Biblical theology proceeds from the biblical storyline. Of course, many biblical theologians would disagree with this statement, some even denying that a unified grand narrative exists. The absence of a unified biblical story leads to the denial of the possibility of a “whole Bible” biblical theology since such a theology necessitates some form of unity within the canon. Against this view, most evangelicals affirm the presence of a cohesive narrative within the Bible from creation to new creation. Of course, such a supposition demands defense, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Admittedly, the biblical story is complex with many characters, themes, and subplots. It contains a long history, is told in multiple languages (Hebrew and Greek with a bit of Aramaic), and takes place within multiple cultures. Nevertheless, the Bible displays an astonishing theological coherency. This conherency can only be understood as it emerges from the biblical story.
Assuming that the Bible tells one, unified story across both testaments raises the question “what is the biblical story?” While one does not want to be reductionist, the main plotline of Scripture can be summarized concisely. In my biblical theology classes, I have tried to summarize the biblical story in one sentence. Here is my attempt:
God, the Creator-King, is reestablishing his kingdom in the world through keeping his covenant promises to Abraham, Israel, and David in the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus the Messiah, who will reign forever in the new creation with his new covenant people.
This sentence covers the primary theological themes that tie the biblical story together: creation, kingdom, covenant, and Christ. I find this helpful for students, church leaders, and missionaries as they grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures and apply them to life and ministry. This sentence gives the hooks on which to hang doctrinal positions. Most importantly, this sentence helps to summarize the story within which believers are called to live.