Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Andreas J. Kostenberger


Water, theology, baptism, creation, initiation of life, cleansing, sustaining life


Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Numerous “water related terms” are utilized in Genesis 1-2 such as, “the deep, “the waters,” “water,” “sea,” seas,” “stream,” “river,” “flow,” “flows,” and “rain.” Arguably similar, Revelation 21-22 uses the terms “water of life,” “river of the water of life,” “thirsty,” “spring, ” and “lake.” That the traditional Protestant canon is bookended with such similar terminology appears to create an inclusio that demands further inquiry within the canon to seek supplemental, complementary, and even potentially contrasting and conflicting evidence supporting a biblical theology of water. While commentary on every canonical water related text or term would be a daunting task beyond the scope of this presentation, this research centers around three major theological constructs of water which necessitates discussion of a significant portion of the canonical text that references water or related terms. The result of this study will unveil the use of water as initiating physical and spiritual life, providing physical and spiritual cleansing, and sustaining physical and spiritual life. Each of these three aspects interrelate, and when properly understood, offers implications for God’s usage of water as the instrumentality by which at least some of his purposes are accomplished. They also oblige reconsideration of certain church dogma and doctrinal positions on topics such as salvation, the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, and baptism. The longer thesis of this dissertation is that there exists a biblical theology of water within the traditional canon of Protestant Scripture that initiates physical and spiritual life, provides physical and spiritual cleansing, and sustains physical and spiritual life, and that these three aspects are interrelated. The shorter thesis is that God uses water to initiate, cleanse, and sustain life, and these three constructs interrelate and form a biblical theology of water.