Wikipedia summarizes a traditional "Biblical Theology" approach to interpreting the Bible as follows:

Biblical theology seeks to understand the progressive unfolding of God's special revelation throughout history... Biblical theology is thus historical and chronological in its design; and in fact, a close synonym for biblical theology, at least in its wide-angle task of accounting for all of special revelation, is the term “redemptive history”. Biblical theology is not always pursued in so broad a fashion, however; sometimes, certain themes are approached in a biblical theological manner; for instance, a biblical theology of holy space in worship would seek to understand how that specific motif unfolded in redemptive history, from the beginning of revelation until the end. Another narrower application of biblical theology would be the study of the unfolding of revelation during a specific time period (for example, post-exilic biblical theology); or the study of the development of themes in a particular author (for example, Johannine biblical theology); but ultimately, even these narrower applications are truly biblical-theological in nature only as they seek to advance an understanding of the progression of redemptive history as a whole.

Likewise it describes the Dispensationalist approach as follows:

Each dispensation is marked by a cycle: God reveals himself and his truth to humanity in a new way. Humanity is held responsible to conform to that revelation. Humanity rebels and fails the test. God judges humanity and introduces a new period of probation under a new administration. Ultimately, dispensationalism demonstrates the progress of God's revelation to man and God's sovereignty through history.

The outcome of these approaches is markedly different: The dispensational view would say that the State of Israel is vitally important for the unfolding of God's plan. The Biblical Theological view would not rate it as a high priority. My question is what is different about the core hermeneutic in each approach that leads to such different end points? Where do they first deviate?

As a case study, say a modern dispensationalist were to read Graeme Goldsworthy's books on Biblical Theology. How would they criticize his basic hermeneutic? What interpretational framework in Graeme Goldsworthy's explanations would make it hard for a reader following his perspective to see the state of Israel in present history as an important part of God's New Testament plan?

  • This is more a question for the Theology SX not Bible hermeneutics. However, I will suggest that dispensationalism differs from other systems by starting with an a-priory assumption (3 cycles, 7 cycles or 12 cycles depending on the author) which is not Biblically explicit, and from that a-priory assumption flows much else. – user25930 Oct 27 '18 at 1:32

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