While some trace the origin of biblical theology to the Protestant Reformation, and others to J.P. Gabler’s 1797 address, ‘An Oration on the Proper Distinction Between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology and the Specific Objectives of Each,’ the fact is that the Christian church was concerned from a very early date to articulate a ‘biblical theology’ in some form. As far as is known, the actual term (theologica biblical, biblische Theologie) was first used in the early 1600s, but the attempt to discern a unified and consistent theology in the scriptures of the OT and NT is much older.
It might be argued that biblical theology has its origin within the Bible itself. Summaries of ‘salvation-history’ found in the OT (e.g. Deut. 26:5-9; Neh. 9:7-37; Pss. 78, 105, 106) and also in the NT (Acts 7; Heb. 11) trace the continuity of God’s dealing with his people. The NT Gospels and epistles interpret the Christ event in the light of the OT, but also reinterpret the OT in the light of the Christ event. Paul, it has been suggested, was the first ‘Old Testament theologian,’ and the same claim could well be made for the writer to the Hebrews. (C.H.H. Scobie, “History of biblical theology,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner; Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 11)