10 Recommended Books on Biblical Theology

Many see the Bible as a compilation of books that are loosely related, with no coherent thread holding them together.

Jesus Himself said He is that thread of Scripture (see John 5:39-40; Luke 24:27). When we understand this, our biblical understanding grows. We no longer see the Bible as a collection of random books, but as one book with one story that all testifies about Jesus Christ. The study of this idea is called biblical theology, and it is essential for the health of the church and the task of expository preaching.

When we teach biblical theology to pastors in the Fellowship of the Word program, we often hear comments like that of one trainee in east Asia: “Learning Biblical Theology has provided a major breakthrough for me and the church – a total change in our framework.

Our goal with our list below is not to be comprehensive, but give a sampling of the best biblical theology books available. May God cause many more “breakthroughs” to happen as people understand His Word at a deeper level!

You may also be interested in: 10 Recommended Books on Expository Preaching

q1. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts

An Easy-to-Read Introduction to Biblical Theology

Sixty-six books written by forty people over nearly 2,000 years, in two languages and several different genres. A worldwide bestseller published in countless sizes and bindings, translations and languages. Sworn by in court, fought over by religious people, quoted in arguments. The Bible is clearly no ordinary book. How can you begin to read and understand it as a whole? In this excellent overview, Vaughan Roberts gives you the big picture–showing how the different parts of the Bible fit together under the theme of the kingdom of God. He provides both the encouragement and the tools to help you read the Bible with confidence and understanding. And he points you to the Bible’s supreme subject, Jesus Christ, and the salvation God offers through him.

Watch or Download: Free Online Video Course of God’s Big Picture

Graeme-Goldsworthy-Gospel-and-Kingdom2. Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy

A Great Introduction to Biblical Theology

Gospel and Kingdom is concerned with finding the gospel principles inherent in the Pentateuch and historical books of the Old Testament. In an engaging and straightforward style, Graeme Goldsworthy explains the nature and contents of the Old Testament as seen within the Bible as a whole and sets out clear principles for interpreting it accurately for today.

q3. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy

Biblical Theology as it relates to Preaching

While strong, gospel-centered preaching abounds, many Christian pastors and lay preachers find it difficult to preach meaningfully from the Old Testament. This practical handbook offers help. Graeme Goldsworthy teaches the basics of preaching the whole Bible in a consistently Christ-centered way.

Goldsworthy first examines the Bible, biblical theology, and preaching and shows how they relate in the preparation of Christ-centered sermons. He then applies the biblical-theological method to the various types of literature found in the Bible, drawing out their contributions to expository preaching focused on the person and work of Christ.

Clear, complete, and immediately applicable, this volume will become a fundamental text for teachers, pastors, and students preparing for ministry.

q4. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry (9Marks) by Michael Lawrence

Biblical Theology as it relates to Ministry in the Church

Capitol Hill Baptist Church associate pastor Michael Lawrence contributes to the IXMarks series as he centers on the practical importance of biblical theology to ministry. He begins with an examination of a pastor’s tools of the trade: exegesis and biblical and systematic theology. The book distinguishes between the power of narrative in biblical theology and the power of application in systematic theology, but also emphasizes the importance of their collaboration in ministry.

Having laid the foundation for pastoral ministry, Lawrence uses the three tools to build a biblical theology, telling the entire story of the Bible from five different angles. He puts biblical theology to work in four areas: counseling, missions, caring for the poor, and church/state relations. Rich in application and practical insight, this book will equip pastors and church leaders to think, preach, and do ministry through the framework of biblical theology.

q5. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J. H. Wright

Wright focuses on the person and mission of Jesus as described in the Old Testament

We cannot know Jesus without knowing his story. Today the debate over who Jesus is rages on. Has the Bible bound Christians to a narrow and mistaken notion of Jesus? Should we listen to other gospels, other sayings of Jesus, that enlarge and correct a mistaken story? Is the real Jesus entangled in a web of the church’s Scripture, awaiting liberation from our childhood faith so he might speak to our contemporary pluralistic world? To answer these questions we need to know what story Jesus claimed for himself. Christopher Wright is convinced that Jesus’ own story is rooted in the story of Israel. In this book he traces the life of Christ as it is illuminated by the Old Testament. And he describes God’s design for Israel as it is fulfilled in the story of Jesus.

q6. The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund Clowney

A popular scholarly treatment of Christ in the Old Testament

Have you ever wondered what Christ said to his disciples on the Emmaus road—making their hearts burn? Follow Ed Clowney through the Old Testament as he shows how all the Scriptures point to Christ.

As you explore Old Testament characters and events, you’ll be inspired by the many specific insights they give us into Jesus’ character and lordship.

7. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments by Geerhardus Vos

A classic work (originally published in 1948) that broke ground in the study of Biblical Theology from “The Father of Reformed Biblical Theology”.

The aim of this book is no less than to provide an account of the unfolding of the mind of God in history, through the successive agents of his special revelation. Vos handles this under three main divisions: the Mosaic epoch of revelation, the prophetic epoch of revelation, and the New Testament. Such an historical approach is not meant to supplant the work of the systematic theologian; nevertheless, the Christian gospel is inextricably bound up with history, and the biblical theologian thus seeks to highlight the uniqueness of each biblical document in that succession. The rich variety of Scripture is discovered anew as the progressive development of biblical themes is explicated.

8. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity & Diversity of Scripture edited by Brian S. Rosner, T. Desmond Alexander, Graeme Goldsworthy, D. A. Carson

qIf you only buy one of these books, you should seriously consider this comprehensive reference work.

The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology will quickly establish itself as an essential building block of every library of basic biblical reference books. This work takes readers to a higher vantage point where they can view the thematic terrain of the Bible in its canonical wholeness. At the heart of this work is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of over 200 key biblical-theological themes such as atonement, creation, eschatology, Israel, Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, redemption, suffering, wisdom and worship. Students and communicators of the Bible will be well served by articles exploring the theology of each biblical book. And for those interested in the wider discipline of biblical theology, major articles explore foundational issues such as the history of biblical theology, the challenges raised against biblical theology, and the unity and diversity of Scripture. Over 120 contributors drawn from the front ranks of biblical scholarship in the English-speaking world make the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology a work of distinction and a benchmark of evangelical biblical theology at the turn of the twenty-first century.

q9. The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament by William J. Dumbrell

This work will open up the Old Testament for you. 

For years, William Dumbrell’s comprehensive survey, The Faith of Israel, has introduced students and pastors to the theological emphases of the Old Testament. Dumbrell traces the theological movement of each Old Testament book through the Hebrew canonical sequence of Law, Prophets, and Writings, “the manner in which Israel presented her faith.” He not only brings forth insightful points and themes within each book, but he also makes original and refreshing connections to themes in other Old Testament books. This in turn leads to a discussion of the theology of the entire Old Testament canon.

10. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale

This academic reference book will help readers understand the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament.

Readers of the New Testament often encounter quotes or allusions to Old Testament stories and prophecies that are unfamiliar or obscure. In order to fully understand the teachings of Jesus and his followers, it is important to understand the large body of Scripture that preceded and informed their thinking. Leading evangelical scholars G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson have brought together a distinguished team to provide readers with a comprehensive commentary on Old Testament quotations, allusions, and echoes that appear from Matthew through Revelation. College and seminary students, pastors, scholars, and interested lay readers will want to add this unique commentary to their reference libraries.

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Kevin Halloran

Servant of the Word. Husband. Blogs weekly at Anchored in Christ. Content Strategist/Trainer in Latin America with Leadership Resources International.