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The Whole Counsel Of God: God's Mighty Acts in the Old Testament Hardcover – July 15, 2009
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"Very few people living today are as capable as Richard Gamble at grasping and expressing the theology of the entire Bible. His work represents decades of reflection on interpretive issues that have perplexed scholars for over a century. He bridges the gap many have identified between traditional systematic theology and biblical theology. He devotes himself in helpful ways to the unity and diversity of biblical revelation. Yet, throughout this work, he penetrates beyond scholarly concerns to life issues that every believer faces. I highly recommend this book." --Richard L. Pratt Jr.
"A very comprehensive theological project, embracing the disciplines of biblical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology. Nothing comparable in scope has been done in the last hundred years within the circles of Reformed orthodoxy. I m convinced that Rick Gamble is the man to do this job. With a doctorate from the University of Basel and an international reputation as a Calvin scholar, Rick has a formidable grasp of theological issues. His theological convictions are thoroughly biblical and Reformed. He's also a humble man of God who can write winsomely to the hearts of many sorts of readers. I hope this work has wide distribution and great influence in this time of theological confusion." --John M. Frame
"A ground-breaking piece of biblical scholarship. Modern theological scholars tend to specialize in a specific field . . . [and] tend to be unfamiliar and uncomfortable delving into other spheres of theology. Therefore, modern theologians generally do not produce comprehensive or integrated works on theology. . . . Dr. Gamble's work is pioneering in that it is an attempt at integrating the major theological disciplines." --Anthony Selvaggio
From the Publisher
This is the first in a comprehensive three-volume set that integrates systematic theology and biblical theology and addresses a host of timely exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological issues.
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It is this progressive (i.e., Vosian progressive revelation) and redemptive-historical approach to ST that initially appealed to me. While many are quick to pit BT against ST, it seems that in the Reformed tradition (at least in the tradition of the Westminster Seminaries), such a dichotomy is unwarranted. When one reads the essays by Geerhardus Vos and John Murray on BT and ST (respectively), one sees that the Reformed tradition has always felt that BT and ST compliment each other rather than undermine each other. In this sense, Gamble's attempt to work through ST without progressing through the typical loci approach of such works as Hodge, Berkhof or Bavinck, is a fascinating project. Before I make some critiques, let me make clear that I heartily endorse buying this volume!
My criticism, however, is that I'm not sure if the format of these volumes (a projected 4 volume set) actually accomplishes what Gamble has set out to do. Several times in this volume (vol. 1 focuses on the OT), Gamble finds that he is simply unable to stick with his program of considering a particular doctrine only in its OT "seed form." He resorts to language like (and I summarize freely here), "To do justice to this particular question, we really must consider the NT teaching as well." From there he continues to unpack the doctrine in terms of the NT evidence, something that was supposed to wait until volume 2. Now in a way, I don't fault Gamble for doing this. After all, several doctrinal matters simply cannot be understood without recourse to further (in this case NT) revelation. Yet in doing this, Gamble seems to have undermined his whole approach. While this doesn't change the content of his approach, it does make for some difficulty; i.e., one must first wait for volume 2 to be published, then one must be ready to flip between volumes to understand the full unfolding of a theological matter.
While I hate to make a suggestion of what he could have done (since, after all, these volumes are already going to press in this format), perhaps the project could have proceeded in one of two alternative ways:
1. Present theological/doctrinal matters in their canonical order, but treat each doctrine from Genesis to Revelation before proceeding to the next doctrine.
2. Adhere to the traditional loci approach, but be boldly biblical-theological in unpacking each doctrine; i.e., work through each loci and doctrine from Genesis to Revelation before moving on to the next loci.
In each of these approaches, Gamble's wisdom and insight would be conveyed in a more organized/coherent fashion and he wouldn't feel the need to apologize about "skipping ahead" to consider the NT teaching on particular issues.
I feel I should offer one final critique in light of my own area of specialization, Old Testament. Gamble seems overly reliant upon a select few OT volumes (e.g., the introductions of E.J. Young and Dillard/Longman) which, at times, weaken some of his arguments. After all, while both introductions are very helpful (and are both on my shelf), Young does remain quite out of date and Dillard/Longman simply don't address in sufficient detail many of the matters for which Gamble uses them. I could see that OT biblical studies was not Gamble's strong suit in this volume. Though he is a fine theologian, his theological formulations seem to need some nuancing in light of more specialized work being done by OT scholars - many of whom are also Reformed.
Lest the reader of this review think that I am trying to speak too disparagingly of Gamble's work, let me reiterate that I appreciate his approach, enjoy his volume and look forward to future volumes. While I may feel that aspects of his approach need nuancing and that the format of these volumes may be cumbersome, they still provide an important contribution to the ongoing work of doing ST and BT hand in hand.
Thank you to Dr. Gamble for his hard work and for his insightful contribution. Readers of all Reformed sub-persuasions will do well to familiarize themselves with his work. This is not difficult reading; while the volume is quite large, it is not overly technical and seems to be understandable by any lay person willing to work through the whole thing.