Biblical vs. Systematic Theology

I’m currently reviewing a book for the McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry. While reading it, I came across a nice, concise and coherent, distinction between biblical and systematic theology. I like it, because while distingushing the two it also points to their unity and mutually enriching character. He writes:

Biblical theology is faith seeking understanding of the redemptive-historical and literary unity of the Bible in its own terms, concepts, and contexts. Systematic theology is faith seeking understanding of the logical coherence of the Bible in conversation with the church’s tradition and contemporary theology.

Jeremy R. Treat, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 35.

To round out the last part of the definition, I would that the ‘conversation’ also includes present experience of God’s Spirit (or what the church discerns the Spirit is doing).

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2 Responses to Biblical vs. Systematic Theology

  1. Could one think of systematic theology as the set developing the boundaries that emerge from a Christo-centric and scriptural faith, while biblical theology seeks to restate the centre of that faith in contemporary terms? They are different from each other, but both need the other.

    • Interesting thought. However, the broader context of the definition has to do with the historical emergence of biblical studies and systematic theology, their unfortunate separation, and now reintegration.

      On your notion: I’m not sure if it works, as syst. theology has both a critical task (kind of boundary keeping, whether defined as a bounded approach or a centred approach) and a constructive task (restating the faith in contemp. terms). So, perhaps your comment helps to clarify the critical task of theology?

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