|Digital List Price:||$19.99|
|Print List Price:||$21.99|
Save $6.86 (31%)
From Eden to the New Jerusalem Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
Kindle Feature Spotlight
Try Kindle Countdown Deals
Explore limited-time discounted eBooks. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Alexander’s approach is to begin at the end with Revelation 21-22. Although this treatment is not exhaustive, the author introduces the reader to several key themes that help to understand the whole of the biblical meta-narrative. As Alexander unpacks these themes, he does so with the understanding that there is not a book of the Bible that can be interpreted in isolation from the rest. Because each book of Scripture develops further the meta-narrative, every text is seen as the context for every other text.
As Alexander looks into the brackets of the beginning chapters of Genesis and the final chapters of Revelation, he traces the presence of God throughout Scripture. In chapter 2, the largest chapter in the book, Alexander unpacks the theme of the temple as God’s dwelling place.
In the beginning, God establishes the earth as His dwelling place with the intention that that Garden of Eden would be His temple, with Adam and Eve his vice-regents. The imagery is similar to that of a temple. The language of the initial chapters of Genesis is Levitical, clearly temple language. The Garden is identified as a sanctuary, a special place where God dwells. In Eden, God established a blueprint for this temple-garden to be expanded over all the earth. This expectation was shattered when Adam and Eve disobeyed and were expelled from God’s presence. While humans continue to live on the earth, God’s presence is identified as being in heaven. The blueprint would not be completed until the final chapters of Revelation.
In the exodus account, another major development occurs. After delivering enslaved Israel from bondage in Egypt, God brings them to Mount Sinai and enters into a special covenant with his people. Alexander labels this a major advancement of what began in the beginning. God’s presence now resides with a particular nation exclusively, as indicated by the glory of God that filled the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
The thematic treatment of God’s presence continues in the book of Joshua. Soon after the conquest of Canaan, a tabernacle is built at Shiloh. This is understood as the precursor to Solomon’s temple – God’s dwelling place. God now resides not only with the nation of Israel exclusively, but also with the citizens of Jerusalem particularly.
The tabernacle in the wilderness and at Shiloh continued the motif that the earth should become God’s dwelling place. God prescribes the manufacture of a special tent, features of which would later be used in the Temple at Jerusalem. In the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant is seen as a footstool that extends the heavenly throne to earth.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, a major reversal occurs when Israel is carried away to captivity in Babylon. This temporary captivity is overturned in a second exodus. Ezra and Nehemiah return to the land to build the Second Temple and rebuild the walls. Alexander notes here, “While the evidence is ambiguous, God was probably perceived as once more dwelling within the city of Jerusalem” (16-17).
The next major progression Alexander proposes in the understanding of God’s presence in the meta-narrative of Scripture is the coming of Jesus Christ. The Word becomes flesh and “tabernacles” among men. This is further development of the concept of God dwelling among humans on the earth. No longer does God dwell among men in temples and tabernacles. He dwells among men in the incarnate Christ. The incarnation unites the concepts of “body” and “temple.”
The author further develops this thought with the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes upon the church. The incarnation (body and temple) provided the theological foundation for understanding the church – the body of Christ – as the temple of God. Now the Holy Spirit fills this “temple” and God’s presence is linked to the church. Wherever the followers of Jesus meet, God dwells in them and among them. And as the church expands through mission and persecution, God’s dwelling place on earth expands. Alexander skillfully points out that this was God’s original blueprint for which He commissioned Adam. And where Adam failed, the Lord’s church succeeds, though not perfectly, through the preaching of the gospel.
The theme of God’s presence finds its perfect fulfillment in the consummation of all things in Revelation 21-22. Protology finds is completion in eschatology. Evil is removed fully from the earth. God makes all things new and dwells on the earth with His people. The New Jerusalem that John sees descending to the earth is similar in many ways to the temple-garden in Eden, with one notable difference. God’s intention for the Edenic temple was only unrealized potential. The New Jerusalem temple is actual – the certain fulfillment of the progression of Scripture. The bud that was in Genesis fully blooms in Revelation.
Alexander also unpacks the theme of God’s sovereignty as seen flowing in the meta-narrative of Scripture. The reader’s attention is drawn to references of the throne found in Revelation 21-22. By highlighting the throne John shows that the New Jerusalem confirms and establishes God’s absolute authority and kingship over everything that exists upon the earth.
If the Garden of Eden was a temple, Alexander argues, then Adam and Eve were given a priestly status that allowed them direct access to God. In addition, God appointed them deputies to govern the earth and expand the temple on His behalf. This view is backed up with two propositions: 1) they are directly instructed by God to exercise dominion over all the creatures, and 2) the concept of royalty underlies the expression “the image of God,” as seen in ancient near East sources. Kingship and the divine image go hand in hand (76-77). Adam and Eve were to populate the earth with God’s image-bearers. This was part of God’s blueprint.
A major conflict occurs almost immediately in Scripture. God’s kingly image-bearers side with the enemy. And by submitting to the serpent, Adam and Eve not only subject themselves to the serpent, but also surrender control of the earth to him. Against this background, the rest of the meta-story develops, giving special attention to how God’s sovereignty will be restored and extended throughout all the earth.
The motif of God’s sovereignty is traced through Scripture. Abraham is identified as a priest-king after his encounter with Melchizedek. In Exodus 19:3-6, Israel is declared a kingdom of priests with the intention that they are to fulfill the role allocated to Adam and Eve. In the New Testament, the theocracy of Israel transitions to the kingdom of God, which is inaugurated through the coming of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9 applies the motif of priest-kings to those who acknowledge the reign of Christ.
“One day the present age will give way to another, when the earth will be rejuvenated and the sovereignty of God will finally become an undisputed reality in the New Jerusalem” (97).
In “Dealing with the Devil,” Alexander points out that while the devil has authority over this earth because of Adam and Eve’s sin (1 Jn. 5:18-19; Jn. 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; Matt. 4:8-10), his head had been crushed by the seed of the woman in fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. His reign as the god of this world will end permanently in Revelation 21-22.
Also prominent in Revelation 21-22 is the theme of Christ as the Lamb. These references point back to the Passover, identifying Christ as our Passover Lamb. The Lamb of Revelation further develops God’s creation blueprint in that He accomplishes the redemption of creation. The Lamb of Revelation delivers people from every nation, echoing the promise made to Abraham in the initial chapters of Genesis. He sets them free to function as priest-kings and to expand God’s kingdom on the earth until the hope of reigning with Christ in the New Jerusalem is accomplished.
Analysis and Conclusion
By tracing several key themes from Creation through Redemption to Consummation, Alexander concludes that the New Jerusalem is “an extension of all that has been revealed in the rest of the Bible” (172). Far from being impractical, the truths Alexander unpacks help the reader to understand his or her own story. “Good theology has pastoral implications” (11). Nothing makes sense or has true meaning outside of the one story that stands out from all the rest.
[The only thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars was the pot shots he takes at capitalism in the final chapter. Really unfitting with the rest of the book.]
T. Desmond Alexander has authored for the Church a resource that shows the unity of the entire Bible. From the beginning in Genesis, when Adam and Even roamed in the garden, down to the futuristic glimpses that we received in Revelation of the new cosmos, there is continuity in Scripture. In his book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, Alexander stays true to what he has come to be known as, an expert on biblical theology. He has published many resources that have served the scholarly world and church leaders seeking to preach the truth of Christ from the entire Bible. His most notable contribution to biblical theology is his volume printed by Intervarsity Press, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology; in this volume T. Desmond Alexander serves as one of the editors. Alexander continued his theme of drawing the unity of the Bible from cover to cover in this volume From Eden to the New Jerusalem. Here he seeks to draw a few main themes that run through the Bible, in hopes to show the unity of Scripture and its relevance to our lives. Interestingly, he does so by beginning with the last book of the Canon of Scripture, Revelation. From Revelation, Alexander then goes to Genesis and traces a theme until he arrives back in Revelation.
T. Desmond Alexander was motivated to write this work as he studied the final three chapters of the Bible. While exploring what these chapters had to say about what life will be like after death, he says on page seven that he discovered two things:
(1) the biblical description of our future existence has more in common with our present life than most people assume; (2) the concluding chapters of Revelation offer a window through which the main themes of the biblical meta-story may be studied.
These discoveries led him to two prominent questions, “Why does the earth exist?” and “What is the purpose of human life?” (9). In this book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, Alexander seeks to answer those two questions by walking his readers through the narrative of Scripture. He does so by using the first and last chapters of the Bible, and this is what Alexander had to say about these chapters, “The very strong links between Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 20-22 suggest that these passages frame the entire biblical meta-story” (10). With these chapters serving as the biblical framework, Alexander proceeds to fill in the frame by tracing six biblical themes: the Temple, the throne of God, Satan’s rule, redemption through the Lamb of God, holiness, and the unity between the two biblical Testaments.
What is interesting about the six themes that Alexander draws is that they are coherent. As we read through this book we see that the themes build off each other, and the author demonstrates that in his opening and closing paragraphs of each chapter. Alexander sets his foundation by tackling in chapter two the theme of the Temple, which is the longest chapter in the book, totaling to about sixty pages. The author interacts with many works throughout this book, giving him a lengthy bibliography for a relatively smaller work, and he engages most with G. K. Beale’s The Temple and the Church’s Mission. Alexander, in agreement with Beale, traces the theme of God’s presence, which is first seen in the Garden of Eden, then he proceeds to trace the Lord’s presence in the tabernacle, the temple, Jesus Christ as the temple of God’s presence on earth, and the Church now commissioned as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
This chapter lays the groundwork for the rest of the book as Alexander continues to either reference the concepts that are presented or allude to them. For example, in his chapter “Feasting from the Tree of Life”, Alexander is discussing the need for holiness and he says this:
To be holy is to live in a way that reflects the moral perfection of God…
In line with this, it is worth observing that the obligations of the Sinai covenant are placed in the ark of the covenant, the footstool of the heavenly throne (e.g. Deut. 10:1-5). An intimate connection exists between divine presence and moral order…
Holiness reflected in moral perfection, is a prerequisite for entering the divine sanctuary. Since the Holy of Holies is microcosm of the cosmos, the presence of the Decalogue within the ark underlines that God is the one who determines the moral order of the universe (146-147).
Alexander is demonstrating here the unity between the themes of God’s presence, in particular in the temple, and holiness. Without fulfilling the holy requirements no one can enter God’s divine presence, no matter the sanctuary, whether tabernacle or temple.
As we will see in a moment, T. Desmond Alexander survey’s most of the biblical books. The exegesis that he contributes to the church through this work is valuable. He doesn’t seem to impose his own personal presuppositions upon the text as he is walking through Scripture, instead, he simply points out what the text clearly states. As he does this, the reader can’t help but echo “aha” to see how obvious the continuity is within the Canon.
In this volume, Alexander does not engage with the current discussion of the topic of biblical theology, neither addressing the various advocates nor opponents to it. Instead he focuses on his mission to show that Revelation offers a window in which to study the themes of Scripture. In this case, he convincingly and consistently addresses specific observations from the last chapters of Revelation, and he shows their inauguration in the first chapters of Genesis.
However, T. Desmond Alexander made it his aim to answer the two questions that were posed on page nine, “Why does the world exist?” and “What is the purpose of human life?”, he never mentioned these questions again for the entirety of the book. The reader can conclude how these questions are answered, but for some readers, the questions may be forgotten altogether. It seems as if Alexander was arguing that the themes themselves answered those questions, or that the Bible in general answers them and the themes that he explored gives insight into answering the purpose for the world and humanity. Evangelicals would agree with this take-away and even observe it themselves, so long as they hold to the inerrancy of Scripture; yet, it would have been of much value to have been given a direct answer throughout the course of Form Eden to the New Jerusalem.
As mentioned earlier, Alexander was studying the last few chapters of the Bible when he discovered that they had far more in common with our present life than most people assume, and this observation led him to write this book (along with other observations). We can see that the Lord blessed his studies when we read his final words, which says:
Although our future experience of life will have something in common with the present, it will also be radically different. Everything that detracts from experiencing life to the full will one day be totally eradicated. The, and only then, shall we know life as God intends it to be. Then, and only then, shall we truly grasp the immensity of the grace of God, whose love for rebellious and errant human beings was demonstrated through the gift of his own unique Son. Then, and only then, shall we know God fully in all is majestic glory and splendor (192).
Not only does Alexander show that what is in store for the Christian is something to look forward to, but it is also something that impacts our lives now. Not only that, it has impacted the people of God for generations.
Alexander was focused on the mission that he had for this book. He sought to introduce his readers to biblical theology using six themes, and he succeeded in this task. However, in chapter seven he seemingly took a tangent as he discussed Capitalism. He may have been trying to draw the bridge between how the biblical information applies to life by saying that a Christians hope should not lie in the economic value system of Capitalism, but in the New Heavens and New Earth. Yet, even so, the discussion of Capitalism became distracting.
T. Desmond Alexander truly made it his goal to support his thesis with the words of Scripture. He does not lack in biblical references as he refers to fifty-five of the books in the Canon throughout this work. This is arguably the strongest characteristic of this work, Alexander has strong arguments that show that the themes presented are worth noting, but his exposition of countless passages also gave authority to the arguments.
With this obvious strength comes obvious suggestions for the use of From Eden to the New Jerusalem; anyone who hopes to understand the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation should read this book. As it takes six different journeys from cover to cover, the reader is introduced to nearly every biblical book and core topics that run through the Canon of Scripture, including: God’s sovereign rule and presence, Satan, and holiness. Alexander’s arguments connect many dots through Scripture that can aid its readers. However, the author’s engagement with other academic works can be daunting for most readers. As mentioned earlier, Alexander has a lengthy bibliography and the works presented are construed throughout the chapters of From Eden to the New Jerusalem, because of this, scholars are being addressed throughout the book and footnotes as lengthy as an entire page appear. The footnotes alone may present a problem for an average reader trying to follow Alexander’s arguments.
Even so, this is an edifying work that soaks its reader with Scripture, as all Christian books should do. As believers read through the Bible and attempt to see its coherency, as well as what the future holds, From Eden to the New Jerusalem should be an essential resource on their bookshelves.
Most recent customer reviews
Biblical theology is a discipline of theology that brings together the best of a biblically faithful hermeneutic...Read more