The Baker Academic Interpretation Collection (10 vols.) includes Greg Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Weighing in at 962 pages—not counting indexes or bibliography—Beale’s book is a New Testament tour de force.
Beale argues that the story of the Bible must be understood through the lens of an already/not yet eschatology, with a specific emphasis on the new creational reign of God through the death and resurrection of the Messiah. From Genesis’ Eden all the way to the New Eden in Revelation 21–22, Beale masterfully connects the eschatological dots. To give you a taste of what A New Testament Biblical Theology is about, let me highlight a few key points.
Not Your Typical New Testament Theology
While Beale calls his work a “New Testament” theology, it can almost be classified as a biblical theology. Beale himself admits as much when he describes his method as “overlapping in some degree not only with whole-Bible theologies but [. . .] with Old Testament biblical theologies as well.” The beauty of this book is Beale’s Old Testament acumen. He devotes over 100 pages to tracing the storyline of the Old Testament, preparing the reader for the heart of New Testament theology.
Beale first establishes the “canonical storyline of the Old Testament,” then spends the remaining chapters “moving [toward the] eschatological goal.” His discussions of “centers” (i.e., the main themes of the Bible) and “storyline” (i.e., a unified storyline with multiple themes) are helpful for understanding not only his approach, but also the various approaches of Old and New Testament theologies. Because his “storyline” approach doesn’t force him to work within one theme, Beale is free to weave a multifaceted biblical theology.
Inaugurated Eschatology (The Already and Not Yet) and the New Creation
The emphasis on inaugurated eschatology is at the heart of A New Testament Biblical Theology. According to Beale, “we should think of Christ’s life, trials, and especially death and resurrection as the central events that launched the latter days. These pivotal events of Christ’s life, trials, death and resurrection are eschatological in particular because they launched the beginning of the new creation and kingdom.” Beale concludes that “the end-time-new-creational kingdom has not been recognized sufficiently heretofore as of vital importance to a biblical theology of the New Testament, and it is this concept that I believe has the potential to refine significantly the general scholarly view of the eschatological already-not yet.”
A New Testament Biblical Theology will make you think hard about Scripture as you watch the story progress from Genesis’ Garden to Revelation’s new Garden. Get it and nine other volumes in The Baker Academic Interpretation Collection (10 vols.).
Leave a comment