What Is Biblical Theology is an excellent book not only for an introduction into biblical theology, but also for understanding the literary elements of the Bible. A combination of James Hamilton’s writing style, his examination of symbolism, and clear application of literary devices makes this book easily accessible and immediately applicable to those people wanting to start to have a greater understanding of the Bible.
Hamilton has a smooth, natural voice to his writing that is easy to understand. While he does use some technical language, he clarifies and explains all of the terms he uses. He also provides both general and biblical examples to help the reader follow along with what he is saying. Hamilton regularly cites specific biblical examples that not only support but also clarify his points. While his ideas are extraordinarily well written, his overall organization can be a bit confusing. Readers should focus on the points that he is making in individual sections rather than trying to tie them together as chapters or (moreover) as a book as a whole. This is the only real failing of the book however, and it can be easily overcome if the reader is aware of it in advance.
It is refreshing to read a work that speaks so intelligently on symbolism and typology in the Bible. There has been a movement over the last several years to be hyper-literal in the analysis of the Bible. Indeed, some people are resistant to see symbol, metaphor, or simile in the Bible even when Christ himself states that they are such. (See Matt. 11:6, 13:31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52, and 20:1) Hamilton does an excellent job of showing these forms of figurative language and giving the basic principles for interpreting them. He treats these topics respectfully and accurately so that Christians can get the most out of their Bibles.
Hamilton does not limit himself to just these few elements however. During the course of his book, he talks about narrative structure, plot line, conflict, theme, patterns and much more. He then ties all of these ideas together to help his readers understand and analyze a few, select areas of the Bible. These are effective practice sessions before the readers goes out and applies the principles that they have learned in earnest. Across the board, What Is Biblical Theology is a good book that would be a helpful tool for the beginning seminary student or for the person wishing to enrich their understand of the Word.
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Crossway through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.