Old Testament Theology

Note that ‘Old Testament Theology’ is not different than the theology found in the whole of Scripture, but rather it emphasizes those characteristics of theological teaching that are prominent in the writings of the Old Testament.

Return back to Biblical Theology

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“Almost without exception the whole teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ was founded on Old Testament declarations.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

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Order of Contents

On the Discipline of Old Testament Biblical Theology  2
Old Testament Theologies  8
History of the Kingdom of God in the O.T.  4
The Theology of the Prophets  1

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On the Discipline of Old Testament Biblical Theology

Young, E.J.

“What is Old Testament Biblical Theology?”  1959  6 pp.  in The Evangelical Quarterly 31.3 (1959): 136-142

The Study of Old Testament Theology Today  Buy  1959  112 pp.

Young was one of the great, early, Westminster Seminary scholars.  This is an intro level sketch, organized around four lectures given at London Bible College.

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Old Testament Theologies

Simple

De Graaf, S.G. – Promise and Deliverance, vol. 1 (From Creation to the Conquest), 2 (The Failure of Israel’s Theocracy)

De Graaf was Dutch Reformed.  “De Graaf studies the Old Testament with an eye on the covenant and the kingdom of God.  The book is written in an easy-to-undrstand style.” – Tremper Longman III, 4 out of 5 stars

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Intermediate

1800’s

Jones, Charles Colcock – The History of the Church of God During the Period of Revelation  1867  570 pp.

Jones was an American, Southern Presbyterian.

“Published posthumously, it was intended to be the Old Testament volume in a two volume set, but poor health and then death prevented Jones from writing/publishing his work on the New Testament. Jones walks through the Old Testament story of grace, showing in detail the unfolding plan of God’s covenant with His people.” – Log College Press

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Mid-1900’s

Vos, Geerhardus – The Eschatology of the Old Testament  Buy 

Vos (1862-1949) was one of the last conservative theologians at Old Princeton, and is known as the father of reformed Biblical Theology.

Vriezen, Theodorus – An Outline of Old Testament Theology  Buy  1958  trans. from Dutch

Dr. Richard Muller call’s Vriezen’s work ‘brilliant’, though disagrees with some of its methodology. Muller, The Study of Theology (Zondervan, 1991), 88.

“Of all the [O.T.] theologies published during this period [the 1950’s], one of the fullest, the most methodologically oriented, and the most substantive in content is that by the Dutch Old Testament scholar Vriezen… ‘we start from the view that both as to its object and its method Old Testament theology is and must be a Christian theological science’ (p. 147)…   In explicating the content of Old Testament theology, Vriezen focuses on the idea of communion with God…  In the final edition of his work, he intensified his stress on the unity of the Old Testament at a time when this was being challenged…   

Although a strong Christian emphasis is asserted in his methodological section, perhaps a reflection of his background in reformed dogmatics, little of this appears in his discussion of the contents of the theology.  He was still concerned with the substantive issues involved in the debates of the 1920’s and 1930’s over confessional and descriptive matters without opting for an easy solution.  He came as close as any to claiming a normative role for Old Testament theology in the whole of the theological enterprise…” – Hayes & Prussner, Old Testament Theology: its History & Development, pp. 222-4  See this for a fuller review.

Payne, J. Barton – The Theology of the Older Testament  Buy  1962  536 pp.

Professor John Murray, in speaking to Payne in 1948, had ‘suggested an organization of Old Testament theology around the theme of the testament.’  This medium-in-depth book is the result.

“An impressive work in the field of Biblical theology.  Written from a thoroughly Reformed point of view.” – Cyril J. Barber

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More Recent

Robertson, O. Palmer – The Christ of the Covenants  Buy  1981  308 pp.

Robertson is reformed.  This is the modern classic on the progressive unfolding of Covenant Theology, which also happens to be a, if not the, major theme of the Old Testament.

“Robertson gives an accurate and incredibly clear account of the concept and development of the covenant idea through the Old Testament and into the New.  This treatment is the best description of this important biblical concept that a reader can buy.”  – Tremper Longman III, 5 out of 5 stars

House, Paul – Old Testament Theology  2015  250 pp.  Transcribed from lectures

House (b. 1958) was a baptist and a professor at Wheaton.  The tone of these lectures is often casual, though they have helpful information in them.  “…the kind of poles of my theology have been the Anglican church and right-wing dispensationalism [laughs] so somewhere-somewhere out there have-have kind of been the boundaries…” – p. 10

ed. Van Pelt, Miles – A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: the Gospel Promised  Buy  Preview  2016

This volume done by a number of Reformed Theological Seminary professors is an attempt to do Old Testament Introduction through the lens of Biblical Theology.  That is, they answer the regular questions on each book of who, what, when, where & why, while giving a Biblial theology on each book of the O.T.

The work is done well, and it is reformed and conservative in outlook (see a review here and the Preview linked above), though do note that Biblical Theology is much more expansive than simply Biblical theologies of each book of the Bible, and hence this volume by no means exhausts its subject.

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Advanced

Older

Oehler, Gustav F. – The Theology of the Old Testament  1873  569 pp.

Oehler (1812-1872) was a conservative German, Lutheran pastor and Old Testament scholar.  This work is at a scholarly level.

“A classic study.” – Cyril J. Barber

“He admitted the composite authorship of the Pentateuch and the Book of Isaiah, and did much to counteract the antipathy against the Old Testament that had been fostered by Schleiermacher…  He opposed the union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches, and while declaring in favor of confessional Lutheranism, he held aloof from the old Lutheran party.” – Wikipedia

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More Recent

Gamble, Richard – The Whole Counsel of God: God’s Mighty Acts in the Old Testament, vol. 1  Buy  2009  864 pp.  This is intended to be part of a forthcoming 3 vol. set.

Gamble attempts to give a Systematic Theology through the methodology and layout of a Biblical Theology.  The coherence of the result is not ideal, and is precisely the reason why Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology are different genres.  See Dr. Ryan McGraw’s review.

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Liberal

Davidson, A.B. – Theology of the Old Testament  1910  592

Davidson (1831–1902).  This work is not recommended, but is here for historical interest, for those who may be interested in seing a specimen of liberal theology from the horse’s own mouth.  Notwithstanding, there are some good things that can be gleaned from the work. 

“A moderately liberal work which can be consulted with profit.” – Cyril J. Barber

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History of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

There were numerous histories of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament written in the late-1800’s which served as Old Testament theologies, as they saw the progressive develpment of the Kingdom of God to be the central, uniting principle through Biblical revelation.  See Delitzsch, Hengstenberg and especially Edersheim, as well as the 1900’s De Graaf:

On the Historical Passages of the Old Testament

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The Theology of the Prophets

Many of the above works include a section on Prophetism also.

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Robertson, O. Palmer – The Christ of the Prophets  Buy  2004  502 pp.

Robertson (1937-)

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Related Pages

Biblical Theology

Whole Old Testament Commentaries

Old Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

New Testament Theology

Systematic Theologies