This is the first book by John Goldingay that I’ve ever read (that would later change). Before this, I’ve heard that he’s an evangelical who sits on the border of the nonevangelical world. Given that, I just never bothered to read him. While I can’t speak for his other works, I was pleasantly surprised with his new Biblical Theology. More often than not I could nod in agreement.
Goldingay reminds me a bit of Peter Leithart in that, even in this academic work, Goldingay himself really shows in his work. When I read a Leithart book, Leithart’s name wouldn’t even need to be on the cover and I could tell it was written by Leithart. Leithart exudes from his own writing. It seems like Goldingay writes in a similar manner, and I like it.
This work is a biblical theology, but not in how I expected it to be. When I looked at the Table of Contents, this sure looked like a work of systematic theology to me, but Goldingay assures the reader it is not. “When a theology student in his first term [semester] heard that I was writing a biblical theology, he inferred that it was therefore a systematic theology. It isn’t. Systematic theology works out the implications of the Scriptures in a way that makes sense in it’s author’s own context, using the categories of thought that belong to that context” (15).
In Goldingay’s Biblical Theology, everything revolves around God.
- God’s Person [his character]
- God’s Insight [his Scriptures]
- God’s Creation [his world and all that is in it]
- God’s Reign [his kingdom]
- God’s Anointed [his Son]
- God’s Children [his people]
- God’s Expectations [his people’s way of living]
- God’s Triumph [his story’s fulfillment]
Each chapter has 3-6 sections, each having their own numerous subsections. Each of these sections and subsections don’t give a full-blown look at what all of the Scriptures say, but different from the book-by-book biblical theologies that have been coming out, Goldingay draws together central elements of the story (in a systematic way?) and fleshes out the story (in a biblical theological way). It’s quite interesting, quite different, and I think many could learn from what he’s doing here.
For those who’ve read enough biblical theologies, this might be handy to pick up I don’t think you’ll learn much “new,” but the way Goldingay writes might be enough to draw you in. This is recommended, but it won’t fall at the top of my list for biblical theologies. I would still assign any of the theologies by Tom Schreiner, Jim Hamilton, Geerhardus Vos, and Graeme Goldsworthy and here (see also Alexander, Gentry/Wellum, their bigger volume, Beale, Kaiser) first, because I know more of what they say in general. There was a lot I agreed with, but there were parts of Goldingay’s BT that I didn’t agree with, though generally nothing more than a few sentences were said. The first example isn’t as serious as the other two. For example, he seems to hold to the New Perspective on Paul (114-118), says that Daniel didn’t author Daniel (229-230), and says that in God’s house with many rooms we may meet people “who have not believed in Jesus. . . . Perhaps you will, perhaps you won’t; the Scriptures don’t address that question (547). While I would still recommend his BT, I would obviously not affirm all of Goldingay’s conclusions.
Still, I was intrigued, and I was glad to learn a bit about Goldingay himself along the way. I hope more authors will take a similar tact and show more of themselves in their own writings. Let the reader understand the man behind the curtain.
- Author: John Goldingay
- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: IVP Academic (November 20, 2016)
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