New Testament Scholar Andreas Köstenberger Examines Biblical & Systematic Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

New Testament scholar Andreas Köstenberger emphasized the importance of rightly studying biblical theology during Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual Sizemore Lectures, March 13-14 at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.

Köstenberger, who has served for more than 20 years as senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, focused his two-lecture series on the topic, “The Promise and Practice of Biblical Theology.”

In the opening lecture, Köstenberger set forth a definition of biblical theology, saying, “Biblical theology is theology that is biblical — that is, biblical theology is not our own theology, or that of our church or denomination. It is the theology of the biblical writers themselves.”

Köstenberger said key questions must be asked once a definition of biblical theology is clearly understood: “How do you know what the theology of the biblical writers is?” “What is your method?” and “Is ascertaining the theology of the biblical writers even a realistic goal?”

In determining the answers, Köstenberger stated that each person brings presuppositions to the practice of studying biblical theology. Presuppositions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, he said, even if it results in an imperfect interpretation of a passage because then the whole of the scholarly community can come together in a mutual dialogue and critique to arrive at a more accurate understanding of that passage.

Köstenberger then transitioned to what biblical theology isn’t, namely systematic theology. He provided a definition of systematic theology from the previous year’s Sizemore lecturer, D.A. Carson: Christian theology is “organized on atemporal principles of logic, order and need.” It moves from subjects such as cosmology and bibliology to theology proper (God), Christology, soteriology and eschatology.

Systematic theology can be beneficial, Köstenberger said, but it also carries with it dangers. “We need to be careful to engage biblical theology first before moving on to systematic theology. In this way we can guard against the tendency to read our own questions and issues into the text.”

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Source: Baptist Press