According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible

Written by Graeme Goldsworthy Reviewed By Geoffrey Grogan

This book embraces the whole Bible and seeks to present an introduction to biblical theology. The author makes his aims clear. He says, ‘In this work I have attempted to do three things: first, to introduce the reader to an integrated theology of the whole Bible; second, to write this introduction from the position of the acceptance of the full inspiration and authority of the Bible as the word of God; and third, to write for ordinary Christians at a level that avoids unnecessary technicalities’ (p. 7). He has certainly accomplished these aims. Early in the book he clearly distinguishes biblical theology from other theological disciplines. The major part of the volume moves through the Bible in chronological sequence (although all in the light of Christ), and the author shows the importance of great themes like Creation, Kingdom and Covenant in it. The NT section is dominated by the New Creation theme. At the end he shows how the insights of biblical theology can be applied practically in two selected areas, Guidance and Life after Death.

This book will be of real value to theological students, especially those beginning to study biblical theology. It is set out as a study manual with chapter summaries, brief one-sentence summaries of sections within chapters, diagrams (some more helpful than others), questions and suggestions for further reading. There are no references to particular scholars, but the reader can be introduced to the world of technical scholarship in this subject through the bibliographies. Goldsworthy’s exegesis is always sane and careful. He places a lot of emphasis on typology and handles it very well. There are some ways, however, in which the book could have been even more helpful than it is. On page 158, he says, ‘… the earlier expressions point to things beyond themselves which are greater than the meaning that would have been perceived by those receiving those earlier expressions’. Yes, but how does this relate to the principle (so dear to the Reformers) of the one meaning of passages of Scripture? Some exploration of this would have been very helpful. It is understandable that disproportionate space is assigned to the Pentateuch because of its foundational character, but as a result there is very little space for some other sections, like the OT prophets. Particularly disappointing (and reminiscent of Vos’s Biblical Theology) is the brevity of the NT section. Nevertheless, this is a very fine book and should have a wide readership.

Geoffrey Grogan