The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology

By Charles H.H. Scobie | Go to book overview

E. The Structure of Biblical Theology

Everyone who attempts the writing of a BT (or an OT or NT theology for that matter) must adopt a structure of some kind. This is much more than simply a question of the order of chapters in a book, or of suitable titles for these chapters; it goes to the very heart of the understanding of the nature of BT Since a canonical BT seeks to understand the final text of the Bible as a unified whole, an essential part of this enterprise is the discerning of the basic patterns inherent in Scripture. “Canonical hermeneutics maintains that the process of recognizing and describing the patterns we find in the Bible is at the heart of understanding the Bible’s authority in a deeper way than that afforded by the historical reconstruction of critical scholarship” (C. J. Scalise 1996: 87).

The danger to be avoided at all costs is that of imposing an alien pattern upon the biblical material; so far as is humanly possible, the structure employed should be the one that arises out of the biblical material itself.


E-1. ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

A survey of approaches that have been adopted in the past will provide some guidance and some necessary cautions as well. It is helpful to distinguish what may be termed the “systematic,” the “historical,” and the “thematic” approaches, provided it is recognized that these are only general classifications; particular theologies may not always fall clearly into one or another of the categories, and certainly there are hybrid types (cf. the “Typology of Old Testament Theologies” in J. Barr 1999: 27–51).


E-1.1. THE SYSTEMATIC APPROACH

The earliest attempts to develop an independent BT were strongly influenced by the practice of Protestant orthodoxy in compiling collections of biblical

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