One book that I have been anticipating for about 6 years is finally coming to bookstores everywhere on June 1 of this year. While I was a student at SBTS, Dr. Tom Schreiner told me he had been asked to write a New Testament Theology. Since I had just finished taking his class on NT Theology I was thrilled! I knew how good the content was and could only imagine how great it would be to have some of the points worked out in more detail. Well, that was sometime in 2002. Thankfully, good things come to those who wait!
Recently, Dr. Schreiner graciously agreed to an interview with me about the book – New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. That interview was posted earlier in the week and I encourage you to look at it.
Among other things, Dr. Schreiner explains that unlike other similar works, Dr. Schreiner doesn’t limit himself to themes in Matthew, then themes in Paul. Instead, he chooses to look at the larger themes that run through the entire New Testament. Thus, the work is a true theology of the New Testament.
In looking at the major themes of the NT, Schreiner explains his central thesis:
The thesis advanced in this book is that NT theology is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus. We will see that the ministry of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are fundamental for the fulfilling of God’s promises. The coming of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are the prime indications that God is beginning to fulfill the saving promises made to Abraham.
In the succeeding chapters we will examine in more detail the theme that God’s saving promises in Christ and through the Spirit have already been fulfilled but have not yet reached their consummation.1 In this chapter the aim is to give a kind of guided tour or small taste of the main thesis of the book, so that readers will see that the primacy of God is communicated in a story that unfolds God’s saving work in history. We could say that God is central to the NT witness, but such a claim without elaboration could be viewed as abstract and removed from reality. I will argue for the centrality of God in Christ in the concrete and specific witness of the NT as it unfolds God’s saving work in history. Another way to put this is that God will receive all the glory for his work in Christ by the Spirit as he works out his purpose in redemptive history. Further, redemptive history is characterized by inaugurated but not consummated eschatology, so that the glory that belongs to God has not yet reached its zenith but it will.
The book has been endorsed by scholars like, Ben Witherington, Robert Stein, Donald Hagner, Brian Rosner, Simon Gathercole, and Douglas Moo who writes, “Tom Schreiner’s New Testament Theology is a valuable addition to the field, providing to students the kind of overview that only a seasoned scholar can produce.”
Based on what I heard (and learned!) in Dr. Schreiner’s class, what I’ve seen in the sample offered online, and what he shared in the interview, I believe that Dr. Schreiner’s work will become the standard by which all other NT theologies will be measured. Be sure to get and use it so that you can better understand the NT and in better understanding it, you can better preach. Preaching better will help you and your people better see the glory of God in Christ which will mean disciples who have transformed lives.
Here is the book’s outline/table of contents:
Part 1: The Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promises: The Already–Not Yet
1 The Kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels
2 Eternal Life and Eschatology in John’s Theology
3 Inaugurated Eschatology Outside the Gospels
Part 2: The God of the Promise: The Saving Work of the Father, Son, and Spirit
4 The Centrality of God in New Testament Theology
5 The Centrality of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels
6 The Messiah and the Son of Man in the Gospels
7 The Son of God, I Am, and Logos
8 Jesus’ Saving Work in the Gospels
9 Jesus’ Saving Work in Acts
10 The Christology of Paul
11 The Saving Work of God and Christ according to Paul
12 The Christology of Hebrews–Revelation
13 The Holy Spirit
Part 3: Experiencing the Promise: Believing and Obeying
14 The Problem of Sin
15 Faith and Obedience
16 The Law and Salvation History
Part 4: The People of the Promise and the Future of the Promise
17 The People of the Promise
18 The Social World of God’s People
19 The Consummation of God’s Promises
Appendix: Reflections on New Testament Theology
Thanks for posting this review and the interview that proceeded it.
I gather that Dr. Shreiner is basically saying that the grammatico-historical approach to interpreting Scripture is accurate insofar as one interprets a verse, a paragraph and a book. But one also needs the tool of redemptive-historical theology to understand broader themes. Sometimes that is also called ‘biblical-theology.’ Am I correct?
Another question that arises has to do with dispensational theology. Where does Dr. Schreiner stand on that topic? I would imagine that it would be hard to balance dispensational theology with the broader themes that are enumerated. What is your take?
Rev. Dave Sarafolean
hey dave – great to hear from you! do you have some time to get together again sometime soon? dr. schreiner is not a dispensationalist. and although he is closer to covenant theology, he has some specific differences that would prevent me from giving him that label. so he kind of straddles a middle ground like many other scholars.
second, without ever having asked him, i would think he would say ‘yes’ the discipline of biblical theology would be necessary to fully grasp the scriptures teaching. obviously, this is more or less important depending on the passage. nevertheless, the “canonical level” of reading is important. a great book on this is richard lints’ “the fabric of theology.”
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I’ll give you a call.
great! i’m pretty sure i gave you my cell number – call me at that number. it’s the best way to get a hold of me.
Great interview! YThere’s another one done recently on the same book http://www.midbible.ac.uk/content/view/129/
thanks for the heads up, jj! and here i thought i had an exclusive ;-) cheung does a good job of filling out some of the gaps left open by mine. thanks again, john