Friday 19 June 2009

Richard C. Gamble on The Whole Counsel of God

I read the following essay by Richard Gamble when it first came out…

Richard C. Gamble, ‘The Relationship Between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology’, in Andrew T.B. McGowan (ed.), Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology (Leicester: Apollos, 2006), 211-39.

It’s slap bang in the middle of an issue, possibly the issue, that interests and excites me most – the relationship between biblical theology and systematic theology.

In it, Gamble refers several times to his forthcoming multi-volume work – The Whole Counsel of God – and my appetite was whetted for a full-scale treatment of the theme.

That was 2006.

At last, in June 2009, the first volume of a projected trilogy is now out:

Richard C. Gamble, The Whole Counsel of God, Volume 1: God’s Mighty Acts in the Old Testament (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 864pp., ISBN 9780875521916.

Some sample pages are available here.

Gamble devotes a few introductory pages to outlining what he sees as the ‘exegetical foundation’ and ‘historical background’ to the whole project.

The ‘exegetical foundation’ is found in the scene from Acts 20:25-28, where Paul says to the Ephesian elders that he has not hesitated ‘to proclaim to you the whole counsel [or will] of God’ (20:27). Gamble holds that the elders are to do as Paul had done, and that the same task continues today.

Under ‘historical background’, he situates himself squarely in the Reformed tradition, particularly Calvin and developments of Reformed theology, notably John Owen’s Biblical Theology (1661), Herman Witsius’ The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man (1685), and (more recently) Geerhardus Vos’ Biblical Theology (1948).

The first volume in the trilogy focuses on God’s self-revelation in the Old Testament, the second volume will deal with the New Testament, and the third promises to trace the theological development in the church’s understanding of Scripture through the centuries.

Gamble summarises:

The Whole Counsel of God is written to continue discussions of the relationship between exegesis and hermeneutics, and the interrelationships of biblical, systematic, and historical theology. The Whole Counsel of God will attempt to meet the need for a comprehensive theology that is attuned to the methodological advantages of biblical theology, but will also combine that advantage with the strengths of historical and systematic theology’ (xxxiii).

I look forward to seeing how the project plays out.

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