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Canon, Covenant, and Christology: A new book by Matthew Barrett

It’s almost March, which means Matthew Barrett’s new book is about to release! Canon, Covenant, and Christology: Rethinking Jesus and the Scriptures of Israel is the latest contribution to D. A. Carson’s New Studies in Biblical Theology Series (IVP). In this short video Matthew Barrett tells us why he wrote the book and why he believes it will help the church and academy alike:

About the book

All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). From Paul’s epistles the divine inspiration of Scripture may be confidently affirmed. However, on turning to Jesus and the Gospels, it is difficult to find such an explicit approach.

In this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume, Matthew Barrett argues that Jesus and the apostles have just as convictional a doctrine of Scripture as Paul or Peter, but it will only be discovered if the Gospels are read within their own canonical horizon and covenantal context. The nature of Scripture presupposed by Jesus and the Gospel writers may not be addressed directly, but it manifests itself powerfully when their words are read within the Old Testament’s promise-fulfilment pattern.

Nothing demonstrates Scripture’s divine origin, divine authorial intent and trustworthiness more than the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the advent of the Son of God, the Word has become flesh, announcing to Jew and Gentile alike that the covenant promises Yahweh made through the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.

Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.

“Matthew Barrett… deploy[s] interesting and stimulating insights that will certainly be picked up and developed by many pastors and theologians. Jesus himself ties together the old and new covenants. He fulfills the Scriptures, but effectively does so only by being obedient to them. The dynamic casts fresh light not only on Christ but also on the Scriptures themselves.” -D. A. Carson

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reorienting the hermeneutical approach to Jesus and the scriptures of Israel

1. Divine authorial intent, canonical unity, and the Christological presuppositions of biblical theology

Can biblical theology survive after the Enlightenment?

The task of biblical theology: Gabler versus Vos

Christ the center: The Christological clamp

Unity of substance, sensus plenior, and typology

From the process of revelation in history to revelation incarnated in history

2. The book of the covenant and canon consciousness

1. Yahweh’s covenantal word

2. Progressive and diachronic

3. Word-act-word revelation in the economy of the gospel

God’s word creates God’s covenant people

The constitution of the covenant

The faithfulness of God to his covenant word

The Prophets as prosecutors of the covenant treaty

Is conceptual homogeneity intrinsic to the covenant treaty?

The wide-angle lens: Jesus, the canon, and the new covenant


3. The scripture must be fulfilled: The Matthean witness (Case study 1)

Approach to fulfillment

Introducing the “fulfillment” theme

New genesis, new king: Son of Abraham, Son of David (Matt. 1:1-17)

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son (Matt. 1:22-23)

New exodus (Matt. 2)

New Moses, greater Moses: Not an iota will pass from the Law (Matt. 5:17-18 [Lk. 16:17])

The Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (Matt. 11)

Something greater than the temple is here: The new David is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8; 12:41-46)

Parables and the prophecy of Isaiah (Matt. 13:14-15)

The sign of Jonah (Matt. 16)

Moses, Elijah, and the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:1-13)

Your king is coming (Matt. 21)

Have you never read? (Matt. 21:12-17)

From stone to cornerstone: Mark 12 and Matt. 21:33-46b

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him: The blood of the covenant (Matt. 26:17-29)

How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled? (Matt. 26:47-56)

Conclusion: Matthean fulfillment and the scriptures

4. The ultimate fulfillment and self-disclosure of God: The Johannine witness (Case study 2)

The supreme self-disclosure of God: The Word became flesh (John 1:1-34)

We have found him: Son of God, Son of Man (John 1:43-51)

The serpent in the wilderness: John 3

Living water from the Christ: John 4, the new Bethel, and the new Israel

Bread from heaven: John 6 and the new Moses

Israel’s Good Shepherd: John 10

Isaiah saw the glory of Christ: John 12

The Scripture will be fulfilled: John 13 and 17

John’s use of the Davidic Psalms in the crucifixion of the King of the Jews: John 19

The relationship between Israel’s scriptures and this “new movement”: From eschatology to Christology

5. Living by every word from the mouth of God: What Christ’s covenant obedience to the scriptures says about the scriptures


Covenant obedience and sonship

“Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matt. 1-2)

Baptism to fulfill all righteousness: Matt. 3:13-17 (Mk. 1:9-1; Lk. 3:21-22; Jn. 1:29-34)

The obedient Son lives by every word from the mouth of God: Matt. 4:1-11 (cf. Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13)


Jesus as Last Adam in Luke’s genealogy: Luke 3:38

Garden temptation recapitulated: Luke 4:1-13

Paradise reopened: Luke 23:43


1. With the wild animals: Mark’s Last Adam (Mk. 1:13)

2. The Son of Man goes at it is written of him: Submission to the cross as submission to the scriptures

3. Recovering the authority and intent of the law: Mark 7:1-13

4. Christ’s obedience to the Law

Adherence to what Moses commanded

Have you not read? Mark 12:18-27

In the Holy Spirit: Mark 12:37-40


6. The Word became flesh: From Christology to canon


The Word was God: John 1

Equality with God as the Son of God and the Son from God: John 5, the divinity of the Son, and eternal generation

Before Abraham was, I AM: John 8 and the Word of Truth

“You, being a man, make yourself God”: John 10 and the Scriptures that cannot be broken

“That they may believe you sent me”: John 11:25

From God, back to God, the way to God: John 13-14

The future of Christ’s new covenant word secured and delivered by the Helper: John 14, 15, 16



Christological monotheism

Synoptic diversity, Christological continuity

Conclusion: The Christology of the canon and the canon of Christology

Appendix: Is Our Doctrine of Inerrancy Christological Enough? The Future of Inerrancy and the Necessity of Dogmatics

A surprisingly resilient challenge for an evangelical doctrine of inerrancy

A dogmatic proposal

The Christological warrant for inerrancy

Evangelical dogmatics and inerrancy


Order Canon, Covenant, and Christology today!

Joseph Lanier

Joseph Lanier is a PhD student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a pastoral resident associate at Emmaus Church in Kansas City. He is joyfully married to Kristen.

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