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
The Early Renaissance Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarch said, “Theology is poetry about God.” No doubt, that’s a very appropriate sentiment for someone like Jeffrey Niehaus, who has the rare (these days) combination of backgrounds in poetry and theology. Niehaus, Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has released the first of what will be a two-volume biblical theology. Available beginning today for the Accordance Bible Software Library, the first volume is titled Biblical Theology, Volume 1: The Common Grace Covenants.
Common grace is a theological idea regarding beneficent acts of God towards all of humanity—not just toward those who offer their worship and obedience. An example of common grace is found in passages like Matthew 5:45, where it says of God that “…he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (CSB).
Thus, in this first volume on “The Common Grace Covenants,” Niehaus focuses on the early chapters of Genesis, or the covenants made before the one with Abraham, the covenants made before there was a “people of God.” These common grace covenants include the Creation or Adamic covenant and the Noahic covenant, which Niehaus says are still in effect for all humanity until the end of this age.
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Niehaus' Biblical Theology, Volume I.
Although the theology of this volume is rooted in the Reformed tradition, Niehaus does at times break with or at least offer alternative suggestions to traditionally held interpretations of some passages. However, whether one agrees or disagrees with Niehaus on some of his points, his dedication to citing both Scripture and other theological works will be quite evident. There are also more than a dozen excurses where Niehaus explores some of the questions less central but still important to his subject matter.
In a day of 1,000-page (and often rambling) theological surveys, Niehaus’ Biblical Theology will be a more concise and focused welcome change of pace for many readers. At nearly 400 pages in print, this volume is less survey and more of a focused biblical theology of the common grace covenants. In his forthcoming second volume, Niehaus will explore The Special Grace Covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New covenants).
For the past week, we have discounted our New International Commentary on the Old and New Testaments at our lowest offering ever (if you’re reading this blog post on the day I’m posting it, you have until midnight to take advantage of this phenomenal price). Although not often touted as a feature of the NICOT/NT, the fact remains that unlike many commentary series written by multiple authors, this one is uniformly good throughout. And for years, many Accordance users have benefitted from the first two volumes in the NICOT, which are Victor P. Hamilton’s thorough analysis and commentary on the book of Genesis.
If you’re someone who has benefitted from Hamilton’s NICOT commentary, you will be excited to know that today we are releasing all four volumes of Baker’s Handbook on the Old Testament series for the Accordance Library.
Victor P. Hamilton, Professor Emeritus at Asbury University, published the first edition of his Handbook on the Pentateuch in 1982. Now, revised in its second edition, Hamilton’s coverage of the first five books of the Bible is not meant to replicate his verse-by-verse coverage in his NICOT volumes, but does work well as a complementary resource. In his Handbook, Hamilton does include commentary, but there is a greater emphasis on sections and themes and how they tie together. Much like a biblical theology, Hamilton focuses on the many intertextual connections that exist among the component sections of the Old Testament. Every chapter contains a bibliography of related works allowing the reader who wants to study further pursue additional avenues of research.
If you’re one of the many Accordance users who has benefitted from Hamilton’s work on Genesis, you will certainly want to read his treatments that go beyond the first book of the Bible. As he explores Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, Hamilton demonstrates not only his insights and knowledge of these books from a lifetime of study and teaching, he is also able to do so in a manner that is engaging without coming across stuffy or dry. Hamilton writes for the undergraduate- or seminary-level student, or even the serious layperson, who wants to gain a better grasp on the structure and themes of the Old Testament. Hebrew is transliterated, allowing access both to those who have studied biblical languages as well as those who have not.
With such a wonderful treatment of the Pentateuch, it would be a shame to stop with just the first five books of the Old Testament. Therefore, in addition to Hamilton’s original volume (now revised in its second edition), the entire Old Testament has now been covered using the same methods and style as in the original volume. Hamilton contributes a second volume to the series with his Handbook on the Historical Books, which begins with Joshua and concludes with Esther. Daniel J. Estes writes the Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms, while Robert B. Chisholm Jr. delivers the Handbook on the Prophets.
Not only will students benefit from Baker’s Handbooks on the Old Testament series, but teachers and pastors will, too. Read the volumes to get a better understanding of the overall structure and thematic elements of a section, or simply read them through to gain greater insights into the Old Testament as a whole.
Baker’s Handbooks on the Old Testament series can be obtained individually or at greater discount when purchased together.