A New Testament Biblical Theology

G.K. Beale displays his understanding of the New Testament’s storyline in his book, A New Testament Biblical Theology. Biblical scholars regularly dispute what the exact nature of “biblical theology” actually is. For example, is biblical theology an attempt to find the “center” of the Bible or the tracing of certain themes from beginning to end? Beale believes that searching for a “center” is plausible yet open to various critiques. Therefore, he prefers to speak of Scripture’s “storyline” (164).

Essentially, Beale constructs the major “roadway” that runs throughout the New Testament by including various themes and topics together. Beale is not trying to say that one lane is the very core of the Bible. Rather, many lanes of themes converge together and form the major highway system, the storyline. Beale acknowledges that many other sub-themes, or side roads, exist. But these smaller themes still connect to the major storyline (168). Moreover, just as a highway is meant to bring travelers to a destination, so also the storyline of Scripture moves toward a destination: God’s glory (183).

As Beale unpacks his formulation of the New Testament’s storyline, he uses a few other concepts to help build his case. First, Beale draws attention to the seemingly cyclical nature of biblical events. For example, Beale sees a repeated pattern occuring throughout Scripture: 1) there is chaos, then 2) new creation, 3) commissioning of human, 4) sin by the humans, and 5) judgment and exile (60). Thus, this five-fold pattern climaxes in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Another concept that Beale relies heavily upon is that of “eschatology.” In fact, Beale asserts that “Eschatology is a dominant idea in the NT” (129). While typically the term “eschatology” is used to refer to the study of “last things” pertaining to Christ’s return, Beale expands the meaning of the term. For Beale, eschatology refers to the nature of the original world which was “good” but still incomplete (88). From the very beginning, the storyline of the Bible was to go somewhere: to the end! Beale knows that his conception of eschatology is dependent on proving that God’s plan for the world would be consummated if Adam and Eve continuously obeyed God through a period of testing (90). Otherwise, his thesis falls about if the world would have continued in the same conditions if Adam and Eve remained faithful.

Beside cyclical patterns and eschatology, Beale also relies heavily on the theological position of inaugurated eschatology. Inaugurated eschatology is the concept that many . of God’s end-time promises in the Old Testament begin to be fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus. These promises begin their fulfillment through Christ and the church, but such a fulfillment does not exhaust the promise. For example, Christians are already forgiven, but not yet perfected. Beale sees just about all of the Old Testament being fulfilled in an “already/not yet” way. Even the land promises to Israel receive an “already/not yet” treatment. Beale believes that the inauguration of the land promise begins with Jesus’ resurrection, while it still awaits consummation in the new heavens and new earth (922-23).



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