George Eldon Ladd on Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is that discipline which sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical settingBiblical Theology is primarily a descriptive discipline.  It is not initially concerned with the final meaning of the teachings of the Bible or their relevance for todayThis is the task of systematic theology.  Biblical theology has the task of expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and its own terms, categories, and thought forms.  It is the obvious intent of the Bible to tell a story about God and his acts in history for humanities salvation…. Biblical theology is theology:  it is primarily a story about God and his concern for human beings.  It exsits only because of the divine initiative realizing itself in a series of divine acts whose objective is human redemption.  Biblical theology therefore is not exclusively, or even primarily, a system of abstract theological truths.  It is basically the description and interpretation of the divine activity within the scene of human history that seeks humanity’s redemption (20-21).

Geroge Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, Revised Edition (Eerdmans, 1993).


I put up this quote because of some of the comments in my post about systematic theologies – I tend to think both biblical and systematic theology have their place – while biblical theology helps us get to the meaning and teaching of the Bible in its historical setting, systematic theology can help us understand how biblical theological themes are relevant for us today and how we can apply these teachings to our understanding of God and the world we live in.  So, that said, I think both systematic and biblical theology have their place.

3 responses to “George Eldon Ladd on Biblical Theology

  1. Thanks for clearing that up for me…I’m only a new student of theology, and all these different categories, goes sort of under the same for me, and I like to call that category “To Grow in knowledge, and to grow with Christ”.

    I sort of feel privileged, since I feel that this post maybe was because of something I(and others) posted in another thread.

    By the way, I like this blog! And the qoute you gave is in page 24-25 in the not revised edition 🙂

    God Bless.

  2. I can’t even begin to describe how influential Ladd has been upon my understanding of the Kingdom of God… the “already” and the “not yet,” of course. Ladd is great.

    I’ve really enjoyed Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos on the subject. I’m unable to role with his eschatological convictions, but overall it is a pretty fascinating read. Vos is one of those authors I either love or I find to be a bit pretentious, though it pains me to say that 🙂

    If I had to list the NTT’s that I’ve found to be the most helpful in a certain order, I’d go with Ladd’s, Schreiner’s, Morris’, and then Marshall’s. Guthrie’s is pretty good too. I have a couple from extremely liberal perspectives that also make me chuckle from time to time…

    I agree though – Biblical and Systematic and Practical and Historic… all are important.

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