One of the pitfalls of book reviewing is addressing books written by people that are obviously incredibly smarter than you are as a reviewer. While this may have never happened to you, it hits me from time to time, and today’s book is certainly one of those. What is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton Jr., (Ph.D., professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), is from one of the sharper minds currently active in evangelical theology.
What is Biblical Theology? addresses the title question. Now, that may seem obvious to you, but it’s not uncommon to see a book pose a question and then chase a rabbit. The other action is to pose a question, then grind an axe in your answer rather than truly express the material.
Hamilton has avoided those two pitfalls here. He begins with a basic explanation of the term “biblical theology” and then works forward by expanding how he sees the grand narrative of the Bible.
This is the strongest aspect of Hamilton’s work. When I was in seminary, the courses I took on “Biblical Theology” were a little loose on defining the concept, and carved it out more as a sub-discipline of “Systematic Theology.” Here, we see a clear definition and exposition of theology working through Scripture.
In making the concepts clear, Hamilton has held back on the deeper ranges of theological understanding. His desire that readers finish this book, rather than glaze over and give up, motivates the brevity. Could more examples be given? Certainly, and I have that book in hardcover on my shelf, written by the same author: God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment. It is five times as long, and not likely to be read through in a week.
This is the strength of What is Biblical Theology? One can read through it readily for an introduction to the concepts of theology. The smaller size brings the cost down, and makes this a potential deep-reading choice for the study group or advancing solo learner.
I am uncertain whether this is an up or a down for the work, but oddly enough there are neither footnotes nor endnotes. For the most part, Hamilton uses simple parenthetical citations, with a concise further reading section finishing off the book.
Heartily recommend this for a clear look at the overall theology of the Bible. Rather than starting with a point and then proving it, Hamilton works clearly across what the text of Scripture says and demonstrates what it, therefore, means.
I was sent an e-copy of the e-book in e-xchange for the e-review.