Current Issues In Biblical Theology: A New Testament Perspective -- By: D. A. Carson

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 05:1 (NA 1995)
Article: Current Issues In Biblical Theology: A New Testament Perspective
Author: D. A. Carson


Current Issues In Biblical Theology: A New Testament Perspective

D. A. Carson

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Biblical theology can be defined in a number of ways, corresponding in large measure with the diversity of ways in which the practice of biblical theology has developed since the expression was coined almost four centuries ago. In the taxonomy of definitions, the most useful entries are those that stress the distinctiveness of individual biblical corpora, while pressing towards a “gesamtbiblische Theologie.” The conditions necessary for preparing such biblical theology are here articulated, and contemporary challenges to biblical theology are briefly classified and probed.

Key Words: biblical theology, historical theology, systematic theology, Old Testament in New Testament, Scripture, Bible, canon, New Testament theology

Like apple pie, biblical theology is something most people find difficult to oppose (though there are always a few who dislike the taste); unlike apple pie, biblical theology is rather difficult to define. To talk about “Current Issues in Biblical Theology” presupposes an agreed discipline whose current issues can be identified and discussed. In reality, no small part of the “current issues” stem, in this instance, from uncertainty about the status of the discipline.

An excellent starting point is the pair of learned articles, published two years ago in Tyndale Bulletin1 by our colleague Charles Scobie and reduced to more popular form in a single article in Themelios.2 Scobie focuses on the historical development of biblical theology, before advancing his own sensible proposals. One might

also usefully consult the spotted history of the discipline in the first part of Brevard Childs’s latest opus.3 Because so many of the crucial issues turn at least in some measure on one’s understanding of the relationship between the Testaments, the second edition of David Baker’s book is also profitable reading.4 A host of other historical surveys is available.5

While not ignoring the historical development of biblical theology, I shall deal with the subject somewhat more topically. I shall (1) begin by outlining the principal competing definitions of biblical theology, (2) elucidate the essential components of an approach to biblical theology that I judge viable, and (3) wind up by sketching...

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