Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

19 Jul 2013

Biblical Theology: A Good Place to Begin

Posted By

If one aim of biblical theology is to describe how the Bible hangs together, then one useful place to begin is with Judaism & Christianity’s various summaries of Israel’s story, which “function as abbreviated commentaries on the story of Israel, and each passage interprets and stresses a particular thrust of Israel’s story for a present audience” (emphasis original). These summaries are to be distinguished from their better-known cousin, “rewritten Bible(s)” (e.g., Chronicles, Jubilees and Josephus’ Antiquities, et al.) principally by length. What’s more—and surprisingly, they’ve largely been overlooked by scholars doing biblical theology or one of its sub-disciplines (e.g., use of OT in NT). In a recent piece, Jason Hood and Matthew Emerson survey work done on these summaries (by, e.g., E. Stauffer, N. T. Wright, Mark Elliott, et al.) and spend a bit of time establishing identifying criteria. (After all, not every occurrence of “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” constitutes a summary of Israel’s story.) The most helpful part of the article, however, is the compilation of summaries that conclude the piece, which includes summaries from the OT (e.g., Ps 78), outside the OT (e.g., 1 Enoch 85–90), the NT (e.g., Acts 7), and from other early Christian literature (e.g., 1 Clement 4–6). The article is found in the latest edition of one of my favorite journals, Currents in Biblical Research. If your institution has the digital rights, you can read the piece here. If not, you’ll find the article in volume 11, issue 3, pages 328–48. As Hood and Emerson note, there’s quite a bit of work to be done with these summaries. So Th.M. and Ph.D. students take special note!