Our generation is learning afresh that the Bible is a single book with a very focused subject. “Biblical Theology,” we call it, and most sides acknowledge the pioneering influence of Old Princeton’s Geerhardus Vos. In reality it is just taking our time to notice the Bible’s overall story and the themes that the various biblical writers employ in telling that story. It was inevitable that these exciting findings would make their way to the pulpit, and it is our blessed generation that is now enjoying it all in popular-level books also.
Jim Hamilton’s What Is Biblical Theology is one such entry-level book to the subject that we have recommended here, and now Matthew Emerson makes his helpful contribution also in his, The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology.
Emerson helpfully tracks the Bible story, noting recurring patterns and themes. He highlights leading features such as narrative, recapitulation-typology, intertextuality, and canonical structure in a way that will aid and not threaten the newcomer. The net of it all is a concise yet rather comprehensive and very helpful Bible overview – all in a mere 87 small size pages.
Under the category of “what I wish he had said,” I will mention just two matters that caught my attention. First, it is helpful to point out that the Bible is “a story about Jesus” (as Emerson does), but I think it is much more helpful to press the fact that the Bible is, specifically, a gospel-shaped story about Jesus. Emerson may wonder why I mention this because he does seem to recognize this finer point. But it is not prominent in his book, and in my view it is too important to go without obvious emphasis. Second, his brief overview of the covenant structure of Scripture is helpful and seems clearly to reflect the good influence of Gentry and Wellum (Kingdom Through Covenant and God’s Kingdom Through God’s Covenants), and yet on page 70 he credits two or three pages from Bartholomew and Goheen (The Drama of Scripture) which do not seem to focus on this question at all. This is likely an oversight. It is essential to recognize the covenantal structure of Scripture, and pointing the reader to the correct source would have been helpful.
The Story of Scripture is a very helpful popular-level introduction to the Bible story and to the discipline of Biblical Theology. I will happily recommend its use. It would make for an excellent guide for a brief series of studies in an adult Sunday School setting also.
Fred G. Zaspel
Buy the books
The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology