Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach  -     By: Alan S. Bandy, Benjamin L. Merkle
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Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach

Kregel Academic / 2015 / Paperback

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An authoritative guide to clearly understanding the place and meaning of prophecy in the Bible

For thoughtful readers who are curious about biblical prophecy, Understanding Prophecy will help them learn the place of prophecy in the message of the Bible and clear up the confusion that often surrounds reading these texts.

Studying biblical prophecy is about much more than predicting end-times events. Rather, a proper approach to prophecy acknowledges that the threads of prophecy crisscross throughout Genesis to Revelation, forming the fabric of canonical Scripture. This is why having a good grasp of the prophetic genre is essential for understanding the message of the entire Bible. Authors Alan Bandy and Benjamin Merkle not only offer thoughtful and careful explanations of individual biblical prophecies, but also give the reader the big picture of how all prophecy relates to and should be interpreted in light of Jesus Christ.

This book examines the nature, themes, purposes, and theology of biblical prophecy and provides a framework for how to interpret any passage in the context of the Bible as a whole.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Kregel Academic
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0825442710
ISBN-13: 9780825442711

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Merkle and Bandy are diligently, rigorously, and refreshingly honest with the biblical text, offering valuable insights on an often-contested subject.
-Craig Keener,
Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

This comprehensive treatment works through the whole of the Bible. I am delighted to recommend this book to anyone who wants a better grasp of the prophetic material in the Bible.
-Daniel L. Akin,
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bandy and Merkle accessibly and responsibly introduce prophecy with a biblical-theological approach.
-Andy Naselli,
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary

Rooted in a careful treatment of all the relevant prophetic texts and with a keen awareness to the development of redemptive history, Bandy and Merkle have given us what may be the standard text on biblical prophecy for years to come.
-Sam Storms, Ph.D.,
Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, OK

Understanding Prophecy brings solid scholarship and an abundance of interpretive wisdom to bear on the difficult topic of biblical prophecy. By locating prophecy in the larger story of Scripture, [the authors] help readers grasp its theological significance in God's redemptive plan and--as a result--provide them the framework for understanding and applying prophecy in a reliable fashion.
-J. Scott Duvall,
Professor of New Testament, J. C. and Mae Fuller Chair of Biblical Studies, Ouachita Baptist University

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    An Excellent Resource
    September 15, 2015
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Understanding Prophecy by Alan Bandy and Benjamin Merkle is one of the best books on prophecy that I have read in a long time. I have to be honest, when I see a book on prophecy I get a little nervous. I brace myself for a few hundred pages of a system forced upon scriptural texts with blatant disregard for context. This usually takes one of two forms. The most common is a long list of incomplete passages interpreted through a grid of current events. The second form is characterized by a zealous rant about how we must transform the world so that Christ can return. I was relieved to see that neither Bandy (a historic premillennialist) nor Merkle (an amillennialist) attempt to systematize scripture in order to fit into a theological scheme. Instead, they are both wholeheartedly committed to the discipline of Biblical Theology.

    The definitions of Biblical Theology vary but in a nutshell it is a way of interpreting scripture which gives greater weight to context than to systems. This is the approach that Bandy and Merkle took and the result is a way to understand prophecy which is refreshingly biblical and avoids the uncomfortable moments when a systematician is left with having to jump through hermeneutical hoops in order to save face and get from point A to point Z. What Bandy and Merkel have done is to demonstrate that a straight line is not only the shortest distance between two points, but also the most faithful route to understanding how those points harmonize theologically (sorry about the mixed metaphor).

    Coming from two differing millennial views, the authors do not always agree on every point. To help the reader make sense of there differences they included useful appendices in which they both have an opportunity to argue for their respective positions. The focus of the appendices are the meaning of "All Israel will be saved" in Romans 11 and the meaning of the Millennium.

    The book is structured in such a way that the authors first define biblical prophecy and then define what biblical theology is and how it relates to prophecy. Next they take you through different types and categories of prophecy before concluding with a short discussion on why prophecy matters at all.

    This book was a joy to read and is one which I will not only return to from time to time, but will also recommend to anyone who wants to learn how to read prophecy in a responsible manner.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Academic (an imprint of Kregel Publishing) in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
  2. Maricopa, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    September 11, 2015
    Pastor Jim
    Maricopa, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    UNDERSTANDING PROPHECY: A Biblical-Theological Approach, Alan S. Bandy & Benjamin L. Merkle, Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids MI, 2015

    The aim of this book is to give the reader a framework of how to interpret any passage in the context of the Bible (p.9). The book is unique because the authors have different views of prophecy. Brandy is a historic premillennialist and Merkle is an amillennialist, however both seem to be writing from a covenant theology view. The emphasis seems to uplift areas they have in common and downplay the differences. They also write from a biblical-theological approach, as the title states.

    The book is divided into three sections:

    Chapters 1-3, deal with the general subject of prophecy and the biblical-theological approach. They clearly uphold inspiration pointing out that Prophecy is the vehicle for divine revelation (p. 17). They clearly bring out that the term eschatology is slippery term referring to different aspects of the term which can be all-encompassing theologically. They give good keys to understanding prophecy, including the progressive nature of prophecy, thematic, Christocentric, and to be seen from a Biblical-theological perspective. Their general view is to downplay the popular culture caught up in the idea that prophecy is mainly predictive of the future (although they do not deny it, they certainly downplay it), looking more at historical context and its relevance to the original readers. They clearly hold that most prophecy is not predictive in nature, rather centers upon aspects of repentance, social justice, and theological understanding in the historical context of the prophet. Prophecy is primarily forth-telling, and only a small part is fore-telling. They hold that the messages of the prophets are encapsulated in three points:

    The covenant has been broken, therefore repent!

    If you refuse to repent, then judgment.

    Yet, there is hope beyond the judgment for a glorious, future restoration.

    These points are well taken. They go on to deal with the forms of prophecy (poetry, pose, apocalyptic, and the challenge of symbolism (which is an attack on the dispensational method). It gives the reader their idea of what biblical theology is, and how it deals with prophecy. To their credit they declare the important presupposition of biblical theology, which all can appreciate:

    The Bible is Gods Word.

    Gods Word has a unified message.

    The unified message of Gods Word centers on Jesus.

    Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension are the climax of redemption history.

    Chapters 4-6 focus on Old Testament prophecy. In these chapters they center up the types of Old Testament prophecy: unconditional, conditional, and fulfilled prophecy. They take time to discuss restoration prophecies (Chapter 5). They admit that many passages point to the restoration of Israel, however, they are overly cautious of literal fulfillment of these prophecies. They seem to be more than willing that those should be interpreted mainly symbolically. The reasons in the nature of biblical religion, the unique genre of biblical prophecy, symbolic manner in which the New Testament interprets Old Testament prophecies, and the role of Jesus death and resurrection in salvation history. They seem to be saying that these descriptions are fulfilled in some type of codeThe meaning is not expressed in the actual language, but through the actual language of the prophecies (page 123). The last area they center upon is the Messianic Prophecies that center upon the three offices of Christpriest, prophet, and king.

    Chapters 7-10 deal with the New Testament prophecies. This section is divided into three areas: the coming of Messiah in the gospels and Acts; the epistles, and the book of Revelation. In this section they deal with major prophecy areas in the New Testament. I was especially interested in their comments on the Olivet Discourse. I was somewhat unsatisfied in their treatment; much was oversimplification on the views, especially the futurist view. Although I found their view, Already-Not Yet was somewhat interesting, and brought in some good points. Their comments about left behind are noteworthy.

    In the epistles they center upon the last days. They reject a pretribulational rapture, and the doctrine of the any moment return of Christ. They clearly hold that at least four events must happen before the return of Christthe gospel preached to the whole world; the conversion of all Israel; the great tribulation; and the coming of Antichrist. They fail to see any differences between the gospels, epistles, and Revelation; common among Covenant theologians.

    On Revelation they readily amid that it is one of the most difficult books of the Bible to interpret (p. 224). They take the view that the key of understanding symbolism and spend much of the chapter of this. In the areas of book they consistently chose the figurative or symbolic interpretation. This is true of their overall approach to prophecy saying in their conclusion: We must resist becoming obsessed with knowing the details of the future because it takes us beyond Scripture into the realm of speculation (p. 242).

    This work on prophecy centers upon common elements between the two authors. The only place that shows disagreement is the two appendixes, and they are very limited: Future conversion of Israel with Bandy seeing it a mass conversion of ethnic Israel in the future. Merkle on the other hand sees it as referring to the Ethnic elect remnant through all history. The other hand is the meaning of the Millennium; which Bandy holds a historical premillennialist and Merkle holding to the amillennialist view. Otherwise, in the major portion of the book one would be hard press to see any difference between the two. There are more differences between historical premillennialist and amillennialist than what are given in the book. Part of the reason for this is both are coming from a Covenant theological view. They downplay literal interpretation of prophecy and the futurist views, and magnify the non-literal view. Do not get me wrong, there are areas in the book that all will agree with, but to me it was lacking and not a satisfying treatment of the subject. They seem to have sacrificed their distinctiveness on the altar of unity.

    I received this book free from Kregel Publications for the purpose of reviewing it. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
  3. Laredo, TX.
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good Book
    September 11, 2015
    Laredo, TX.
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    The Kregel Publishing has published Understanding Prophecy by Benjamin Merkle and Alan Bandy. The argument of the book is to study Bible prophecy with a focus on biblical theology. Biblical theology is mentioned by many scholars today. Some suggest they do not know how to define it. Others vary in their opinions to give definitions of biblical theology. The difficulty with the discussion of biblical theology is that often defined in a variety of ways. Some scholars suggest that do not know what really is the biblical theology. This sounds a pessimistic yet so we must take it with caution. The authors of Understanding Prophecy In Merkle / Bandy (one Amillennialist and other premillennial) intended to give in the first three chapters the authors some assumptions about biblical theology which are: The Bible is God's Word, God's Word contains Jesus' ascension unified message Unified message of God's Word and focuses on Jesus death and resurrection are the climax of the story of redemption. This section I think is the key to the whole book and the authors are clear and understandable regarding its intentions in writing. The book can be useful in that as the prophecy under this approach and instructive on the issue of prophecy is interpreted. I consider it a good book that provides basics of Bible prophecy and seeks to give Christ the central role of the same. However, one must be careful in how theology can establish new meanings in a text in the Old Testament. The interpreter must find a balance in that it can be treated as literal text, and how symbolic it may be to take, in order to understand the original meaning of the text.
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