101 Books on Biblical theology is a resource for anyone interested in learning more about how the diverse stories and themes of the Bible fit together as a whole. The list below is broken down into five intuitive sections, which are designed to help you explore various kinds of books about biblical theology: 1) Biblical Theology: What it is and How to Do It, 2) Whole-Bible Biblical Theologies, 3) Old Testament Biblical Theologies, 4) New Testament Biblical Theologies, and 5) Thematic Biblical Theologies. Each of these major sections are further divided into groups reflecting the level of difficulty and depth of engagement of the titles listed: “Turn to First,” “Next Steps,” and “Jedi Master.” As with any list, many titles have been left out, but the books included here represent the best resources to start your journey as a biblical theologian. Honorable mention of works not listed include several helpful books that discuss biblical theology and preaching, for example: Edmund Clowney, Preaching and Biblical Theology; Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture; and Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Also, while the following scholars are not found in the list below, each expresses a deep concern for biblical theology in their work and thus we list them here as suggestions for further reading: N.T. Wright, D.A. Carson, and Daniel Block, among many others. This list is offered in the hope that it might encourage further investigation of the depth and riches of the Bible as a single book, the comprehensive story of God.
Compiled by: Brittany D. Kim, Darian R. Lockett, and Charlie Trimm
1) Biblical Theology: What It Is and How to Do it (15 books)
Turn to First
Grindheim, Sigurd. Introducing Biblical Theology. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013. (280 pp.)
Grindheim aims to introduce the biblical storyline, while also highlighting several key themes and concepts more recognizable from systematic theology. In fifteen concise chapters, the book moves from Genesis to Revelation, highlighting themes such as “The God Who Interacts,” “Made for Fellowship: Human Beings as Created,” “God Came to Us: The New Testament Picture of Jesus,” and “A Life Transformed: The New Life of the Believer.” Each chapter concludes with a list of further reading and discussion questions.
Hamilton, James M. Jr. What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2014. (128 pp.)
Defining biblical theology as discerning the interpretive perspective of the original authors, in part 1 of this book Hamilton offers concise chapters considering the narrative and plot of the Bible’s big story. In part 2 he describes the Bible’s symbolic universe (imagery, typology, and patterns), and finally part 3 outlines the Bible as a “love story.” A helpful introductory text strong on tracing the broad contours of the Bible’s storyline.
Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. 9Marks. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010. (240 pp.)
Lawrence aims to help pastors respond to the questions and challenges they face in ministry by developing a strong theological foundation. In his first section, he lays out some tools for interpreting biblical texts and for doing biblical and systematic theology. His second section tells the story of the Bible using five overlapping biblical-theological storylines (creation, fall, love, sacrifice, and promise). In his final section, he offers case studies, applying his method to a few biblical texts, and suggests various ways biblical theology can be used within the church.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2012. (240 pp.)
Goldsworthy’s contribution to the study of biblical theology has been enormous. Here he offers methodological reflections on what biblical theology is and how to do it well. In particular, he stresses the importance of typology for reading the diverse sections of the Bible as a unified narrative (exemplified in his work below, According to Plan).
Hasel, Gerhard. New Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978. (258 pp.)
Though written forty years ago, Hasel’s introduction is still a helpful guide to the history, theory, and methods of New Testament theology. After an opening chapter on the history and development of the discipline, Hasel discusses various methodologies for doing New Testament theology (his discussion of a Salvation History approach at the end is particularly helpful). Then in the final three chapters he considers various centers of New Testament theology (anthropology, Salvation History, and Covenant, to name a few), discusses the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and finally shares his own “multiplex” approach. His work is helpful for understanding the history of New Testament theology and some of the issues involved; however, his particular approach has not been influential in subsequent discussion.
Hasel, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate. 4th ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. (272 pp.)
For many years Hasel’s book was the standard introduction to Old Testament theology. Although there have now been significant developments in the field since the book’s last revision, it still offers a helpful discussion of many of the key issues an Old Testament theology must address. After summarizing the history of the discipline, Hasel describes various approaches to Old Testament theology and considers the questions of its relationship to history, whether the Old Testament has a center, and how the Testaments are related. Finally, he outlines his own multiplex approach, which traces the development of particular themes.
Klink, Edward W. III, and Darian R. Lockett. Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. (192 pp.)
Proceeding with the conviction that there is not only one way to practice biblical theology, Klink and Lockett briefly consider the key criteria included in any biblical theology and then offer a spectrum of five types of biblical theology along with examples of particular scholars representative of each type: BT1: Historical Description, BT2: History of Redemption, BT3: Worldview-story, BT4: Canonical Approach, and BT5: Theological Construction. The book does not argue for any one of the types, letting readers decide for themselves.
Sailhamer, John H. Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. (332 pp.)
Sailhamer characterizes different approaches to Old Testament theology as a series of choices about four key issues: 1) Is the theology based on the biblical text itself or on the historical events the Old Testament describes? 2) Does it use a historical-critical approach to the Old Testament or does it focus on the final canonical form? 3) Does it read the Old Testament like any other book or as the inspired word of God? 4) Does it present the theology of the Old Testament as a (historical or thematic) progression or as centered around key theme(s)? Sailhamer then outlines his own approach, which is based on the biblical text in its canonical form, read as the word of God, and is organized as a progression following the threefold structure of the Jewish canon: Law, Prophets, and Writings.
Barr, James. The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1999. (736 pp.)
While this large and somewhat unstructured book’s main point is to critique virtually every aspect of biblical theology, it looks at the discipline from a wide variety of perspectives and helpfully seeks to find as many flaws in the endeavor as possible that serious students of biblical theology will need to grapple with. In particular, Barr advocates for granting more importance to a history-of-religions approach (coupled with historical criticism) that accounts for changes in Israelite religion over time rather than seeking a synchronic and never-changing Old Testament theology.
Bartholomew, Craig, Mary Healy, Karl Möller, and Robin Parry, eds. Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation. Scripture and Hermeneutics Series 5. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. (528 pp.)
Part of the larger Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, this volume is a collection of seventeen essays grouped around the themes “Approaches to Biblical Theology,” “Great Themes of the Bible,” “Parts of the Bible and Biblical Theology,” and “Theological Interpretation and Biblical Theology.” A strength of the volume is the range of contributors—both biblical scholars and theologians offer essays on, for example, the connection between biblical theology and the clarity of Scripture, theological exegesis, and preaching, as well as methodological reflections and particular case studies in Zechariah, Romans, and Hebrews.
Hafemann, Scott J., ed. Biblical Theology: Retrospect & Prospect. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2002. (300 pp.)
This collection of nineteen essays from a theology conference at Wheaton College examines biblical theology’s past and looks toward its future. Key issues that are addressed include the significance of the canon’s shape (particularly the Old Testament in its Jewish order of Torah, Prophets, and Writings), the role of creation in biblical theology and its relationship to redemptive-history, the relationship between the Testaments, and the degree of unity in the canon. Although a variety of perspectives are represented, there is general agreement that biblical theology should focus on the biblical text in its final canonical form and that it should be normative for the life of the church.
Mead, James K. Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods, and Themes. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox, 2007. (336 pp.)
This volume offers a technical discussion about biblical theology, including its history, issues, methods, and themes. Mead demonstrates well how biblical theology stands at the crossroads of several related disciplines: exegesis, history, systematic theology, etc. After an opening chapter canvassing the history of biblical theology, the next three chapters discuss the various issues, methodologies, and themes arising from the discipline, and a final chapter describes the prospects for the future of biblical theology.
Ollenburger, Ben C., ed. Old Testament Theology: Flowering and Future. 2d ed. Sources for Biblical and Theological Study 1. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2004. (560 pp.)
This volume introduces the variety of approaches to Old Testament theology by offering excerpts from key thinkers in the field from 1930 to the time of publication. After a few introductory essays in Part 1, Parts 2–4 proceed roughly chronologically, covering the changing landscape of Old Testament theology in the twentieth century, while Part 5 contains more recent writings that have significantly reshaped the conversation. Some of the excerpts outline the author’s method, while others present a sample of how their method is applied.
Perdue, Leo G., Robert Morgan, and Benjamin D. Sommer, eds. Biblical Theology: Introducing the Conversation. Library of Biblical Theology. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009. (337 pp.)
Though an “introduction,” this edited volume is not for the beginner. Rather than defining or promoting a particular approach to biblical theology, in four chapters the authors introduce the scholars who have shaped the conversation about biblical theology. Sommer asks whether there can be a “Jewish biblical theology” and Perdue surveys Old Testament theologies since Barth’s commentary on Romans, while Morgan surveys New Testament theologies. The collection concludes with Perdue’s final essay reflecting on the numerous hermeneutical approaches on offer.
Watson, Francis. Text and Truth: Redefining Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997. (352 pp.)
Watson offers a collection of discrete essays that nonetheless cohere together around an understanding of biblical theology as “an interdisciplinary approach to biblical interpretation which seeks to dismantle the barriers that . . . separate biblical scholarship from Christian theology” (p. vii). The essays are divided into two parts: “Studies in Theological Hermeneutics” and “The Old Testament in Christological Perspective.” The first three essays in Part One criticize various ways historical and literary tools are applied to the New Testament, and the final essay critiques the “neo-Marcianism” of Schleiermacher, Harnack, and Bultmann. Part two explores Christian ways of interpreting the Old Testament. Nuanced and sophisticated, Watson’s work reads like a manifesto on theological interpretation.
2) Whole-Bible Biblical Theologies (18 books)
Turn to First
Alexander, T. Desmond. From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. Nottingham: InterVarsity, 2008. (208 pp.)
Alexander tells the meta-story of the Bible by beginning with the story’s end in Revelation 20–22 and showing how it fulfills God’s purpose for the world and humanity at creation. Each chapter approaches the meta-story from a different angle by tracing a major theme through the Bible: God’s presence in the temple, God’s rule as king, the defeat of Satan, redemption through sacrifice, the holiness and wholeness of God’s people, and the contrast between the corrupt kingdoms of this earth and the coming kingdom of God in the new heavens and new earth.
Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. (272 pp.)
Bartholomew and Goheen focus on the Bible as a unified story about the kingdom of God, which they recount as a drama in six acts: 1) creation, 2) fall, 3) redemption begun in Israel, 4) redemption realized through Christ, 5) the church’s mission as witness, and 6) redemption consummated with the renewal of all creation at Christ’s future return. The book encourages readers to make the biblical story their story and consider the part they are called to play in that drama. This is a great read for those who are trying to make sense of how the Bible fits together or how it is relevant for our lives today.
Hafemann, Scott J. The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2001. (256 pp.)
Hafemann’s work, written for the serious reader in the church, is a biblical theology of the triune God that stresses the implications of God’s character, as seen through the story of the Bible, on Christian character—summarized by faith, hope, and love. Each chapter focuses on a particular question (“Why do we exist?,” “What does it mean to know God?,” “Why do people suffer?”), while focusing on the overall message of the Bible itself—moving in linear fashion from creation, to the fall, to God’s covenant relationship with Israel, and finally to the climax in Christ.
Roberts, Vaughan. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2003. (160 pp.)
Influenced by the storyline of Scripture as outlined in Goldsworthy’s According to Plan (see below), Roberts offers a simplified version of the biblical narrative summarized in eight epochs all focusing on the theme of the kingdom of God: patterned kingdom, perished kingdom, promised kingdom, partial kingdom, prophesied kingdom, present kingdom, proclaimed kingdom, and perfected kingdom. Along with a concise and very helpful opening discussion of kingdom as a central theme in the Bible, each chapter concludes with a helpful set of study questions, making the book ideal for a small group study.
Gladd, Benjamin L., and Matthew S. Harmon. Making All Things New: Inaugurated Eschatology for the Life of the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. (224 pp.)
According to Gladd and Harmon, the Bible defines the church as the end-time people of God in the inaugurated new creation, and further, that Christians are to live in light of this biblical identity. The first chapter, written by G. K. Beale, sets out a biblical theology of inaugurated eschatology(the “already-not yet”), and the rest of the book views the church and all its practical ministry through this wide-angle lens.
Goldingay, John. Biblical Theology: The God of Christian Scriptures. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2016. (608 pp.)
Goldingay follows up his immense Old Testament Theology (see below) with a Biblical Theology that reflects his considerable theological insight and characteristically accessible style. The volume is organized around key themes—for example, God, revelation, creation, God’s people and how they should live—but it also shows some narrative progression from creation to God’s final victory. Although Goldingay sees the fundamental unity of the Scriptures as a single story, he also acknowledges tensions in the biblical text and is reticent to harmonize them.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1991. (251 pp.)
Goldsworthy traces the theme of the gospel of the kingdom, showing how it unifies the narrative of the Old and New Testaments. The work begins with a short discussion of method and how to do biblical theology, which is followed by a presentation of the theme of kingdom traced through the narrative of Scripture. He has also written a more focused book on method and defining biblical theology as a discipline, called Christ-Centered Biblical Theology (see above).
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr. The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. (432 pp.)
In this volume Kaiser develops his earlier work in Toward an Old Testament Theology (see below) into a whole-Bible theology. As a center, he focuses on the single, unified promise-plan of God, which he sees as beginning with God’s declaration that Eve’s offspring will crush the serpent in Genesis 3:16 and continuing through God’s covenants with Abraham, Israel, and David, before culminating in the work of Jesus. Kaiser traces this promise-plan through both Testaments, following a chronological rather than a canonical order and giving significant attention to resolving interpretive difficulties.
Pate, C. Marvin, J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays, E. Randolph Richards, W. Dennis Tucker Jr., and Preben Vang, The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004. (320 pp.)
A collaborative effort by six scholars from the Pruett School of Christian Studies at Ouachita Baptist University, this book takes Israel’s story as its central theme. Grounding that story in Deuteronomistic theology, the authors summarize it as a recurring narrative of sin–exile–restoration. They then trace that story through each major section of the biblical canon, giving greater emphasis to the New Testament and also showing how Second Temple Jewish literature forms a bridge between the Testaments.
Scobie, Charles H. H. The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. (1038 pp.)
Scobie aims to make the academic study of the Bible useful for the church. Taking a thematic approach to biblical theology, he surveys twenty topics organized under four primary headings: “God’s Order,” “God’s Servant,” “God’s People,” and “God’s Way.” Within each chapter, he traces the development of a theme from its initial proclamation and (prophetic) promise in the Old Testament to its fulfillment and ultimate consummation in the New Testament. Although the book’s length may be intimidating for some, its clear structure and subject index make it useful as a reference work. It also goes beyond many biblical theologies in offering brief but thoughtful reflections on how the Bible might address contemporary ethical issues, such as abortion and euthanasia.
VanGemeren, Willem. The Progress of Redemption: The Story of Salvation from Creation to the New Jerusalem. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988. (544 pp.)
Focusing on the story of redemption, VanGemeren states that the center of the “Bible is the incarnate and glorified Christ, by whom all things will be renewed” (p. 27). Taking this point of departure, the book traces the progress of God’s revelation through Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in the tradition of Vos’s Biblical Theology (see below). The guiding focus of the work is to show how God, through Christ, works out the restoration of all things from the Fall to the New Jerusalem. It provides a good example of connecting grammatical-historical analysis of individual passages to understanding passages and books within the context of Scripture as a whole.
Williams, Michael D. Far as the Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 2005. (336 pp.)
Rather than starting his account of the progression of the covenants with creation, Williams begins with the resurrection, moves to the exodus, and then considers creation. This helps him emphasize how the resurrection, specifically God’s ultimate plan of redemption, makes sense of creation. Beyond his interesting way of beginning, the rest of the book moves through a typical sequence of God’s unfolding covenants ending in new creation. This represents a view of biblical theology from a Reformed theological perspective.
Childs, Brevard S. Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992. (770 pp.)
Following his Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (see below), Childs here applies his canonical approach to the whole Bible. Some of the introductory material summarizing the history of biblical theology and outlining his own approach has been republished as Biblical Theology: A Proposal (Facets; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002). The bulk of the work surveys the Old Testament (following the sequence of Israel’s witness to its history) and the New Testament (following the historical development of tradition about Jesus) and then presents a biblical-theological synthesis of major themes, such as God’s nature, the people of God, Christ, reconciliation, law and gospel, and the kingdom of God.
Gentry, Peter J., and Stephen J. Wellum. Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. (848 pp.)
Rather than systematically accounting for every biblical-theological theme running through Scripture, Gentry and Wellum attempt to erect the scaffolding needed to guide the reader through the storyline of the Bible. That scaffolding is made up of six successive biblical covenants—with Adam/creation, Noah, Abraham, the Israelites, David, and the church. Through the succession of the covenants, God works to establish his kingdom, his glorious reign over all of creation. Because the Bible itself is structured by these successive covenants, Gentry and Wellum argue that one’s biblical theology should be governed by the theme of covenant as well.
Hamilton, James M. Jr. God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010. (640 pp.)
Hamilton argues that the center of the Bible is “salvation through judgment to the glory of God” (p. 56), as a way to include both God’s mercy and his hatred of sin as well as the frequent connection between the two (for example, God rescued Israel by judging Egypt). In the heart of the book Hamilton works his way through the Bible canonically (following the Hebrew canon in the Old Testament) before ending by addressing various critiques of his view and showing how it affects contemporary ministry.
Schreiner, Thomas R. The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. (736 pp.)
Schreiner has demonstrated his biblical-theological range in writing a Pauline theology, a New Testament theology (see below), and here a whole-Bible biblical theology, which systematically works through each book of the Bible, describing its main theological themes. Each book is taken in its canonical order with some notable exceptions in the New Testament: Acts is considered along with Luke, while the Gospel of John is grouped with John’s Letters. Giving the entire work an overarching structure, Schreiner organizes his biblical theology into nine parts.
Vos, Geerhardus. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948. (440 pp.)
A classic in biblical theology from a Reformed perspective, Vos’s work highlights the organic development of God’s self-revelation throughout the Scriptures, giving significant attention to the idea of covenant. His divides the Old Testament into two parts: “the Mosaic Epoch,” covering God’s revelation from creation through Moses, and “the Prophetic Epoch,” surveying prophetic revelation from Samuel through the writing prophets. His treatment of the New Testament focuses on the birth and ministry of Jesus.
Wright, Christopher J. H. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2006. (582 pp.)
Wright presents a missional hermeneutic as a foundation for holistic missions today, arguing that the mission of God is the center of the Bible. The heart of the book has three main sections: “The God of Mission” (who is known through Israel and Jesus and who confronts idolatry), “The People of Mission” (primarily focused on the Old Testament and Israel’s role as those chosen to bless the world), and “The Arena of Mission” (the role of creation, the image of God, and the nations). Wright moves beyond the texts usually associated with missions by examining such themes as the exodus, the jubilee, and ethics. Wright’s shorter book The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) addresses similar issues.
3) Old Testament Biblical Theologies (25 books)
Turn to First
Dumbrell, William J. Covenant and Creation: An Old Testament Covenant Theology. Rev. ed. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2013. (352 pp.)
Dumbrell structures his book around the covenants, which he sees as subsets of one primary covenant. The main chapters examine the covenant with Noah (which he argues was begun at creation), the Abrahamic covenant, the Sinai covenant, the covenant with David (though he sees the importance of the temple as greater than the monarchy), and the new covenant (with attention given to the catastrophe of the exile forcing attention to a shift from the structures of Israel to a sole focus on God’s grace as the foundation of the covenant).
House, Paul R. Old Testament Theology. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1998. (655 pp.)
Following the order of the Hebrew canon, House provides historical details about the background and writing of each book of the Old Testament (in general following a conservative evangelical approach) as well as a series of canonical syntheses related to that book. He employs monotheism as a central theme, highlighting a particular divine activity in each book: “The God Who Creates (Genesis),” “Who Disciplines and Delivers (Judges),” and “Who Is Present (Ezekiel).” This pattern continues within each chapter as House emphasizes God’s activities in each section: “The God Who Keeps Covenant with David (1 Kings 1–2),” “Who Gives Wisdom (1 Kings 3–11),” “Who Rejects Syncretism (1 Kings 12–16),” “Who Rules Nature and Nations (1 Kings 17–2 Kings 10),” and “Who Finishes Kingdoms (2 Kings 14–25).”
Martens, Elmer A. God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology. 4th ed. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2015. (384 pp.)
Martens centers his study of the Old Testament on Exodus 5:22–6:8 and the theme of building the kingdom of God. Working his way chronologically through the Old Testament, he examines four aspects of God’s design for the kingdom in each time period: salvation and judgment (including such topics as God as divine warrior, deliverance through the sacrifices, and the promise of a coming Messiah), community (based on the covenants and led by various kinds of leaders), knowledge of God (especially as found in the poetic literature), and the abundant life (centered on the land in the Old Testament).
Boda, Mark. The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. (240 pp.)
Taking what he calls a “selective intertextual-canonical approach,” Boda identifies three creedal expressions of Israelite faith that appear repeatedly throughout the Old Testament as “the three basic rhythms that compose the heartbeat of the OT” (p. 7). The first recounts God’s actions in Israel’s history, the second highlights his character, and third describes his relationship with his people. Boda also traces these creedal expressions into the New Testament and offers fruitful reflection on how they might challenge the contemporary church.
Dempster, Stephen G. Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible. New Studies in Biblical Theology 15. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2003. (267 pp.)
Since Dempster bases his treatment of the Old Testament on a Hebrew canonical order (with Chronicles at the end), the book begins with an overview of canonical issues. He also resolves the problem of how the Old Testament can be viewed as one book if it consists of many books by reading the non-narrative books as commentary on the narrative storyline. According to Dempster, land (dominion) and kingship (dynasty) are the main themes of the Old Testament, and he summarizes the Old Testament narrative as a story “about the reclamation of a lost human dominion over the world through a Davidic dynasty” (p. 231).
Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology. 3 vols. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2003–2009. (vol. 1: 940 pp., vol. 2: 891 pp., vol. 3: 912 pp.)
Goldingay overcomes some of the limitations of other Old Testament theologies by approaching the subject from three different angles in his monumental but quite accessible multivolume work. His first volume (Israel’s Gospel) surveys the grand story of the Old Testament, focusing on God’s actions in the life of his people. In his second volume, he examines Israel’s Faith, covering the Old Testament’s views about God, Israel, crisis and hope, humanity, the world, and the nations. His final volume (Israel’s Life) looks at how the Old Testament calls God’s people to live in their relationships with God and with one another as well as in their personal character and particular roles. One of today’s premier Old Testament scholars, Goldingay bridges the gap between conservative and historical-critical approaches.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr. Toward an Old Testament Theology. (320 pp.) Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978. (320 pp.)
This classic work of evangelical Old Testament theology proposes that promise is the central theme in the Old Testament (especially as found in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants). Rather than working his way through the Old Testament canonically or topically, the heart of the book discusses material in a chronological fashion (with non-historical works placed in the timeline according to their traditional authors). Kaiser expands his study of this theme to the entire Bible in The Promise-Plan of God (see above).
Kessler, John. Old Testament Theology: Divine Call and Human Response. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2013. (616 pp.)
Kessler seeks to deal seriously with theological diversity in the Old Testament by looking at the divine-human relationship in six different streams: “Sinai Covenant Theology” (relationship of grateful obligation), “Promise Theology” (relationship of confident expectation), “Priestly Theology” (gift of Yahweh’s holy presence), “The Theology of Divine Accessibility” (speaking to God amidst the manifold experiences of life), “Creation Theology” (relationship of knowing God as Creator and God’s purposes for creation), and “Wisdom Theology” (relationship of faith seeking understanding). Each chapter looks at the ancient Near Eastern background and textual development of the theme while also offering theological reflections and connections with the New Testament.
Moberly, R. W. L. Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. (348 pp.)
While this is not a systematic overview of Old Testament theology, Moberly’s selective studies provide valuable data for those interested in the topic from the perspective of the theological interpretation of Scripture. For example, his study of manna examines the story in Exodus 16, references to it in Deuteronomy 8, the theological significance of manna, and how it affects daily living for Christians. Other chapters look at the Shema, the role of Israel in God’s plan, God changing his mind, the connection between Isaiah and Jesus, Jonah’s problem, the psalms of lament, and the nature of wisdom.
Routledge, Robin. Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity, 2008. (384 pp.)
Routledge seeks to discern the theological principles underlying the Old Testament text so that they may then be translated and applied to the situation of the modern church. He also identifies a narrative substructure to the Old Testament, which focuses on Israel’s mission to the nations. The book is structured around key Old Testament themes, all centered on relationship to God. For example, Routledge discusses “God and the ‘gods,’” “God and creation,” and “God and the future,” and he treats the themes of covenant, worship, prophecy, kingship and ethics under the rubric of “God and his people.”
Walton, John H. Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2017. (302 pp.)
Walton identifies the presence of God as the primary theme of the Bible, but rather than tracing that theme through the Old Testament, he instead surveys how the Old Testament addresses a variety of topics, such as God, humanity, covenant, Torah, sin, and salvation. The most distinctive feature of his approach is his emphasis on understanding the Old Testament in light of its ancient Near Eastern background. For example, he gives significant attention to the similarities and differences between Yahweh and the gods of the other nations in order to determine Israel’s unique testimony about God.
Zuck, Roy B., ed. A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1991. (464 pp.)
This volume was written entirely by professors from Dallas Theological Seminary, and so reflects the views taught at that school. The book divides the Old Testament into eleven different groups of books and discusses the theology of each of those groups. In the chapter on the Pentateuch, Eugene Merrill argues that Genesis 1:26–28 is the theological center of the Old Testament, but elsewhere the book has little in the way of whole Old Testament synthesis. The strength of the book is its attention to individual books and sections of the Old Testament.
Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997. (777 pp.)
Perhaps the most prominent Old Testament scholar of this generation, Brueggemann offers a unique approach to Old Testament Theology rooted in the metaphor of a trial. In this trial, Israel presents 1) its “core testimony” about God’s character and actions; 2) its “countertestimony” about how God sometimes fails to act on behalf of his people; 3) its “unsolicited testimony” about God’s relationships with his people, humanity, the nations, and the world; and 4) its “embodied testimony” about how God is mediated through Torah, religious practices, and Israel’s leaders. Influenced by postmodernism, Brueggemann argues that although we cannot go behind Israel’s testimony to get at the history or reality it describes, it provides a powerful alternative both to the idolatry of Israel’s neighbors and to the “military consumerism” of the modern Western world (p. 712). In a later work, Old Testament Theology: An Introduction (Library of Biblical Theology; Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), Brueggemann presents a briefer overview of how the Old Testament describes God, Israel, and the future hope.
Childs, Brevard S. Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985. (272 pp.)
In this volume Childs pioneers a canonical approach to Old Testament theology. Although he sometimes uses historical criticism, he focuses primarily on understanding the theological significance of the final canonical form of the biblical text. He also reads the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, often observing how the New Testament uses the Old Testament and engaging with interpreters throughout the history of the Church. Rather than following the shape of the canon, Childs instead discusses how the Old Testament addresses a variety of topics, such as revelation, law, the leaders of God’s people, humanity, and promise.
Eichrodt, Walther. Theology of the Old Testament. Translated by J. A. Baker. 2 vols. Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961, 1967. (vol. 1: 542 pp., vol. 2: 573 pp.)
This classic study of Old Testament theology sees covenant as the center of the Old Testament. Writing from a historical-critical perspective, Eichrodt structures his first volume around various topics related to covenant: “The Covenant Relationship,” “The Covenant Statutes,” “The Covenant God,” “The Instruments of the Covenant” (human leaders), “Covenant-Breaking,” and “Fulfilling the Covenant” (the kingdom of God). The second volume is divided into two parts, covering topics related to “God and the World” (God’s spirit, creation, the underworld, etc.) and “God and Man” (community, relationship with God, piety, etc.).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. Theologies in the Old Testament. Translated by John Bowden. London: T&T Clark, 2002. (372 pp.)
As noted in the title, Gerstenberger focuses on the diversity of the Old Testament by attributing different theologies to various social settings. The heart of the book looks at theology in the context of the family, the village, the tribe, the kingdom, and the exile from a historical-critical perspective. He suggests that the main question in modern times is the connection between individual and global theology (neither of which is addressed in detail in the Old Testament) and contends that we should view God in radically new ways that cohere better with contemporary cultures.
Kalimi, Isaac, ed. Jewish Bible Theology: Perspectives and Case Studies. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2012. (288 pp.)
While many scholars (both Jewish and Christian) believe that biblical theology is a distinctly Christian interest, based on Jesus and the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, recent decades have seen an increasing interest in Jewish biblical theology. This collection of essays provides not only a survey of the history of Jewish biblical theology but also several good examples of biblical theology from a Jewish perspective that struggle with many of the same difficulties found in Christian biblical theology (such as the roles of history, canon, and later commonly accepted interpretation).
Merrill, Eugene H. Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006. (672 pp.)
Rather unusually for a recent Old Testament theology, Merrill arranges his conservative evangelical work topically according to categories of systematic theology: God, mankind, and kingdom (which he sees as the central theme of the Old Testament). The sections on God and mankind provide discussions similar to systematic theologies (though more closely based on the Old Testament text), but the section devoted to kingdom (half of the book) spends more time working its way through views of the kingdom in various sections of the Old Testament. A final section entitled “Human Reflection on the Ways of God” includes the poetic and wisdom texts.
Perdue, Leo G. Reconstructing Old Testament Theology: After the Collapse of History. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. (416 pp.)
This volume builds on and overlaps somewhat with Perdue’s earlier book The Collapse of History: Reconstructing Old Testament Theology (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994). In both, he describes and evaluates various approaches to Old Testament theology that have emerged in the last several decades since history has lost its dominance. Reconstructing Old Testament Theology highlights the approaches of history of religion, liberation theology, feminist interpretation, Jewish scholarship, postmodernist interpretation, and postcolonial theology, illustrating each in application to the book of Jeremiah. Perdue ultimately calls for greater dialogue among proponents of these different methods as well as increased interaction with the history of interpretation and systematic theology.
Preuss, Horst Dietrich. Old Testament Theology. Translated by Leo G. Perdue. 2 vols. Old Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995–1996. (vol. 1: 372 pp., vol. 2: 438 pp.)
Preuss argues that the center of the Old Testament is “YHWH’s historical activity of electing Israel for communion with his world and the obedient activity required of this people (and the nations)” (p. 25). Working from a historical-critical methodology, he arranges his book topically. Volume 1 covers the themes of election, the God who elects, and God’s world (the dwelling places of God and the supernatural beings), while volume 2 offers reflections on history related to election (concerning the ancestors, kings, temple, priests, Levites) and discusses how the people related to God (including ethics, cult, eschatology, and their relationship to the nations).
Rendtorff, Rolf. The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament. Translated by D. E. Orton. Tools for Biblical Study 7. Leiden: Deo, 2005. (813 pp.)
Rendtorff follows Child’s canonical approach, though he reads the Old Testament as Israel’s Scriptures without reference to the New Testament and often interacts with Jewish interpretation. The bulk of the work consists of two main parts. In the first Rendtorff offers an insightful theological reading of the Old Testament following the order of the Hebrew canon. The second part examines prominent themes in the Old Testament, such as creation, covenant, land, exodus, Torah, Israel’s religious practice, God, and prophecy.
Van Pelt, Miles V., ed. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2016. (608 pp.)
Working from the premises that “Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament” (p. 25) and that the kingdom of God is “the thematic framework for the Bible” (p. 28), this conservative multi-authored work includes a chapter for each Old Testament book or section. It follows the order of the Hebrew canon, arguing that this order provides a parallel with the New Testament, with the Law matching the Gospels (covenant), the Prophets matching Acts (covenant history), and the Writings matching the letters (covenant life). The entire structure places Genesis (covenant prologue) and Revelation (covenant epilogue) as bookends. Each chapter looks at background issues, structure and outline, message and theology, and connections with the New Testament.
Von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology. Translated by D. M. G. Stalker. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1962, 1965. (vol. 1: 483 pp., vol. 2: 484 pp.)
One of the most influential Old Testament theologies of the 20th century, von Rad’s work seeks to “re-tell” Israel’s history (p. 121) rather than synthesize the teaching of the Old Testament about major themes. He does not simply follow the biblical narrative in his re-telling but instead assumes a gap between Israel’s actual history and its testimony about God’s mighty acts in history and tries to reconstruct the development of Israel’s traditions. His first volume covers Israel’s narratives, Psalms, and wisdom literature, and his second volume examines the Prophets and the relationship between the Testaments. Von Rad’s brilliance as an interpreter is evident throughout and makes his work a worthwhile read even for those who take a different approach to Israel’s history.
Waltke, Bruce K., and Charles Yu. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. (1040 pp.)
In a lengthy introduction, Waltke surveys the history and method of Old Testament theology, arguing that “the irruption of the holy God’s merciful kingship” (p. 147) is the center of the Bible. In the core of the book he moves through the Old Testament, labelling each section with “gift” titles: Genesis 1:1–2:3 is “The Gift of the Cosmos,” Exodus 19–24 is “The Gift of the Old Covenant,” and Judges is “The Gift of Warlords.” The heart of most chapters is a survey of the biblical text, focused on theological reflections, though a few chapters examine specific topics (like land or kingship).
Wright, George Ernest. God Who Acts: Biblical Theology as Recital. Studies in Biblical Theology 8. London: SCM, 1952. (132 pp.)
In this classic work, Wright argues that biblical theology must involve not abstract statements about God but instead “the confessional recital of the redemptive acts of God” (p. 13). Since God revealed himself through history, his nature must be inferred from his actions, particularly in electing and delivering Israel. Wright also highlights the close relationship between the Old and New Testaments, focusing especially on typological connections.
4) New Testament Biblical Theologies (21 books)
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Morris, Leon. New Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. (368 pp.)
This is an introduction to New Testament theology that attempts to speak to the non-specialist while moving beyond a surface treatment. Rather than taking the New Testament books in their canonical order, Morris arranges them chronologically, though he does note the difficulty in precisely dating each New Testament text. His work is divided into four parts: the Pauline writings, the synoptic Gospels and Acts, the Johannine writings (which includes Revelation), and the General Epistles. Each individual chapter is characterized by analysis of theological themes running through the particular text.
Scott, J. Julius Jr. New Testament Theology: A New Study of the Thematic Structure of the New Testament. Fearn by Tain, UK: Christian Focus, 2008. (368 pp.)
Written for the college student and general reader, Scott’s work is as pastoral as it is introductory. Thematically, he leads readers through the New Testament by unfolding seven central questions: “Who is Jesus?”, “What must I do to be saved?”, “What is the church?”, “What is the church’s relation to society?”, “How shall it end?”, and “What does the New Testament teach us about God?”
Wright, Christopher J. H. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2014. (288 pp.)
For Wright, reading the Old Testament as a modern believer offers a common link with Jesus because in it we find the words he himself read, the stories he knew, and the songs he sang in worship. He argues that the Old Testament is where Jesus “found the shape of his own identity and the goal of his own mission” (p. ix). In six chapters Wright shows how Jesus completes the Old Testament story, how he is the fulfillment of its promise, and how the Old Testament provides the model of Jesus’s identity, clarifies Jesus’s mission, constructs his values, and ultimately shapes his view of God. This is a very accessible book that shows through careful exegesis how Jesus is revealed through the Old Testament.
Caird, G. B., and L. D. Hurst. New Testament Theology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1994. (520 pp.)
Caird’s New Testament Theology, which was completed by his colleague and friend L.D. Hurst upon Caird’s death, is organized around the following five topics: “The Divine Plan,” “The Need of Salvation,” “The Three Tenses of Salvation,” “The Fact of Salvation,” and “The Theology of Jesus.” Each of these themes is explored through its development in the New Testament texts, where Caird attempts “to describe . . . what the writers of the New Testament believed” (p. 4). Famously, rather than book-by-book, chronological, or dogmatic, Caird described his approach as “the conference table approach,” where the New Testament authors sit and discuss important theological issues (his approach is similar to Guthrie’s, see below). Caird’s thought is influenced by Bultmann and Schweitzer as well as Dodd, though he does not adopt their views uncritically.
Dunn, James D.G. New Testament Theology: An Introduction. Library of Biblical Theology. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009. (232 pp.)
Dunn introduces major New Testament theological themes, such as eschatology, grace, law and gospel, Israel and the church, faith and works, incarnation, atonement, and resurrection, all of which were central concerns of the early church’s faith and practice. Rather than move sequentially through each New Testament text, Dunn divides his work into six sections: “What is New Testament Theology?,” “Determining Factors” (which considers the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and the central subject matter of a biblical theology of the New Testament), “The Theology of God,” “The Theology of Salvation,” “The Church of God,” “The Ethical Outworkings,” and a final conclusion. Dunn represents a unique approach, in which he considers how the early church produced the New Testament documents, taking the Old Testament and preaching of Jesus as their starting points. He describes this process as “theologising.”
Emerson, Matthew Y. Christ and the New Creation: A Canonical Approach to the Theology of the New Testament. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2013. (206 pp.)
Emerson argues that the canonical order of the New Testament texts theologically shapes the reader’s focus, “which is that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s messianic hope through inaugurating the new creation in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost and consummating it at his return” (pp. ix). After two introductory chapters outlining a canonical approach to New Testament theology, Emerson moves through the texts of the New Testament in the next three chapters. Influenced by Childs, Emerson’s particular contribution is to note how the shape of individual books as well as their placement within the New Testament contributes to New Testament theology.
Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1981. (1064 pp.)
Guthrie takes a thematic approach to the theology of the New Testament, focusing on topics shaped by systematic theology, for example: “God,” “Man and his world,” “Christology,” “The Mission of Christ,” “The Holy Spirit,” “The Christian Life,” “The Church,” “The Future,” etc. He traces each theme through the various sections of the New Testament, which on one hand, helps the reader appreciate the development of the particular theme. Though a bit dated, Guthrie’s work is still worth the investment.
Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. (778 pp.)
This is a classic work composed by a pioneer in the field of New Testament theology. The work is divided into six sections: “The Synoptic Gospels,” “The Fourth Gospel,” “The Primitive Church,” “Paul,” “Hebrews and the General Epistles,” and “The Apocalypse.” Rather than examining each individual text in these sections, Ladd examines major themes relating to the kingdom of God. The section on the primitive church considers the critical issues of the resurrection and preaching about the second coming of Christ. Ladd was rightly known for his emphasis on the “already-not yet” aspect of the kingdom of God, and this perspective is well-represented in this work, along with his appreciation of Second Temple Judaism as a key context for New Testament theology.
Marshall, I. Howard. New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004. (765 pp.)
Moving through each book of the New Testament, Marshall’s work aims at detailing the theological themes of each text inductively. The work is structured into six parts—after an introduction, he treats “Jesus, the Synoptic Gospels, and Acts;” “The Pauline Letters;” “The Johannine Literature;” “Hebrews, James, 1–2 Peter, and Jude;” and then offers a conclusion considering unity and diversity in the New Testament. In this final chapter, Marshall agrees with Dunn (Unity and Diversity, see below) that “the identity of the man Jesus with the risen Lord” is central. Another key theme he finds useful in understanding the unity of the New Testament is that of mission. Marshall’s work has largely replaced Ladd’s.
Schreiner, Thomas R. New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008. (992 pp.)
Though a lengthy book, Schreiner writes primarily for pastors and students, attempting to allow the New Testament writers to speak for themselves. Rather than a book-by-book approach, he takes a thematic approach, emphasizing two main concerns that unify the New Testament: Jesus’s announcement of the “already-not yet” kingdom, which fits into the redemptive history initiated in the Old Testament, and the goal of the kingdom of God: to magnify God in the work of Christ (as the subtitle indicates). Schreiner’s thematic analysis unfolds in four parts: “The Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promises: The Already-Not Yet;” “The God of Promise: The Saving Work of the Father, Son, and Spirit;” “Experiencing the Promise: Believing and Obeying;” and finally “The People of the Promise and the Future of the Promise.”
Thielman, Frank S. Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. (800 pp.)
Aiming at providing serious students with a theological orientation to each book of the New Testament, the larger argument of Thielman’s work is that when read together, the texts of the New Testament are theologically unified. Divided into three parts (“Gospels and Acts,” “Pauline Letters,” and “Non-Pauline Letters and Revelation”) the work proceeds in a book-by-book fashion,offering a helpful and comprehensive overview of New Testament theology. Though the subtitle mentions a canonical approach, in many cases the canonical order of the texts is not followed.
Zuck, Roy B., ed. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1994. (496 pp.)
Like Zuck’s edited volume on the biblical theology of the Old Testament, this work was also written entirely by professors from Dallas Theological Seminary. Each chapter describes the theological themes of particular books of the New Testament. The first four chapters consider the theology of Matthew, Mark, Luke–Acts, and the writings of John (including the Letters of John and Revelation). Paul’s letters are divided into three chapters: Paul’s missionary epistles, his prison epistles, and the pastoral epistles. The final three chapters focus on Hebrews, James, and Peter and Jude. The focus is on describing the theology of each book of the New Testament without any real attempt at a synthesis of New Testament theology.
Beale, G. K. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011. (1072 pp.)
Beale’s work offers a significant contribution to the discussion of New Testament biblical theology. He begins by tracing the theology of the Old Testament storyline from creation through the Second Temple period, which provides the key themes taken up in the New Testament. Crucial for Beale is how these themes are taken up by the historical authors of the New Testament as they used specific texts from the Old Testament in their proclamation of the gospel. Throughout, he stresses the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New, which results in continuity and redemptive-historical development. Beale shows signs of influence from Vos and Ladd, especially in his application of the “already-not yet” understanding of the kingdom.
Bultmann, Rudolf. Theology of the New Testament. 2 vols. Translated by Kendrick Grobel. New York: Scribner, 1951, 1955. (vol. 1: 366 pp., vol. 2: 278 pp.)
Bultmann’s New Testament theology is a classic in the field as many other works are either a development of or reaction to his thought. His two-volume Theology of the New Testament progresses in four parts: “Presuppositions and Motifs of New Testament Theology,” “The Theology of Paul,” “The Theology of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles,” and finally “The Development toward the Ancient Church.” Part one focuses on the early proclamation (kerygma) of the message of Jesus. Here Bultmann does not think the historical Jesus is the starting point for New Testament theology, but rather the earliest kerygma concerning him. This choice reflects Bultmann’s larger contribution, known as demythologizing the New Testament, whereby the Jesus of history is lost and the Christ of faith becomes most important. Another key characteristic is his emphasis on anthropology as the main lens through which Paul’s theology must be seen and Bultmann’s lack of engagement with the Old Testament as an integral part of New Testament theology.
Conzelmann, Hans. An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. Translated by J. Bowden. New York: Harper & Row, 1968. (373 pp.)
As the English title suggests, Conzelmann aims at providing a sketch or basic map of New Testament theology for students. He traces early Christian creeds in the New Testament through the use of redaction criticism, yet his perspective is that they are only the beliefs of the early church and are not authoritative for today. In its setting in the 1960s, Conzelmann addresses some then-common issues, including the apocalyptic interpretation of the Son of Man, the Messianic secret in Mark, and Paul’s seeming disregard of the historical Jesus. This last point, Conzelmann takes further than Bultmann and largely sketches his approach without reference to the historical Jesus. His work is especially representative of German Protestant New Testament studies of the post-World War II period.
Cullmann, Oscar. Christ and Time: The Primitive Christian Conception of Time. 3d ed. Translated by Floyd V. Filson. London: SCM, 1971. (253 pp.)
Culmann’s classic work argues against a cyclical view of time, common among Greeks, and asserts rather that the Old Testament and the early church hold to a linear notion of time. Famous for his contribution to the theory of Salvation History (Heilsgeschichte), he traces the great history of God’s redemptive works. Cullmann’s work has been foundational for many NT theologies.
Dodd, C. H. The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments: Three Lectures with an Appendix on Eschatology and History. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. (96 pp.)
Dodd’s short book has played an outsized role compared to its relative brevity. He challenges the idea that the New Testament authors simply proof-texted “messianic texts” from testimonies that were gathered for apologetic purposes and demonstrates the overall importance of the New Testament’s use of the Old (an idea picked up in several other works listed here). Specifically, Dodd demonstrates that when two New Testament authors quoted the same Old Testament text, this indicates the use of a common tradition, where the New Testament author expects the reader to know or fill in the broader literary context of the Old Testament passage cited. In general, this has influenced biblical theology by demonstrating the historical and literary connections between the two Testaments.
Dunn, James D. G. Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977. (482 pp.)
In this classic work, Dunn explores the possible unifying strand which brought together the earliest Christianity as represented in the New Testament. In the first part of the study (chs. 2–10), Dunn examines central aspects of New Testament Christianity (such as early kerygma or preaching, confessional formulae, the use of the Old Testament, patterns of worship, and Christology) to see whether there is a unity within the diversity. The second part (chs. 11–14) asks whether there were limits set to the diversity found in the New Testament. Here Dunn explores Jewish Christianity, Hellenistic Christianity, Apocalyptic Christianity, and Early Catholicism. Rather than exclusive categories, these are “dimensions and emphases within first-century Christianity” that highlight the diversity.
Goppelt, Leonhard. Theology of the New Testament. 2 vols. Translated by John E. Alsup. Edited by Jürgen Roloff. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981, 1982. (vol 1: 324 pp., vol 2: 376 pp.)
The English translation moves Goppelt’s discussion of the history of New Testament theology to an appendix in the first volume, so his work begins with the problems involved in accessing the historical ministry of Jesus (a conversation common to the time). His two-volume work is divided into four large parts, of which the entire first volume is comprised of “Part One: The Ministry of Jesus in its Theological Significance.” Parts Two through Four in the second volume focus on “The Primitive Christian Community,” “Paul and Hellenistic Christianity,” and finally “The Theology of the Post-Pauline Writings.” Goppelt presents what might be the best example of a salvation-historical perspective to New Testament theology, especially highlighting the Old Testament prophetic background to its New Testament fulfillment.
Schnelle, Udo. Theology of the New Testament. Translated by M. Eugene Boring. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009. (912 pp.)
Neither following a book-by-book or strictly thematic approach, Schnelle considers groups of New Testament books (Paul’s letters in ch. 6; the Synoptic Gospels in ch. 8; the Catholic Epistles and Johannine writings in chs. 11 and 12), arranged according to an overarching historical development. Within this development Schnelle emphasizes a series of “transformations” in the development of Christian theology and identity: “The Emergence of Christology” (ch.4), “The Early Christian Mission without the Precondition of Circumcision” (ch.5), “Composition of Gospels as Innovative Response to Crises” (ch. 7), and “The Gospel in the World” (ch. 9). Focus on these “transformations” ends up stressing the diversity of the New Testament over its unity.
Stuhlmacher, Peter. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Translated and edited by Daniel P. Bailey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018. (950 pp.)
Stuhlmacher’s two-volume Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments will be released in English translation as one volume in 2018. His work follows a tradition-historical development from the Old into the New Testament, unlike a reception-historical approach looking back to the Old Testament from the New. He argues that the theological center of the Bible is “the witness to God’s act of salvation for Jews and Gentiles in and through Christ” (vol. 1, p. 38). After considering the task of writing a New Testament theology, the first volume of the German edition studies the Christian proclamation of the gospel through the New Testament texts, while the second volume examines the development of the biblical canon and its significance.
5) Thematic Biblical Theologies (22 Books)
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Alexander, T. Desmond. The City of God and the Goal of Creation. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2018. (192 pp.)
After an introduction, Alexander moves through the biblical story, tracing the theme of God’s city, with chapters 2–4 considering Jerusalem as “The Temple-City,” “The Holy Mountain City,” and “The Royal City,” in turn. Throughout, he stresses the key connection between temple and city in the Bible’s narrative, stretching from the garden in Genesis 1–2 to the garden city of Revelation—from Eden to the New Jerusalem.
Schreiner, Patrick. The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2018. (160 pp.)
Schreiner’s concise and helpful book traces the biblical-theological theme of kingdom through the entire story of Scripture. Part one focuses on the Old Testament, following the development of kingdom through the Law, Prophets and Writings, while part two looks at the New Testament, walking the theme through the Gospels, Acts and the epistles, and finally, the book of Revelation. Schreiner defines the kingdom as “the King’s power over the King’s people in the King’s place” (p. 18), a definition owing to Goldsworthy’s Gospel and Kingdom, and his work is almost an entry-level version of Dempster’s Dominion and Dynasty (see both above).
Schreiner, Thomas R. Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2017. (144 pp.)
Committed to viewing the Bible as a unified story that ultimately comes to a climax in the person of Jesus Christ, Schreiner’s book briefly introduces and defines the key theme of covenant in the introduction. Then the rest of the book works through each of the biblical covenants (Creation, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David, and New), showing how each fits within the unified narrative of the Bible. The book takes a redemptive-historical approach, which leads Schreiner to focus on how these covenants development toward Christ. In general, the book takes an exegetical and descriptive, rather than an overtly theological, approach.
Blomberg, Craig L. Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions. New Studies in Biblical Theology 7. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1999. (300 pp.)
Blomberg examines the topic of material possessions through two chapters on the Old Testament, one on the intertestamental period, and four on the New Testament. While he finds some themes to be mostly restricted to the Old Testament (“Wealth as a sign of God’s blessing and as a reward for one’s labour,” p. 83), he sees four major themes about material possessions traversing all of Scripture: 1) they are a gift of God to be enjoyed, 2) they are a primary means of turnings humans away from God, 3) a key part of redemption is a transformed attitude toward them, and 4) the extremes of poverty and wealth are to be avoided.
Fretheim, Terence E. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005. (416 pp.)
Old Testament theologies often focus on salvation history and neglect the significant role played by creation. Countering this trend, Fretheim traces the theme of creation from Genesis 1–2 through the Torah, the Prophets, and the wisdom literature and points out descriptions of nature offering praise to God. He gives attention to God’s original creation, his work in sustaining that creation, and his promises of new creation. Although some readers may disagree with Fretheim’s relational theology (which entails the idea of God’s vulnerability), his attention to the broad use of the creation theme throughout the Old Testament and his insightful close readings of biblical texts make his book a valuable read.
Hafemann, Scott J., and Paul R. House, eds. Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. (336 pp.)
Each of the essays in this volume focuses on a particular biblical theme, while also working within a whole-Bible biblical theology that traces themes and overarching structural ideas through the text. Most of the essays trace their themes across the whole of Scripture, demonstrating continuity within diversity. Schreiner’s essay, “The Commands of God,” is a particularly good example of this approach, while Dempster’s essay, “The Servant of the Lord,” is a précis of his book Dominion and Dynasty (see above).
Hays, J. Daniel. From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race. New Studies in Biblical Theology 14. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2003. (240 pp.)
Noting that racial division, particularly between blacks and whites, is a (or even the) key issue in the American church today, Hays addresses this problem by offering a biblical theology of race. He describes the ethnic composition of the Old and New Testament worlds and highlights the roles played in the biblical story by people from other ethnic backgrounds than the Israelites, especially black Cushites. Also, tracing the theme of racial equality from creation to the vision of every tongue and tribe and nation worshiping together in Revelation, he calls the American church to work toward that portrait of racial unity.
Longman, Tremper III, and Daniel G. Reid. God Is a Warrior. Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. (224 pp.)
The first half of the book, written by Longman, looks at God as a divine warrior in history (both for and against Israel), in the eschaton, and symbolically against the forces of chaos. The second half of the book, written by Reid, first studies Jesus as the divine warrior in the gospels, especially in the context of defeating demons, conquering the sea, and the resurrection. It then examines the theme in the letters of Paul, which focus on the defeat of death and principalities, the coming day of the Lord, and the idea of God’s people as the warriors of Christ.
Lunde, Jonathan. Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship. Biblical Theology for Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. (320 pp.)
Lunde examines the theme of discipleship throughout the Bible by focusing on two key areas. First, he sees all of the covenants as containing both demands for obedience and provisions of grace. Second, he highlights Jesus as a servant king fulfilling the covenants as he likewise calls us to obey and graciously enables us to do so. In particular, he sees Jesus as the filter of the Old Testament when he removes it; the lens of the Old Testament when he changes it, and the prism of the Old Testament when he heightens it.
Malone, Andrew S. God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood. New Studies in Biblical Theology 43. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2017. (240 pp.)
Malone traces the theme of priesthood through the entire canon, stressing the continuity of the theme throughout. His work is divided into two parts. Part one examines the individual priesthood, identifying the biblical-theological connection between the priesthoods of Aaron and Jesus. Part two doubles back and looks at the corporate priesthood through all of Scripture, focusing on the connection between the priesthoods of corporate Israel and of corporate Christians.
McConville, J. Gordon. Being Human in God’s World: An Old Testament Theology of Humanity. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. (240 pp.)
While not a systematic study of humanity, this collection of essays provides an overview of many topics related to humanity in the Old Testament. The book broadly works from a foundation of the image of God to other topics, including memory, the internal composition of humans, politics, gender, and creativity.
Middleton, J. Richard. A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. (336 pp.)
In this book Middleton counters the idea that humans go to heaven as their eternal destiny and argues instead that biblical eschatology places new creation on earth, a view which he variously calls “holistic salvation,” “cosmic renewal,” and “holistic eschatology.” He bases the theme primarily on the exodus, earthly flourishing in the Old Testament, the resurrection, and the renewal of all things, before addressing problem texts for his view and the ethical consequences of a holistic eschatology for Christians today.
Peterson, David G. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1992. (317 pp.)
Starting with a survey of worship in the Old Testament, in chapter one Peterson focuses on worship in the cult, the sacrificial system, and the temple. In the next chapter, he summarizes the concepts of worship as “homage or grateful submission,” service, and reverence. All three aspects are important for his understanding of worship as “engagement with God” encompassing the whole of a person’s life (p. 73). Chapters 3–9 then survey this type of engagement with God running through all the books of the New Testament. The final chapter offers a summary of worship and the gospel.
Rosner, Brian S. Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity. Biblical Theology for Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017. (272 pp.)
Rosner’s book opens with the observation that the importance of being known by God has not been recognized as an important category of biblical theology. He argues that the key biblical themes of belonging to God, being loved and chosen by God, and being a child of God (including the notion of adoption) are all directly linked to the larger idea of being known by God. In the opening section, “Queuing the Questions,” Rosner broaches the big questions of human identity and belonging. This is followed by the largest section of the book, “Arriving at Answers,” which reflects on personal identity as constructed in both Old and New Testaments, especially in light of how human beings are created in the image of God and are finally known in Christ. The final section, “Reflecting on Relevance,” considers how all this applies to the Christian life.
Rosner, Brian S. Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology 31. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2013. (249 pp.)
This is a study focusing on Paul’s view of the Old Testament law, yet Rosner attempts to understand Paul’s statements regarding the law within an overarching framework of biblical theology. He argues that Paul approaches the law as a text, the Torah of Moses, and not as the sum of the commandments, and thus the variety of ways Paul discusses the law is because he is reading or using the text for different purposes as the context demands. Rosner outlines this “hermeneutical solution” in chapters 1 and 7. In chapters 2–6, he reflects on how Paul does three things with the law: repudiation, replacement, and reappropriation.
Seifrid, Mark A. Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification. New Studies in Biblical Theology 9. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2000. (222 pp.)
This is a relatively brief and accessible treatment of Paul’s theology of justification that is a great example of both biblical exegesis and theological reflection. Rather than merely denoting how one becomes a Christian, Seifrid understands justification in larger terms—it is the entire way God relates to humanity and the whole of creation, which includes new creation and resurrection. The book opens with a review of Paul’s conversion and experience of justification (ch. 1) and then moves to an exegetical investigation of Romans (chs. 2 and 6), Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Philippians (ch. 3), and Galatians (ch. 4), concluding with a chapter that considers justification in the entire New Testament. Here Seifrid moves the conversation forward by taking seriously Paul’s view of judgment according to works, which finds harmony with James.
Beale, G. K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology 17. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004. (458 pp.)
Beale traces the theme of temple, God’s dwelling place, through both the Old and New Testaments. Starting with the question of why Revelation 21 describes the restored city as garden-like in the shape of the temple, he argues that the Old Testament tabernacle and temples were symbolically designed to point to the cosmic eschatological reality of God’s presence with his people. Although his presence was limited to the holy of holies in the Old Testament, it will one day be extended throughout the whole earth. This is a particularly strong exegetical example of tracing thematic unity across the Old and New Testaments.
Beale, G. K. We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2008. (341 pp.)
Beginning his argument with Isaiah 6, Beale shows how the biblical authors consistently portray humans as becoming what they worship. Even though idolatry appears to be more prominent in the Old Testament, he demonstrates that it plays a greater role in the New Testament than commonly thought (especially through more indirect references like quotations of Isaiah 6). The book ends by explaining that this truth pertains not just to idol worshipers but also to followers of God, who become more like him as they worship him, as well as by offering some practical reflections for modern Christians seeking to avoid idolatry.
Das, A. A. Paul, the Law, and the Covenant. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2001. (362 pp.)
Das takes up one of the thorniest issues in New Testament theology, Paul’s view of the law (as Rosner above). The first two chapters survey select texts from Second Temple Jewish material, where Das finds what he calls two opposing ideas held in tension: “undeserved grace versus strict and deserving obedience” (p. 12). He goes on to conclude that the gracious framework of Judaism had collapsed or been compromised. Chapters 3–10 are devoted to detailed exegesis of Romans, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Philippians, arguing for a unified picture of Paul’s understanding of the law in (mostly negative) conversation with the work of E.P. Sanders.
Davidson, Richard M. Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2007. (874 pp.)
Since few topics are as frequently discussed today in the Western world as sexuality, the church needs to produce more work on the topic to help us participate in the conversation from a biblical viewpoint. The three main divisions of Davidson’s book highlight his main argument: “Sexuality in Eden: The Divine Design (Genesis 1–3)” focuses on the original design for sexuality, “Sexuality outside the Garden: Old Testament Development (Torah, Prophets, Writings)” covers a wide variety of topics (such as homosexuality, premarital sex, divorce, and rape), and “Return to Eden” looks at the Song of Songs as a positive example of sexuality.
Laniak, Timothy S. Shepherds after My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible. New Studies in Biblical Theology 20. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2006. (313 pp.)
Although the word “pastor” originally meant shepherd, many pastors today have little knowledge of the rich metaphorical background of God’s leaders as shepherds in both the Old and New Testaments. Laniak fills out this picture by first describing what life was like for ancient shepherds and how other ancient cultures used the metaphor of shepherding and then tracing in detail how the Bible uses that metaphor for God and for the leaders of his people as an image of both authority and self-sacrificial care. Although the book is dense at times, Laniak outlines a reading strategy for pastors who do not want to get bogged down in the details.
Stuhlmacher, Peter. Reconciliation, Law, & Righteousness: Essays in Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986. (200 pp.)
As a collection of essays published at different times, these chapters nonetheless hold together well and are interrelated. Stuhlmacher’s work must be seen in the context of Bultmann’s pursuit of New Testament theology disconnected from the historical Jesus and the traditions of the Old Testament. These essays stress how the biblical theology of the New Testament develops out of Old Testament tradition and its development in the intertestamental period. A sampling of the eleven essays includes: “Jesus as Reconciler: Reflections on the Problem of Portraying Jesus within the Framework of a Biblical Theology of the New Testament”; “The New Righteousness in the Proclamation of Jesus”; “The Apostle Paul’s View of Righteousness”; “Recent Exegesis of Romans 3:24–26”; and “The Law as a Topic of Biblical Theology.”