A Quick Look at Kostenberger & Goswell’s “Biblical Theology”

This book just came out: Biblical Theology by A. Kostenberger and G Goswell. As the title suggests, it is an overview of Scripture from a biblical-theological perspective. The authors spend the first sixty pages or so explaining the meaning and nuances of the term “biblical theology.” The authors’ approach to biblical theology is canonical, thematic, and ethical. The book follows the canonical order of Scripture (the Hebrew order of the OT), tracing the themes of Scripture and summarizing the ethics of Scripture as well.

After the introduction, pages 67-344 contain the authors’ biblical-theological overview of the OT. After a chapter explaining the details of the OT framework, the authors discuss each book in the TNK order: the Law, Prophets, and Writings. The OT books are examined according to canon, theme, and ethics. The NT section of this book spans pages 347-686. The authors first discuss the order of the books in the NT canon and the relationship between the testaments. Then the NT books are also examined from the biblical-theological point of view (canon, theme, ethics).

Here’s the layout for how the authors discuss the individual books of Scripture: 1) themes, 2) ethics, and 3) the book’s place in the storyline of Scripture. For example, if you’re studying Isaiah, you’d go to page 201. From there, you’d get a three-paragraph intro to Isaiah, a three-page discussion of Isaiah’s themes, a three-paragraph summary of Isaiah’s ethics, and a one-paragraph summary of Isaiah’s place in the storyline of Scripture. That’s the order followed for all the books of the Bible.

Biblical Theology contains just over 750 pages of detailed information. Around 200 pages are devoted to a biography, name, subject, and Scripture index. This book was written at a seminary reading level. In fact, when reading parts of Biblical Theology, I thought that this could be the detailed lecture notes of a four-credit seminary class. It’s full of excellent info, but it is probably not for casual readers. Another thing worth mentioning is that some biblical books only receive a short summary. For example, the summary of Proverbs is only four pages, as is Job. And some of the minor prophets are summarized in just one or two pages.

All in all, this is a helpful book if you want a detailed overview of Scripture from a biblical-theological point of view. It’s not a book you’d read straight through unless you’re super ambitious. Biblical Theology is more like a one-volume commentary on Scripture with some added biblical-theological essays included. I have read the intro and quite a few other parts of the book, but mostly I’m using it as a commentary. When I study 1 Kings, for example, I’ll pull this book out and read the eight-page summary of 1-2 Kings.

Biblical Theology is a good book for scholars, pastors, and serious students of Scripture to have on their shelves as a reference volume. It’s an excellent tool for helping God’s people learn more about his wonderful word. [Right now, it’s $58.88 at Amazon and $47.99 at Logos.]

Note: I received this book for review purposes and was not compelled to write a favorable review.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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