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Scobie on Approaches to Biblical Theology

Posted by on Dec 17, 2009 in biblical theology | 2 comments

Everyone who attempts the writing of a BT [Biblical Theology] (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…

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…

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…

A systematic approach, based on categories imported from dogmatic theology, is to be rejected as tending to a certain degree to distort biblical thought, and as failing to deal adequately with all aspects of the biblical material. A historical approach tracing the development of biblical thought period by period or book by book is of course valuable, but it belongs rather to the kind of historical study of the Bible that is presupposed by, rather than part of, an “intermediate BT.” The most satisfactory approach is clearly the thematic one that seeks to construct an outline based as closely as possible on themes that arise from within the Bible itself. Within this option, it is the multithematic approach that holds most promise… (Charles H.H. Scobie, The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, pg 81-85)


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  1. 12-17-2009

    I tend to agree with Scobie here.

  2. 12-17-2009


    I agree with this methodology also.