Without a description I think the tag will be overused.

I'm not even sure it is relevant to this site.


Personally, I think it is a meaningless term and the tag should be deleted. Alternatively someone can pick a meaning and add that description but it will still be used willy-nilly. I "vote" to delete the tag altogether.

  • 1
    You may think it's a meaningless term, but it has a long and wide history of use in both academic and lay Christianity.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Feb 22, 2019 at 13:05
  • Perhaps I should say "meaningless out of context". This is why I suggested a definition since it can mean different things to different people (as your own post says, since you think the term is a "mix of 2 and 3, and a bit of 4 and 5"). How is that a useful term?! Obviously it is not useful to those who think it means #1.
    – Ruminator
    Feb 22, 2019 at 13:07
  • Well I don't think Zondervan's categories are really very distinct, aside from their category 1, which I've never heard of called Biblical Theology before, and is actually the dominant thing this site does anyway.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Feb 22, 2019 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


I suggested this wiki excerpt before, but it was rejected for reasons I don't really understand:

Biblical Theology is an approach to theology which emphasises the progressive nature of Biblical revelation, with later texts building on earlier ones and revealing more of God and his works

We also discussed it a little in chat.

This Zondervan article is helpful: 5 things Bible scholars mean when they use the term "Biblical Theology"

As I said in chat, the Biblical Theology I'm familiar with (ie, the one taught by Australian colleges) seems like a mix of 2 and 3, and a bit of 4 and 5.

I stand by my proposed wiki excerpt as a decent summary that isn't tied to any particular narrow type of BT.

There's not a lot of good BT questions on this site, but I think these are:

I've proposed a wiki description again:

Biblical Theology is an approach to theology which emphasises the progressive or canonical nature of Biblical revelation, with later texts building on earlier ones and revealing more of God and his works

  • Personally I think it is an intrinsically imprecise, subjective term and really doesn't belong on a site which is ostensibly inductive by definition.
    – Ruminator
    Feb 22, 2019 at 10:16
  • 1
    Your original proposal for the tag meets the definition I am most familiar with, which aligns most with Type 2 in the Zondervan list. But I do see from the Zondervan source that with such a range of meanings, how useful the tag may actually be is questionable. A tag like "Progressive-Revelation" could serve more specifically with most of the definition you gave. And I agree on the reopening of the Dispensationalism/Biblical Theology question, as it relates to how the Bible is interpreted from the (supposedly two different) approaches.
    – ScottS
    Feb 23, 2019 at 1:00
  • Maybe swapping "progressive" for "canonical" would cover more of the subtypes of BT. Or the wiki could say both.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Feb 23, 2019 at 1:34
  • I now see your @'s to me in chat - apologies for not responding, I think I hadn't been in the room for so long that I did not get those notifications. The type of BT that I refer to in my rejection reason of your first suggested edit corresponds to Zondervan's type 1. In my view this understanding of the term is also the most objective and most suitable for SE, while your proposed descriptions leave little room for atheists and agnostics to explore this field.
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 14:14
  • Here, answers from all traditions are accepted without "From the point of view of ..., ...". On Philosophy, we we expect people to include such a boilerplate. This helps people to include more references and reduce subjectivity. I don't quite understand why this SE does not take that approach. With that approach, the other types of BT become clearly subjective and would have to be phrased in a much clearer way. This helps avoid mismatch when people are coming from different backgrounds.
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 14:30
  • That said, this is of course a much larger and more long-standing issue than that of the BT tag description - and considering the user base and overall attitude towards critical scholarship here I doubt this will change. So I don't mean to drag that whole issue into the present discussion - looking at the votes on this post you'd expect that your revision can be accepted without problems.
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 14:36
  • @Keelan I genuinely haven't heard anyone other than Zondervan refer to type 1 as BT. I also don't think it's very useful as it's what we try to do in every question here. I don't get your point about atheists etc - personal convictions never matter.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 15, 2019 at 20:57
  • Even if you haven't seen the term used this way (different background, perhaps; I studied exegesis at a secular university), you can maybe see why people would understand it this way, since it is simply the meaning of the two words at face value: BT is the theology of the Bible, hence the theology expressed in it. And no, I don't think that is "what we try to do in every question here". This e.g. (just some random recent example) depends on back-projecting NT ideas on the OT which is highly controversial in a type 1 approach.
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 21:11
  • This back-projecting of NT ideas is ubiquitous, but from a historical point of view one must still explain that in the up to 1000 years between the texts the theology expressed in them did not change. Not explaining this is implicitly making claims about inner coherence of the Bible, which is why it is less suitable for atheists (etc), besides also being part of the reason why this site has become so Christian-centric.
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 21:15
  • @Keelan That's not a great question by any means, and a very poor example of one considering the OT-NT relationship... And the point of BT is that the theology does change, not in incompatible ways, but by developing. It's one of the approaches which attempts to take seriously the incoherences of the texts of the Bible. Obviously it does presume a divine hand behind the human authors, but it doesn't require any personal faith. BT fits well next to historical theology/history of reception and interpretation.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 15, 2019 at 21:32
  • Sorry, but I fail to see how you can say one has to presume a divine hand but no personal faith is required. Your understanding of BT also seems to rest on the idea that the authors of the Bible form one community in some sense (because otherwise theology wouldn't change between books but just be different).
    – user2672
    Jul 15, 2019 at 21:49
  • @Keelan Anyone can study any religious topic without personal faith, that's all I meant. And yes, the term Biblical Theology is not ideal, and has divergent definitions out there, some assuming some level of shared community, others not. The question for us is whether it would be useful to have the tag (I think so for the small number of questions we get), and whether we can give a useful definition of BT for our site, which I think we can. All our tags are local to our site's community. So even if Zondervan type 1 is out there, is it here?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 15, 2019 at 22:51
  • I don't think it's a good idea to give a term a specifically narrow definition just here. Few people read the tag description, so that will only lead to mis-tagging.
    – user2672
    Jul 16, 2019 at 7:01
  • 1
    Since you proposed the edit again, I think you would have to change/edit the tags on questions with the tag on it to match the tag description, leaving only about two of the questions with the tag. Is that what you are intending to do after the tag is redefined? Since the post is now +6/-2 I imagine there is enough support for your definition to do that (though it might be a good idea to post in chat first for people who aren't watching the thread here before mass editing)
    – b a
    Aug 17, 2019 at 20:53
  • 1
    Since you apparently proposed the edit again and it was accepted this time, I went through the list of questions tagged with this tag and removed it where it didn't apply. In around half of the cases it was used for "the theology expressed by the Bible".
    – user2672
    Sep 30, 2019 at 10:12

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