Intended for students, this primer provides an orientation to work in Old Testament theology from 1930 to the end of the twentieth century. In contains selections from works by major figures throughout this period that help to illustrate the history and evolution of the discipline. The final entry is the infamous lecture by Johann P. Gabler that represents the first attempt to distinguish biblical theology as a discipline distinct from systematic or dogmatic theology.
Eichrodt's approach to Old Testament theology defined one generative approach to the discipline in the biblical theology movement of the first half of the twentieth century. Eichrodt's organization is three-fold, God and the People, God and the World, and God and Man. Eichrodt employs a "center"—covenant—that unites these three principal categories, the Old Testament texts, and the two testaments of the Christian Bible.
Von Rad's approach to Old Testament theology defined the second generative approach to the discipline in the biblical theology movement of the first half of the twentieth century. He approaches the historical and prophetic traditions of Israel, originally disparate and subsequently combined into ever larger complexes of tradition, as testimonies of the salvific acts of God. The historical traditions (volume 1) recount Israel's early history with God, while the prophetic traditions (volume 2) declares a new history between Jahweh and Israel.
Routledge emphasizes the importance of discerning and developing patterns in Scripture that repeat and intensify as fundamental to the task of biblical theology. In his work, he aims to draw out the theological content of the Old Testament that will allow it to be applied to the life and practice of the church. The work is organized by themes, some of which reflect historical investigation (the first chapter addresses the religion of Israel, particularly as it relates to divinity and monotheism) and some of which reflects the order the biblical themes appear in the Old Testament (moving from creation, to election and covenant, to worship and sacrifice, etc.).
Rather than an attempt to defend the theology of the Old Testament can be summarized by a center or by a tradition-historical approach, Boda adopts a thematic approach. He aims to survey the theology of sin and its remedy throughout the Old Testament. His book covers the Hebrew Bible, reading it in its final canonical form. He treats the Hebrew Bible as a discrete voice, as Christian Scripture that offers a "unique and positive contribution to the task of Christian theology, without limiting this contribution to what the New Testament makes of it."
Waltke argues that there is an ultimate theological truth uniting the whole of Scripture, namely "the irruption of the merciful King's rule to his glory." His volume contains a lengthy introduction containing chapters that discuss theological assumptions, the background and history of the discipline, and methodology he recommends and employs for Old Testament theology. The heart of the book is his theological exposition of the Old Testament divided into two parts, "Primary History" and "Other Writings." In each part, individual books of the Bible (or portions thereof) and occasional themes occupy a chapter entitled, "The Gift of _______."
Merrill's volume aims at appropriating Brevard Child's work on canonical criticism (less Child's historical critical assumptions) for an evangelical audience. He seeks to avoid imposing a systematic grid on the biblical text and to adopt a center narrow enough to avoid being amorphous and of little practical value but broad enough to respect the diversity within the Old Testament. Merrill's central focus is three-fold, on "God and his person and work, mankind as the image of God and implementer of his eternal purposes, and the kingdom, that is, the arena in which the God and man cooperative program is enacted" (31).
Dempster engages a literary reading that traces the two themes of dominion (land) and dynasty (offspring) through the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament organized according to the three-fold Law, Prophets, Writings, arrangement of the Tanak in Judaism; cf. Luke 24:44). Reading the Hebrew Bible as a story with plot concerning dominion and dynasty, Dempster surveys in broad strokes the contents of the Hebrew Bible and concludes with typological reflections for allowing the story to continue into the New Testament.
In this first of three volumes of his Old Testament Theology, Goldingay focuses upon the "gospel" in Israel, the story that tells what God has done. Goldingay understands Israel's narrative texts as telling a story, one in which God is the subject of some action (e.g., God began, God started over, God promised, etc.,). In this volume, Goldingay emphasizes the narrative dimensions of theology.
In this second of three volumes of his Old Testament Theology, Goldingay focuses upon the "faith" of Israel, the more theologically discursive portions of the Old Testament. Goldingay uses the rubrics of God, Israel, The Nightmare, The Vision, The World, The Nations, and Humanity to navigate this portion of the canon.
In this third and final volume in his Old Testament Theology, Goldingay focuses upon the "life" that God called Israel to live. In this, he articulates a prescriptive vision of how Israel should have lived, one that he argues they (and we) are capable of living. This volume represents largely Goldingay's reflections on the subject of Old Testament ethics.
An evangelical attempt to appropriate Brevard Child's work on canonical criticism, House treats each biblical book separately, assessing their place within the larger canonical context of the Old Testament and Christian Bible. As a center of the Old Testament (House is particularly concerned to distinguish this from the center of the Old Testament), he focuses on "the existence and worship of one God as a major, normative, theological and historical emphasis." House intends his volume to serve as an introduction for students less familiar with the contents of the Old Testament.
Less a coherent volume on Old Testament theology, this work by Sailhamer outlines his proposal for the methodology of Old Testament theology with emphasis on a canonical theology. A series of four appendixes address themes or discrete texts from the Old Testament.
Kaiser articulates the first evangelical attempt at an Old Testament Theology in the modern history of the discipline. He argues an Old Testament Theology must employ a center that emerges from the biblical text. A number of terms constitute this center for Kaiser, for example blessing, pledge, oath—all of which Kaiser identifies under the NT term "promise." The arrangement of the material is structured historically, with biblical texts representing the historical periods they narrate. The volume concludes with a chapter treating the relationship between the two Christian testaments.
Moberly paves a new path for the discipline of Old Testament theology. Rather than attempting to objectify the theological content of the Old Testament, he models a kind of Christian, theological interpretation of discrete texts. He addresses topics like divine election, divine violence, divine mutability, and how to interpret the New Testament in light of the Old (and vice versa). Moberly favors a kind of interpretation that uses general statements as an interpretive key for more particular and difficult to interpret passages.
The Old Testament contains six differing representations of the divine-human relationship, with special emphasis on the kind of response each one evokes from the people of God. Kessler explores the relationship between these and the New Testament. He further examines their significance for the values and character formation of contemporary Christians today.
McEntire adopts a narrative approach to the Hebrew Bible. His focus is on the characterization of God and how he sees God's character developing over the course of the biblical narrative. Of particular interest to McEntire is how the portrait of God at the beginning of the story (power and creativity, uncertainty and naïveté) differs from the portrait of God at the end of the story (moving in the shadows, indirectly influencing events, performing no "mighty acts"). McEntire believes the religious experience of those responsible for writing the Bible differs from the religious experience of their ancestors, and that a narrative approach to biblical theology "may involve letting go of the divine character from which the Bible is trying to lead us away" (20-21).
Sweeney's volume is the first overt Jewish attempt at a theology of the Jewish Bible following the more subtle contribution by Levenson (below). The first chapter addresses the role of the Tanak (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) for Judaism and the nature of a Jewish Biblical Theology. The subtitle of the volume indicates that this volume is also a "critical" introduction to the Jewish Bible, and some find it to be more of a critical introduction than a theological project.
Using contemporary approaches to history (new historicism, cultural memory, 'hot' and 'cold' histories) and with emphasis on communication (interpersonal, social, divine-human), Rogerson develops an Old Testament Theology that aims to allow the texts "to speak for themselves" and address the concerns of the 21st century. According to Rogerson, the central question of Old Testament theology is What does it mean to be human?
This little volume by Stevens is an excellent primer addressing four theological themes that occur in the Old Testament. Creation is both God's original activity as well the medium through which he carries out his providence and punishment. Covenant, an ancient Near Eastern social establishment, is the means by which God relates to humans, with "new" covenants repeatedly establish to broaden and deepen that relationship. The chapter on Cultus survey's Israel's religious life, from structures (e.g., alter, tabernacle, and temple) to rituals (e.g., sacrifice and ritual). The final chapter, Character, considers the ethical dimensions of the three previous themes and their dependence upon the character of God.
Distinct from his other volume on the subject (listed above), Brueggemann aims in his contribution to the Library of Biblical Theology series to "state a more-or-less straightforward consensus view, with openness to colleagues in other disciplines. He is guided by three general variables, the first two being the critical avenues into the text made possible by the archaeological gains of the past 200 years and the mainstream of modern Western critical scholarship. Third, he mentions the role and influence of modern confessional, ecclesial communities, both Jewish and Christian.
Fretheim's book uses creation as the lens through which to understand the work of God throughout the Old Testament. Broader than Genesis 1-2, creation is a theme Fretheim identifies throughout the biblical narrative, including Genesis-Exodus, biblical law, prophetic texts (particularly Amos and Jeremiah), wisdom texts (particularly Job), and hymns (especially creation psalms). In Fretheim's work, creation subsumes salvation, a topic which usually dominates theological treatments of the Old Testament. For Fretheim, the theme of creation has a fundamental relational character—the relationship between God, humans, and non-humans. The idea of relationality is very important in Fretheim's theology of creation.
Rendtorff blends two approaches together in his Canonical Hebrew Bible, employing both the history of traditions approach of von Rad alongside the canonical perspective of Childs. The book begins by retelling the biblical story in canonical order, from "Adam" to "the son of man," and then follows this with sections devoted to themes that occur in the canonical order: Creation, Covenant and Election, the Fathers of Israel, The Promised and Entrusted Land, the First and Second Exodus, The Center of Israel’s Life: The Torah, The Location of Life before God: the Cult, Moses, the Kingship of David, Zion, Speaking of God, Israel in Conflict, Prophecy, Israel at Worship and Prayer, Israel’s Wisdom, Israel, the Nations, and the Gods, How Does Israel View Its Past?, What Does Israel Expect in its Future? The last section, much shorter in length, details Rendtorff's method.
Eschewing the singular "theology" in his title, Gerstenberger understands the diversity of material and perspectives within the Old Testament as constitutive of a diversity of "theologies." By his evaluation, the plurality and syncretism of the Old Testament tradition is an "extraordinary stroke of good fortune" as it allows contemporary interpreters to engage the biblical dialogue and thus find and formulate "the 'right' faith in God, i.e. a faith to be expressed in the here and now." Gerstenberger uses geographical, anthropological, and history of religions categories to structure his work.
Taking his cue from Romans 9:4-5, Anderson lands upon the idea of "covenant" as a major subject of the Old Testament, one by which he structures his volume. Using "covenant" as a "pattern of symbolism" or "theological perspective," Anderson organizes much of the biblical material according to three "major" covenants, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic. "Each covenant, considered in its scriptural context, nuances in symbolic terms what it means to live in the presence of the holy God, who has entered into special relationship with the people of Israel" (33). Those books that fall outside the scope of "covenant" are cast as a response to "the crisis of covenantal theologies."
Brueggemann employs a courtroom metaphor to organize and expound upon the material in the Old Testament. He describes the many texts that use verbs, adjectives, and nouns to testify to Yahweh—what he has done, his character, and his constancy—as Israel's core testimony. He then proceeds to engage texts that stress divine hiddenness, ambiguity, and negativity as Israel's cross-examination of her own testimony—a countertestimony. Brueggemann further investigates the "unsolicited" and "embodied testimony" of Israel in the Old Testament, concluding with a discussion about the prospects for this discipline in a pluralistic and postmodern world.
Less a coherent volume on Old Testament theology, Knierim's book assembles many essays—few of which are unique to this volume. All of these essays, more or less, contribute to "task" of Old Testament theology which Knierim outlines in the introduction to his volume, with responses from Walter Harrelson, W. Sibley Towner, and Roland E. Murphy.
In this volume, Childs articulates how the canonical context of the Old Testament (what subsequent scholars have come to term "canonical criticism") bears upon the discipline of Old Testament theology. Childs argues that the canonical context provides a solution to the impasse between the two approaches of Eichrodt (systematic) and von Rad (tradition-history). These organizing structures are both useful inasmuch as they illuminate the text, and both are evident in Childs exposition of the Old Testament.
This work by Jewish scholar Jon Levenson represents the first theological treatment of the "Jewish Bible" cast in the mold of what had till its publication been a largely Protestant Christian enterprise, Old Testament theology. Levenson uses two foci of the religion of ancient Israel, Torah (Sinai) and Temple (Zion), to develop a way in which one might sympathetically enter into the Jewish Bible. In this, Levenson aims to counter Christian approaches to the Old Testament that have become mainstream in biblical studies and that deprecate some of it's major features.
This collection of essays on the "theology of the Hebrew Scriptures" represents a dialogue of voices on the shared scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The essays cover both theoretical perspectives and textual issues, with particular focus in the latter section of the Exodus.
This collection of essays demonstrates that a Jewish Bible theology, long believed to be uncharacteristic of a Jewish approach to Scripture, is an emerging discipline among Jewish scholars. The first three essays discuss the idea of Jewish Bible theology. Essays that follow in the volume provide test cases, engaged in a distinctly Jewish approach to the theology of the Hebrew Bible.