What Is Biblical Theology?

What Is Biblical Theology?

What is the Bible? Is it just a random collection of old stories? Just another book from thousands of years ago with a few good lessons for us to learn? Or is there something more going on within the pages of Scripture? Is it possible that the ancient books of the Old and New Testaments are part of a single, unified story, begun long ago but extending into our world today?

James Hamilton shows us how the 66 books of the Bible follow an overarching story line, helping Christians to read and interpret the Bible through the worldview of the biblical writers and as the early Christians read it. Hamilton examines key symbols, patterns and themes that are found throughout Scripture. He helps readers to really grasp and be transformed by the theology of redemption contained in and revealed through God’s Word. 

While not always seen on the surface, the biblical narrative (sixty-six books written by numerous authors and including stories, poems, proverbs, letters, and apocalypses) possesses a deep inner unity. Hamilton’s focus is for the reader to be shaped and conformed by the biblical story. Instead of making it all about us, we are to find ourselves in the story of redemption.

Why Study Biblical Theology? 
Hearing the word theology can be like hearing your teacher tell you to work out a Gaussian distribution (bell curve) in your Statistical Analysis class. “….what?” Often times our brains shut off. But Jim Hamilton is an author who does a good job of clearly presenting the thematic threads that run throughout Scripture. The Bible is a story; God is the Storyteller. Reading the Lord of the Rings is different than working out the inverted bell curve of a skewed plane. Just typing that gives me chills.

Disoriented Bible reading leads to disoriented living. Too often the Bible reader parachutes into a passage without understanding the immediate context or the overall context of the entire Bible. Getting oriented to the whole story of the Bible is the only way to right interpretation, and right interpretation equals right living. The reader will be able to better understand God’s Word, know the mind of Christ, and glorify God.

Hamilton offers the reader an aerial view of the forest before we can begin to walk among the trees. What Is Biblical Theology? provides a very helpful start for beginning students, and students of all levels will be blessed in the reminder of the patterns and themes that make Scripture such a deep and glorious book.

[A big thanks to Netgalley, Crossway, and Jim Hamilton for making this book available to review and allowing me to review it.] 

Amazon:

What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns

Paul and the Law (NSBT)

Paul and the Law

“For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19).

The apostle Paul’s relationship to the Law of Moses is notoriously complex and much studied. Many people, scholars, pastors, students, and laymen alike all have trouble with what Paul does with the Law. What is the relationship of the Law of Moses to the Jews? The Gentiles? To Christians? What are it’s different functions? What does Paul mean when he talks about ‘the Law’?

Brian Rosner is coming out with Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God in the NSBT (New Studies in Biblical Theology) series.

Intertwined in Paul’s view of the law is his teaching concerning salvation history, Israel, the church, anthropology, ethics and eschatology. To misunderstand Paul’s teaching on the Law is to misunderstand Paul’s teaching! Understanding what Paul says is important because it touches on the old question of the relationship between the grace of God in the gift of salvation and the demand of God in the call for holy living.

The NSBT series is written in a more readable-level than other books on biblical studies. It attempts to help Christians think and better understand their Bibles. The series aims to instruct and to edify, to interact with the current literature, and to point the way ahead. In God’s universe, mind and heart should not be divorced. The volumes are written within the framework of confessional evangelicalism, but there is always an attempt at thoughtful engagement with the sweep of the relevant literature (1).

[The New Studies in Biblical Theology series is edited by D. A. Carson and published by Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press in the UK) and InterVarsity Press].

IVP BOOKS: Paul and the Law
Rosner has also written books on Pauline Ethics and a commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Pillar series.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

Thomas Schreiner, Biblical Theologies

Paul, Apostle

In a few weeks I’ll put up a review of Thomas Schreiner’sPaul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology.

Schreiner is a pastor/scholar who’s purpose in this book is to look at the center of Paul’s theology. What is the center of Paul’s letters? What is His sole purpose in writing to believers about the difficult situations they experience? It isn’t to teach them the details about justification, or righteousness, evangelism, or even the gospel. It’s to point to God’s glory. The goal of all history is to see the King in His beauty.

Now I agree: hearing about a book on Pauline Theology doesn’t really get one’s adrenaline pumping. Reading about righteousness, justification, sin, suffering, the church……been there, heard that. Could anything be more boring?

Well, surprisingly, this book isn’t as boring as it might sound. In fact, I really enjoy it. Schreiner knows his stuff. Schreiner shows what is most important in Paul’s thinking by looking at the connections in the themes of Paul’s epistles. The passion of Paul’s life, the foundation of his vision, and the animating motive of his mission was the supremacy of God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. He weaves Paul’s themes through his scriptures so well, it’s a (very small) wonder I haven’t seen the connections before. He makes it look easy. I’ll review this book soon.

TKIHB

In the meantime, Schreiner’s newest book title is based on Isaiah 33:17, “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off.”  The King in His Beauty traces the storyline of the scriptures from the standpoint of biblical theology. Schreiner examines the overarching, metanarrative that is found throughout the Bible.

Three themes are emphasized in the biblical narrative:

  1. God as Lord.
  2. Human beings as those who are made in God’s image.
  3. The land in which God’s rule is exercised.

The goal of God’s kingdom is to see the King in His beauty and to be enraptured in his glory.

In the links you can find the Table of Contents and a PDF sample. At 736 pages, this whole Bible theology isn’t even a drop in the bucket, but it sure does help to see the themes and connections interwoven in the 66 books.

Lagniappe

2 Articles on TKiHB

Book Links

Publishers

Amazon

The World of the New Testament

world-of-the-new-testament

There’s a new book coming out by Baker Academic called the World of the New Testament: The Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts. It’s written to introduce the Jewish + Hellenistic + Roman backgrounds necessary for understanding the New Testament + the early church. Contributors include scholars such as Lynn H. Cohick, David A. deSilva*, James D. G. Dunn, and Ben Witherington III*.

Features

  • Historically accurate photographs and maps
  • Tables and charts
  • Introduction to Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman history
  • A ton of pages, chapters, and loads of information to help make the text clearer. 

Excerpt

An excerpt I found from Baker Book House Church Connection’s blog on an essay by Lynn Cohick called “Women, Children, and Families in the Greco-Roman World”:
Paragraph 1: Details about the ease of illness in families, mothers, and especially children
Paragraph 2: Why it’s important to us

  • “Parents in the ancient world eagerly anticipated and were greatly anxious about the birth of their child. . . . The birth itself was fraught with danger for the mother and infant. . . . About 30-35 percent of all newborns did not survive their first month, and 50 percent of children died by the age of ten. . . . Young children’s diets were often lacking in nutrition, especially protein and vitamins A and D, contributing to the high death rate among children less than five years of age. (184-85)

    Why is this important to know? Here’s part of her conclusion:

    “Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) and Mary the mother of Jesus likely faced their pregnancy and labor with some trepidation, knowing the dangers involved. . . . Statistics show that life was precarious, and Jesus’ healing of Jairus’s son (Luke 7:11-17) links his story to that fact. Notice that the parents welcome with great joy their restored children.” (186)

So the point of this book is for us to see why studying the context of the NT culture is be important. Just in the example of families and children, when Jesus taught outside and in homes, children would be present. Why was Jesus always healing children? Because children were always sick, and, if nothing else, the family found great joy in their children.

Context shows us what various practices meant back then (ex: baptism). 
Context shows us why letters were written (ex: to whom and why was the Gospel of John written?).
Context shows us how a topic  fits into the letter (ex: How does Romans 9-11 fit with the rest of the book?). 

I very much look forward to reading this book (if I ever get the chance). It like it will be a very good read.

Lagniappe

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (August 15, 2013)
  • Authors: Joel B. Green and Lee Marin McDonald
  • Amazon: The World of the New Testament

*DeSilva has also written an excellent books on the NT called Honor, Patronage, Kinship, & Purity and An Introduction to the New Testament (which I have read a good portion of at CCBCY). He’s very good at knowing and successfully explaining the historical context of the NT and it’s letters.

*Ben Witherington III has quite a few Socio-Rhetorical Commentaries of the NT letters. It’s roughly the same idea as DeSilva, just in his own unique way. Why does the letter say what it says? What is the current situation? Does the dating of a letter really matter to us today?

I’ve added the Table of Contents if you’re curious to know what’s in this book.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. New Testament Chronology

Part 1: Setting the Context: Exile and the Jewish Heritage

  • 3. Exile
  • 4. The Hasmoneans and the Hasmonean Era
  • 5. The Herodian Dynasty
  • 6. Monotheism
  • 7. The Scriptures and Scriptural Interpretation

Part 2: Setting the Context: Roman Hellenism

  • 8. Greek Religion
  • 9. The Imperial Cult
  • 10. Greco-Roman Philosophical Schools
  • 11. Civic and Voluntary Associations in the Greco-Roman World
  • 12. Economics, Taxes, and Tithes
  • 13. Slaves and Slavery in the Roman World
  • 14. Women, Children, and Families in the Roman World
  • 15. Education in the Greco-Roman World

Part 3: The Jewish People in the Context of Roman Hellenism

  • 16. Temple and Priesthood
  • 17. Jews and Samaritans
  • 18. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes
  • 19. The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • 20. Prophetic Movements and Zealots
  • 21. Apocalypticism
  • 22. Synagogue and Sanhedrin
  • 23. Jews in the Diaspora
  • 24. Noncanonical Jewish Writings
  • 25. Jewish Identity, Beliefs, and Practices
  • 26. Jewish Education
  • 27. Healing and Health Care

Part 4: The Literary Context of Early Christianity

  • 28. Reading, Writing, and Manuscripts
  • 29. Pseudonymous Writings and the New Testament
  • 30. Literary Forms in the New Testament
  • 31. Homer and the New Testament
  • 32. Josephus and the New Testament
  • 33. Philo and the New Testament
  • 34. Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament
  • 35. Other Early Christian Writings

Part 5: The Geographical Context of the New Testament

  • 36. Jesus Research and Archeology
  • 37. Egypt
  • 38. Palestine
  • 39. Syria, Cilicia, and Cyprus
  • 40. The Province and Cities of Asia
  • 41. Galatia
  • 42. Macedonia
  • 43. Achaia
  • 44. Rome and Its Provinces

Additional Resources

  • Money in the New Testament Era
  • Measurements in the New Testament Era
  • Indexes

If you’ve read this far. Bless your heart. This book is big.

Chandler and Currid

I just received Matt Chandler’s new book To Live Is Christ along with John Currid’s Against the Gods from Netgalley. Both are for review one month before their release date, so expect their reviews in a few weeks.

Check out what is said about Chandler’s To Live Is Christ:

  • “Using Paul’s radical letter to the Philippians as his road map, Matt Chandler forsakes the trendy to invite readers into authentic Christian maturity. The short book of Philippians is one of the most quoted in the Bible, yet Paul wrote it not for the popular sound bites, but to paint a picture of a mature Christian faith. While many give their lives to Jesus, few then go on to live a life of truly vibrant faith.”
  • “In this disruptively inspiring book, Chandler offers tangible ways to develop a faith of pursuing, chasing, knowing, and loving Jesus. Because if we clean up our lives but don’t get Jesus, we’ve lost! So let the goal be Him. To live is Christ, to die is gain—this is the message of the letter. Therefore, our lives should be lived to Him, through Him, for Him, with Him, about Him—everything should be about Jesus.”

And Currid’s Against the Gods:

  • Did the Old Testament writers borrow ideas from their pagan neighbors? And if they did, was it done uncritically? A respected Old Testament scholar and archaeologist engages with this controversial question by carefully comparing the biblical text to other ancient Near Eastern documents. Well-researched and thoughtfully nuanced, Currid aims to outline the precise relationship between the biblical worldview and that of Israel’s neighbors.

Read more about Against the Gods in my previous post here: Delicious

  • I’ve been looking forward to Currid’s book because it wasn’t until I was in college that I had ever heard of multiple Flood stories. My history teacher proposed the idea that Moses had stolen the idea from other cultures and put it into the Bible, therefore disproving the authenticity and truthfulness of the Bible. I didn’t believe him, but I was interested that there were other stories (i.e. the Epic of Gilgamesh with the flood hero Utnapishtim).

In the mean time, also be looking for my review of Judah Smith’s book Jesus Is ____. It should be up within a few days.

Lagniappe

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

Four Views

4 Views; Works at Final Judgment

ZondervanPublishers has a great series of books called Four Views (ranging from three to five views about a certain topic in the Bible). Each Four Views book includes four different theologians who state their claim on what they believe the Bible says about the topic at hand. Zondervan just came out with a new book titled Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment, which is a look at the doctrine of how works comes into play with salvation. Are we saved merely by faith alone? Are we saved by our works too? What about eternal rewards? Is works just a sign of God’s work in our lives as new creations?

The Four Views and their Respected Authors are:
Robert N. Wilkin
:
Works will determine rewards but not salvation:
At the Judgment Seat of Christ each believer will be judged by Christ who will determine the one’s eternal rewards, but he remains eternally secure even if the judgment reveals he failed to persevere in good works (or in faith).

Thomas R. Schreiner:
Works will provide evidence that one actually has been saved:
At the final judgment works provide the necessary condition, though not the ground for final salvation, in that they provide evidence as to whether one has actually trusted in Jesus Christ.

James D. G. Dunn:
Works will provide the criterion by which Christ will determine eternal destiny of his people:
Since Paul, Jesus, and the New Testament writers hold together ‘justification by faith and not by works’ with ‘judgment according to works’, we should not fall into the trap of playing one off against the other or blend them in a way that diminishes the force of each.

Michael P. Barber:
Works will merit eternal life:
At the final judgment, good works will be rewarded with eternal salvation. However, these good works will be meritorious not apart from Christ but precisely because of the union of the believer with him.

————————————————————————————————————————–
I agree with Wilkin and Schreiner, though at this present moment I’m wanting to look into the idea of eternal rewards. It’s not that I don’t believe it, It’s just something I want to study more of. And given that I’d like to teach 2 Corinthians one day, and the idea of eternal rewards [possibly] crops up in the letter, it looks as if I’ll be studying it pretty soon.

I read part of the Hell book for my theology class. I read the Conditional [Annihilational] view and wrote a paper against it. The books are a good way to grasp other beliefs about for and against the doctrines we hold. You will become more familiar with the other sides of the argument so that at least you won’t be surprised when you hear someone bring it up. Reading the Conditional view (and writing a paper against it) helped me to formulate what I thought about the doctrine of hell.

Check out the Amazon reviews too. These books can be pretty cheap!

2 Views on Amazon:

3 Views on Amazon:

4 Views on Amazon:

5 Views on Amazon

6 Views on Amazon

Delicious

Against the Gods

Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament

“Did the Old Testament writers borrow ideas from their pagan neighbors? And if they did, was it done uncritically? A respected Old Testament scholar and archaeologist engages with this controversial question by carefully comparing the biblical text to other ancient Near Eastern documents. Well-researched and thoughtfully nuanced, Currid aims to outline the precise relationship between the biblical worldview and that of Israel’s neighbors” (Crossway).

Did Moses plagiarize the Flood story from surrounding cultures and put a monotheistic twist on it? Did the surrounding pagan cultures have it correct from the get-go? Moses grew up in Egypt so it would be easy to carry over a few details to create a well-crafted story about the creation of the world to the now-freed people of Israel. Or, more likely, Moses wrote from the perspective of monotheism as a polemic to put down the incorrect notions of the pagan cultures.

In his newest book, Against the Gods, John Currid talks about topics from Creation to the Flood, to Moses’ life in Egypt, to the plagues, and on Yahweh’s supremacy over Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt.

I’ve listened to his three 40 minute lectures from iTunesU, and while listening to Ancient near eastern facts might not sound like fun, after I finished the three tracks I was eager for more. Currid speaks on the significance of the plagues (how each one was against either the Pharaoh or a god of Egypt), the importance of the serpent in Egyptian eyes, and what ‘hardening Pharaoh’s heart’ meant for the original readers, to name a few.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s so great about the first 15 chapters of Exodus, then be on the lookout for this book.

Lagniappe

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

In the Beginning…

If you’re wondering what I’m doing starting a blog about Spoiled Milk, well, it won’t be about spoiled milk. Don’t worry. I don’t have too many stories about that. If you’re wondering what I’m doing starting a blog called Spoiled Milks with posts that have nothing to do with spoiled milk, then you’re in a good place.

I don’t know what I’m thinking either.

I’ve now graduated from Calvary Chapel Bible College, and, now that I’m done, I’m returning to York as an intern. In the last two years I’ve gone from graduating with a Marketing degree to going international and knowing that I want to teach the Bible.

Since then I’ve read a few books, and I want to give you the opportunity to see what some of them are. I’ll put a few ‘odds-n-ends’ posts on here, but I’ll also being posting information on new books that are coming out along with reviewing some books so you can know what good books are out there and what they are about.

Hopefully it’s more entertaining than it sounds. You know how I can be….

Potential Upcoming Reviews

3 books I’d like to review soon are:

  1. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology by Tom Schreiner
  2. Jesus Is… by Judah Smith
  3. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

Right now those are the only three books I have on the brain. If there are others you would like to know about, you could ask me. I make no promises given my short allotment of time and other books I want to read. But at least it’ll give me an idea of what you like to read.

Here’s to hoping this doesn’t become like my other “spoiled milk” blogs and, well, spoil.