Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
June 22nd, 2015 by Joel Watts

Review, @AccordanceBible “A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New”

NA28 on Accordance

Accordance Bible has recently released Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Baker Academic, 2011) via their software platform. As many of you may know, G.K. Beale is a (the?) premier evangelical theologian and scholar whose scholarship transcends sectarian boundaries. Those of us who already have his previous work will know his dedication to the Scriptures. I will focus this reviews on two areas. I will briefly review the book itself and then focus on its value on the Accordance platform.

The Book:

A New Testament Biblical Theology is just that. Beale, a “biblical theologian” focuses on a canonical approach to Scripture, thus setting the New Testament as a fulfillment of the Old Testament. Unlike many, Beale does not data mine the Old Testament for preconceived presuppositions about the validity of Jesus but rather sees the Old Testament as part of the continuing story of how God works to bring about the New Creation, which happens in the New Testament. Indeed, Beale sees a stronger unity between the two portions of Scripture than our words “Old” and “New” should allow. Here, he stands with the great theologians of the past and against those who suppose Christians need only the New Testament…only the Gospels…only the words in red.

The book is divided into 10 parts, with 28 chapters between them. He begins by setting the course for biblical theology, moving into what it means to have a “already but not yet” eschatological view, arriving then to begin to tackle the tough topics of sin, salvation, and the new life in the Spirit. His final parts deal with the Church, the Church and Israel, and the individual within the corporate body of the Church. Throughout the entire book, the unity of the Text shines forth without issues plaguing most biblical theologies. There is no forceful fitting of problem texts, only a great code of interconnected circles that would make Frye proud. It will be tough for some — mainliners in particular — given the heavy use of Scripture and the high view of it; however, Christians should take note of Beale’s work and seek to use it.

I want to, only because it seems to be the only topic covered in most churches these days, examine Beale’s chapter 26, “Christian Living as the Beginning of Transformed New-Creational Life: The Role of the Law and Marriage.” Beale begins by dismantling the “tripartite classification of the law” (i.e., ceremonial, civil, and moral) as authentic to the Law itself. Rather, as he allows, it is helpful (“generally”) but not something inherent in the Text itself. He then tackles the notion of how the Law transferred to the Church, explaining the three philosophical viewpoints. In his view, only those aspects of the Law not fulfilled in Christ (i.e., the ceremonial) carried over, meaning that the moral codes are still intact. This is not surprising given Beale’s connection to the Westminster Confession (something he cites numerous times throughout the work). This is important as he uses this (based on biblical theology) to argue for marriage as defined by the Law, i.e., man and woman — although Beale does not broach the topic of SSM but argues for a view of marriage based on the moral codes. This doesn’t mean that marriage is not transformed, only that it is not made something completely separated from the Law — it is transformed by taking on new aspects.

He concludes

It is true that marriage is for the purposes of fulfillment in love (physically, spiritually, and emotionally), for propagation, and for sanctification. When problems arise in the marriage relationship, husbands and wives need to remember that there is an ultimate redemptive-historical purpose for marriage that transcends their own human relationship.1

This view of “sanctification” as an act of marriage, I believe, is important in understanding the monogamy of marriage. This, of course, is not the place to discuss this. Let me simply point out that Beale, while being Reformed, can be approached by Wesleyans and others who have a sound understanding of sanctification.

In total, Beale is a biblical theologian in every sense possible. While many will disagree with him, his thought process is consistent and based squarely in the Reformation principles of biblical exegesis.

With Accordance:

Having A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New on Accordance creates an interconnected environment. Not only are the verses and passages hyperlinked (which, unless you have Scripture memorized, you will need so that you aren’t wasting time looking them up), but throughout the book you will find hyperlinks to various outside works and (something that helps me) hyperlinks between abbreviations and what they stand for. This is something lacking on other electronic editions. Also, without hours wasted on indexing, upon installation I am able to immediately search the book for various words — English, Greek, Hebrew, and transliterated words (among other search features).

I have included several pictures (and comments) from my MacBook Pro version:

beale english search

There is no mention of inerrant, only inspired. Having the word like pop up like this is very helpful as it allowed me to get other ideas of something I need to search for.

beale OT in the New

I like that the module includes the page numbers — so that I can easily cite them. Unlike some platforms, there is no guessing as to what page I am on in Accordance.

beale OT in the New hyperlink

You can see the hyperlink there. I do not have the Westminster Confession on Accordance, yet.

beale transliteration search

I swear, I discover new features every time I use it. The search for transliterated words is a huge thing. Better? It helps me narrow down what I am looking for without repeated guesses on how to transliterate the word. If you are wondering why Westminster is highlighted, it is because I searched for that just before.

As you can see, the Accordance platform offers you a way to use the book easily and as part of your overall library. You can make notes as well as copy and paste selections (with citation) to aid in your research. Rather than reading the book, you get to explore it, test it, and employ it with just a few mouse clicks.

Conclusion:

There is a certain nostalgia for the printed book, but when I need to use a book — for research, for study, for help — I turn to electronic editions. What is helpful is when I can use a software platform without the downtime of installing, indexing, and then finding the best way to search it. I have that with Accordance. The fact that I have one of the best books on biblical theology, only adds to my satisfaction levels.

Beale’s  A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New is a masterpiece of biblical theology, folding in the historic confessions, sound evangelical scholarship, and a rich tradition of Reformed theology. I can read it, use it, and use it in my studies with Accordance.

  1.  G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology (Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 883.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

3 Responses to “Review, @AccordanceBible “A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New””
  1. http://youtu.be/gU00UDq8Q24

    About 5:40-6:00, end time Temple, consisting of all heaven and earth, we all reside there as High Priests…

    How strikingly similar to Mormon Theology.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    • So right.

      And Beale’s earlier published attempts to discredit Peter Enns, Paul Seely and Dennis Lamoreaux’s biblical insights and challenges to Evangelical “inerrantism” proved pathetic.

      Though I did like when Beale admitted, “The Israelites shared with their neighbors the eastward orientation of their tabernacle and temple, the placement of important cultic objects within them, the designation of areas of increasing holiness, rules for access to the Holy Place and Holy of Holies, as well as practices like circumcision and sacrificial offerings.”

      The Israelites and Canaanites really weren’t as far apart from one another as Evangelicals seem to suppose, in fact… http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/01/israelites-and-canaanites-how-different.html

      And http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-cultural-divide-between-ancient.html

    • Similar to Mormon theology? Interesting quasi-red herring. I can appreciate the sentiment, I agree Beale’s grand narrative approach subsumes a standard grammatical-historical hermeneutic at times. In failing to understand the schema of 1000 year millennial reign of Christ one is forced to shoehorn all promises into the now, not comprehending we still have millennial and eternal state promises.

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