This session was taught at the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology on Saturday 25th January 2020. The CCM School of Theology was set up to serve local churches in Manchester and beyond.
Topic: Bible Overview
In this session, we look at the story of the Bible.
Speaker: Liam Thatcher
Liam is the Teaching Pastor at Christ Church London.
The Bible is a collection of books that tell many stories, and yet one story. In this first session, we will consider the overarching narrative of the Bible, and consider the task of exegesis.
What is the Bible?
|Genesis, first half
1&2 Samuel, 1&2
|Second half of
James, 1&2 Peter, 1,
2,& 3 John, Jude
What is the story of the Bible?
What is the story of the Old Testament?
What is the story of the New Testament?
What is the story of the Bible?
What is the story of the Bible?
Metanarrative: The whole universal plan of God. The story of redemption
The story of the Bible in 100 words (well… 107, with some cunning word-count-reducing-hyphenation!)
‘The OT storyline that I posit for the basis of the NT storyline is this: The Old Testament is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his new-creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit, through promise, covenant and redemption, resulting in a worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory. […] The NT transformation of the storyline of the OT that I propose is this: Jesus’s life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfilment 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.’ (G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p16)
Biblical and Systematic Theology
- Biblical Theology:
Traces the unfolding history of God’s revelation to and redemption of His people.
Organised historically: How did people understand God and His work at this point of Salvation History?
Perhaps has a greater appreciation for the diversity of Scripture and themes that are distinctive to a particular book, or author.
- Systematic Theology:
Synthesises and summarises what the Bible as a whole teaches about topics like God, humanity, Christ, salvation, etc
Organised topically: What does the whole Bible teach about the doctrine of x?
Strongly emphasises the unity of Scripture and asks ‘what is the full extent of truth we can know about this doctrine’
‘At their best, biblical theology and systematic theology interact and help to deepen one another. Systematic theology provides doctrines of God’s sovereignty, of revelation, of God’s purposes, and of the meaning of history that supply a sound framework of assumptions for the work of biblical theology.
Biblical theology at its best deepens the appreciation that systematic theology should have for the way in which, in interpreting individual texts and in uncovering their relation to a whole topic, the context of texts within the history of redemption colours the interpretation. Biblical theology may also bring to light new themes that can be the starting point for systematic-theological explorations into new topics that can receive fuller attention. For instance, the theme of life and death as it develops in the course of the history of revelation can become the starting point for discussing ethical questions about modern medicine and the issue of euthanasia’ (Vern Poythress)
Google Earth vs Tube Map (Matt Hosier)
Exegesis: God’s Word to Them
|Historical Context||Literary Context|
|Who – Author and Recipient(s). What is their relationship?
– What – What’s written? How’s it structured? What’s the tone?
– Why – What was the purpose of it being written?
– Where – Author and Recipient.
– When – When was it written?
|What is the genre?
– What is the surrounding context?
– Immediate Context
– Rest of the section
– Rest of the book
– Rest of the author’s work
– Rest of the Bible
|Things to look for in sentences||Things to look for in paragraphs||Things to look for in discourses|
|– Repeated words
– Contrasts and Comparisons
– Cause and Effect
– Figures of Speech
– Conjunctions (but, and, for, therefore…)
|General and specific details
– Questions and answers
– Purpose statements
– Means by which things are
– Conditional clauses
– Actions / roles of people, or God
|Connections between paragraphs and
– Story shifts. Breaks and pivots
– Juxtaposition and interchange
– Chiasm (a, b, c, d, c’, b’, a’)
Goal: Summarise the passage in a sentence (past tense)
Things to bear in mind when approaching different genres.
|Law vs Laws
|Wisdom is the
ability to make
godly choices in
Sayings must not
Not hard and
but general rules
|Addressed to the
Look for poetic
devices such as
different types of
Songs of Trust
<1% is about
prophecy – an
intricate art form
Numbers: 3, 4,
7, 10, 12, 1000
places or people
Part of ongoing
person, or letter
Designed to be
read in one go
Look for clues
Three Levels of Narrative
1) Metanarrative: The whole universal plan of God. The story of redemption
2) Election: God choosing and redeeming a people for His name
- Old Covenant
- New Covenant
Creation, Exodus, Promised Land, etc. etc.
3) Micronarratives: The smaller stories that make up the bigger narratives
- Compound Narrative: Abraham Story
Call, In Egypt, Lot, Covenant etc. etc.
Question: When Jesus said that the Scriptures testify to him (John 5:39), which level of narrative was he talking about?
Christocentric vs. Christotelic readings. Telos = purpose / end / goal
How does this story fit within the metanarrative of redemption, of which Christ is the goal?
What words or concepts does this story contribute to later interpretation of the life of Christ?
What view of God that we later find embodied in Christ can we see here?
How was God’s calling and redemption of His people analogous to His calling of us?
Augustine on The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)
|Man going down from Jericho||Adam||Good Samaritan||Christ|
|Jerusalem||Heavenly City||Binding of wounds||Restraint of sin|
|The Moon||Our mortality||Oil||Comfort of good hope|
|Robbers||The devil and his angels||Wine||Exhortation to spirited work|
|Stripping him||Removing his immortality||Animal||Body of Christ|
|Beating him||Persuading him to sin||Inn||The Church|
|Leaving him half dead||Spiritually dead because of sin, but half alive because of the knowledge of God||Two Denarii||Two commandments to love|
|Priest||Law – The priesthood of the Old Testament||Inn keeper||Apostle Paul|
|Levite||Prophets – The ministry of the Old Testament||Return of the Good Samaritan||Resurrection of Christ|
Is this good exegesis? How would you summarise the Good Samaritan in a single sentence?
A lot of the material from this session has been adapted from two books, which I would highly recommend:
– How to Read the Bible for all its Worth – Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
– Grasping God’s Word – J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
Choosing a good commentary can be tricky, but bestcommentaries.com is a great place to look for reviews and recommendations. If you want to study a book in depth you may want to choose a selection of commentaries; some technical and some more devotional. But if you want to read in a devotional way, then a lighter, less technical commentary might be best. Here are some general recommendations:
– The Tyndale and Bible Speaks Today series is generally reliable and fairly accessible, though not as in depth as you may like.
– The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) and New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) series are more in depth, but also more technical.
– The Word Biblical Commentary series is very technical. Full of Greek/Hebrew. Only recommended if you want something really detailed!
– The Pillar New Testament Commentary series and Apollos Old Testament Commentary series are great. They are towards the technical end of the spectrum, but strike a good balance between being in-depth and accessible.
– Tom Wright’s For Everyone series are great little commentaries on the New Testament. They are more devotional, and not very in depth, but are great for helping with personal reflection
– Phil Moore’s Straight to the Heart series contains 60 bite-sized reflections. As a result, they don’t cover every passage, but are great for personal reflection.