Sunday, 15 November 2015
A New Testament Biblical Theology, by G.K. Beale
G.K. Beale. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, 2011 Baker Academic
When I decided I was converting to Catholicism, I realised I would probably have to give up my strongly Premillennial eschatology, I therefore became resolved to read some Amillennial books to persuade myself. AMong those I decided to read was G.K. Beale's New Testmanent theology, which I had some desire to read, even while I was a Premillennialist.
I was very pleased to find that this New Testament theology textbook is thematic in approach. It is wearisome to read so many New Testament theologies that structure themselves book by book, without clearly identifying the key themes of the New Testament as an whole. This is a scholarly book, but it is reasonably accessible to the untrained reader.
Beale establishes the background for the New Testament theology in the Old Testament. He identifies the centrality of the concept of the Last Days in the Old Testament writings. These last days were not necessarily the end of time, but the climax and conclusion of history. He then argues that the New Testament authors do not regard the Last Days as yet to come, but that they begin with the work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. Thus, the New Testament teaches an inaugurated eschatology; the end times have begun, but will reach their final conclusion in the Second Coming of Christ. Beale brings up the concept he elaborated on in The Temple and the Church's Mission. In that book, he argued that there is a theme of a cosmic temple in the Bible, beginning with Eden as a sanctuary, developing through the Ark of the Covenant through to the end times temple of Ezekiel and the garden city of Revelation 21. He argued that contrary to some Premillennialists, the restoration of the temple is not a physical temple, but the eschatological realisation of God's presence in His people. Likewise, he argues that the land promises to Israel also find a wider and more spiritual fulfillment in the Church, which is eschatological Israel. He is not silent on the subject of ethics, as he sees in Christian living the outworking of the New Creation and the realisation of God's image in humanity.
I found this a very inspiring and thoughtful read. As a Reformed theologian, Beale defends the Protestant doctrine of justification through imputation, but otherwise Catholic readers will find much here to agree with.