Apr 20, 2013

Review of Jesus the Messiah

Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel's King (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012). 
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. 

You can read an excerpt here.

Thanks to Kregel for providing a review copy for this unbiased review. 

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