GEERHARDUS VOS and JOHN OWEN
Their Methods of and Contributions to
the Articulation of Redemptive History
The thesis of this study is that Geerhardus Vos' biblical-theological method should be viewed as a post-Enlightenment continuation of the pre-critical federal theology of seventeenth-century Reformed orthodoxy. Vos wrote in the context of the liberalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His biblical-theological methodology was largely a resuscitation of the federal theology of seventeenth-century Reformed orthodoxy adapted to the times in which it was written.
For those who love Reformed biblical theology and Reformed systematic theology, this is a satisfying, happy book, providing for us a family tree of continuity from the prince of the Puritans, John Owen, to the father of Reformed biblical theology, Geerhardus Vos. Now, who will add to the branches, and go back to the sixteenth century roots, adding to the fulsomeness and beauty of the Reformed family tree from Calvin and Bullinger to our own day? - Joel R Beeke
Congratulations and gratitude are due to Dr. Richard Barcellos for giving us this wide-ranging, detailed study of the history of biblical theology. It serves well as an introduction to the rich biblico-theological heritage of Reformed theology. In addition, it provides a welcome corrective to the muddle-headed assumption that the work of earlier Reformed theologians was essentially system and proof-text driven.
Harvesting the best insights of recent scholarship, The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology explores the strong line of continuity that runs from seventeenth century Oxford and the writings of John Owen to twentieth century Princeton and the work of Geerhardus Vos. It argues--surely rightly--that biblical theology in the tradition of Vos is not a novelty but was adumbrated in clear and powerful ways by earlier Reformed writers, and notably by Owen himself. Indeed, the author daringly asserts that Owen was a more Christocentric biblical theologian than Vos.
This is a work of bold and exciting scholarship that merits careful reading and reflection. In addition, however, it is also a work whose lessons working pastors should be encouraged to consider. For it points to resources that exemplify the spiritual power, and fruitful exposition that can arise from a thorough grasp of all the indicatives and imperatives of biblical theology.
With this substantial contribution Dr Barcellos has put both the academy and the pulpit deeply in his debt. - Dr. Sinclair B Ferguson
Geerhardus Vos has observed that Reformed theology "has from the beginning shown itself possessed of a true historic sense in the apprehension of the progressive character of the deliverance of truth. Its doctrine of the covenants on its historical side represents the first attempt at constructing a history of revelation and may be justly considered the precursor of what is at present called biblical theology." This is a clear indication of the substantive continuity and harmony he saw between his own biblical-theological work and earlier Reformed theology. In his view the orthodox Reformed confessions with the theological framework they entail, far from being hostile, are quite hospitable toward, in fact anticipate, giving greater, more methodologically self-conscious attention, as he did, to the redemptive-historical substance of Scripture.
Richard Barcellos, in a thoroughly researched, persuasively argued and clearly written manner, shows the soundness of Vos's self-perception. By means of a large-scale comparison of his work with that of the towering instance of 17th century Reformed orthodoxy, John Owen, Barcellos brings to light undeniable lines of affinity and the deeply rooted compatibility there is between the two. If Vos may be said to be the father of a Reformed biblical theology, then, in the author's words, Owen is "a grandfather (among many others) of a Reformed biblical theology." Those interested in Reformed theology, in particular issues of theological method, are indebted to Barcellos for this most welcome and helpful study. - Richard B Gaffin