"Old Testament Theology" by Paul R. House

Mark R. Talbot
Thursday, July 5th 2007
Jan/Feb 2000

This book is written primarily for college and seminary students, but except for its first chapter it does not read like a textbook and so it should be useful to many. As Paul House observes, it can no longer be assumed that Christians know their Bibles. And so he has tried to write a book that gives its readers "the chance to absorb the biblical text and its theological emphases."

House-who, like Schreiner, is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-has succeeded. After a chapter surveying the history of Old Testament theology and outlining his own methodology, House analyzes the Old Testament's unfolding theology book by book in chapters that follow the scheme of those books as they were received by the New Testament's writers-the scheme of Law, Prophets, and Writings. He also follows the general order in which they were written, so that most of what we would consider the Prophets are considered right after 2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles is taken as the Old Testament's terminus ad quem. House takes the Old Testament's insistent monotheism as his centering theme. After listening to the separate theological voices of the various Old Testament books, he proceeds to show how those voices harmonize in their overall witness about God and what their witness means to us. Studying Old Testament theology is crucial, as House says, for "it is exceedingly hard to construct an adequate doctrine of God founded solely on New Testament passages" and so those "who do not know the Old Testament canon are therefore more vulnerable to unbiblical definitions of God than those who do."

House appreciates the contributions of many scholars, but his own commitments are thoroughly evangelical. He recognizes that theology's proper starting point is Scripture itself, considered as the wholly reliable, written word of God. So his "canonical" analysis of Old Testament theology is meant to be "God-centered, intertextually oriented, authority-conscious, historically sensitive and devoted to the pursuit of the wholeness of the Old Testament message." And although House believes that "it is not Old Testament theology's task to incorporate its results into a formal system" that would "justify Calvinism, Arminianism or some other time-honored system of belief," he is not afraid to draw theological conclusions that can serve as the basis for a full-blown, biblically based systematic theology consonant with the great truths rediscovered at the Reformation.

This is biblical theology at its best: careful, clear, reverent, and edifying.

Thursday, July 5th 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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