Class 2 - Biblical Theology
April 1, 2008
The Bible contains many kinds of writing: stories, poetry, dreams and fantasies, lists of laws, geneologies, parables, and more. To tease out the theological implications of these many forms of expression you can ask of each passage: "What does this tell us about God and God's relationship to creation and to us as people?"
The biblical story unfolds over about 2000 years and was written over 700 to 800 years in very diverse circumstances: slavery and oppression, wandering in the wilderness, fighting and maneuvering to capture territory, the challenge between stone age and iron age cultures, the challenge between nomadic and crop agriculture based societies, victory/kingship/empire, loss and exile, limited recovery, and diaspora. With this background it is reasonable to talk about the development of key biblical themes over time and in diverse circumstances.
One such theme is the biblical concept of covenant. A covenant statement describes an understanding of God's relationship with the world or with a particular people. This class will work with four covenant statements among many more in the Bible: 1st Chronicles 11 (David), 1st Corinthians 12 (Paul), Exodus 19: 1-6 (Moses), and Genesis 17: 1-10 (Abram).
What is the role of God and of human beings in each covenant?
Assignment for small groups
How broad is the covenant in terms of the scope of affected people?
Is the covenant conditional or unconditional?
What are some differences between a covenant and a contract?
Choose a covenant statement to discuss. Consider the questions presented in the above comments. Consider any other biblical statements of covenants you wish.
Write a covenant statement that you think is keeping with what Jesus tells us and shows us about the relationship between God and the world, between God and people. Feel free to quote scripture in the process. Discuss your statement and prepare to present it to the whole group.
What can we know about God based on what we know of the world and ourselves? What are the implications of having to do our theology as creatures and not as a god? Think about it and try to talk about it with somebody.
You can find an example of my approach to developmental biblical theology on this website under Christian Education.