The Biblical Authors as Biblical Theologians

This morning I began reading Jim Hamilton’s new book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, where he begins with an apologetic for biblical theology.  In his first chapter, he makes an obvious but often overlooked point: the biblical authors inspired of God were involved in the task of biblical theology.  He writes,

[B]iblical theology is as old as Moses.  That is, Moses presented a biblical-theological interpretation of the traditions he received regarding Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, and his own experience with his brothers.  Joshua then presented a biblical-theological interpretation of Israel’s history (Joshua 24), and the same can be said of the rest of the authors of the Prophets and the Writings, the Gospels and Acts, the Epistles and the Apocalypse.  The biblical authors used biblical theology to interpret the Scriptures available to them and the events they experienced.  For the believing community, the goal of biblical theology is simply to learn this practice of interpretation from the biblical authors so that we can interpret the Bible and life in this world the way they did (41-42).

Scripture not only provides for us the record of God’s work in redemptive history, it also provides an inspired interpretation of that work.  In the Scriptures themselves, God has provided a ruled reading of redemptive history, and provides for us today a model of how we should read the Scriptures. While some might reject the notion that we can/should interpret the Bible like the apostles (cf. Richard Longenecker), Hamilton’s point is well-taken.  Biblical theology is as old as Moses, and thus God’s people have always sought interpret their experience according to the pattern(s) of redemption that have preceded them.  While we do not write down inspired Scripture today, we nonetheless can see how the Bible informs our place in redemptive history, and we proclaim to the nations how they too can be engrafted into Israel’s vine, now fulfilled in Jesus.

I look forward to reading more.  I hope to jot down thoughts and quotes along the way.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss