28 December 2009

From Eden to the New Jerusalem

Really enjoyed Desmond Alexander's recent little overview of biblical theology, showing how the whole Bible fits together as a divinely orchestrated diversity-within-unity. He could have made it more explicitly and pervasively Christ-centered--a strength of, say, Clowney's 1988 The Unfolding Mystery. And I wish the victory over Satan and evil had received slightly less attention and the victory over sin and condemnation slightly more (though of course the two are organically related); he addresses both, but the balance seemed a bit out of sync with the NT as a whole.

But the book is very satisfying as an account of the story of redemption and would be an illuminating entre into Scripture for those whose understanding of the Bible has seen it as a goldmine of wonderful but disconnected nuggets of inspiration rather than a unified story of a divine rescue mission culminating in Christ. Dr. Alexander does in 180 pages what I did not think could be done in so short a space, and he does it in an intriguing and helpful way: he starts at the end, in Rev 20-22, and shows how some of the major themes of the whole Bible, each of which began in Gen 1-3, are integratively summed up in those final three chapters and their vision of the new earth.

The first chapter was especially good, showing how the story of redemption is the story of a return to Eden-and-better-than-Eden, and particularly how the Tent of Meeting, then the tabernacle, then the temple, then Christ himself, then the church as the extension of Christ, are one extended programme to reinstate God's presence on the earth in fellowship with mankind. (In many ways this chapter summarized Greg Beale's fascinating 2004 book The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God)

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