Sunday, December 06, 2009

Discovering a Biblical Theology of an Idea, Word, or Theme

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Biblical theology traces an idea, word, or theme in a biblical book, author, genre, testament, or the entire Bible. While the process can be long and involved and requires careful thought, the steps are quite simple.

  1. Determine the idea, word, or theme to be studied. In this example, I will use the word "heart" (Gk. kardia) in Matthew's Gospel. You can use the search tool at biblestudytools.com. I used it, chose "interlinear" in the sidebar, and clicked "kardia" to fine all the uses of kardia in Matthew.
  2. Next, read each verse in its paragraph (!!!) and determine what this particular verse says about the idea, word, or theme. Make brief notes.
    • Matthew 5:8 can be pure; related to the perception of God
    • Matthew 5:28 can sin
    • Matthew 6:21 intention revealed in use of treasure
    • Matthew 9:4 related to response; ca do evel/good
    • Matthew 11:29 can be humble
    • Matthew 12:34 source of speech content; evidence of character
    • Matthew 12:40 interior
    • Matthew 13:15 related to understanding
    • Matthew 13:19 can have content stolen by evil one
    • Matthew 15:8 can be communal (had by a community); determines intention
    • Matthew 15:18-19 source of speech content/behavior
    • Matthew 18:35 location of true forgiveness of others
    • Matthew 22:37 able to love
    • Matthew 24:48 source of decisions/behavior
  3. Spend time reading over your notes. Look for the structure of the concepts, write the key concepts in bullet form, and cite the appropriate passages.
    • moral component, 5:8; 5:28; 9:4; 11:29
    • cognitive component, 5:8; 13:15
    • volitive component, 6:21; 9:4; 15:8; 15:18-19; 18:35; 22:37; 24:48
    • character component, 12:34-35; 15:18-19
    • vulnerable to evil, 13:19
  4. Read through the passages in their groupings and create a full sentence outline of the biblical theology.
    • The heart is the location of our moral decision-making (5:8; 5:28; 9:4; 11:29).
    • The heart is the gatekeeper and ultimate means of understanding (5:8; 13:15).
    • The heart decides our thoughts, motivations, and behaviors (6:21; 9:4; 15:8; 15:18-19; 18:35; 22:37; 24:48).
    • The heart is the reservoir of character (12:34-35; 15:18-19).
    • The heart is vulnerable to evil attack (13:19).
  5. You now have a biblical theology of the idea, word, or theme you have studied.
  6. Now, venture out on your own and trace heart in Mark's Gospel. If you would like, post your results in the comments.

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