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God's Relational Presence

The Cohesive Center of Biblical Theology

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Two leading biblical scholars and bestselling authors offer a fresh approach to the question of the unity of the whole Bible. This book shows that God's desire to be with his people is a thread running from Genesis through Revelation. Duvall and Hays make the case that God's relational presence is central to the Bible's grand narrative. It is the cohesive center that drives the whole biblical story and ties together other important biblical themes, such as covenant, kingdom, glory, and salvation history.

1. The Relational Presence of God in the Pentateuch
2. The Relational Presence of God in the Historical Books, Psalms, and the Wisdom Books
3. The Relational Presence of God in the Prophets
4. The Relational Presence of God in Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts
5. The Relational Presence of God in Paul's Letters and in Hebrews and the General Letters
6. The Relational Presence of God in John's Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse


"Think of being able to walk through the web of themes that make up the whole Bible and have them make sense as a coherent whole. God's Relational Presence is a great step in that direction. It introduces you to all the sections of Scripture and to the synthetic discussions of what links them all together. I enthusiastically recommend this book."

Darrell L. Bock, executive director of cultural engagement and senior research professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Duvall and Hays make a clear and convincing case that the relational presence of God is indeed the central theme of biblical theology. The book is full of those 'Well, of course!' and 'Why didn't I think of that?' moments. Just consider the biblical story: Human beings were created to be in relationship with God. That relationship was broken by the fall. The rest of the Bible describes the restoration and renewal of that relationship, climaxing with God dwelling with his people in the book of Revelation. 'Well, of course this is the central theme of the Bible!' With such a simple yet profound thesis, so well-written and comprehensively executed, this volume is destined to become a classic."

Mark L. Strauss, Bethel Seminary

"Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays are two of my favorite biblical scholars. I am constantly blessed by their works, and now I can add God's Relational Presence to that number. This is a compressive biblical theology that covers the entire canon of Scripture. They make a compelling argument that the relational presence of God is the 'cohesive center' that ties all the major biblical-theological themes together in the great redemptive story. This resource will well serve faithful teachers of the Word of God. It is a volume I will seek out again and again."

Daniel L. Akin, president and professor of preaching and theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"What a wonderful gift to the church! This is great teamwork by an Old Testament and a New Testament scholar. It is the fruit of years of interaction with and meditation on the Scriptures, to which their many published works attest. I had a hard time putting this book down. Duvall and Hays engage in the search for the holy grail of biblical theology--the elusive center. While many scholars will not agree that they have found the center, they have come very close. Beginning in the garden with the uninterrupted communion between God and the first human community and ending in the garden-city with that same communion, Duvall and Hays explore the plotline of the Bible through the fall, the call of the patriarchs, the exodus, Sinai, the conquest and the kingdom, the exile, the prophetic hope and the realization of those hopes in Christ, the church, and the eschaton. They argue that this cohesive center is not like the hub of a wheel, where the spokes perfectly align, but more like the center of a spider web, where the threads are more asymmetrical, connecting sometimes directly and other times more indirectly. Exegetically sound and comprehensive in research, this book becomes essential reading for biblical theology!"

Stephen G. Dempster, professor of religious studies, Crandall University

"Our Bible is actually a library of over sixty books. Christians have even disagreed over the exact number and names of these various books. So, other than a leather binding, why do we think this collection of books is really one book? Duvall and Hays make the case that these books are one book because they are one story, the story of the Creator showing up in the midst of his creation, of God pursuing a relationship with his people."

E. Randolph Richards, provost, chief academic officer, and professor of biblical studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University

"From creation to new creation, God's relational presence stands as a cohesive center for the whole Bible. With care and clarity, Duvall and Hays trace this through the canon, demonstrating both its prevalence and its relevance for understanding how the Bible fits together. This will be essential reading for all courses on biblical theology."

David G. Firth, Trinity College Bristol and University of the Free State

The Authors

  1. J. Scott Duvall

    J. Scott Duvall

    J. Scott Duvall (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament and J. C. and Mae Fuller Chair of Biblical Studies at Ouachita Baptist University. He is the author or coauthor of many articles and books, including The Baker...

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  2. J. Daniel Hays

    J. Daniel Hays

    J. Daniel Hays (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of biblical studies at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of over a dozen books,...

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