Biblical Theology is “interpretive perspective reflected in the way the biblical authors have presented their understanding of earlier Scripture, redemptive history, and the events they are describing, recounting, celebrating, or addressing in narratives, poems, proverbs, letters, and apocalypses.” So says, James Hamilton in his latest work, What is Biblical Theology?
Hamilton is no stranger to the world of biblical theology. In 2010, he wrote God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, a book that I devoured and greatly benefitted from. In many ways, What is Biblical Theology? could serve as a sort of introduction to the earlier work as it summarizes the important discipline of Biblical Theology.
The sub-title accurately reflects the essential nature of the book: “A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns.” One important question that Hamilton addresses is, “How is God going to bless Gentiles in Abraham’s seed?” Ultimately we learn that “all families of the earth will be blessed in the seed of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah” (Gal. 3:14-16). But Hamilton leaves no room for ambiguity here: “Gentile Christians enjoy all the blessings given to Israel in the Old Testament” (Eph. 1:3-14).
The emphasis on continuity is a breath of fresh air, especially to one like myself who was trained with the presuppositions of classical dispensationalism. The remainder of the book explores these and related themes. In the final sense, the author seeks to draw readers into the drama of the biblical plot line. Of course, he should receive high marks for writing a book that mines out the deep truths of Scripture in clear and winsome ways.
Readers who are interested in other works of biblical theology should turn to The King in His Beauty by Tom Schreiner and Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical Understanding of the Covenants by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum.