DIGGING DEEP – 10 by Abidan Paul Shah
Biblical Theology of the Old Testament:
Why is it needed? To help keep the study of the OT from being fragmented by biblical exegesis; “to describe the inner unity of the Bible on its own terms”; and to “deepen our understanding of the shape, complexity, and unity of Scripture on its own terms.” – Kevin Vanhoozer
History of biblical Theology – It began in 1787 through a speech given by Johann Philip Gabler. Although the concept existed prior to it, he distinguished between biblical theology and systematic theology.
Is there a key to the OT theology? Were the OT writers aware of the key? The key or center of OT theology must satisfy four conditions simultaneously (Walter Kaiser):
- The subject of that unity must be everywhere in evidence throughout the whole OT corpus;
- The object(s) to whom the action, plan, or ideas pertain also must be clearly in the limelight;
- A predicate that links the subject and the object must be clearly stated in key teaching passages that acts as sedes doctrinae (i.e., chair passages) and that set the grand goals and objectives for everything the subject is going to be and do for the object(s) specified in the text; and
- The linking of the previous three conditions must be set forth explicitly in the OT rather than brought in from external sources, such as philosophical grounds, historical considerations, theological preferences, or critical allegiances.
Promise-plan of God (Kaiser):
- Subject is Yahweh;
- Object is primarily Israel, and then, secondarily, all the nations of the earth;
- It’s predicate involves both who and what God will “be” and what He will “do” (in His verbal declarations and in His mighty saving acts in the history of Israel); and
- It is strategically placed numerous times in the OT in large blocks of teaching texts, but best epitomized in Genesis 12:1-3.
Terms used for the key:
In the OT – word, oath, covenant, house, kingdom, etc.
In the NT – promise (Acts 26:6-7; Romans 4:13-14, 16-17, 20; Hebrews 6:13-15, 17; 11:9, 39-40). This is how the early church saw the OT – Acts 2:38-39; 3:25-26; 13:23, 32-33; Galatians 3:22). The promise was not just to Israel but also to the whole world – Galatians 3:8, 14, 29; Ephesians 1:13; 2:12; 3:6-7; 4:23, 28).
How does OT theology help in studying the Bible? It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan. This will prevent the student from running to the NT or other passages in the OT and allow that passage to speak in its theological context.
Kaiser offers the following 11 stages of the Promise (The book assignments are mine):
- Prolegomena to the Promise: Prepatriarchal Era (Genesis 1-11, Job)
- Provisions in the Promise: Patriarchal Era (Genesis 12 – end of the book)
- People of the Promise: Mosaic Era (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers)
- Place of the Promise: Premonarchical Era (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges)
- King of the Promise: Davidic Era (Ruth, Psalms, Samuel, Chronicles, Kings)
- Life in the Promise: Wisdom Era (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)
- Day of the Promise: Ninth-century Prophets (Joel, Obadiah)
- Servant of the Promise: Eighth-century Prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, and Jonah)
- Renewal of the Promise: Seventh-century Prophets (Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, Jeremiah, Lamentations)
- Kingdom of the Promise: Exilic Era Prophets (Esther, Ezekiel, Daniel)
- Triumph of the Promise: Post-exilic Era Prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah)
- Genesis 4:1
- Exodus 19:5-6
- 2 Samuel 7:16
- Proverbs 10:27; 14:27; 19:23; 24:4
- Joel 2:11; 3:14-15
- Habakkuk 2:4
- Daniel 7:9-14
- Malachi 3:1-5