A Biblical Theology of Water

Genesis 1-2 begins the traditional Protestant Bible with numerous references to water, or water-related terms. Revelation 21-22 ends the Bible with the same. It is my thesis that Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22 form an inclusio in which God uses water to initiate life, to cleanse, and to sustain life, and these three constructs interrelate to form a biblical theology of water.

Others have noted the use of water in particular instances, such as at the flood, the baptism of Jesus, the living water Jesus offered, or even the frequent use of the term, “water,“ in the Gospel of John. This research, culminating in a 2022 PhD dissertation, could find no one who has provided a comprehensive review of the biblical use of “water,” and it cognates. This study appears to be the first and only comprehensive effort to do so.

This study examines God’s use of water in well-known topics such as creation, the flood, Israel crossing the Red Sea, the Jonah story, and in New Testament texts about living water, washing for healing, and baptism. It also discusses seldom used texts that reference water, such as Moses turning the Nile to blood, Elijah’s use of water on Mt. Carmel, certain Psalms, and the water flowing from Jesus’s side. In addition to these, and many other, texts, a few other “hidden gems” may surprise. Together these help expose God’s very clear and pervasive use of water to initiate life, to cleanse, and to sustain life, creating a biblical theology of water spanning from Genesis 1-2 to Revelation 21-22 that has been largely overlooked or understated.

This research concludes by considering the ramifications of the thesis and it supporting texts to the work of the Holy Spirit, salvation, and the doctrine of baptism.

3 thoughts on “A Biblical Theology of Water”

  1. maybe
    This is a valuable topic, but I’m concerned that it seems to always view water in a positive light. It does not seem to reference the negative uses of water (crossing the sea, Jesus calming the storm, sea monsters mentioned in Old Testament writings, Psalms about being overcome by water, etc.). Some commentaries say that the Hebrews were fearful about bodies of water. Anyway, the paper is worth hearing.

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