Understanding Biblical Theology by Klink and Lockett

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Edward Klink and Darian Lockett join forces to guide us in defining the term “biblical theology”. In doing so, they will divide the scholarly world into five major schools of thought on the subject. In addition, they will compare theory and practice as well as the origin of it being the church or the academy. Both authors have already published major works. In particular, I greatly admire Klink’s recent commentary on the Gospel of John in ZECNT. I see him as a theological and scholarly writer to keep an eye on in the future.

The introductory chapter surveys what the authors call the spectrum of biblical theology. Though I read widely, I was a little surprised to see what I thought was a commonly accepted term so exactly defined and widely debated. Along the way, they will further try to separate the concept of biblical theology from systematic theology. As will become important as you read the rest of the text, in this introductory chapter they define the issues involved that divide scholars. How the Old Testament connects to the New Testament, whether we should look for historical diversity or theological unity, the impact of the scope and sources of biblical theology, what the actual subject matter of biblical theology is, and finally, whether biblical theology should be defined by the church or the academy. Make sure you linger over the small chart on page 22 that shows a logical way to view the five schools of thought. Spoiler alert: there’s an outstanding summary chart at the end of the book that will make it possible for you to review and make sure you followed the line of thought given in this book.

The design of the book is simple. There’s a chapter of defining the particular school of thought followed by a chapter that fully examines one of its major proponents. In a nutshell, you have biblical theology as historical description with James Barr, as history of redemption with D. A. Carson, as worldview-story with N. T. Wright, as canonical approach with Brevard Childs, and as theological construction with Francis Watson. Please don’t ask me where I land even after reading this book, though I find myself vacillating between the first two schools of thought. Strangely, each point of view had some aspects worth considering, even if some of them had more serious drawbacks.

Some might find this subject a hair too finally split, but I can’t imagine a resource that could more capably define the parameters of this subject. Believe it or not, the authors were so faithful to their task of explaining why this issue is hard and how it’s been viewed that they never championed one viewpoint over the others. This is THE book on the subject.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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