How Should We Construct a Biblical Theology? Essay

2717 WordsNov 2, 201411 Pages
How should we construct a biblical theology? Does focusing on covenant assist in this? In writing a biblical theology, scholars seek to understand what the Bible says in its totality, and some attempt is made to answer the questions of doctrinal or systematic theology. Such a task is done by Biblical scholars as the aim is to understand the beliefs and ideas of those living in Biblical times, including the writers of the Bible. Yet, as James Barr points out, writing biblical theology is very different from studying the history of the religion of ancient Israel. The scholar is not so interested in non-biblical sources for the theology of a specific community or social group, rather their focus is on the ‘official’ version of the religion than how it may have looked at various times, and in various places. Another aim of biblical theology is to find the underlying unity of the text, and this comes from the initial presupposition that there is an underlying unity in the text – a presupposition which a historical-critical approach does not share. This idea means that biblical theology is far more often done by Christian scholars (though rarely by Jewish scholars) where the reality of the biblical canon – both Old and New Testaments – has great weight in suggesting a unity of thought. Writers who wish to write a biblical theology containing the whole Christian Bible often have a much easier task as there appears to be a central and unifying theme within the text itself i.e. Christ, and this was how traditional (often ecclesiastically-based, rather than academic) interpretations were done. Even since then, the unity between the two testaments has more often than not been upheld by Biblical theologians, even those writing a theology of the Old Testament only. The reason why concepts such as ‘covenant’ feature in biblical theology can be seen in Ronald Murphy’s

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