Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Review: What is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton Jr.

~Biblical theology is not just an interesting topic. 
It informs who we are and how we live.~

James M. Hamilton Jr. has done us all a great service by authoring this little volume, What is Biblical Theology? Hamilton lays out in easy to understand language the interconnection and spiritual unity we find in the Bible. He begins by defining Biblical theology and our great need for it. By the term Biblical theology he means, “The 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.” 

From there Hamilton takes the reader on a journey through the meta-narrative of the Bible making the critical connections for the reader from Genesis to Revelation. He further elaborates on the episodes and themes we find. He then narrows his study for us in part two as he explores symbols, imagery, typology and patterns within the pages of Scripture. He defines each term and how they differ and shares many notable passages that exemplify each. For example, Hamilton delineates the interconnection and progression from Adam to Noah to Moses culminating with Jesus and finally the Bride of Christ spending eternity with her husband.

I found this little volume a great help. I would definitely recommend this to a new believer, a teen or adult study class or just as a refresher for a mature Christian. The most useful aspect I believe would be if the reader were to forsake the common notion that the Old Testament is bound up with nothing more than good moral stories. This is most prevalent in modern evangelicalism as the Old Testament is virtually never preached and when done so fails to convey the over-arching story found in Scripture which culminates with the Gospel. Hamilton does well in this area of his writing; inserting comments reminding the reader of the Gospel and making compelling arguments for it in all of Scripture.

What I found most helpful was part three where Hamilton delves into how this all relates to the church, the Bride of Christ. “If you’re wondering what the main point of this section will be, let me come right out and say it: the Bible’s story and symbolism teach us as the church to understand who we are, what we face, and how we should live as we wait for the coming of our King and Lord.” Many churches do not reflect their true character as it is found in Christ. Attending church is something that is done on Sunday before the afternoon football game. Conversely Hamilton posits, “This metaphor of the church as a bride is meant to build our identity. We are to think of ourselves in bridal terms. We are not to commit spiritual adultery against the Lord Jesus.” How truly serious this is. He goes deeper when he explains Paul’s body metaphor from Colossians 3. “The body metaphor also communicates the unity of the church (Col. 3:15). The church is one body that has been reconciled to God through the death of Christ.” “Church membership is built on this body metaphor. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:27, ‘Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.’ We are joined to one another and to Christ. A Christian who is not a member of a church is like a hand or an eye that is not joined to the rest of the body. …We are united to one another by virtue of our union with Christ.” This is powerful stuff and most worthy of study and due consideration.

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars. Buy it, digest it and apply it in your life. As believers we need to comprehend the Bible's big story and how it relates to us as members of Christ's church. This book will be an asset to the reader.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

No comments:

Post a Comment