Analysis Of Geerhardus Vos’ Nature And Method Of Biblical Theology -- By: Richard C. Barcellos

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 006:2 (Jul 2009)
Article: Analysis Of Geerhardus Vos’ Nature And Method Of Biblical Theology
Author: Richard C. Barcellos

Analysis Of Geerhardus Vos’ Nature And Method Of Biblical Theology

Richard C. Barcellos

Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is a pastor at Heritage Baptist Church and teaches New Testament at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies, both in Owensboro, KY.

This article will examine one of Geerhardus Vos’ earliest lectures on biblical theology (1894), a magazine article from 1902, and his last published book (while living) in 1948. Material will be gathered from these sources to give us a working knowledge of what Vos viewed as biblical theology. Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation contains his 1894 lecture entitled, “The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline.”1 His 1902 magazine article, “The Nature and Aims of Biblical Theology,” was reprinted in Kerux in 1999.2 And finally, Vos’ famous Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments3 contains an ample treatment of what Vos intended by “biblical theology” in 1948, a year before his death. These will give us samples from his early years at Princeton and his final days on the earth. We will examine each in historical order and then draw some brief, concluding observations.

“The Idea Of Biblical Theology As A Science And As A Theological Discipline”

This lecture was delivered on May 8, 1894 as Vos’s inaugural address as Professor of Biblical Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary.4 He was 32 years old and just embarking upon his teaching ministry at Princeton. Vos spoke as a representative of Reformed orthodox theology

on an issue that had been the nearly exclusive property “of the liberal/critical biblical-theological enterprise”5 for over 100 years.

1. Introduction

In the introductory section of this lecture, Vos lays out his reasons for approaching this subject. The primary reason was because biblical theology was “a new chair”6 at Princeton, with Vos being the first to occupy it. He thought it his duty to present this material. Vos says, “I consider it my duty to introduce to you this branch of theological science, and to describe, in general terms at least, its nature and the manner in which I hope to teach it.”7 But there is a second reason.

This is all the more necessary because of...

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