We are pleased to release 42 volumes of the ongoing New Studies in Biblical Theology series from InterVarsity Press. Edited by D. A. Carson, these titles are now available for the Accordance Bible Software Library as a bundle or by individual title.
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What’s the difference between biblical theology and systematic theology? The IVP Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms is a good source for finding descriptions that distinguish between the two. I’ve added a screenshot above for you to read the full definitions of both disciplines. The definition for systematic theology has a key phrase: “an organized system of thought.” The definition for biblical theology describes it as a summary of “a biblical text or of a biblical author without imposing any modern categories of thought on the text.”
Think of it another way: systematic theology begins with just that—a system, and biblical thought is then organized according to that system. Biblical theology begins with describing what the Bible says without concern for systematic categories. Biblical theology can be referred to with subsets such as Old Testament Theology, New Testament Theology, Pauline Theology, Johannine Theology, or theology of Proverbs or Isaiah or Psalms, for instance. Biblical theology will often focus on specific topics or themes: the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel, grace in Deuteronomy, or eschatology in Mark. There’s an effort to make systematic theology avoid discrepancies or seeming contradictions. Biblical theology can sometimes be a bit more “messy.” There’s not as much interest for everything in biblical theology to fit into nice and neat categories. Biblical theology simply lets the data fall where it may.
As mentioned earlier, the New Studies in Biblical Theology series (NSBT) is ongoing. The series began in the mid-90s and volumes are still being published. As stated in the series preface,
Contributions to the series focus on one or more of three areas: 1. the nature and status of biblical theology, including its relations with other disciplines (e.g.historical theology, exegesis, systematic theology, historical criticism, narrative theology); 2. the articulation and exposition of the structure of thought of a particular biblical writer or corpus; and 3. the delineation of a biblical theme across all or part of the biblical corpora.
The series itself covers a variety of topics, written by top scholars. Note the titles and subtitles listed below. If you’re still struggling with understanding the distinction between biblical and systematic theology, the focus of these subjects may give you a better grasp of the differences.
- Vol. 1 Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness by David G. Peterson
- Vol. 2 God’s Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery by Raymond C. Ortund, Jr.
- Vol. 3 Jesus and the Logic of History by Paul W. Barnett
- Vol. 4 Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9 by Daniel J. Estes
- Vol. 5 Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle by Henri Blocher
- Vol. 6 Now Choose Life: Theology and Ethics in Deuteronomy by Gary Millar
- Vol. 7 Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions by Craig L. Blomberg
- Vol. 8 Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ by Murray J. Harris
- Vol. 9 Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification by Mark A. Seifrid
- Vol. 10 Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther by Barry G. Webb
- Vol. 12 Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job by Robert Fyall
- Vol. 13 Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme by David W. Pao
- Vol. 14 From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by J. Daniel Hays
- Vol. 15 Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible by Stephen G. Dempster
- Vol. 16 Hearing God’s Words: Exploring Biblical Spirituality by Peter Adam
- Vol. 17 The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God by G. K. Beale
- Vol. 18 The Cross from a Distance: Atonement in Mark’s Gospel by Peter G. Bolt
- Vol. 19 Contagious Holiness: Jesus’ Meals with Sinners by Craig L. Blomberg
- Vol. 20 Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible by Timothy S. Laniak
- Vol. 21 A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture by Mark D. Thompson
- Vol. 22 Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor by Trevor J. Burke
- Vol. 23 Sealed with an Oath: Covenant in God’s Unfolding Purpose by Paul R. Williamson
- Vol. 24 Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel by Andreas J. Köstenberger
- Vol. 25 God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham Cole
- Vol. 26 A Gracious and Compassionate God: Mission, Salvation and Spirituality in the Book of Jonah by Daniel C. Timmer
- Vol. 27 The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus by Alan J. Thompson
- Vol. 28 The God Who Makes Himself Known: The Missionary Heart of the Book of Exodus by W. Ross Blackburn
- Vol. 29 A Mouth Full of Fire: The Word of God in the Words of Jeremiah by Andrew G. Shead
- Vol. 30 The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation by Graham Cole
- Vol. 31 Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God by Brian S. Rosner
- Vol. 32 With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology by James M. Hamilton, Jr.
- Vol. 33 Covenant and Commandment: Works, Obedience and Faithfulness in the Christian Life by Bradley G. Green
- Vol. 34 Bound for the Promised Land: The Land of Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan by Oren R. Martin
- Vol. 35 “Return to Me”: A Biblical Theology of Repentance by Mark J. Boda
- Vol. 36 Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion by Richard Lints
- Vol. 37 Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Levititicus by L. Michael Morales
- Vol. 38 Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer by J. Gary Millar
- Vol. 40 The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom: A Thematic-Theological Approach by Andrew T. Abernathy
- Vol. 41 Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth by Peter H. W. Lau and Gregory Goswell
- Vol. 42 Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study by Jonathan I. Griffiths
- Vol. 43 God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood by Andrew S. Malone
- Vol. 44 Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions by Paul R. Williamson
The volumes in the NSBT series are for those serious about studying biblical themes, but by design, they avoid being overly-technical. Biblical languages are transliterated, so previous study of Hebrew and/or Greek is not required but may be helpful at times.
If you’ve been trying to come up with a list for your summer reading, the NSBT series is a great place to start. Purchase the volumes that interest you most, or add the entire series to your personal Accordance Library and read through them systematically—even if they aren’t systematic in their approach to theology!
New Studies in Biblical Theology (42 Volumes)
List Price $931.80
Regular Price $499
We are pleased to announce for Accordance three highly-anticipated and requested titles from InterVarsity Press. The first two titles to mention are the final two volumes in the informally named “Black Dictionary Series.” These volumes on Wisdom, Poetry & Writings as well as the final installment on the Prophets bring IVP’s dictionary series to a total of eight volumes covering all of Scripture.
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings
Edited by Tremper Longman III & Peter Enns
This volume brings nearly 150 insightful new articles from 90 contributors covering Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther. As with any of the installments in IVP’s dictionary series, the content of each should really be seen as more than mere dictionary entries. I’ve found the entries actually function more as insightful articles thoroughly covering the subject matter of the volume.
Take, for instance, the entry on “Ethics” by C. H. Bullock in the Wisdom, Poetry & Writings dictionary (I’ve posted a screen capture of a portion of the table of contents window below, to the right). This outline alone immediately demonstrates the extent of analysis that Bullock gives to the subject and invites the reader in to explore the subject of ethics from its basis in the Image of God to its application in subjects like the Excellent Wife.
Since I am teaching through Esther at my church right now, I wanted to see what kind of coverage the book (and person) received in this dictionary. Often a Bible dictionary will include at least two articles on a subject such as Esther—one for the book of the Bible and another for the person for whom the book is named. Here, however, I was surprised to see six articles by three different authors treating the following subjects: (1) the book, (2) extrabiblical background, (3) history of interpretation, (4) additions to Esther, (5) Greek versions of Esther, and (6) the person of Esther. In fact, there is this same multiple-article approach to all of the biblical books covered in the Wisdom, Poetry and Writings volume.
The Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings is not just a reference tool to be consulted occasionally when wanting to find out more information on the subjects it covers. Rather, it is the kind of book that makes me want to find a comfortable chair and spend some time reading these articles from my iPhone 6 Plus, iPad or a Windows tablet computer.
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets
Edited by Mark J. Boda & J. Gordon McConville
The Prophets volume of IVP’s dictionary series brings to the Bible student 115 new articles from both Jewish and Christian scholars devoted to significant subjects in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the 12 Minor Prophets. As stated on the publisher’s website, "Each book's historical, cultural, religious and literary background is thoroughly covered, alongside articles on interpretation history and critical method.”
The dictionary covers other important topics, too, such as significant locations in the Prophets such as Babylon, Israel and Zion; and important subjects such as Cosmology, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Day of the Lord. The value of this dictionary series has always been found in the focus of each topic’s coverage that remains primarily under the overall subject umbrella of a particular volume. Therefore, the article on the Messiah by D. G. Firth does not try to trace the subject throughout all of Scripture, but primarily focuses on what is said about the Messiah in the Prophetic writings.
As with all reference works in Accordance, the IVP Dictionary covering the Prophets has been thoroughly tagged according to type of content allowing the reader to perform very specific searches. This volume contains the following specific search fields: Titles, English Content, Scripture, Hebrew Content, Transliteration, Bibliography, Authors, Captions, Table Titles, and Page Numbers.
Although the content of the volume is thoroughly searchable, the Scripture, Subject, and Article indexes have been included, giving the Accordance user access to all content found in the near 1000 pages of the print edition.
Although Witherington initially set out to write a New Testament theology, what makes The Indelible Image different from other similar works is the attempt to keep the ethical dimension of the text intact with the theological message.
As Witherington states in his preface,
"Take the teaching of Jesus, for instance. All those parables, aphorisms, maxims and stories have both a theological and an ethical character, edge and punch line. It seems that Jesus does not want us to talk about belief without also talking about behavior, however uncomfortable that may make us."
In print The Indelible Image has been published in two volumes. The Accordance edition combines both volumes in the same module for easy searching of content throughout the entire title. The content has been carefully analyzed and tagged into one of the following searchable categories: Titles, English Content, Scripture, Greek Content, Transliteration, Manuscripts, Captions and Page Numbers.
As mentioned above, The Indelible Image is made up of two volumes: (1) The Individual Witnesses, and (2) The Collective Witness. Witherington attempts to start by first hearing what is said by the individual authors of the New Testament and Jesus. The second volume attempts to combine these individual voices together.
Witherington says of this approach:
"If this first volume is about closely analyzing the sheet music left to us by which each musician’s part is delineated, the second volume will attempt to re-create what it might have sounded like had they ever gotten together and performed their scores ensemble—to produce a single masterful cantata. Let those who have two good ears listen intently."
When reading reviews of The Indelible Image, the word creative is often used by the reviewer. Witherington has managed to create a serious work that is also a pleasure to read. In other words, this is not a dry, boring survey. His approach reflects his belief that the New Testament contains a message that is both important and relevant to today’s audience after first understanding how it was meant to be received by its original audience.
When we first released the IVP Dictionary of the OT: Pentateuch and IVP Dictionary of the OT: Historical Books in May of this year, I blogged about how useful they are and how excited we were to be able to offer them. Since then, I've found myself turning to these dictionaries more and more in my own research, and I just wanted to offer a quick personal recommendation.
As I've been writing about various aspects of Old Testament narratives—worship practices, pagan religion, daily life, etc.—I've been looking up subjects that are not always easy to get clear information about. Many of these things are shrouded in mystery or clouded in the uncertainty of scholarly debate. General Bible dictionaries tend to focus on what we know for certain, which means they often lack the depth or detail I'm looking for. The larger, more encyclopedic dictionaries offer greater depth and detail, but even the most recent are typically several decades old. If I'm dealing with something that is still being debated or reevaluated in the light on ongoing discoveries, I want the most recent information I can get.
That's where the IVP Old Testament dictionaries have proven really helpful. When I look up Canaan or Baal, for example, I find a concise summary of more recent discoveries and what they mean for the current state of the discussion. It's detailed enough that I feel I can understand and evaluate various arguments, yet concise enough that I don't get bogged down in the scholarly minutiae.
In short, I've been extremely impressed with how helpful these dictionaries are. If you're preaching or teaching through the Pentateuch or Historical Books and you want solid information about the people, places, events, and practices they mention, do yourself a favor and pick up these two dictionaries.
I'm pleased to announce the release of three new Bible Dictionaries from InterVarsity Press: the Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, and Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. Each of these ground-breaking dictionaries weighs in at around 1000 pages in print, so carrying all three around would be an exercise in body-building! Loading the Accordance editions on your laptop or iPhone won't do nearly as much for your biceps, but you'll be much more likely to have them available when you need them!
The Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters introduces you to the principal players in the history of Biblical interpretation, their historical and intellectual contexts, their primary works, their interpretive principles and their broader historical significance. Many of the differences between religious traditions, academic schools of thought, and leading theologians are rooted in the assumptions and interpretive methods these people bring to the Bible. This helpful dictionary enables you to appreciate where these major interpreters were coming from so that you can better understand their conclusions.
The two volumes of the Dictionary of the Old Testament follow the same award-winning formula as IVP’s highly regarded New Testament dictionaries (which have long been available in our IVP Essential Reference Collection). They present you with an accessible summary of current scholarship in the “Pentateuch” (the first five books of the Bible) and the “Historical Books” (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah). If you've already used IVP's New Testament dictionaries, you already know how useful these Old Testament volumes will prove to be. The wealth of New Testament commentaries and dictionaries make it relatively easy for us to interact with the current state of New Testament scholarship, but when we're studying or preaching through books of the Hebrew Bible it can be much more difficult to find information which is not already out of date. This series of dictionaries fills a much-needed void.
For example, I recently read Psalm 110, a Messianic psalm which mentions the priesthood of Melchizedek, an enigmatic figure mentioned in Genesis 14. Psalm 110's mention of Melchizedek later gets used by the author of Hebrews to argue that the priesthood of Christ is greater than that of the levitical priesthood. Since many New Testament dictionaries and commentaries seem to read the Genesis passage through the lens of these later passages, I was curious to see how a dictionary specifically focused on the Pentateuch would approach the subject of Melchizedek. The article on Melchizedek in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch discusses each aspect of the Genesis description of Melchizedek, then examines how that passage had come to be associated with messianic expectations. It concludes by setting those later interpretations aside to consider the meaning of this passage in its original context of the narratives about Abraham. From there, I decided to see if this dictionary had an article on "Messiah" which specifically focused on messianic expectations in the Pentateuch. I was not disappointed.
Now through May 24, you can get all three of these dictionaries for a special bundle price of just $99.99. Once you've purchased them, they can be downloaded immediately through Easy Install.
As I mentioned on Wednesday, last week we released a bunch of new Accordance modules. Among them are several new books by InterVarsity Press: three new pocket dictionaries and a book exploring three views of baptism.
The pocket dictionaries include The Pocket Dictionary for the Study of Biblical Hebrew, The Pocket Dictionary of Church History, and the The Pocket Dictionary of Ethics. These concise dictionaries are all priced under ten dollars and offer helpful definitions of important terms in their respective fields of study. A bundle of all three dictionaries is currently on sale for just $18.99.
Baptism: Three Views offers helpful discussion among proponents of three different views of baptism. Bruce Ware presents the "Believer’s Baptism" view, Sinclair Ferguson offers the "Infant Baptism" view, and Anthony Lane puts forward a "Dual-Practice Baptism" view. Each participant in the discussion offers a response to the other views presented, and the entire discussion is conducted with a collegial tone. If you're struggling to understand the long-standing debate between credo-baptists and paedo-baptists, you'll find this book extremely helpful. It too is currently on sale, along with a number of other resources of pastoral interest.
Be sure to grab these helpful resources before the sale ends.