5 Kinds of Biblical Theology

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

51DWmOW5TGL._SS500_Last week, I told you about Graeme Goldsworthy’s Christ-Centered Biblical Theology. Over this past week though, I’ve been reading more on the subject and have dove into Edward Klink and Darian Lockett’s Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice. You can look forward to a full review early next month, but in the mean time, I thought I’d share their lay of the land when it comes to biblical theology.

Basically, they see 5 different kinds of approaches to biblical theology. Each section outlines a different approach (labelled BT1, BT2, and so on). The first chapter in each section describes the theory underlying the method, and then the second chapter in each section presents a case of study of representative scholar employing that method/perspective.

Here’s the 5 kinds of biblical theology outlined in Understanding Biblical Theology:

  • Biblical Theology as Historical Description (a la James Barr)
  • Biblical Theology as History of Redemption (a la D. A. Carson)
  • Biblical Theology as Worldview Story (a la N. T. Wright)
  • Biblical Theology as Canonical Approach (a la Brevard Childs)
  • Biblical Theology as Theological Construction (a la Francis Watson)

In case you’re curious how this relates to the book I highlighted last week, pretty much everyone Goldsworthy discusses (and his approach as well) would fall under BT2. In fact, within the second model listed above, the authors break out descriptions of three schools of biblical theology:

  • The Dallas School (named for DTS, and represented by Roy Zuck and Darrell Bock)
  • The Chicago School (named for TEDS and of course represented by Carson)
  • The Philadelphia School (named for Westminster style biblical theology a la Vos, Clowney, and Gaffin)

Alongside Goldsworthy’s layout from last week, this is particularly helpful. Goldsworthy falls within BT2, but it offering an approach to biblical theology that is different from either Dallas, Chicago, or Philadelphia style biblical theology. In case you wondering what sets those styles apart, you’re just gonna have to wait for the full review. But as somewhat of a preview, I can say that what sets apart Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia methodologically is far less significant than what sets apart a D. A. Carson type approach and a James Barr approach. In other words, philosophically, Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia are more or less on the same page, whereas they would each differ with all the other models.

Hopefully that isn’t too confusing. Like I said, I’m finding it very insightful,especially alongside all my other reading. The book will be out later on in November, and so will my review!


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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