TP600 Foundations of Theology: Theology of Promise                                                                      James Strauss

(Begins Word of Creative Power, continues with                                                Lincoln Christian Seminary

Word of  Promise (II Cor. 1.19; II Peter 1.4; 3.13)



A.  Reading:


1.       Both texts in full

2.       At least 1000 pages beyond required texts, some of these from journals


B.  Written and oral class presentation


1.       One critical paper on one category in the syllabus of ca. 20 pages in length. To be written according to Tanner/Turabian

2.       OR - 4-6 briefer papers whose sum total is ca. 20 pages (each student will give an oral report on one of the chapters of our texts.) Sign up sheets next class period.



1.       To textually expose the unifying theme of Promise.

2.       To reveal the hermeneutical capacity of this theme.

3.       To reveal a biblical bridge between the Old and New Testament.

4.       To express the inseparability of exegesis to Biblical Theology.

5.       To affirm the priority of Biblical Theology over Systematic Theology.

6.       To reveal the foundational perspective of Promise Theology.

7.       To reveal the relationship between the Promise and Presence of God in both Testaments.

8.       To critique prominent theses of contemporary theology regarding the possibility of doing Biblical Theology.

9.       To expose the inadequacies of both Pre-Millennial Dispensational and covenant theology as unifying hermeneutics.

10.    To test classical views of covenant as the center of Scripture.


                   “Recently, David Leslie Baker has attempted to classify the modern solutions to the problem of the relationship between the two testaments.  (D. L. Baker, “The Theological Problem of the Relationship Between the OT and the NT: A Study of Some Modern Solutions,” (Doctoral thesis, University of Sheffield, August 1975); now published as Two Testaments; One Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976). Basically, Baker found three different solutions:  (1) Arnold A. van Ruler and Kornelis H. Miskotte represented an OT solution in which the OT was the essential and real Bible with the NT being its sequel or merely its glossary of terms.  (2) On the other hand, Rudolf Bultmann and Friedrich Baumgartel took the NT as the church’s essential Bible and the OT was regarded as its non-Christian presupposition or preliminary witness.  (3) There are a variety of solutions that Baker grouped under the rubric “biblical solutions.” These included WilhelJfm Vischer’s christological approach, where every OT text pointed to some aspect of Christ’s person, work, or ministry; the typological approach, where the OT was investigated for its historical and theological similarities or correspondences to the NT; and the salvation-history approach, in which the OT was “actualized” in the NT.  Others, within this grouping of “biblical solutions,” suggested a continuous tension along the lines of continuity and discontinuity between the testaments, e.g., Th. C. Vriezen, H.H. Rowley, C.H. Dodd, John Bright, and Brevard S. Childs.

                   Our solution does not appear to fit easily into any single one of these three categories. The imposition of external grids over the biblical materials must always be rejected. Thus the selection of one part of the canon of the testament over the other is just as arbitrary and deduced as extra as is the application of some such principle as a christological, typological, or salvation-history approach. Where the text, as it now exists, does not validate such an organizing principle, then it is to be laid aside in favor of one that can be inductively validated. The object of the discipline of biblical theology is to discern what flow of continuity, if any, the writers betrayed in their works. Were they aware of any antecedent contributions to their subject or related subjects? And did they ever indicate that these could be grouped together or were to be differentiated from what the people of previous generations had been told?” (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House), 1978, pp. 266,267.)




I. Introduction


          1. Assignments: (reading and written/oral class reports)

          2.     Nature of Scripture

          3.     Gospel/Faith and Views of Scripture

          4.     NT records of birth of Jesus and birth of the Church

          5.     Does the Church then need the OT? If so, why?

          6.     What is the relationship between the two Testaments that constitute our Bible?

          7.     What, if any, is the Hermeneutical Center of the Bible? Problem of genter and unifying



Some proposed centers and four unifying themes (e.g. circle/foci of  ellipsis)


          a.     God (Holiness of God, purpose of, presence of

          b.     Christ (Messiah)

          c.     Israel (People of God)

          d.     Election (Covenant)

          e.     Promise

          f.      Word of God

          g.     Kingdom

          h.     Hope


Foundational Proposals for Doing Biblical Theology:


            a.   Historical/Theological (Hermeneutical) Discipline

            b.  Exegesis, parts and wholes (Biblical/Systematic/Dogmatic Theologies)

            c.   Search for Perspective - agenda closed (canon-given)

            d    Theologies of OT books will preferably not follow the order of books in the Canonical



            e.   Biblical Theology must allow its themes, motifs, and concepts to be formed by the

                   Scripture alone

            f.   Biblical Theology answers first of all by yielding various theologies of individual books

                   (authors) and then yielding the theologies of various longitudinal themes

            g.  The final aim of Biblical Theology is to demonstrate whether or not there is an inner unity

                   that binds together the various theologies and longitudinal themes, concepts and motifs.

            h.  Biblical Theology presupposes the larger context of two testaments — One Bible. On this

                   assumption stands or falls the biblical self-witness of Inspiration, Revelation, Authority,

                   Translatability and cross-cultural communication (see Basel; Baker and Bruce - on reserve)


OT view of NT; NT view of OT (see my Hermeneutics from Bible to the Reformation        (in

library); and 3 volumes CHB


            a.   NT use of OT

            b.  Apostolic Fathers

            c.   Marcion

d. Augustine

            e.   Two Schools of Hermeneutics:  Alexandria and Antioch

            f.   Luther (Law/Grace)

            g.  Calvin (Level Bible)

            h.  Schleiermacher and Historiographical Revolution: Historical Critical Method

            i.    OT and Christ (Christological Hermeneutics; Luther and Barth)

            j. Israel and Church

            k. allegory

            l. Typology

            m. Levels of Meaning: Sensus Plenior

            n. Salvation History (e.g. Gullmann, Wright, Pannenberg and Eichrodt,

            o.  From Structuralism to Deconstructionism

            p. Promise and Fulfillment


Read: Kaiser, pp. 1-40; become acquainted with the structure and development of the syllabus


II. Vocabulary of Promise: Promise and Presence as Hermeneutical Center and Focus of Unifying theological themes


         A.    Source of Promises: God and Man/Man and Man

         B.    Scope of Promises: Conditional/Unconditional

         C.    Surety of Promises: Providence/Faithfulness

         D.    Self-revealing God: Promised Presence

         E.     Self-hiding God: Promised Judgment (Isaiah 45.15)


Read: Kaiser, pp. 41-54; TDNT/DNTT articles


III.  Promise to the Patriarchs: Promised Blessing


          A.   Abraham - Genesis 12.3

          B.    Abraham - Genesis 18.18

          C.    Abraham - Genesis 22.18

          D.   Isaac - Genesis 26.4

          E.    Jacob - Genesis 28.14

          F.    Nation of Israel - Jeremiah 4.2

          G.   Prayer to God - Psalm 72.17


Reading: Kaiser, pp. 55-99; J. N. Osawlt, “barah” TWOT 1.132-133; McComiskey, pp. 9-58; C.W. Mitchell, Meaning of BRK “To Bless” in OT; O.T. Allis, “The Blessing of Abraham” Princeton Theological Review 25:263-298. Syllabus, p. 1


IV.  Promise and Heritage: Moses and The Promise (Covenant(s)


          A.   Content of The Promise - Covenant (see my syllabus, Creation and Covenant (on reserve)

          B.    Promised Presence - Exodus and Promised Land

          C.    Israel, Land, Scriptures and Promise


Reading; Syllabus, p. 2-3; Kaiser, pp. 100-121; “The Promised Land” Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981):302-12; W.D. Davies, Gospel and Land; Brueggemann, The Land; von Rad “Promised Land” in Problem of Hexateuch and Other Essays, pp. 79-93; McComiskey, pp. 59-93.


V.    Promise and Temple: Dwelling Land, Name and Place


          A.   Theology of Deuteronomy and II Samuel 7 (land as gift - 25 references; e.g. Dt. 1.20,25;

                   2.29; 3.20; 4.40; 5.16 - passive)

          B.    Some land as gift promised to the Fathers (Dt.1.8,35; 6.10,18,23; 7.13; 8.1; 9.5; 10.11;

                   11.9,21; 19.8; 26.3,15; 28.11; 30.20; 31.20,21,23; 34.4.

          C.    Yahweh vs. Baal as Lord of The Land in Canaanite religion

          D.   Promise, obedience, repentance, judgment


Reading; Kaiser, pp. 122-142; Terrien, pp. 161-262


VI.         Promise Continues in The House of David


          A.   Yahweh’s Presence and His Promise (Promises)

          B.    From Genesis 12 to II Samuel 7 (Ps. 89)

          C.    Jeremiah’s New Covenant - 31.31-31; Heb. 8,9

          D.   “Succession” Narrative - II Sam. 9-20; I Kgs 1-2; I Sam. 16-31; II Sam 1-8; 21-21

          E.    Royal Psalms - 2; 18; 20; 21; 45; 72; 89; 101; 110; 132

          F.    History of The Ark - I Sam 4.1 - 7.2; II Sam. 6

          G.   Promised King - Dt. 17.14-20; Ex. 15.18 - Kingship and Theocracy

          H. Politics of God and Politics of Man (J. Ellul)

          I. Promised Dynasty - II Sam. 7; I Chron. 17; Ps. 89

          J. A House (bayit - II Sam. 7; 11; 13; 16; 19; 25; 26; 27; 29)

          K. A Seed (Gen. 3.15; 12.7; 13.15; II Sam. 7.13; II Chron. 22.10; Gal. chap 3,4)


          L.    A Kingdom (Gen. 17.6,16; 35.11; 36.31’; Ex. 19.6; Num. 24.7,19; II Sam. 7.23,24,26,27; I

                   Chron. 28.5; II Chron. 13.8)

          M. Blessing to Abraham - continued in blessing of David: Promise and Presence

          N.   Eternal Kingdom of David - II Sam. 7.13,16,24,25,26,29


Reading: Kaiser, pp. 143-164; “The Blessing of David”; The Law and The Prophets; John Skilton, ed. (Phil. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974, pp.298-318; Syllabus pp. 3-5.


VII.      Promised Presence of God in Wisdom Literature


          A.   Living by The Promise

          B.    Planning by The Promise

          C.    “Fear of The Lord” as normative link between promise, torah, and wisdom (Prov. 10.27;

                   14.27; 19.23; 22.4)

          D.   Shalom, Life and Truth (Eccl. 3.14; 5.7; 7.18; 8.12,13; 12.13)

          E.    Proverbs 8


Reading; R. K. Harrison, Introduction, 1969, pp. 1010-1021; Kaiser, pp. 165-181; W. Zimmerli, “The Place and Limits of Wisdom in The Framework of OT Theology” SJTh.17 (1964):146-58; Rad von, G. Wisdom in Israel, 1972; H.C. Shank, “Qoheleth’s World and Life View as Seen in His Recurring Phrases”, Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1974):57-73; J.S. Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes” in Classical Evangelical Essays in the Old Testament Interpretation (Baker, 1972), pp. 133-150.


VIII.   Promise in The Prophets


          A.   Globalization of The Promise (Ps. 72.11.17; Acts 15; Rom. 9-11)

          B.    Israel and The Goyim (TWOT)

          C.    The Promise (conditional or unconditional) and The Remnant (see Hasel)


Reading; W.J. Beecher, The Prophets and The Promise (Baker reprint, 1975); Kaiser, pp. 182-



IX. Promise and Establishment of David’s House and God’s Temple: NT Hermeneutical

            Understanding of ‘Land’ ‘House’ and ‘Temple’.


          A.   Ninth Century - Elijah/Elisha - I Kgs 17 - II Kgs 9

          B.    Day of The Lord and Promise (Joel 2.12-13; Acts 2)

          C.    “All Flesh” (kol basar - mankind - Gen. 6.12-13; Ps. 145.21; -Ezek. 39.29; Rom. 10.12-13

          D.   Yahweh’s final judgment on all nations - Joel 3.1-21; [4.1-21]


X.  Promise, Presence and The Prophets


          A.   Promise and Captivity (NK/SK)

          B.    Amos and David’s House - Amos 9.11-15; Acts 15.13ff.(compare MT/LXX)

          C.    Hosea - Heart of God in a House of Hate

          D.   Jonah - Mission to the Goyim

          E.    Theologian of Promise - Isaiah (chps 1-39; 40-55; 56-66; Lk. 4.l6ff; Rev 21-22

          F.    Antecedent Theology of The Abraham-Mosaic-Davidic Promise


Reading; Kaiser, pp. 192-219; Syllabus, pp. 6-8 - Christ (Messianic Prophecies)


XI.         Promise and Praise: Temple after the Exile


          A.   Rebuilding the Temple

          B.    Samaritans

          C.    Progressive Legalism

          D.   Worship and The Great Feasts

          E.    Ideologies of The Temple - Cosmic significance of Yahweh’s presence in The Temple.


Reading; Terrien, pp. 161-226.


XII.      Promise Renewed: Mission to The ‘goyim’ Revisited


          A.   Nahum

          B.    Day of The Lord - Zephaniah (reintroduced the message of Joel, Obadiah and Habakkuk

          C.    The Just Shall Live by His Faithfulness (Hab. 2.4 quoted in Romans, Hebrews and

                   Galatians; Trust - Abraham - Gen. 15.16; Isa. in Isa. 28.16; 30.15)

          D.   Trust/Faith/Promise ‘

          E.    The Word of The Lord: Promise and New Covenant (Jer. 1.9; 5.14; 31.31-34 (context of

                   Book of Comfort, chps 30-33)

          F.    Old Promise and New Covenant - “Better” Covenant - Heb. 6.13; 7.19,22; 8.6-13; 9.23;

                   Ex. 25.9; “fellow heirs and partakers of the same promise in Christ by the gospel”, Eph.


          G.   Promises and Hope - ‘Household of God’; Eph. 2.19; ‘Abraham’s Seed’, Gal. 3.16-19;

                   ‘Heirs’, Gal. 3.19; ‘Inheritance’, Eph 1.18; 2.2; Heb. 9.15


Reading; Kaiser, pp. 220-235; Baker, Two Testaments: One Bible; M. Smith, Covenants (on reserve); Corley, SWJT 29 (1976);42-56; Strauss, Grace Unlimited (Romans 9).


XIII.   Promise and Kingdom: Exilic and Post-Exilic Prophets


            A.  Watchmen of the Glory of Yahweh - Ezekiel

B.      New Davidic Kingdom - Ezek. 17; Isa. 7.14ff.; 9.6ff; 11.Iff; Micah 4.Iff.

C.      Promise and Shepherd - Ezek. 34.11-31; Ex. 12; Ps. 75.52-53; 79.13; 80.1; Isa. 40.11;

            49.9-10; Jer. 31.10; Zech. 11.

D.      Rightful King - Ezek. 21.26-27

E.      Restored Israel - Ezek. 37.12-14

F.       New Temple - Ezek. 40-48

G.      Promise and Presence “Lord is there”, Ezek. 48.35



XIV.   Promised Kingdom: Daniel 2; 5; 7; 9; 11


            A. Kingdom in Daniel

B.      Jesus and The Kingdom (Synoptic Gospels)

C.      Kingdom and Parables (esp. Matthew 13)

D.      Law in Teachings of Jesus (McComiskey, pp. 94ff.)

E.      Law in Paul (McComiskey, pp. 106ff. on reserve)


            1.   Romans 3.20-21

2.       Rom. 6.14

3.       Rom. 7.4-6

4.       Rom. 8.2-4

5.       Rom. 9.31-32

6.       Rom. 10.4

7.       Rom. 10.5-13

8.       II Cor. 3.6-11

9.       Gal. 2.16

10.    Gal. 3.10-14

11.    Gal. 3.15-25


Reading; Bright, Kingdom of God (Baker reprint); and Covenant and Promise (Westminster, 1976); Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God (reserve); Kaiser, pp. 244-49; Strauss, Seer, ‘Introduction’ (reserve); Romans syllabus with bibliography in library; Syllabus, pp. 8-13.


XV.      Promised King: The Bridge—Messianic Kingdom


            A.  “All the promises of God are ‘yes’ in Jesus” (II Cor 1.19; II Peter 1.4; 3.13)

B.      Horizons of Promise and Presence fused in Jesus Christ

C.      Jesus and Temple

D.      Church as Spiritual Temple (see my People of God)

E.      Eschatological Temple in Ezekiel and Revelation compared and contrasted

F.       Promise is Present in Incarnate Word (John 1.1-18)


Reading;’ Terrien, pp. 480-483.


XVI.   Promise, Coming and Consummation of Creation (see my syllabus, “Consummation        of Creation”


            A.  Promise - The Hermeneutical Center/Order of Biblical Revelation: Unity of Revelation

B.      God’s Design for Creation realized by Redemption

C.      God’s Design for Man - ‘His Praise and Glory’ (worship)

D.      Worship and Witness

E.      Discipleship in The Revelation

F.       Maranatha:  Ethic of Hope


Reading: Kaiser, pp. 263-269; McComiskey, pp. 223-231; Terrien, The Elusive Presence.