A Biblical-Theological Catechism

To my knowledge, I had the privilege of explicitly introducing our church to the discipline of “Biblical Theology [17 min. readout] during our last Sunday School.

Several folks afterwards said they found it helpful and were interested in the Biblical-Theological Catechism I presented. So, below is a portion of the introduction to this catechism with links to each section thereafter.

(Note: This catechism is a work in progress and currently only goes to Exodus. The author hope to have a section on each book of the Bible).

Biblical-Theology

THE END IN THE BEGINNING:

A BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL CATECHISM FOR YOUNG AND OLD

by James T. Dennison, Jr.

Introduction [7 min. readout]

How does the Bible begin?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)

How does the Bible end?

“And I saw a new heavens and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)

What is the word for the study of beginnings?

Protology

What is the word for the study of ends?

Eschatology

What is the inclusio of the Bible?

(NB: an “inclusio” is a bracket device marking the beginning and end of a work. An inclusion suggests symmetry, parallelism — rounded/completed balance.)
The protological beginning anticipates the eschatological end; the eschatological end consummates the protological beginning.

What other parallels or symmetries are there between the beginning and the end of the Bible?

A garden (Gen. 2:8; Rev. 22:1–2)
The tree of life (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2)
Life with no curse or deathless life (Gen. 1:31; Rev. 21:4; 22:5)
A dwelling-with-God place (Gen. 2:15–17; Rev. 21:22; 22:3)

What is this pattern or paradigm called?

a. Ursgeschichte and Endgeschichte
b. Protology and Eschatology

These are fancy words. What do they mean?

a. The beginning of history (German: Urgeschichte) is like the end of history (German: Endgeschichte).
b. The first things (Protology) are like the last things (Eschatology)

 

Why does eschatology recapitulate protology?

Because the fundamental symmetry in the history of redemption displays the reflection of the end in the beginning (and vice versa: the beginning in the end).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:13).

 

Define “protology” more completely.

The study of the “first things”; the “beginning things” in the history of redemption

 

Define “eschatology” more completely.

The study of the “last things”; the “final things” in the history of redemption.

Is eschatology only the “last things” in order of time, i.e., the end of the world, the final judgment, heaven and hell?

No

What else does eschatology embrace?

The whole history of redemption.

Why do you say that the whole history of redemption is eschatological or under the umbrella or canopy of eschatology?

Because eschatology deals with God’s own eternal Being and dimension; and God’s eternal Being and dimension is over and above the whole history of redemption.

[…]

 

Is all of Scripture from Genesis (creation) to Revelation (new creation) oriented to and related to eschatology?

Yes, eschatology is prior to and above every text from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21.

 

Is it important to consider the eschatological dimension or aspect of a Biblical passage?

Yes, since every verse of Scripture is underneath the eschatological umbrella/canopy, eschatology casts its shadow over the entire history of redemption.

 

Thus, you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the linear history (i.e., the line from Adam to Christ, from Moses to Christ, from David to Jesus, etc.).

Yes, I must read the Bible looking in two directions: forward (?) and backward (?) (on the horizon of history).

 

Why should I be concerned with the historical (linear/horizontal) aspect of each portion of the Bible?

Because God has created me and all mankind a being in history. In his revelation of himself, he accommodates himself to my being in time and space — drawing my story into his story. He reveals himself in history—objectively, concretely, supernaturally and transformatively.

 

And you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the vertical aspect (i.e., the line from God to creation, from heaven to earth, from eternity to time, etc.)

Yes, I must read the Bible in two additional directions: upward (heaven-ward ?) and downward (earth-ward ?).

 

Why should I be concerned with the eschatological (heaven-ward) aspect of each portion of the Bible?

Because God has made me for himself, even as he made all things. And where he reveals himself to his rational creatures, he invites them to come up to him—to the eschatological arena—to his very glory-presence.

 

Does that mean that Adam in the garden of Eden was invited to the eschatological arena?

Yes; Adam was being shown a garden replica of the garden-glory of heaven. Hence, even before his fall into sin, Adam was invited to enter a heavenly/eternal arena.

 

It seems then that the eschatological arena penetrates or intrudes into the temporal or historical arena?

Yes, as God reveals himself  and his plan of salvation in history, so at every point the eschatological arena casts its shadow and sheds its light in history.

 

Would you trace this pattern of eschatological intrusion and anticipation in the books of the Bible?

  1. Genesis [23 min. readout]
  2. Exodus [35 min. readout  | this is the one I read portions from Sunday]

[HT: Enrique Duran]

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