Tomorrow I begin teaching a course on Biblical Interpretation and Communication for Campus Crusade staff. One of the major emphases in the course is helping students to identify key biblical-theological themes in the particular passage they are working in so they can connect their passage to the larger canonical witness. Of course, one of the challenges we face is that for those who are new to such an approach, it can be quite challenging to identify those threads.
Consequently, I’d like to help them by giving them some suggested threads that are rather common in Scripture. Those of us who have done this for a whole can sometimes forget that it has taken us a while to get to the point where we immediately recognize such threads. So I’ll get our discussion started by suggesting the themes of prophet, priest and king, all of which find their fulfillment in Christ. In other words, when working in an OT passage one thing to consider is whether any of the references to a prophet, priest, or king in some measure point forward to the ultimate prophet, priest, or king Jesus Christ. Sometimes that pointing forward is done in a negative way; in other words, the failures of a particular prophet, priest or king point forward to the need for a prophet, priest or king who does not fail (e.g. Saul in 1 Sam).
Another example would be the theme of God’s presence with his people, be it mediated through a tabernacle, temple, his incarnate Son, or the people of God. Recognizing such a theme enables one to make helpful connections across the canon.
So what other key biblical theological themes or threads are so pervasive or pivotal in Scripture that knowing them opens one up to the ability make key connections to different parts of the Biblical story?
11 thoughts on “Key Biblical Theological Themes”
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Creation/new creation is another important theme.
your wife would like to suggest that perhaps the exodus/new exodus is pervasive throughout the prophets and the NT. How about that.
How about the concept of substitutionary atonement. The Old Testament repeatedly reveals the need of a sacrifice for sin, outside of ourselves, that the New Testament provides in Jesus.
I’d also add blessing to the nations through the seed of Abraham.
Some suggestions along the line on continuity:
Glory of God
Kingdom of God
People of God
Place of God, I.E. New Heaven and Earth
How about “Promise” as champion by Beecher and Kaiser?
It sort of comes under ‘place of God’ but how about Exile/Return (which takes up ejection from Eden, the Exodus, and the Exile, and esp argued by NT Wright is a big theme for Jesus and Paul int the NT).
Adam – Christ
David – Christ (esp. in the Psalms)
Kingdom of God
The tabernacle/Temple – New Temple (Body of Christ/Church)
Creation – New Creation
Son of God – Israel of God – People of God
Enries and exits from the Land
Promises – God’s faithfulness
Creation – Wisdom – Fearing God
the whole theme of rest
especially resting in the land and the land resting
Here’s my contribution.