Biblical Theology: An Evangelical Approach -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 12:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Biblical Theology: An Evangelical Approach
Author: David J. MacLeod

Biblical Theology:
An Evangelical Approach

David J. MacLeod

David J. MacLeod received his Th.M. and Ph.D. at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is Dean for Biblical Studies and faculty member of Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque, Iowa, as well as Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal. Dr. MacLeod has contributed articles to Bibliotheca Sacra and The Emmaus Journal. Besides his academic career, David ministers the Word in his home church where he serves as an elder. His e-mail address is [email protected]


The aim of this article is to provide a concise introduction to the discipline of Biblical Theology, in particular the Biblical Theology of the New Testament. To accomplish this, the article will first provide a few representative definitions of the discipline1 and comment on its major characteristics. Second, it will present the operating presuppositions which guide Evangelicals as they approach the task. Third, it will relate Biblical Theology to the discipline of Systematic Theology. Finally, it will discuss the methodology of Biblical Theology, giving consideration to the organization of the materials and the steps in the process.

The Definition of Biblical Theology

Representative Definitions

Biblical Theology has been defined in various ways, the definitions of Lindsay, Vos, Ryrie, and Ladd being representative. In a now dated article Lindsay wrote, “Biblical Theology seems best defined as the doctrine of Biblical religion. . . . [The] product of exegetical study, . . . [it is] a systematic representation of Biblical religion in its primitive form.”2 Vos said, “Biblical Theology is that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.”3 Ryrie, obviously building on Vos’ work, said, “Biblical Theology is that branch of theological science which deals systematically with the historically conditioned progress of the self-revelation of God as deposited in the Bible.”4 Ladd has written, “Biblical Theology is that discipline which sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical setting . . . . [It] has the task of expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and in its own terms, categories, and thought forms.”5 More recently Marshall has defined the discipline broadly. He wrote, “The aim of students of New Testament theology is to e...

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