Every Name Says:

    […] 28, 2008 Michael Bird defines Biblical Theology at a new Biblical Theology […]

  8. DorothyDorsett Rev. Says:

    In an attack by State of New Jersey for abuse, is not true by my salvation because I”m trying to start a school for God our Lord Jesus Christ, please pray for me don’t have any money because of lost of job income have stop. in Court

  9. DorothyDorsett Rev. Says:

    Thank you for prayers my Website is Dorsettministry.com

  10. How to Get Six Pack Fast Says:

    I follow your blog for quite a long time and should tell that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

  11. Ted Burrett Says:

    If you ever want to read a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this post for four from five. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed bits. Thanks, anyway!

  12. MosesJustin Nirmalkumar Says:

    Mosjos Mission Special Greetings in the Name of Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour of the World. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed & happy new year 2010. We like assure you that we are praying for you all. When you are feeling alone like no one cares, read this cuz its absolutely true: Every night, someone thinks about you before they go to sleep. At least fifteen people in this world love you. The Christianity Preaches Love thine enemy. But Praying for unknown people gives us extra vigour and strength to fight poverty. The only reason someone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you. There are at least two people in this world that would die for you. You mean the world to someone. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look. Always remember the compliments you’ve received. Forget the rude remarks. So if you are a loving person, send this to everyone on your list including the person who sent it too you. Romans 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Romans 15: Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; Ephe 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Philip 1: 4. Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5. For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Colosi 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 1 Timo 1: 3. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4. Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; This message gives me comfort and happiness. I wish to inform you that we as mosjos we are working among the poorest of the poor the oppressed and uncared people of the society. They are earning their lively hood collecting waste materials (hardly one dollar the cost of a simple meal in the local mess) thou they are talented in making the beads jewelery. I feel very bad when I am not able to help them this Christmas. I am trying my level best but now my financial position is bad. I humbly request you to pray for these people called untouchables they are not allowed to enter restaurants. Our Living God Lord Jesus Christ taught us to love one another. This season they should feel the happiness of the Christmas and new year 2010. Will you please pray so that God will provide them their need. Will you please think of purchasing their beads jewelery product so that they will also come up in life. “FOR ALL FLESH IS AS GRASS AND ALL THE GLORY OF MAN AS THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERETH, AND THE FLOWER THERE OFF FALLETH AWAY – I PETER 1:24”
    But what you do for the poor needy will last
    Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these bretheren, you did it to me Matt 25 : 40
    Contact me Rt.Rev. MosesJustin Nirmalkumar. Mosjos Mission church. 16,Moses ave. First Main Road,Thiruvanmiyur.Madras 600041.Tamilnadu India.

  13. Alles zu Goethes Iphigenie auf Tauris wie Analyse,Inhaltsangabe und vieles mehr. Says:

    Alles zu Goethes Iphigenie auf Tauris wie Analyse,Inhaltsangabe und vieles mehr….

    […]Biblical Theology – a Definition « Biblical Theology[…]…

  14. marketing scales handbook pdf Says:

    marketing scales handbook pdf…

    […]Biblical Theology – a Definition « Biblical Theology[…]…

  15. Cover Photo Says:

    Cover Photo

    Biblical Theology – a Definition | Biblical Theology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: