John Frame on whether biblical theology is more biblical than systematic theology

People often get excited about biblical theology (as opposed, particularly, to systematics) because it seem to them to be close to the biblical text. It uses more of the actual biblical vocabulary than does systematics, and it goes through the Scriptures in roughly historical order, rather than topically, as systematics does. I enjoy these features of biblical theology, but I would caution the reader from concluding on the basis of the reasons just mentioned that biblical theology is “more biblical” than systematic theology. As we have indicated earlier, the work of theology is not to mimic the scriptural vocabulary or its order and structure but to apply the Bible. And to do this, theology may (indeed must) depart somewhat from the structure of Scripture itself, for otherwise it could only repeat the exact words of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. Thus a theological discipline that departs a great deal from the structure of Scripture is not necessarily less adequate, less biblical, than one that departs to a lesser extent. Furthermore, the resemblance between Scripture and the biblical theologian is sometimes overstated. There is a great deal of difference between Vos’ Biblical Theology and the Pauline epistles, for example! For that reason, I consider the term “biblical theology” a misnomer and would prefer to call this discipline the “history of the covenant.” Force of habit, however, and the desire for brevity being what they are will dictate otherwise.

John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, p. 210-211


About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
This entry was posted in Doctrine, Epistemology, Scripture, Theological education. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s