HEAVEN ON EARTHWritten by T. D. Alexander and S. Gathercole (eds) Reviewed By Geoffrey Grogan
Are you graduating soon? What long-term personal study programme are you planning to strengthen foundations already laid? Deeper study of century subjects which touch many other themes can be profoundly creative in your life and ministry when pursued over many years, embracing perhaps one major book in each Testament and a great doctrines in systematic theology such as the doctrine of God or the Person on Work of Christ. What then about biblical theology, a subject of great importance especially for preachers?
The topic handled in this volume the temple in Holy Scripture, might be a good one to pursue for it touches the greater part of the biblical cannot and important themes like God creation, christology, ecclesiology and eschatology, as well as Christian ethics. Moreover it also relates to the contents porary interest in worship.
The book shows the vigour of the Tyndale Fellowship Biblical Theology group, for many of its seventeen chapters began life as papers read as annual Study Group meeting. It is encouraging that most of these are written by scholars who are working in Britain, although two are in North America and one (not surprisingly is are Moore College, Sydney, to whose teaching faculty over the years the discipline of biblical theology has owed so much.
The book has an Introduction by Peter Walker and an Epilogue by the editors. My advice is to read both these before moving into the main body of the book, as the Epilogue provides an overview and it will enable you not to lose track of the wood in looking at each of the trees. Read it again when you have finished the body of the book.
The essays make no attempt at comprehensiveness. There is, for instance, no chapter on the Psalter (although one includes an extended comment on Psalm 78) nor on Matthew’s Gospel. Nevertheless they cover a great deal of ground, from the Pentateuch and some of the OT historical books to Ezekiel and the post-exilic prophets, and from the Gospels of Luke and John to Acts and the Epistles to the Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews, plus 1 Peter (an over-brief treatment) and Revelation. Four chapters in particular show that the editors are not oblivious to the concerns of systematic theology, for these wrestle with the relationship the temple theme to the incarnation, the Trinity, in Karl Barth’s theology and in contemporary Christian Zionism.
The contributors have not aimed at uniformity, and there are some stimulating differences of approach. There is also a little overlap; for instance there are two treatments of the important passages in 1 Corinthians and the relationship between creation and the temple is explored more than once. These features do not detract from the book, however, because they show how specific aspects relate to the great overall theme, while the gaps indicate that further work needs to be done by scholars interested in this area. No contributor approaches the material from a dispensationalist standpoint and the final main chapter is a vigorous rejection of the kind of dispensationalism that focuses on a rebuilt temple, spelling out the serious political consequences that can follow from such a view.