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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Look at the Overarching Themes/Methodology of the Bible, 9 Dec 2013
S. Robinson - See all my reviews
You can read my full review here: [...]

James Hamilton, Jr. does a wonderful job on simplifying the Bible's grand, overarching story in his new book. I often hear about how the Bible is a continuous story, but I often forget just how much of it really is a unified story. Hamilton explains the extra step of Typology over Symbolism. Typology doesn't have to be difficult or weird to understand. It's just what God typically does (p. 44). We have the initial occurrence of an event (the archetype), then we have the uphill climb (the installations) until the type finds fulfillment in its ultimate expression.


The Chocolate Milk (what I liked)


+ This book clears up a number of the issues people have with biblical prophecy. How can Jesus say in John 13:18 that the one who eats His food will turn against Him according to the Scriptures (in Ps 41:9)? When you read Ps 41:9 it just says that the one who shared the author's food, who he trusted completely, has turned against him (my paraphrase).

Why was this scripture prophetic?

There's a recurring theme through the Bible to have your closest ally turn against you (Noah with Ham, Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Laban, Moses and Aaron, David and Saul, Jesus and Judas). Jesus is just fulfilling one of the messages of the grand story: someone very close to you is going to turn against you.

+ His chapter on Typology was great. His definition of it was super-easy to understand. Typology = what God typically does. How can you tell what the typology is? Are we just making it up as we go or is there a clearer road to understanding the process? This section lays it out in layman's terms, which is just what I need.

+ The application of Chapter 13 "The Church's Plot Tension and It's Resolution" was highly favored. Why does the Church suffer? Because Christ suffered. He was hated for who He was, and we will be hated for the One we know and are united with. Satan is pursuing the same strategy with the church as He did Jesus. He thought he had the upper hand in the death of Jesus, but God accomplished victory with what looked like defeat. And He will do the same for us (Dan 7:23-27).

***The Spoiled Milk (what I didn't like)***
As great as I think this book is, there are some shortcomings in my view.

- Patterns: Hamilton reuses the Israel's Feasts and the Righteous Sufferer examples. These are good examples, but I would like to have seen more (I know they're in there). Otherwise it makes me wonder why there even had to be a "Patterns" chapter. Even in the beginning of the chapter he says patterns are almost the same as typology.

- I was disappointed in how short Chapter 12 (The Church's Setting in the Story) was (3 pages long). The temple is a symbol of the cosmos, and the church being the temple of the Spirit means that the church is a preview of what the world is going to become. It was a wonderful section on the place of the church in the Big Setting.

Thankfully, this was one of 4 chapters of Part 3 that makes up roughly 21 pages (in my version).

Despite Part 3 itself not being very long, it still provided an adequate explanation of the purpose and place of the church in the setting of the Scriptures.

This was a great book that introduces the overall themes of the Bible to it's reader. It's important to go book by book when studying the Bible, finding out what each passage really says as well as the book as a whole. But also important is how the entire Bible flows together. If it's important to know how we went from verse 1 to verse 10, it's equally important to know how we went from Genesis to Revelation. Hamilton doesn't give detail to every connection in this book, but he gives you a framework on which to start viewing the Bible.

[A big "thank you" to NetGalley and Crossway for allowing me to read and review this book before it came out. I was not obligated to give a positive review in return for reviewing my copy.]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blessedly succinct!, 3 May 2014
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This is an unusually well-written introduction to biblical theology. The author has that rare gift of being a theologian who can communicate effectively. A great deal of learning has gone into what Hamilton writes. Often scholars seem to be wanting to impress other scholars in their verbosity without ever really getting to the point. But this book can be read in one or two sittings - yet, by the same token, there is much to chew and meditate on if the reader is willing to pay close attention to the richness of what Hamilton is presenting.

For the 'big picture' of the Bible and its recurring themes and images, this book is superb. My only qualm was the author's emphasis on the state of the lost, to the glory of God. I'm not sure that this brand of Calvinism fits as naturally into biblical theology as a more UNIVERSALIST theme of God's grand purpose to redeem the entire creation in Christ; where there will be a New Jerusalem whose gates shall never be shut, and a river flowing with the tree of life on either side, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. See Bradley Jersak: "Her Gates Shall Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem"; and Gregory MacDonald: "The Evangelical Universalist" for further details.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Something for every Christian, 25 Nov 2013
This review is from: What Is Biblical Theology ? (Paperback)
The greatest stories don't just take us to faraway places, they tell us about ourselves and world. Often this is far more effective than a direct approach. Look to the example of Nathan's story in 2 Samuel 12; his story cut to David's heart and revealed his hypocrisy. Likewise, in What is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patterns, James Hamilton wants to help us see the storyline of the Bible - the true story of our world - and thereby make sense of what God is doing in history and see our own place within it.

Biblical theology has become a bit of a buzz-word today, and yet it has a multitude of definitions depending on who one talks with. To Hamilton, the heartbeat of biblical theology "is to think about the whole story of the Bible" (p12) and to properly understand the Bible we must enter the worldview of the Biblical authors, to see the world the way that they do. To guide us in this adventure of biblical theology, Hamilton approaches the topic in three broad sections: discerning the Bible's story (ch 3-5), understanding its symbolism (6-9), and then applying these to the role of the church (ch 10-13).

What is Biblical Theology? serves as a great introduction for those interested in the topic of biblical theology, but it also has so much more to offer. Ultimately, Hamilton here wants to create better readers of the Bible. This is no small ambition but neither is it an obscure or unimportant one. All Christians should know their Bibles better because life is in His Word. As such, What is Biblical Theology? is a book for every Christian and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Get this book!

[This is an excerpt of the full review on my blog. Many thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book to review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own].
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What Is Biblical Theology ?
What Is Biblical Theology ? by James M Hamilton Jr (Paperback - 30 Nov 2013)
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