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A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New [Kindle Edition]

G. K. Beale
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

"The canonical scope and focus on the biblical storyline give Beale's New Testament Biblical Theology a unique place among the many New Testament theologies now available. The book is vintage Beale, creatively making connections between Old Testament and New Testament and pursuing a definite vision of how the Bible hangs together."
--Douglas J. Moo, Wheaton College

"Certainly Beale has written his magnum opus, in which he deftly integrates the Scriptures via the new creation theme. The use of the Old Testament in the New Testament forms the backbone of this work so that readers grasp how the storyline of Scripture coheres. We stand in debt to the author for his detailed and profound unfolding of New Testament theology."
--Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"A magnificent achievement! Rarely does a volume in biblical studies come along with such breadth, depth, insight, and specificity. It is a brilliant reconstruction of themes that are central to Christian faith. This is a landmark accomplishment."
--David F. Wells, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Reflecting thirty years of research, this volume is unique in our time and in fact without close parallel in a discipline (biblical theology) that split the Old Testament off from the New over two hundred years ago. Beale has brought them back together in a creative and methodical way."
--Robert W. Yarbrough, Covenant Theological Seminary

"Drawing on decades of exegetical research and teaching, A New Testament Biblical Theology exists at the intersection of biblical studies and theology. Carrying on the tradition of Geerhardus Vos, Beale has raised the bar for biblical theology in our day. We will be digesting this volume for many years to come."
--Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary California

"A stimulating read. Readers will find the emphasis on the already-not yet end-time new creation and kingdom very enriching and insightful. What we have in this new biblical theology is an appreciation for the biblical story as a whole, an appreciation that provides a much-needed counterweight to the atomistic tendencies in much of our exegetical and theological work. Beale's book will make an important contribution."
--Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

"Beale demonstrates new creation as an umbrella category covering all of the other major motifs not only in the New Testament but also in the relevant Old Testament and Second Temple Jewish background material. Along the way, readers are treated to outstanding up-to-date discussions of most of the main topics they have come to expect and some new ones. Throughout, Beale is thoroughly evangelical and thoroughly scholarly. This work is a true tour de force."
--Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary

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About the Author

G. K. Beale is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the coeditor of the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament and the author of seven books, including commentaries on Revelation and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting approach 13 Jun. 2012
By JC
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book covers a lot of ground and has some excellent material, but is not student-friendly because of its layout. One requires to use the index to find familiar topics in New Testament theology. Having said this, there is indeed valuable and profitable material in this book.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read by every serious Christian 21 Nov. 2011
By C. P. Immanuel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am layman, but I must say that this is a book that I have not been able to put down. While this may be a book for a senior seminarian, Dr. Beale has been able to communicate truth very effectively to lay persons. This is the second excellent Theology book that I have seen this year, the other one being by Michael Horton. However, unlike Dr. Horton's book which is more topical, Dr. Beale takes the storyline from Genesis to Revelation and shows a God in action through history in His act of redeeming the entire creation. He quickly can, from scripture, shatter the many speculative theologies about the last days that appear to be popular today, and focus on the great God that we worship... the God who has revealed Himself many times in the past, but in these last days has revealed Himself through His Son. By looking in depth at the Old Testament (First Testament, as Marva Dawn would put it) he is able to show us a God who has been at work and is at work. The already-not yet nature of His Kingdom is seen so clearly in the scriptures.

As a busy layman trying to run a business and yet be faithful to the local church, I have only been able to get to page 200 so far...I find it hard to put down, but with checking scriptures, the reading is slow. I am sure that I will have more comments when I finish.

I have appreciated some of Dr. Beale's other work in the past - The church and Temple's Mission; his commentary on Revelation (I had to skip over the Greek, and it has been a few years since I read that), and so when I found this book at the Westminster Bookstore website, I bought it, even though it is not available at Amazon.com yet. I do not regret doing that.

I recommend this book without reservation...whether or not you agree with Dr. Beale, this book is a must for every Christian who is serious about his or her faith.
New Testament Biblical Theology, A: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beale's Magnum Opus 6 Dec. 2011
By Brendan Knox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I must confess, I love biblical theology. Studying the Bible in a biblical-theological manner has often provided some of the most arresting and amazing insights into the text of Scripture for me. It was when I first read Geerhardus Vos and his classic work on biblical theology that I was first struck by the amazing unity of the Bible and the scope of redemptive history as recorded in Scripture. It gave me a new appreciation for the beauty and depth of the Scriptures. Vos' work, while outdated in some ways, is still some of the most profound theology that I have read within the Reformed tradition. There have been others within the Reformed tradition that have also done important work in this area such as Ridderbos and Kline. It was therefore with some level of excitement that I approached this new "New Testament Biblical Theology" by Greg Beale. Here we have a comprehensive work on New Testament theology from a Reformed perspective which is built upon the foundation of such seminal biblical-theological work as the work of Vos, Ridderbos, and Kline.

Beale's New Testament theology is unique in many ways from other New Testament theologies. This is why Beale uses the title "New Testament Biblical Theology" to connect this book to the discipline of biblical theology rather than simply "New Testament theology". Beale's book is unique in that it grounds the entirety of the New Testament revelation in the Old Testament itself. Beale has already done much scholarly work on the NT use of the OT and he uses his knowledge here to show how each theological theme in the New Testament has its roots in the Old Testament. Another unique feature of this work is that Beale recognizes the fundamentally eschatological nature of the New Testament. Every single chapter shows how the various teachings of the New Testament are all connected to the "already-not yet" eschatological structure of the New Testament. For Beale, eschatology is the warp and woof of the New Testament and all of the other doctrines are connected to this eschatology. It would not be a far stretch to call this book "New Testament Eschatology" since it shows the comprehensive nature of eschatology in the New Testament. I have never read another book which so clearly shows the implications of eschatology for doctrine and practice.

Beale's work is also scholarly. He spends much time in exegesis of the Old and New Testament, study of the Jewish literature, and even discusses the Apostolic Fathers seeking to thoroughly ground the New Testament in its biblical and historical context. This book is not meant to replace other New Testament theologies but it does something different than many of these books by grounding the New Testament so thoroughly in the Old Testament. Beale loves to show connections between the Testaments and the reader will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the unity of the Scriptures. There is really nothing quite like this book. If you are interested in better understanding the New Testament (and the Old Testament!) buy this book.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Biblical Theology of the New Testament 18 Mar. 2012
By J. Tomes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
G. K. Beale proposes that the best approach to Biblical Theology is "storyline." Beale spends part 1 of this volume building the storyline, reviewing biblical and extra-biblical eschatological viewpoints, and offering a more biblically refreshing definition of eschatology. Arguing once again that Eschatology precedes Soteriology, Beale makes a convincing case for "new-creational reign" as the most suitable "skeleton" for New Testament (and Biblical) Theology.

Before unpacking the New Testament storyline Beale presents an Old Testament storyline,

"The Old Testament is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his eschatological new-creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit, through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory.

Beale states the New Testament storyline thus,

"Jesus's life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-not yet new-creational reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign and resulting in judgment for the unbelieving, unto the triune God's glory."

The remainder of this volume (the other 779 pages) is devoted to filling in the "skeleton" of the "already-not yet new creational reign in Christ."

A New Testament Biblical Theology is a whole-bible New Testament Theology. Beale has contributed significantly to the study of "the New Testament Use of the Old." His impact in this field shows through in this work. Beale's approach to New Testament Theology is a first of its kind and is a "must-read" for those who desire to understand both Biblical Theology as well as the Theology of the New Testament.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings together OT & NT scholarship in the service of the church - a masterful work 22 April 2013
By R. Hayton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Christians today are blessed with a wide variety of resources for studying the Bible. In America, it seems that every few months some must-read theology book hits the press and promises to revolutionize our understanding of God's Word. And many of these books truly are helpful. We really have no excuse for not understanding Scripture more and being more conformed into the likeness of Christ, given the endless resources meant to help us do just this.

At the same time, however, this abundance of resources can serve to puzzle us and leave us lost in an ever expanding maze of theological conundrums. The specialization in biblical studies doesn't help. Specialists write on the Gospels, or on Paul's letters, to the virtual exclusion of the input from other New Testament, or Old Testament books. OT specialists develop their understanding and grow in their study completely apart from their NT counterparts. And with the study of God's Word being so cranial, simple insights and the role of the Holy Spirit's illumination tend to be ignored. And then today's scholars often ignore the insights of previous generations, who found Christ throughout the Old Testament, but weren't versed in the latest scientific insights from form and redaction criticism or literary theory. Many have seen this widening gap, between academia and the church pew, and yearned for scholarship that matters: academic insight for average individuals. And some have hoped for a whole-Bible, biblical theology that would span the differing worlds of OT and NT scholarship and put the entire Bible back together again.

G. K. Beale may have given us just this. His magnum opus is an ambitious project that seeks to integrate the storylines of the Old and New Testaments, and unfold how the New Testament unpacks the promise of the Old as it unfolds for us the glories of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In "A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New," Beale displays a masterful grasp on the academy as well as an expert understanding of the second temple Judaistic literature, Ancient Near Eastern writings, and the latest scholarship on both biblical testaments. He is a humble servant of the church, however, and seeks to answer questions the average churchgoer will face and remains ever practical even as he explores a wide array of various topics. And while his book requires careful and (at times) strenuous reading, it truly integrates the entire canon of Scripture in a way that has promise to bring together Old and New Testament scholarship for the service of the church.

The Storyline of the New Testament

The task Beale sets out for himself is huge, and his book is too. With over 960 readable pages, this book will take the average reader some time to conquer. It took me about a year to wade my way through it, although admittedly I tend to be a fickle reader and so left the book for seasons at a time. Beale sets out to explore the unifying center of the New Testament and finds this in a storyline. Each part of the following storyline gets developed in detail and by the end of the book he has adequately proven his thesis. Here is Beale's NT storyline:

Jesus's life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-not yet new-creational reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign and resulting in judgment for the unbelieving, unto the triune God's glory. (p. 958, italics and underlining removed)

Recapping the Old Testament

One of my favorite sections in Beale's work was his few chapters spent detailing the Old Testament's own storyline. He uses the first three chapters of Genesis as a key for unlocking the story of the entire Old Testament. Adam was to be a vice-regent of God, extending His rule throughout the world. But Adam failed, and was exiled from the Edenic paradise of fellowship with God in a garden-temple. From this wilderness, God called out his people Israel, referred to as God's firstborn son, and they received an Adamic calling to be vice-regents of God extending the glory of His name as a beacon of light to the nations, centered in their garden-like promised land of paradise - where God would have His name dwell. But they too failed, and were exiled from their special place of fellowship with God. For those unfamiliar with Beale's extensive work on developing the theme of the Temple throughout the Scripture (cf. Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission, IVP 2004), it is touched on in this section and more fully developed later as Beale turns to the New Testament.

The Role of Eschatology

Beale's emphasis on the already-not yet, new-creational kingdom, has led many to dismiss his book as one long extensive defense of amillennialism. I would contend that such a dismissal is short-sighted and a biased misreading of his work. His eschatology doesn't neatly fit into any one theological system, and he prefers the description "inaugurated eschatology." His discussion of the key terms for "the end times" in both the Old and New Testaments goes a long way toward proving his contention that "in order to understand the NT in its full richness, we must have a keen acquaintance with how the biblical authors viewed the `end times'" (p. 16). He argues that the New Testament sees the end times as here in one sense, but not yet fully here. And that the entire New Testament cannot be understood apart from realizing the role eschatology plays. The NT authors understand themselves to be living in the last days, in the beginning fulfillment of what the Old Testament foretold.

New-Creation and Kingdom

Perhaps Beale's most distinctive contribution to NT biblical theology is his emphasis on the role new-creation plays both in how one understands the kingdom, and in how one understands everything from justification to judgment in the New Testament. Christ's resurrection was the promise and presence of the new creation, invading our world of space and time. The uncreating of evil has begun, and the recreation of a new world has commenced - and our very spiritual lives with the progress we make in sanctification, is part of God's making all things new (2 Cor. 5:17, Rev. 21:5).

The Church as End-Time Israel

This is where many people will stumble over Beale's approach. Some will point to his embrace of the Sabbath and paedo-baptism as errors flowing from his fundamental misunderstanding of the distinction between Israel and the church. I would ask those who will differ fundamentally here to take time to read Beale as there is still much to be gained from his work. But I am convinced his unpacking of the biblical development of the church as end-time Israel is worth the price of the book. He continues his approach of reading Scripture from a grammatical, historical approach - treating the books as the original recipients would have, understanding the genre and tracing out the history of intertestamental biblical interpretation (as an insight into possible ways the NT authors would have understood OT Scripture), and methodically builds an air-tight case for the NT as presenting the church as the heir of the promises made to OT Israel. At this point, I'd like to take some extra time to restate his case for the sake of my readers. And to be clear, Beale is not claiming the church replaces Israel, but that it actually is "the transformed and restored eschatalogical Israel," being made up of Jew and gentile believers, alike.

Beale finds a "presuppositional basis" for the church being true Israel in some of the hermeneutical presuppositions he claims underlie the exegetical approach of the NT authors. Chief among these is the concept of "the one and the many." In the OT we often find kings, prophets, or family heads representing their families, or nations who will receive blessing or judgment because of the actions of the "one" representing "the many." Rom. 5 and 1 Cor. 15 make a similar argument with Christ and Adam. Secondly, Jesus is presented in Scripture as "the true Israel." And He thus represents the church. Beale elaborates:

Those who identify by faith with Christ, whether Jew or gentile, become identified with him and his identity as true eschatological Israel.... people are identified by faith with Jesus as God's Son, and so they become "adopted sons of God." ...people become identified by faith with Christ as being in the eschatological image of God, so they begin to regain that image. (p. 652)

And since Israel was a corporate Adam -- God's firstborn -- living in its own "garden of Eden," tasked to do what Adam had failed to do, it follows that Christ as the Second Adam, actually fulfilled what both Adam and Israel was meant to do. Christ as such, is the New Israel - and Beale shows how numerous themes in the New Testament attest to this fact. Then Beale shows how repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, Gentiles were included in Israel and her mission -- and now with Christ's bringing the end-times upon us, the identifying marks required to be a part of Israel of old (circumcision) have been replaced by that of spiritual circumcision and spiritual unity of Christ -- who is the head of the church. Beale points out that it is thus the "legal representative" or "corporate" hermeneutic which under-girds this identification of the church as true Israel, rather than an "allegorical or spiritualizing hermeneutic" (p. 655). What Beale then goes on to systematically demonstrate, is that the Old Testament prophecies that Gentiles will become part of the Latter-Day True Israel, using such passages as Is. 49, Ps. 87, Is. 19, Is. 56, Is. 66 and others. Then he shows how the New Testament repeatedly claims that it is in the church that specific prophesies about the restoration of Latter-Day Israel are coming to pass. I appreciate also how he delineates the variety of specific names and descriptors of Israel from the Old Testament are applied to the church - and with so many OT descriptors of Israel given to the church, it is not surprising to see the actual term Israel bestowed on it as well, in Gal. 6:17.

With the land promise, Beale once again unpacks how the Old Testament itself leads us to expect that the land is typological, pointing to a greater reality, and that it will become greatly expanded and universalized. And the New Testament shows us just this, as it also brings the church in to the recipients of that very promise (see Rom. 4:13, Matt. 5:5 and others).

Additional Themes

Beale's work covers a host of additional themes my review cannot cover in detail. He highlights how the expected tribulation of Israel was being experienced by the New Testament church, and still is in most parts of the world today. He gives space to the new-creational marks of the church such as Sabbath observance (although his view on this finds it radically altered through Christ's work), worship, baptism, the Lord's Supper, church office and the NT Canon. He looks at the work of the Spirit as part of the inaugurated end-time new creation as a chief theme in the NT story. He also gives space to the Temple and to idolatry and the image of God being restored. He also explores questions such as how much the Old Testament saints would have enjoyed this same experience we do in the NT. And he concludes his book focusing on the glory of God as the purpose for the very storyline itself.

Evaluation

I was told that you don't pick up a book like this and read through it. You just use it as a resource. And for many that is going to be how they will encounter Beale's work. Thankfully, it is organized in a very clear way with helpful indexes and a detailed table of contents that is sure to help such a reader. Those who want a taste of Beale's work could read the first few chapters, and chapter 27 - which recaps the entire work giving each theme a brief yet fairly detailed overview. Others might find it more useful to read through Beale's section on resurrection or justification, or the question of Israel and the church as they study that topic out further. The footnotes will point you to other important discussions in the book so that you won't miss something you need in getting Beale's take on a given subject.

I differ with Beale on a few matters, most notably baptism, but I found the exercise of plodding my way through his work to be immensely helpful. My copy of the book has numerous notes, underlines, and countless dog-eared pages. I have already turned back to parts of this book for the second or even third time now, and know I'll be returning to this book for many more years in the future. This truly is a monumental work, and one that even a layman like me can appreciate. Granted, I have had some theological training, and at times this book does go deep. But for the most part, Beale's work is accessible and has takeaways that pastors and teachers as well as students, will benefit from. More importantly, Beale helps one find a compass through the maze of the two testaments of Scripture. And his work is detailed enough to stand the test of time. It carefully explains how the New Testament authors arrived at the conclusions they did, and follows their thoughts after them, reading the Old Testament in a careful and ultimately Christ-centered way. I encourage you to find some space on your shelf for Beale's "A NT Biblical Theology". Dip your toe in, get wet, then take the plunge and bask in the beauty of a fully developed Biblical Theology. You won't regret it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and comprehensive 11 Sept. 2012
By Dennis L. Mullen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The historical redemptive plan of God flows from the pages. Beale begins in Genesis, Eden is God's temple. He resides in it, He walked in the cool of the day with Adam. A covenant plan is put in place, human responsibility is defined within the covenant. It is spelled out specifically 1:28, be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and take dominion. Adam is king of this new creation. He fails and we journey through all the sputtering stops and starts in the OT to fulfill the Adamic covenant, all fail.
Jesus, the 2nd Adam appears, the New Covenant begins as eschatological prophecy is fulfilled in Christ. Christ dies, rises from the dead, the Holy Spirit comes and His church, Jew and Gentile are sent out among the world to spread the Good News, to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth with disciples until the time that Christ appears and subdues and takes dominion over a new Eden, in a New Jerusalem. God's Covenant is fulfilled in the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ. God's original temple Eden restored.

A major simplification but in essence that is what Beale reveals as he analyzes and takes us through the OT. He does not limit his research to canon only, he extensively uses all resources and inundates us with reference material. As I read through this I wished I had access to all the cross references. The bibliographic information is a book unto itself. As is always the case when someone delves deeply into such a vast subject with so much information to absorb and communicate, the flow is not as smooth as one would like. But this is in depth theological research not a novel and the attention to detail and the patience shown in laying out the flow of historical redemptive history was much appreciated by me.

I love to read theology, though it sometimes goes over my head, but I would recommend that all churches go out and buy a copy of this book for their Pastor(s).
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