The Biblical Theology Study Bible is all-in-one study resource that will help readers understand the big-picture story of Scripture as they read the books of the Old and New Testament. God has one redemptive plan, which is told within the 66 books of the bible. The Biblical Theology Study Bible leads the reader through this plan as it unfolds in the inspired text, utilizing study notes, full-color maps and charts, articles, and more, to do so.
The General Editor of the Biblical Theology Study Bible is biblical scholar and theologian, D.A. Carson. (Carson is well-known for his books, The Gagging of God and How Long, O Lord? as well as for his Matthew commentary in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary series.) The book was previously published as the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. While the content is the same, the study bible has been rebranded and given a fresh presentation. It remains a high-quality, heavily-illustrated, and exhaustive study bible.
The Biblical Theology Study Bible includes over 20,000 notes, commenting on almost every verse in Scripture. The study notes appear at the bottom of each page. While the biblical text is in a one-column format, the study notes are in a three-column format, against a lightly shaded blue background. The notes may include information about history, theology, literature, archaeological, interpretation, translation, and a variety of other topics – whatever helps the reader understand the text and apply it to their lives.
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Biblical Theological Study Bible: Features
One of the most unique and rewarding features of the Biblical Theology Study Bible is the 28 theological articles, which are written by some of the most well-known and respected scholars alive today. These articles, or essays, appear in the back of the study bible and generally appear to between 1,000-2,000 words each, with a few perhaps even longer. In-depth theological teaching and devotional reflection aren’t often found in study bibles, making the BTSB relatively distinct in the genre.
Editor D.A. Carson contributes three articles: “The Bible and Theology,” “A Biblical-Theological Overview of the Bible,” “Sonship.” Pastor and author Tim Keller two articles, “The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus Is Central” and “Shalom.” Other notable articles include: “Sin” by Kevin DeYoung, “People of God” by Moises Silva, “Wisdom” by Daniel J. Estes, “Worship” by David Peterson, “Mission” by Andreas Kostenberger, and “The Consummation” by Douglas J. Moo.
D.A. Carson from Sonship:
“In addition to the many instances in the Bible where sonship is entirely natural and biological (e.g., Gen 22:2; Ruth 4:13, 17; 1 Sam 16:18; Ezek 18:14; Matt 10:37; Luke 15:11), sonship is often metaphoric. The root of these metaphoric uses lies in the way sons achieved their identity. In the Western world today, only about 5 percent of sons end up doing the same work their fathers did; in the ancient world, the overwhelming majority of sons took up the same vocation as that of their fathers. The sons of farmers became farmers, the sons of fishermen became fishermen—and in both cases the sons learned their trade from their fathers, not at a college or in an apprenticeship with someone outside the family. These realities established their identity. That is why Jesus can be identified as “the carpenter’s son” (Matt 13:55) and, presumably after the death of his (apparent) father Joseph, as himself “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3).”
More features of the Biblical Theological Study Bible
The BTSB contains 90 of full-color maps. The maps illustrate various content, including basic geography, travel routes, and battle locations. Larger biblical books contain the most maps, for example, Genesis has five and Acts has nine. Utilizing such visual aids can really bring tbe text to life.
The BTSB also contains 60 full-color charts. The charts vary in size and organizes all kinds of information. For instance, the chart that supplements the early chapters of Exodus, is titled “Moses’ Life.” It charts a basic timeline of his life, significant events in his life and ministry, and the chapter and verse references where the topic is found in the biblical text. Most books include a chart, yet some of the smaller ones don’t. Revelation, on the other hand, includes 17 charts.
The BTSB also includes 17 artistic illustrations, which give insight into structures that have never been found or no longer exist, such as Noah’s ark. Being able to visualize the object Scripture describes provides numerous insights for the reader. One such illustration is a beautifully-colored, full-page image titled “Herod’s Temple,” which accompanies the early chapters of Matthew. The illustratiin is large enough that details can be seen and the inner cut-out feature enables the reader to see inside and outside the temple simultaneously. Captions and descriptions help the reader understand and identity the various elements of the picture.
Each one of the 66 biblical books contains an introductory section that helps refers become familiar with the content. Biblical scholars write the introductions, such as Craig L. Blomberg writes Matthew, D.A. Carson writes John, and Douglas J. Moo writes James. The following subjects are included in each introduction:
- Author: this section provides information on the identity of the book’s author, their life and ministry, and how and where the author appears in the book, if applicable
- Date: this section includes a discussion of when the book was written, including the geographical and political setting, and how that affects the people in the book
- Composition: here, the structure of the book is discussed in detail, though an outline isn’t provided until later in the introduction. Often, books have multiple sections, which have different nuances, and those are identified and described in this section.
- Place of composition and destination: where the author wrote from can be important to understanding the message, as can knowing who the original audience was and important aspects of their hardships and challenges.
- Occasion and purpose: understanding the original purpose of the book is a building block to understanding how it applies to today.
- Genre: the genre, or literary type, is important to understanding how to interpret the images, for example, in the text. Poetry is read differently than narratives, and narratives are read differently than parables, and parables are read differently than apocalyptic literature.
- Themes and theology: the subsections under this heading will vary from book to book depending on it’s content. For example, in Isaiah, the subsections include, The Nature of Salvation, Servanthood, and Messiah.
- Book outline: book outlines in the BTSB are among the most extensive found in any study bible today. Readers can locate any verse within the context of the book’s larger message.
Following the theological articles is a concordance that spans almost 200 pages. In alignment with the NIV translation and created bible-reference scholar, John R. Kohlenberger III, the concordance contains 4,795 separate word entries with nearly 36,000 chapter and verse references. Additionally, there are 339 biographical entries for the bible’s central figures. The concordance not only helps readers find the location of certain words in the bible, but it can also be used a guide to do word studies and follow bible-wide themes.
Promotional video: The study bible has since been re-branded as the BTSB, but the content is the same.
BIBLICAL THEOLOGY (BT) answers the question, How has God revealed his word historically and organically? BT studies the theology of individual biblical books (e.g., Isaiah, the Gospel of John), of select collections within the Bible (e.g. the Pentateuch, wisdom literature, the Gospels, Paul’s letters, John’s writings), and then traces out themes as they develop across time within the canon (e.g., the way in which the theme of the temple develops, in several directions, to fill out a “whole Bible” theology of the temple). At least four priorities are essential:
Read the Bible progressively as a historically developing collection of documents. God did not provide his people with all of the Bible at once. There is a progression to his revelation, and to read the whole back into some early part may seriously distort that part by obscuring its true significance in the flow of redemptive history. This requires not only organizing the Bible’s historical material into its chronological sequence but also trying to understand the theological nature of the sequence.
Presuppose that the Bible is coherent. The Bible has many human authors but one divine Author, and he never contradicts himself. BT uncovers and articulates the unity of all the biblical texts taken together.
Work inductively from the text – from individual books and from themes that run through the Bible as a whole. Although readers can never entirely divorce themselves from their own backgrounds, students of BT recognize that their subject matter is exclusively the Bible. They therefore try to use categories and pursue agendas that the text itself sets.
Make theological connections within the entire Bible that the Bible itself authorizes. One way to do this is to trace the trajectory of themes straight through the Bible. (That’s what the following articles in this study Bible do). BT often focuses on the turning points in the Bible’s storyline (see “A Bible-Theological Overview of the Bible,” p. 2637), and its most pivotal concern is tied to how the NT uses the OT, observing how later Scripture writers refer to earlier ones.