The Significance Of Covenants In Biblical Theology -- By: Peter J. Gentry

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 20:1 (Spring 2016)
Article: The Significance Of Covenants In Biblical Theology
Author: Peter J. Gentry

The Significance Of Covenants In Biblical Theology

Peter J. Gentry

Peter J. Gentry is Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Director of the Hexapla Institute at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served on the faculty of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College and also taught at the University of Toronto, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Tyndale Seminary. Dr. Gentry is the author of many articles and book reviews, the co-author of Kingdom through Covenant (Crossway, 2012), and is currently preparing a critical text of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs for the Göttingen Septuagint.


The goal of this article is to address the significance and role of covenants in the doing of biblical theology. This topic entails describing the approach or method to biblical theology taken in the book written by myself and my colleague, Stephen Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant,1 and comparing different systems of theology and as such, calls for a gracious and humble spirit.

The term biblical theology, whether used in academia or in the church, has a bewildering number of meanings today. For starters, I am not using the term in the popular sense of theology that we may derive from the Bible or speaking simply of theology that is true to the Bible. Instead, I am using the term in the technical and disciplinary sense which will be defined shortly.

Even when we are using the term biblical theology as a technical term, a number of scholars, whether conservative-evangelical or liberal, honestly think that there are a wide variety of acceptable ways to do biblical theology. As we consider the role of covenant in biblical theology, we will do so in four steps.

First, we will address the issue of method or methodology in biblical theology. Should we accept the wide variety of biblical theologies, or can one argue for a methodology that is superior and leads to a biblical theology that better approximates truth so that other biblical theologies fall short, even if they have some value? We will broach this complicated subject by thinking through the different approaches to biblical theology as described by Edward Klink and Darian Lockett in their helpful overview of biblical theology, Understanding Biblical Theology.2 This book is a helpful place to begin our reflections on method and to provide some initial critical reflections.

Second, we will outline some basic assumptions and presuppositions essential to the task of doing biblical theology from the standpoi...

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