Book Notice: Understanding Biblical Theology

Edward W. Klink & Darian R. Lockett
Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
Available at

Many of us know that “biblical theology” (BibTh) is not monolithic. The term can be used quite polemically (I do “biblical theology” you do “dogmatic theology”) and there are some very different methodologies out there when it comes to doing biblical theology (just compare Bultmann and Stuhlmacher). This book meets a big need in giving a survey of different approaches to biblical theology with sober evaluations.

Klink and Lockett examine five major methods of doing BibTh, defining each one, giving a brief history of its development, and then zeroing in one contemporary scholar as an exemplary exponent of the method in question. They set each BibTh method in a spectrum of historical and theological concerns, and each of five methods of BibTh are identified as either ‘more theological’ or ‘more historical’ in concern and practice:  The big five are:

1. Biblical Theology as Historical Description (James Barr)
2. Biblical Theology as History of Redemption (D. A. Carson)
3. Biblical Theology as Worldview-Story (N. T. Wright)
4. Biblical Theology as Canonical Approach (Brevard Childs)
5. Biblical Theology as Theological Construction (Francis Watson).

Klink and Lockett think that there is something to be learned from each method. The charts on pp. 186-89 are an excellent summary of what the book is about.

Normally I prefer to read an actual BibTh volume rather than read about how someone thinks BibTh should be done. That said, I think this is a very useful volume on different kinds of BibTh,it would be worthwhile for any course on BibTh, and anyone acutely interested in BibTh should take notice of it.

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  • Curious, that someone like Geerhardus Vos or Herman Ridderbos is not mentioned. Would you say that Carson is the representative in this volume of that sort of Dutch Reformed stream of Biblical theology begun by Vos?