What is Biblical Theology? “A guide to the Bible’s story, symbolism, and patterns” is written by James M. Hamilton JR. who is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of “God’s glory in salvation through judgment”, a commentary on Revelation, and numerous articles and essays.
Written in an engaging and easy to follow conversational style, the author takes the readers on a journey that covers the Bible from Genesis to Revelation for the purpose, he says, “to think about the whole story of the Bible.”
The author defines what it means to do biblical theology as: “to do biblical theology is to think about the whole story of the bible. We want to understand the organic development of the bible’s teaching so that we are interpreting particular parts of the story in light of the whole. As an acorn grows into an oak tree, Genesis 3:15 grows into the good news of Jesus Christ” (12). Further, in the epilogue he describes it as; “an attempt to get out of this world into another. We might call it a bridge; we might call it a rocket. The point is that we are trying to get our minds and hearts out of worldliness and into the Bible’s symbolic universe” (115).
He structures this book in three parts: Story, Symbol, and Church. Under “Story” which is the first part, he discusses the biblical narrative, showing how God’s glory is displayed in the world. He concludes this part by talking about mystery-the symbols, images, types, and patterns that give a hint at the fulfillment of the promise made to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman crushing the head of the seed of the serpent.
The author further discusses “Symbols” in the second part which is essentially an elaboration of the previous part. He touches on typological people and events saying; “Jesus is the new and better Moses who has offered a new and better sacrifice because he is the new and better priest mediating a new and better covenant as we progress toward the new and better land. Jesus is also a new and better David, and he is leading us into a new and better kingdom, one that will never be shaken” (80).
In the final part which is the Church, he seeks to show the reader that biblical theology speaks to the life of the church. “ The bible’s story and symbolism teaches us as the church to understand who we are, what we face, and how we should live as we wait for the coming of our king and lord”(6). He further discusses that the church is the sheep of the shepherd, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the adopted family of God, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church, the people of God, spreads the knowledge of the glory of God throughout the earth, which is what Adam and Eve were initially assigned to do.
The author has provided a great service with this book in helping you learn more about the important bible images, symbols, types, and patterns. This may help you understand the connection from Adam to Christ and from Christ to glory. Those who feel studying scripture is meant for Pastors and Theologians and so have decided to stay away from studying it will find themselves encouraged to read every page of the bible after reading this helpful and timely book. I recommend it to every Christian and it might also be a good introduction to the faith for non-believers.
Article by Tracy Ndlovu