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5 Stars Out Of 5
Messiah Revealed Line Upon Line
October 14, 2013
Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel's King
I love it when authors actually fulfill their thesis and promises in their promotional statements. Here is the promo statement for this book.
"Few books have sought to exhaustively trace the theme of Messiah through all of Scripture, but this book does so with the expert analysis of three leading evangelical scholars. For the Bible student and pastor, Jesus the Messiah presents a comprehensive picture of both scriptural and cultural expectations surrounding the Messiah, from an examination of the Old Testament promises to their unique and perfect fulfillment in Jesus life."
I found this to be an exceptionally well-written and documented book. It is not for the faint at heart. It is requires diligence as you follow the depth of argument made by the authors in each chapter. Line upon line, precept upon precept this book lays out the argument for the progressive revelation of Jesus as Messiah as it is revealed within each book of the Bible.
When you are done reading you may say wow or you may say that the thesis makes complete sense. I have always believed the thesis but have never pursued the lengths of study involved in this book in such a complete and compact study.
I would highly recommend this as a text for an advanced Gospels class, exegetical elective or for anyone seeking a well written argument concerning Jesus as revealed throughout scripture as the promised King of God of God's Kingdom.
From the beginning, Christians have acknowledged that the Old Testament spoke of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The question was not if but how? Bateman, Bock, and Johnston attempt to answer this question in Jesus the Messiah.
First impressions of the book are quite positive. This hardcover book is attractively produced with slick pages and color. There are over eighty helpful color illustrations, maps, charts, and sidebars. The text is supplemented with an appendix on Genesis 3:15 and four indices. All the authors are to be commended for their general clarity of expression and thoughtful methodology. The only criticism might be a few typos here and there (e.g., pp. 19, 29, 254).
As for the content of the book, the introduction is a must-read for understanding the authors' approach. It is here that one learns that this work is an attempt to offer a "contextual-canonical, messianic, and christological development of God's promise of "messiah" within the larger framework and unfolding of Jewish history in canonical and extra-biblical literature" (p. 20). The authors understand the messianic revelations of the Old Testament like a puzzle where each piece is provided over time (pp. 22-23). The sum of the pieces provide insight into the part played by each individual piece. The approach in Jesus the Messiah differs from the "traditional approach." The authors argue that the wording of messianic texts is often more implicitly messianic and such elements only become clearer as the entirety of God's portrait of messiah is eventually and fully disclosed as revealed by the First Testament and by what Jesus himself does to pull all the messianic pieces together (p. 25). The rest of the book attempts to develop and defend this assertion by examining messianic trajectories in the Old Testament (Johnston in chps. 1-7), the messianic expectations during the second temple period and in second temple literature (Bateman in chps. 8-11), and the messianic presentation in the New Testament (Bock in chps. 12-15). Whether one ultimately agrees with the authors' approach and specific conclusions, one can still appreciate the careful argumentation and scope of this work. This work will not end the debate, but it does provide a significant contribution to the debate.
Thanks to Kregel for providing a review copy for this unbiased review.
Summary: Divided into three section, scholars and theologians Bateman, Bock and Johnston piece together the pieces of the messianic puzzle as they were revealed progressively in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. The first section of the book explores the messianic promises found in the Hebrew Bible, the second section explores the messianic expectations before the coming of Jesus, and the final section explores the fulfillment of the messianic promises in the person of Jesus.
Review: My criticisms of the book are few so I will voice them up front. First, there are no indications outside of the table of contents, where each of the three sections begins and ends. I found myself moving into a new chapter and only realizing the section had changed because of the shift in writing voice. Second, while this is a scholarly and academic work, the middle section (written by Bateman) is not as readily accessible to the educated layperson as are the sections written by Johnston and Bock.
The first section, written by Gordon H. Johnston, is a nearly exhaustive look at the messianic promises in the "First Testament" (the Old Testament). Moving through the prophecies and promises chronologically, he discusses the original historical meaning of each text, any near-fulfillments, messianic implications, early interpretations, and overall significance in the Bible as a whole (both testaments). This is an amazing and helpful method because it takes the reader on the narrative journey of how God progressively revealed his ultimate plan in the coming Messiah.
The second section, written by Herbert Bateman IV, is filled with extensive work from the inter-testamental period and focuses on the various expectations of the coming Messiah. He dives into the apocryphal writings and pseudepigraphal texts, as well as other historical documents, to give the reader a picture of the pre-Jesus expectations for Messiah's coming.
The third and final section, written by (the amazing) Darrell L. Bock, looks at the Messiah as revealed in the Second Testament (the New Testament). What Bock does in this section, though, is start from the end of the Second Testament and works his way backwards towards the gospels. By doing this, he is able to effectively demonstrate the continuity of the messianic promises between the First and Second Testament. This method is nothing short of brilliant.
All three authors speak of the "Messianic Puzzle" being revealed with new pieces over the course of time until Jesus arrives and the Scriptures are written. This work is both an invaluable tool as a reference work, as well as a sort of devotional encouragement to see the magnificent revelation and work of the Messiah, Jesus.
Jesus the Messiah is critical reading for those trying to understand the Bible as a whole and the continuity between the testaments.
Rating: 5/5 (I loved it)
Note: I received a physical copy of this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review.
To begin, the authors of this study either presently teach at Dallas Theological Seminary (Bock, Johnston) and/or received their training there (Bateman IV). It is also critical for the reader to know that the introduction is crucial to understanding the hermeneutical approach of this work and therefore, it must be absorbed. What is the approach? Bateman defines it as a "three-fold" approach: 1) Contextual-canonical; 2) Messianic and 3) Christological. Furthermore, within this template there is a purposeful effort to show the element of progressive revelation. Understanding this approach and then tying in the thread of progressive revelation cannot be overstated.
The book is broken up into three parts, Part #1â€”Promise of the King; Part #2â€”Expectations of the King and Part #3â€”The coming of the King. Also, the reader must be aware that each part correlates to a key phase of biblical history (Part oneâ€”Johnston interacts with the Old (or first) Testament; Part twoâ€”Dr. Bateman examines the Second temple literature and Part threeâ€”Dr. Bock explores the New (or second) Testament). To this reviewer, the section on Second Temple Judaism was supremely fundamental to the overall conclusion of this work and brought clarity and color to my understanding of the New Testament.
One of the standout elements of the book was the author's use of the charts. These visual helps are spread liberally throughout the book and provide moments of rest and clarity, especially for novice Christian reader. Concepts such as progressive revelation (p. 33); Kings of Israel and Judah (p.71); different genres of Second Temple literature (p.317) and the reigns and influence of Roman emperors (pgs. 337, 343) are brought to life with these charts.
A surprise to this reviewer was the absence of any explicit dispensational language, especially since all the authors (to my knowledge) hold to some form of dispensationalism. The closest reference was found on page 182 in dealing with the Messianic trajectories found in Ezekiel 44-48. Johnston states,
"According to a popular approach, Ezekiel provided an architectural blueprint for the construction of the future millennial temple, whose cultic worship will be directed by the glorious Messiah, who Himself will offer regular animal sacrifices in memorial of His once-for-all atoning sacrifices. Despite the widespread acceptance of this view, it is beset with obstacles, although there is a key element of truth in it."
Notice there is no mention of dispensationalism (though this is an exclusive dispensational interpretation) and the author does not try to give another interpretation of Ezekiel 44-48 (since it is beyond the scope of this study). Even in Bock's examination of the term "Messiah" in the book of Revelation, there is no discussion about chronological issues or the length of the Millennium. It seems to me that the authors are striving to produce a scholarly work, which is devoid of tribal association or preference.
Though the section on Second Temple Judaism (515 B.C.â€”70 A.D.) is critical in explaining Jesus' hesitation to publicly proclaim His Messianic office, I found the emphasis on the documents to be painfully thorough and thus boring to any non-scholar. This is not to say that certain aspects of this section are not noteworthy. The concept of a diarchy or binary Messianism (i.e. the idea of "two Messiahs") is one of the many fascinating discoveries found within the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Bock, Bateman and Johnston are to be commended for this comprehensive work. The authors laid out their purpose and proceeded in 472 pages to nail their thesis to the wall. Undoubtedly, this will be a challenging read for the novice Christian or theological infant, but those with a rudimentary understanding of the Scriptures will find this work thought-provoking and a worthy addition to the genre of Testamental studies.
Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, Gordon H Johnson
Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2012, 527 pages
Just looking at this book is impressive. The Publisher has done an outstanding job in layout and printing. Normally such books as this are not printed in color. This is an exception. Not only this, but the graphic charts, sidebars, and maps are remarkable, and really aid the reader in understanding the concepts. Even the headings are also printed in color. This is done all at a reasonable price.
The content is likewise impressive. It traces the idea of messiahship throughout the Bible. The book is divided into three sections, with a different author writing the section.
Gordon Johnson writes section one: "The Promise of a King," which consists of the first seven chapters of the book. It centers upon the contextual and canonical trajectories through the Old Testament. He carefully deals with the progressive stages of revelation of the Messiah. He follows the trail through the major sections of the Old Testament from the patriarchs to the prophets. He sees the concept of messiah as rooted, not with the fall of man, but with the promises given to Abraham and the patriarchs. He sees both far and near elements (fulfillments) to the promises, with the ultimate fulfillment as messianic. He deals with the major messiah passages in a fair and balanced way, yet completely evangelical in his approach. He treats Genesis 3:15 under an appendix of its own which he sees as not an explicit messianic text. To me this is one of the most interesting chapters in the book, and worthwhile whether you agree or disagree with his view.
Herbert Batemen is the author of section two: "Expectation of a King." In this section he deals with the concepts of messiah during the second Temple period. This period is from 515 BC to 70 AD. He starts with obstacles needed to be overcome to get a clear understanding of the concept during this period; such as limited resources, our blurred vision of the period, and the lack of historical and social sensitivities. However, in spite of the obstacles, there is a clear line of anticipation of a coming messiah inherent in this period. This period enriches our understanding of the concept of messiah, and the life of Jesus.
Darrell Bock takes on the messianic concept in the New Testament under the last section "The Coming King." Interestingly he starts with Revelation and works backwards, describing his reasoning on pages 333-334. He points out that the New Testament clearly points out that Jesus is the Messiah who came and is coming again.
This book is a must read for anyone studying the subject of messiahship. It is reader friendly and understandable not only for the scholar, but for the laymen. The value of the approach is that it is exegetical as well as theological. The authors have done an excellent job and a great service in such a presentation without becoming overly technical. It should be in every Bible students and teachers library.
Thanks to Kregel publishers for a copy of this book for my unbiased review.