Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review: From Eden to the New Jerusalem

T. Desmond Alexander’s book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, is a concise introduction to Biblical Theology. It reads more like a series of topical articles, which have been pieced together than a self-contained book, but that doesn’t hinder the flow of the book in my opinion. In ways similar to what David Chilton does in his book, Paradise Regained, Alexander provides typological elements from the Old Testament that are continually revisited, grown, and brought into brightest clarity in the New Testament. Another similarity that Alexander’s book bears is to the book of Michael Williams, Far as the Curse is Found. Both books begin with something later in order to talk about beginnings. Williams begins with the resurrection in order to discuss redemptive history, and Alexander begins with Revelation 20-22, the vision of New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and New Earth, in order to discuss the various typologies that comprise his introduction to Biblical Theology. His aim is to paint in, “broad brush strokes designed to show the general shape of the meta-story” (11). How well does he do?
The opening chapter talks about the Garden of Eden and the Holy City of Revelation as places God established for the purpose of communing with Man—they are dwelling places shared by God and Man. After the Fall, there is no longer a garden, but God does commune through the tabernacle and the temple. Eventually God “tabernacles” in Man himself by way of the Incarnation, and by His Spirit in every one of His people, but manifestly in the people as a whole; the Church. Alexander points to many details that correspond to one another in each of these places of communion, showing how they are related and developed across the redemptive history portrayed in the Scriptures. Much of the material is of great supplementary value for a class that is covering redemptive history.
Chapter two examines the authority of God and Man as revealed in the ideas of Kingship, Kingdom, and (the typological element of) the throne. The prominent focus of Alexander is the vicegerency of Man in God’s economy; how it was given, lost, managed in the loss, and regained in Christ. Chapter three handles the enemy, Satan (the serpent, the devil) across the redemptive history of Scripture. Chapter four examines the slaughter of the lamb as accomplishing redemption. Chapter five discusses the tree of life and the redemption of people from every nation. Chapter seven summarizes the whole under the discussion of the two opposing cities; that of God, and that of Babylon.

Alexander’s book is riveting for all of its interesting connections and possibilities, but it is of best value in the classroom as a supplemental text to use in portions of a course on Redemptive History or Biblical Theology where the teacher wants to highlight some of the same things that Alexander discusses. It is a bit more technical and scholarly than the typical high school student would be prepared for, but not out of bounds for the limited use indicated above.

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