Home > Biblical Theology, Preaching, Recommendations > Book Recommendations for Biblical Theology and Preaching

Book Recommendations for Biblical Theology and Preaching

A common question about biblical theology is how does one apply such truths to the work of preaching or how can one responsibly preach Jesus from all of the Scripture without committing interpretive errors?  Too often preachers think they have preached Jesus when they moralize a text and then tack Jesus on at the end.  However, this is not what it means to preach in a Christological fashion.  I would like to recommend three books on biblical theology and preaching that have been helpful in teaching me how to preach in a redemptive-historical way.

The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology, by Richard Lints. 

Richard Lints’ book is has a fantastic section toward the end of the book that sets forth practical steps to developing a redemptive-historical hermeneutic.  He identifies three steps, which he calls the textual, epochal, and canonical horizons.

1.) Textual Horizon: Here we do the nuts and bolts of exegesis.  Here we do our word studies, grammar and syntax analysis, and historical investigation.

2.) Epochal Horizon: Here we consider where we are in the overall plotline of Scripture.  There are many epoch’s in biblical history (e.g., OT, NT, creation, fall, pre-flood, patriarchs, kingship, exile, post-exile, post-resurrection, new creation, etc).  It is important to recognize where we are in the plotline of Scripture because it forces us to understand the significance of each epoch in relation to the whole of Scripture.

3.) Canonical Horizon: This is the glue that holds the diverse epochs together.  This horizon shows us how the promises of God are fulfilled in the New Testament.  The principle ways in which the Old Testament and New Testament are tied together is promise-fulfillment motifs and type/anti-type relationships.  There is an organic relationship between past events, people, and institutions that are symbols of a greater event, person, and institution.  These relationships are historically and textually grounded; therefore, guarding against allegory.

Lints makes a helpful point regarding our need as evangelicals to mirror the hermeneutic of Scripture.

The modern evangelical theological framework ought to seek to mirror the interpretative matrix that is found in the redemptive revelation of the Scriptures.  The church cannot simply mine the Scriptures looking for answers to a set of specific questions that arise uniquely in the modern era.  The Scriptures have an integrity of their own that must be respected.  Granting this, however, the church must nonetheless understand that the Scriptures transform all of history by interpreting it in light of God’s redemptive purposes and intentions. (p. 310).

I would highly recommend Lint’s book simply for the last few chapters on redemptive-history.


Preaching and Biblical Theology, by Edmund P. Clowney.

Many of the points that Lints highlights in his book are taken from Clowney’s work.  However, the most helpful part of this book is his discussion on symbols and types.  Clowney’s work on this topic is further developed in his essay from The Preacher and Preaching, ed. S. T. Logan, entitled, “Preaching Christ From All the Scriptures” (p. 163-191).  Both works have helpful illustrations that show how to responsibly engage in typology and the dangers that exist if we don’t understand biblical theology.  Clowney makes a great statement regarding symbolism and typology in his essay.

If symbolism of an Old Testament incident or person is not perceived, or does not exist, no line of typology can be drawn.  Nor can the event be a type in a sense different from the symbolic function in its Old Testament setting. (p. 180)

Before his death Clowney made tremendous contributions to the discipline of biblical theology.  See a list of his other works here.


Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, by Graeme Goldsworthy. 

While the previous two books have been a big influence in my application of biblical theology to preaching, Goldsworthy’s book stands alone.  I read this book about six years ago and still consult it quite often.  Perhaps the most important contribution this book makes is the last section on, “The Practical Application of Biblical Theology to Preaching.”  In previous chapters, Goldsworthy discusses the hermeneutic of Jesus and his apostles, explains how the Bible actually fits together, and argues that no preacher can faithfully preach without actually exposing how the entirety of biblical revelation finds its fulfillment in Christ.  In contrast to preachers who moralize a text and then tack Jesus on at the end Goldsworthy makes an important point in chapter nine stating that apart from Christ we cannot correctly understand anything in the Bible.

One ignores the Christological implications of the salvation-history structure of biblical revelation.  This, in effect, is a denial of the unique role of Christ as the one mediator between God and humankind.  It ignores the fact that Christ is the interpreter of Scripture and, indeed, of all reality.  If he is the living Word of God, the truth, and the one for whom all things were made, no fact in this universe can be truly understood for its ultimate significance apart from him.  This must include our understanding of the Bible.  The correct approach proceeds through the biblical structures that inevitably lead us to Christ before they lead to the hearer. (p. 117).

Goldsworthy is stating that if we preach and apply the Bible without first understanding the Christological signifigance our conclusions will always fall short.  Goldsworthy’s book is full of great illustrations, charts, and diagrams to help the reader grasp his concepts.  Goldsworthy continues to make tremendous contributions to the study and application of biblical theology. 

While there are many other books that deal with preaching and even biblical theology these three have been especially helpful in my development and application of the discipline.  As much as these books deal with preaching and biblical theology they are also books on theological method and hermeneutics.  Aside from getting these books and other books that deal with preaching and biblical theology, I would recommend that people purchase books on biblical theology in general and commentaries that approach the text from a redemptive-historical perspective because by reading such works you will become skilled and seasoned in biblical theology and its application for preaching.

  1. Kevin Pannebaker
    April 14, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Chad!

    I just sent a note to you in another of your posts on “The Meaning of Jesus’ Miracles,” and I see you already answered my question about reading recommendations you have that would be helpful in coming to a better understanding of biblical theology.

    Thanks for answering my question even before I asked it! Amazing! You must be a prophet or something! 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Echo_ohcE
    April 14, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Here is a book on preaching you’ll want to investigate:


  3. Chad
    April 15, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Thanks. I did see that his book was coming out and made mention of it in a previous post. I plan on getting the book. I am sure it will be an important contribution to the field. Thanks again.

  4. Chad
    April 15, 2007 at 12:04 am


    Check a comment I left for another Kevin under the “about” page. The books on this post are related to BT and preaching, whereas the books I list on the “about” page are good beginning books for anyone who wants to learn BT.

    Thanks, Chad

  5. Chad
    April 15, 2007 at 9:16 am

    For Everyone Reading this Post:

    I should have added that Lints’ book is not a book primarly about preaching and BT. I didn’t want there to be confusion about his book or expectations that it dealt soley with preaching and BT. It is his last part of his book that is an aid to those seeking to read and preach the Bible in a redemptive-historical sense. That is why it has been so helpful to me.


  6. April 20, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Oddly enough, I read Lints’ The Fabric of Theology in ’95 when I first entered seminary.

    However, on your recommendation I took it back down off the shelf and have found that it contains many good thoughts in those last few chapters that are particularly pertinent to me as a pastor and adjunct professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    For that I am most grateful!

    Soli Deo gloria,

  7. Chad
    April 20, 2007 at 6:32 pm


    Glad I could be of assistance.


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