So what is the difference? Is not Systematic Theology also Biblical? Yes it is. But Systematic Theology takes what is in the Bible and organizes, or systematizes the content into, what seems to the systematician, a logical order. The Westminster Confession would qualify as a simpler version of Systematic Theology. Other Systematic Theologies would include Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, Calvin’s Institutes, and also Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics.
So with that said, how is Biblical Theology different from Systematic Theology? Geerhardus Vos explains in the preface:
“Biblical Theology occupies a position between Exegesis and Systematic Theology in the encyclopedia of theological disciplines. It differs from Systematic Theology, not in being more Biblical, or adhering more closely to the truths of the Scriptures, but in that its principle of organizing the Biblical material is historical rather than logical. Whereas Systematic Theology takes the Bible as a completed whole and endeavors to exhibit its total teaching in an orderly, systematic form, Biblical Theology deals with the material from the historical standpoint, seeking to exhibit the organic growth or development of the truths of Special Revelation from the primitive pre-redemptive Special Revelation given in Eden to the close of the New Testament canon.”
And in the introduction, he gives this definition:
“Biblical Theology is that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.”
Let me rant for a moment…
So far, the only problem I have with this book is the way it has been produced. It is a glue bound paperback book. This is a travesty! In the past, Banner of Truth Trust has done an admirable job in reproducing Puritan writings in beautiful smyth sewn, cloth bound books, with dust jackets. In this particular case, however, they have decided to only use the jacket. The content alone validates, nay, justifies the use of better construction. Is this book suppose to be disposable? Do they think we will just throw it away once we have read it? Are they trying to get people to buy it electronically? Well, I think BOT needs to snob it up a bit! Maybe they ought to offer it in both paperback and library bindings. I mean, even us Reformed people like to have a choice every once and a while too. Well Banner of Truth, I hope you’re listening.