The “NIV Zondervan Study Bible:” A Dispensational Reflection -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 21:0 (NA 2016)
Article: The “NIV Zondervan Study Bible:” A Dispensational Reflection
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger

The “NIV Zondervan Study Bible:”
A Dispensational Reflection

Mark A. Snoeberger1


In March of 1900 Benjamin B. Warfield wrote pejoratively of the “development in our day of an entirely new theological discipline…[viz.,] Biblical Theology,” which “did not present at first…a very engaging countenance, and seemed to find for a time its chief pleasure in setting the prophets and apostles by the ears.”2 For Warfield, biblical theology (unlike systematic theology) had a dubious historical record as a custodian of orthodoxy, stumbling far more often than it had succeeded. To be sure, Warfield did have a biblical theology of his own (though he did not at first call it by that label)3 and his comment appears in a context of cautious optimism about the future of biblical theology, so I have no designs to paint Warfield as an enemy of the discipline. He was instead a cautious churchman greeting a new discipline with misgivings that were only beginning to subside after careful interaction with orthodox biblical theologians such as Gustav Oehler, Christian Schmid, and Geerhardus Vos. So what was it about biblical theology that elicited such preliminary consternation from the Lion of Princeton? And having discovered this answer, is there any room for similar misgivings today? The recent publication of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (Zondervan, 2015), which by its own testimony represents something of a triumph of biblical theology, gives us an apt occasion to ask and answer these questions.

This enormous (2,880-page) study bible comes to us edited by D. A. Carson with editorial assistance from Richard S. Hess (OT, archaeology, and maps), T. D. Alexander (OT and biblical theology),

Douglas J. Moo (NT and biblical theology), and Andrew David Naselli, whose yeoman efforts and capable hands herded scores of evangelical “top men” to a common publication goal. The work is impressive, offering the evangelical professional community one of the best all-in-one, single-volume study helps that money can buy. Since the literature is already saturated with standard reviews of this volume (almost all of them appropriately positive), I do not intend to simply write another. Instead I hope to offer my reflections on the general idea and claim of the NIVZSB to be a pioneering work of evangelical biblical theology.

By advertising this volume as a pioneering piece of evangelical biblical theology, the publishers and editors firstly assume that the Bible is wholly true, and that it possesses a unified s...

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