Imagine someone who has spent a lifetime listening deeply and attentively to the full range of Scripture’s testimony. Stepping back, they now describe what they have seen and heard. What emerges is a theological cathedral, laid out on the great vectors of Scripture and fitted with biblically sourced materials.
This is what John Goldingay has done. Well known for his three-volume Old Testament Theology, he has now risen to the challenge of a biblical theology. While taking the New Testament as a portal into the biblical canon, he seeks to preserve the distinct voices of Israel’s Scriptures, accepting even its irregular and sinewed pieces as features rather than problems. Goldingay does not search out a thematic core or overarching unity, but allows Scripture’s diversity and tensions to remain as manifold witnesses to the ways of God.
While many interpreters interrogate Scripture under the harsh lights of late-modern questions, Goldingay engages in a dialogue keen on letting Scripture speak to us in its own voice. Throughout he asks, "What understanding of God and the world and life emerges from these two testaments?"
Goldingay’s Biblical Theology is a landmark achievement—hermeneutically dexterous, biblically expansive, and nourishing to mind, soul and proclamation.
“The test of God’s sovereignty lies not in things that happen but in what he does with things after they happen.” (Page 43)
“Christians ended up believing in the complicated, mysterious and apparently illogical doctrine of the Trinity because for all its disadvantages, it was the best way of making sense of the account of God in the Scriptures.” (Page 37)
“God’s chosen people.45 The community of people who belong to Jesus come to share in that election; they are God’s chosen” (Page 376)
“When God accepts a thanksgiving sacrifice from Noah, he declares that he will never again curse the earth, ‘because the inclination of the human mind is bad from its youth’ (Gen 8:21). The magnificent illogic about the statement causes some translations to change ‘because’ to ‘although.’ Yet Genesis uses the ordinary Hebrew word for ‘because’ (kȋ) and makes a profound theological point. Humanity’s incorrigible perversity means that God will just have to carry its waywardness if he is to persist with his project. Grace will have to be the basis on which he relates to the world. God seals the point with the Scriptures’ first covenant (Gen 9:8–17), a covenant of grace. Each rainbow that shines after rain reminds God and humanity of this gracious commitment.” (Page 26)
“Thus ‘it is God himself who atones for the sins of his people.… Atonement is not humanly possible. It is possible only for God. God atones by transmuting human guilt into divine suffering.’” (Page 23)
There are Old Testament theologies and New Testament theologies but very few biblical theologies. Yet, for Christians, the two testaments belong together. What Christian readers of Scripture need is biblical theology. So, while most scholars stay within their areas of specialization, John Goldingay boldly crosses all the boundaries scholars erect between different parts of the Bible and gives us what we need: a ‘digest of the Scriptures,’ as he calls it. His independence of mind ensures that his discussions are unpredictable and interesting. His lively and accessible style will make this a valuable resource for a wide readership.
—Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament, University of St. Andrews
What theological building might be constructed out of reading the scriptural materials? With characteristic enthusiasm, John Goldingay spends little time speculating on the shape of the building or probing what rights its prospective tenants have: he simply marches in and starts rearranging the furniture. Attentive readings offer fresh layouts and color schemes. The result is a book that is often happy to say what we do not know, imaginative in speaking of what we may know, and insistent in the call to turn and turn again to Scripture to shape all our knowing.
—Richard S. Briggs, lecturer in Old Testament, director of biblical studies, Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham University
Those who study theology from the Bible up find themselves in tension with the classic systematic categories but rarely have the courage to venture into a full-scale theological scanning of the Bible’s universe. John Goldingay is not only equipped for such a challenge, but has met it in a thunderous vision of nothing less than a biblical theology—one that unabashedly asks what the Bible says about God and human life. In an organic set of fresh categories, Goldingay offers the reader a new vision for theology, one that I hope will replace the crusty systematics that have silenced so much of the Bible’s story.
—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
Goldingay’s work is fresh, lively, and accessible. A triumph!
—D.K. McKim, Choice, June 1, 2017
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