For those interested in getting started in understanding the storyline of the Bible, I can think of no better resource than God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-line of the Bible by Vaughn Roberts. He organizes the biblical storyline around the theme of kingdom, which he defines as “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing” (p. 21). He then organizes the biblical story around the development of this theme throughout Scripture:
1. The pattern of the kingdom
2. The perished kingdom
3. The promised kingdom
4. The partial kingdom
5. The prophesied kingdom
6. The present kingdom
7. The proclaimed kingdom
8. The perfected kingdom
This is an excellent place to begin for a basic understanding of the biblical storyline. This book is about as basic as it gets while remaining responsible in its handling of Scripture, and is only about 150 pages. For those wanting a more substantive version, check out Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy. Roberts acknowledges that his work is merely a less technical version of Goldsworthy, but this makes it more accessible than Goldsworthy.
So what do you think? For those who have read the book, what are your impressions?
4 thoughts on “Recommended Resource: God’s Big Picture”
Vaughan put together a brilliant resource here, developed from his Word Alive student seminar tracks here in the UK. Vital stuff.
I’ve used it in 121 work with students – eyeopening for them to see the big picture of God’s plan.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I will be teaching a first-year degree biblical theology module at London School of Theology (www.lst.ac.uk) this term, and will be recommending Vaughan’s book (alongside Goldsworthy and Bartholomew & Goheen, Drama of Scripture) as basic introductions. I think they’re excellent ways in to the topic.
I have a few quibbles which I won’t be able to articulate or defend sufficiently here. One is that the exile gets swallowed up in the theme of prophetic fulfilment; I think it deserves fuller and more careful treatment than that, given its place on the biblical landscape.
Another is an ongoing concern that doing biblical theology solely by tracing the ‘storyline’ of the Bible flattens out the distinctive contributions of the varied biblical genres to biblical theology.
But, as I say, none of that detracts from how good these books are…
I’m looking forward to checking your entries as they come in, and may well be directing my students to have a look too.
I share some similar concerns with Roberts. As I’m sure you well know, the challenge is writing something accessible to those who have no or little previous exposure to biblical theology and yet responsible in its handling of Scripture.
I do agree that the storyline approach can miss out on the distinctive contributions of each particular genre and book of Scripture. I’ve taught through the OT historical and prophetic books with a friend of mine in a church setting, and in doing so have tried to situate the distinctive contributions of each of those books within the larger storyline of scripture and key biblical theological themes. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to do something with those and make them available, but that is unlikely in the immediate future.
And by all means send interested students this way. It would be fun to have their input and comments in the various discussions.