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St. Charles, MO
4 Stars Out Of 5
From Garden to Glory
September 11, 2016
St. Charles, MO
From Eden to the New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander
Biblical theology is a discipline of theology that brings together the best of a biblically faithful hermeneutic while looking at the overarching story in the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Often, especially in covenant theological circles, the overwhelming emphasis is on the covenant structure of the Bible and how these covenants ultimately lead towards the new covenant, culminating in Christ. While this approach is very good, often other themes in Scripture fall by the wayside, such as throne, garden, city, and the restoration of all things in Christ. T. Desmond Alexander, in his book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, in his succinct and pointed manner draws our attention to the big ideas of Scripture that form the basis of biblical theology from the sacred garden to the holy city, and the throne of God to the establishment of the living Gods dwelling with men in the final chapter.
Early on in the first chapter, Alexander points out that the Garden of Eden is portrayed as a sanctuary in which, The Lord God walks in Eden as he later does in the tabernacle and the river flowing from Eden is reminiscent of Ezekiel 47:1-12, which envisages a a river flowing from a future Jerusalem temple and bringing life to the Dead Sea (23). From these points Alexander makes the conclusion that Adam and Eve acted in a priestly manner because they met God in a holy place, a place endued with grandeur and glory that reflected all the wonderful attributes of Gods character. Further, the parameters of Eden were to be extended over all the Earth, so that the sanctuary was to be enlarged as the nation of Israel was formed, thereby encompassing and making the average Israelite a royal priest in the service of God. This service was not just to be a Levitical priests duty but was to fall under the task of subduing the earth.
Desmond rightfully points to the fall of Adam and Eve as having deleterious consequences for the face of humanity. Not least of these consequential sins was the promotion of violence. He writes, The divine ordering of creation is rejected by the human couple, with disastrous consequences for all involved. Harmony gives way to chaos. As the early chapters of Genesis go on to reveal, people exercise dominion in the cruelest of ways. Violence towards other creatures, both human and animal, is the hallmark of fallen humanity (79). The shedding of blood from Cain on towards the ways in which Gods heart was grieved that he made man all point to escalation of violence. On this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, we still feel the costliness of violence and the terror that ensues from such egregious acts.
Alexanders emphasis on the throne of God, the restoration of all creation, and his helpful work in the last two chapters of Revelation go a long way in giving the reader a better grasp of a narrative biblical theology.
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
[Special thanks to Penny Glover and IVP UK for providing a review copy of this book. Read full review at mydigitalseminary.wordpress.com]
T. Desmond Alexander has provided the church with a magnificent work of Biblical Theology that is both accessible and scholarly.
From Eden to the New Jerusalem attempts to give a big picture (meta-narrative) of God's plan for creation by tracing six central themes throughout the Bible. With this thesis, Alexander hopes to address an area of neglect that he sees in Biblical scholarship, showing how the Biblical storyline works as a whole.
The first theme is the presence of God on earth, which others are built upon. As a result this chapter proves to be the most substantial (61 pages out of 193 total), which is welcome considering the concept being foreign to many. _ It is heavily grounded in Scripture and very persuasively argued. Unfortunately, Christ as the temple is only briefly touched on, which seems to me a significant oversight since Christ is not only the hero of our story, but also because He and His work are the hinge on which God's presence turns from being limited to a holy building to indwelling a now-holy people. _
The final chapter was a little confusing as no clear overarching thesis could be discerned. An interesting comparison of Babylon to the New Jerusalem quickly morphed into a mini-Ã¢â¬Ësermon' against capitalism. While this is natural in discussing Babylon, it felt like a misstep and distraction from the book's overall purpose.
My most significant issues with the book are a) the neglect that Christ receives in some chapters rather than being central, and b) a lack of discussion about the role that heaven plays as a temporary waiting place for the New Creation.
However, I must praise this tremendous book highly. It is amazingly concise given the Scriptural wealth found within. Alexander sets a great example in his very clear writing, bringing sometimes-complicated truths down to earth for the rest of us in this thoroughly eye opening and Biblical book.
I would eagerly recommend this to both new and seasoned Christians, as I believe both would benefit greatly from this book.
T.D. Alexander's proposol of a biblical theology that links Genesis and Revelation is to my sense something that we all thougt about but never could formulate with such clarity. Using the garden of Eden has a blueprint for the temple of God that will find it's full expression in the New Jerusalem is remarkable because has the author suggest "the biblical description of our future existance has more in common with our present life than most people assume...". I say remarkable mostly because that theme is well developped and easy to understand. It gives a new flavor to that restored relationship with the Father that we can expect to lived, a life to it's fullness, sinless but in an environnment not so different from the one we live in. Can't hardly wait to get there.