Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is a discipline of exegetical theology, one of the 4 that are part of what is called the “Encyclopedia of Theology” – Exegetical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical Theologies (Hagenbach).


Etymonline.com

biblical

1734, “pertaining to the Bible,” from Bible + -ical. Related: Biblically. Earlier adjective was Biblic (1680s). Related: Biblicality.


Discussion/Explanation

Biblical theology is considered by some to be the capstone of exegetical theology. However, it is not exegetical theology itself.

The reason for calling it the capstone is because it presupposes everything else within exegetical theology. To be clear, this means it is keeping in mind the Hebrew and Greek behind our modern translation, historical context, textual criticism, translation approach, the history and canonicity of the Bible, and hermeneutics. Everything done within exegetical theology is taken into account when engaging in biblical theology studies.

Biblical theology is, therefore, the area of theology of the entire Bible. It looks at the Bible as a whole and does not subdivide based upon Old Testament and New Testament. As a result, it naturally traces the entire story of the Scriptures in which you can see God’s progressive revelation.

Now, I do want to point out that biblical theology is not practiced in every corner of Christianity today. There are many who would do everything else found within the exegetical branch and then ignore the capstone and/or use the term biblical theology in an entirely different way – usually to state whether or not a particular theology or theological approach is biblical. With this in mind, the use of the term “biblical theology” can often seem unclear.


I'm part of Post A Week 2016

Epistles

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a letter, especially a formal or didactic one; written communication.
2. (usually initial capital letterone of the apostolic letters in the New Testament.
3. (often initial capital letteran extract, usually from one of the Epistles of the New
Testament, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.

Etymonline.com

partly from Old English epistol and in part directly from Old French epistleepistre (Modern French épitre), from Latin epistola “a letter,” from Greek epistole “message, letter, command, commission,” whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein “send to, send as a message or letter,” from epi “to” (see epi-) + stellein in its secondary sense of “to dispatch, send” from PIE *stel-yo-, suffixed form of root *stel- “to put, stand,” with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (see stall (n.1)). Also acquired in Old English directly from Latin as pistol. Specific sense of “letter from an apostle forming part of canonical scripture” is c. 1200.


Discussion/Explanation

In short, an epistle is a letter. Many of the New Testament (NT) books were originally sent as letters to provide instruction to a particular group of believers in the times after Christ. We have those letters (most, not all) collected into the NT portion of the Bible.

Books of the Bible that are also called “the Epistles” include:

Romans

1 & 2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 & 2 Peter

1, 2, & 3 John

Jude

That leaves out the Gospels (Mark through John), Acts (which is effectively Luke 2), and Revelation (which is a prophetic work). In other words, almost all of the NT is made of epistles.

Most of these letters were written by Paul. Romans through Philemon are all clearly written by Paul – thereby called the “Pauline Epistles”. Hebrews through Jude are called the “General Epistles” as they are written by others, bearing the author’s name – with the exception of Hebrews.

Hebrews, to this day, is still debated as to who wrote it. There is sufficient evidence to believe that it was written by Paul but the text lacks the evidence to “hit the nail on the head” in regards to nailing down authorship definitively. Some of Paul’s contemporaries are argued for by some scholars and still others just leave the authorship as “unknown”. Regardless, it remains as one of the epistles that makes up the NT.

When next you read any of the Epistles, pay particular attention to the very beginning and end of that letter. You will find a wealth of information in these areas of the text as to who it was originally written for as well as surrounding contextual information.


I'm part of Post A Week 2016