on November 22, 2010
Biblical Theology is an interesting discipline. It can often yield powerful insights into the text of Scripture and yet there are so many different approaches suggested by those who do the work of Biblical Theology. Often the particular book of the Bible or whole Bible is approached from different proposed meta-narratives. When a particular author's theology is approached there is usually a suggested main overarching theme that is suggested is the center of that author's theology. Ultimately, different centers are proposed and sometimes other important elements are left out. In the search for the "forest" it may easy to leave out some important "trees". James Hamilton's newest book "God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology" seeks to show that there really is a theological and thematic center for the entirety of the Bible. That proposed center is God's Glory manifested and furthered both through salvation and judgment.
This is a comprehensive book (640 pages) that covers every book of the Bible and seeks to show how this theme arises as the center of every book in the Bible. The first chapter serves as an introduction to Hamilton's methodology and includes an argument for having a center and the importance for better understanding the Bible. The next six chapters work through each book of the Bible canonically (he uses the Hebrew order for the OT) drawing out how God's glory in salvation through judgment is manifested in particular ways in each book of the Bible.
This book is different than many biblical theologies available. While many of these books examine each book of the Bible and draw out its major theological themes, Hamilton instead is searching for a theological center and therefore does not draw out all the other theological elements in each of the books. This does not mean he ignores those, as he does bring them out by necessity as he works through each of the books, but in general he seeks to bring out the major elements of God's glory, salvation, and judgment.
While this proposed center is more obvious in some books than in others, Hamilton shows how it arises naturally from books where one might think Hamilton's proposed center will fail. I am thinking of such books as Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, and Proverbs among others. It is in these areas where I believe Hamilton's book is extremely helpful. Hamilton shows how these books fit into the entire meta-narrative of the Bible and how they express God's glory in salvation through judgment in their own unique ways. The last two chapters respond to possible objections to Hamilton's proposed center and explain the relevance for life and ministry today.
Aside from arguing for the proposed center, Hamilton's book serves as a solid survey of the whole Bible as he works through all the major sections of each book explaining the significance of major events and teachings. The book also contains some 100 charts and outlines throughout the text showing major themes, cross-references, chiastic structures, and other important data for understanding the text of Scripture. Often tables and charts like these can be distracting but here they are quite helpful and do not feel unnecessary or gimmicky at all.
While Hamilton makes a good case for his proposed center, I don't necessarily think that all other proposed centers are therefore illegitimate. The themes that Hamilton draws out as the center are major biblical themes and do function as a major meta-narrative. But I am sure we could define the center in other ways as well. As a whole, Hamilton's center helps one to see the "forest" in incredible unity and helps to make sense of the biblical storyline. I highly recommend this work!
Thank you to Crossway for providing me with a review copy.
on January 3, 2011
Perhaps the fastest growing discipline in Christian study is that of biblical theology. There are numerous books, series, magazines, etc. that are rightly coming to understand the Bible as not just a book of facts but as a story. This is a welcome movement. But one thing that is often lacking in biblical theology is the belief that the Bible has a center, one single meta-narrative. Jim Hamilton hopes to change that. In this book Hamilton goes through every book of Scripture to prove his thesis: The center of the Bible is that God is glorified in Salvation through judgment.
Essentially what Hamilton is expressing is that the glory of God is the center of the biblical narrative. Of course that may be a tad broad so Hamilton narrows that to the glory of God is most clearly seen in his providing salvation through judgment.
I am actually shocked that this is "new" to the field of biblical theology. Maybe Hamilton just did such a good job proving his case. Perhaps the glory of God has just been assumed by many other authors on biblical theology and they have taken up other topics. But Hamilton's work will be prove to be foundational in this field.
It also will serve as a helpful biblical introduction. I love that the reader is given a strategy for reading this book. Hamilton is correct, many "long books sit unread in sad neglect". Therefore, he suggests that many
should simply browse through the book, get a feel for the overall tenor of the book and then dip into sections as you work through sections of Scripture. It is extremely wise of Hamilton to set up this massive book in such a way that it is more of a resource than anything else.
This book is an extremely helpful resource. It will be one that I frequently consult as I preach through books of the Bible. Every pastor and serious student of Scripture should buy this book. Even if at the end of the day you disagree with Hamilton on something, this is an important enough work that you will need to interact with him to prove your own points.
As a book to sit down and read cover to cover I would rate it a 4 star. But as a book that is used as a resource (and I believe it is) I would rate this as a 5 star book. The only thing that would make this more helpful would be to tag the analytical outline with some page numbers. This is a great book and worthy of your purchase.
Crossway was kind enough to give me a free copy in exchange for a review. It did not have to be a positive review but I freely give it 5 stars.
on March 23, 2011
With God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, James Hamilton Jr. makes a significant contribution to the growing number of books seeking to tackle the daunting task of canonical biblical theology. Hamilton sees biblical theology as concerning itself "with what the Bible meant for the purpose of understanding what the Bible means (p. 45)." Thus, the purpose of biblical theology
is to sharpen our understanding of the theology contained in the Bible itself through an inductive, salvation-historical examination of the Bible's themes and the relationships between those themes in their canonical context and literary form (p. 47).
From this purpose we see Hamilton's binocular-like view for doing biblical theology. The first lens looks at the canon itself. "I will interpret the Protestant canon, and the Old Testament will be interpreted in light of the ordering of the books in the Hebrew Bible (p. 44)." This falls in line with how biblical theology has traditionally been done. After all, the word "biblical" in this context implies that one is dealing with the whole cannon. The second lens in Hamilton's binocular view is literary. Of the two features of Hamilton's approach, this seems to be the most unique. Hamilton explains, "I will seek to interpret books and sections of books in light of their inherent literary features and structures as we have them in the canon (p. 44)." This literary emphasis is clearly seen throughout the entire book and on almost every page. Hamilton proves himself page after page at being very adept at picking out the inherent literary features of the text both within verses, chapters, individual books, groups of books (i.e. Pentateuch) and both testaments together.
Hamilton believes that the Bible has a center and that if we listen to Scripture we will hear it tell us what that center is. Hamilton further believes that the Bible has a center because "the Bible has a coherent story" and therefore "it is valid to explore what that story's main point is (p. 39)." As the title of the book indicates, Hamilton believes the Bible communicates to us that its central theological message is the "glory of God in salvation through judgment (p. 41)." This central message "is the ultimate reason the Bible gives to explain what God has done (p. 48)." Throughout the book (and all 66 books of the Bible for that matter) Hamilton shows how this central idea is repeated over and over again as it is woven into the very fabric of the canon, each book and the thought of each biblical author.
Though Hamilton unashamedly puts forth what he believes to be the center of biblical theology, he is not blind or ignorant of the fact that others have previously put forth other proposed centers. In light of this, Hamilton seeks to show the willing listener and ardent skeptic to the proposition of a definite theological center, how he and/or how one arrives at this theological center of the Bible. Hamilton states,
"The center of biblical theology will be the theme that is prevalent, even pervasive, in all parts of the Bible. This theme will be the most demonstrable centerpiece of theology contained in the Bible itself, because this theme will be what the biblical authors resort to when they give ultimate explanations for why things are they way they are at any point in the Bible's story (p. 49)."
For Hamilton, the overarching story or metanarrative of Scripture is the four-fold sequence of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. He sees this sequence not merely as an overarching grid to understand the big story of Scripture but as something that "is repeated again and again in the Bible" (p. 49)." For example, he sees this in the life of Israel as God creates them as a nation, the nation falls at Mt. Sinai, "they are redeemed by God's mercy, and, in a sense, is restored through the second set of stone tablets (p. 49)." This pattern is repeated so much throughout the Bible that it leads Hamilton to conclude that "within the grand drama that goes from creation to consummation there are many such "plays within the play (p. 49)."
After having briefly surveyed many proposed centers of biblical theology (p. 53-56), Hamilton explains what the phrase "God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment" means. First, the display of God's glory is the ultimate message and purpose of Scripture and thus biblical theology. God's glory is
"the weight of the majestic goodness of who God is, and the resulting name, or reputation, that he gains from his revelation of himself as Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and Redeemer, perfect in justice and mercy, loving-kindness and truth (p. 56)."
Secondly and thirdly, God responds to the fallen state of mankind in salvation through judgment. These two themes or acts are to be viewed together and as working in tandem with each other. "Salvation always comes through judgment" and "everyone who gets saved is saved through judgment (p. 57-58)." The two are inseparable acts of God and reveal inseparable aspects of God - God is both a Savior and Judge of man and sin.
It is not realistic to do a book by book overview of how Hamilton brings to surface his proposed biblical center. It is possible to summarize the canonical structure that Hamilton moves through in his quest to prove his proposed biblical center.
In dealing with the Old Testament, Hamilton follows the lead of Stephen Dempster and addresses the books as laid out in the Tanak. Thus he follows the three-fold outline of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (see also Luke 24:44). This method walks the reader through the historical narrative first as seen in the Torah and the Former Prophets which covers Genesis to Kings. Next, we examine the commentary on that story line in the Latter Prophets as covered from Isaiah through Malachi. This commentary continues through part of the Writings from Psalms to Ecclesiastes. Finally, picking up with Esther and ending with Chronicles, the narrative story line continues (see Table 1.3 on pg. 61).
The New Testament is approached in similar fashion again following after Dempster. The Gospels through Acts provide the introductory narrative material. The narrative is followed by commentary on the Letters (Romans through 3 John). Finally, the narrative is picked back up in Revelation.
From chapters 2-7 the major sections of the canon are addressed and the biblical center of God's glory in salvation through judgment is brought to light page by page. There is an introduction to each major section with a one-sentence summary of each book in that section. Then each book of the Bible is worked through with concluding summary. The book is structured such that one can read through it in its entirety as you would any other book. It is also written and constructed in such a way that as you read through a different book of the Bible on your own, you can read the relevant section on that book of the Bible and not feel like you are jumping in the middle of a story or argument that you have no context for. These two approaches are the intended strategies of reading this book (p. 29-30).
Throughout the book Hamilton repeatedly uses the phrase God's glory in salvation through judgment. This is probably unavoidable, but nonetheless becomes tiresome at times. The reader may find it a struggle to track with the argument when it comes to the Minor Prophets as the discussion is scant compared to the rest of the books. While the reader will appreciate the many literary nuances Hamilton brings to light, there are times when one wonders if things are being stretched just to make them fit. Thankfully, there are a number of these instances when the author recognizes the possible stretch. I felt the discussion from Genesis to Acts and on Revelation to be the most fruitful and engaging. I found it to be less so from Romans to 3 John though Hamilton does stay on course throughout the entire book.
I highly recommend this book as a good way to work through the Bible in order to grasp the overall story line. It will also aid the reader in gaining a better understanding of the purpose for each book in the canon. Hamilton not only seeks to prove his proposed biblical center but he also weaves many sub themes throughout the book like creation, rest, the garden, the seed of Satan and of God/Christ, the temple and how Christ ultimately fulfills and brings to close in the NT, now and in the future what was promised and anticipated in the OT. This is a great whole Bible tool and book study reading companion from the Bible college student to the seasoned pastor and teacher. I would suggest that a new believer read through the Bible on their own first and then use this volume as a companion the next time through.
"God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment" by James Hamilton is a 550+ page discussion of Hamilton’s thesis, namely, that the main theme of the Bible is “God’s glory in salvation through judgment.” Hamilton says that this is *the* center of both the Old and New Testaments.
The structure of the book is pretty straightforward. After an introduction that talks about a “center” of biblical theology and Hamilton’s thesis, the rest of the book is a walk through the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation and every book in between, Hamilton attempts to prove his thesis – that each book of the Bible is about God’s glory in salvation through judgment. To summarize it in a most basic way, Hamilton simply discusses every text in every Bible book that proves his point.
"God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment" is a very detailed and dense book. It doesn’t really read like a story; rather, it reads like an intricate defense of a thesis. (This is not necessarily a critique, just an observation). I was hoping to read it straight through, but I have to admit I got bogged down around Leviticus and Deuteronomy because there were so many details that I became overwhelmed. I then began to read sections of it that interested me (including a few books of the Bible that I’m currently studying in depth). Hamilton has done his homework – there are scores of proof texts on almost every page (which is good to see but makes for cumbersome reading).
So what do I think of the book? Well, as I already mentioned, it’s not an easy read because of the density. Also, I have to admit that I’m not 100% convinced that “God’s glory in salvation through judgment” is the main message or center of the Bible. I do believe it is one of the big themes, but I’m not ready to say it is the theme (for example, it doesn’t hold true before Adam’s sin [pre-fall]). However, the book is still helpful in tracing this theme throughout the Bible in great detail.
Another thing that struck me was that other major themes in the Bible were downplayed at the expense of Hamilton’s thesis. For one glaring example, Hamilton didn’t really deal too much with the covenants in the Bible. He did mention them, of course, but not in much detail or in a way that really affected his theme/thesis. And unfortunately Hamilton only spent 3 pages discussing the book of Hebrews. Another theme I was hoping Hamilton would discuss was revelation – but there was almost nothing on how/when God reveals himself or the progressive aspect of revelation. I suppose anytime someone traces a theme through the Bible there’s a good possibility of missing or downplaying other themes. It’s impossible to do it all in one book, to be sure.
Finally, while Hamilton’s thesis and his walk-through of the Bible is a helpful addition in the area of biblical theology, I noticed that some of the content of the book builds on other work (i.e. Greg Beale, N.T. Wright, and Thomas Schreiner, among others). And some of the summaries of Bible books are similar to those in evangelical commentaries and Bible summaries, so I saw overlap there as well (for example, I read Hamilton’s summary of 1 Samuel, which didn’t really tell me anything that my commentaries had not already told me).
"God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment" is a helpful resource that discusses a major Bible theme in a biblical-theological way. It is level-headed, well argued, biblical (of course!) and very comprehensive. Even though I’m not 100% in agreement with everything Hamilton says, his argument is stimulating and it gets the reader into the text and story of Scripture – for this I am thankful!
If you’ve read other biblical theologies (i.e. Vos, Beale, Goldsworthy, etc.) this book might simply be a review of biblical theology from a different angle. Also, if you have a lot of newer evangelical commentaries and resources on various books of the Bible, the material will overlap them to some extent. But if you’re not familiar with biblical theology and you want an extremely detailed defense of Hamilton’s thesis (that the center of the Bible is ‘God’s glory in salvation through judgment’), then you’ll for sure want to get this one.
By the way, for a condensed summary of Hamilton’s thesis, you might want to check out his similarly titled essay in Tyndale Bulletin 57 (2006): 57-84. For those of you who are already well-read in Biblical theology, you may want to read the essay before getting the book.
Biblical Theology is often viewed as a difficult discipline to master, but Christians should not shy away from the study of Theology. Our task as Christians is to honor and glorify God and delight in Him. We do this by knowing God and making Him known.
Biblical Theology is easily defined as getting to "know" God. It's not just "knowing" about Him, but it is imperative that we "know" Him in a personal relational way.
James Hamilton, Jr. wants all of us to be able to study the Bible as a whole unit, not just 66 individual books with 66 individual central topics. He believes that there is a "central" theme to the Bible and one that we should keep in mind as we read through the Bible in a year, or study individual books and chapters of books.
Hamilton is aware that many may disagree with his premise, so early in the book he declares, "Anticipating the charge that it might be too broad to be useful, I am sharpening the proposal to focus specifically on the glory of God manifested in salvation through judgment." He then asks the question, "Can the center hold?"
His book will seek to answer the question that yes, the center can hold. He will also seek to show how the theme of God being manifested in salvation through judgment is part of each of the 66 books of the Bible. As such after a brief introduction to his topic he delves into examining each book of the Bible to show how it fits into the central theme that he is working from.
I believe that you will find that his work is thoughtful and well documented. You will be drawn to see the case that he is making and be challenged to adopt or refine his thesis. He does not shy away from sharing how other Theologians would differ with him in his thoughts. That is comforting because it shows that he is not trying to just dismiss others views to push his own.
As a Missions Pastor I teach part of the Perspectives Course every year regarding "Missions" and the major theme of the Bible being, God's Story of making His name known among the nations.
Each of us has our leanings towards how we see Scripture fitting together as a whole. I was very encouraged by Hamilton's book to meditate on his structure and theme and see how that complimented or helped to further explain the Theme of the Bible that I have taught for years.
The work is well written and will be easy for the average laymen to understand as well as provide good material for serious Bible students to contemplate as they work through understanding the whole Theme of God's Word.
Particularly helpful is Hamilton's Analytical Outline at the beginning of the book. It will help you quickly catch the structure of his thesis as well as find a section that you might be particularly interested in.
At 640 pages this is not a quick read, but it is a very interesting one.
I want to thank Angie at Crossway Books for making this review copy available to me, it was a wonderful gift.
on April 15, 2015
Is there a center around which the entire Bible can be organized and understood? James M. Hamilton Jr. believes that there in is and in this book he sets out to demonstrate that the center of Biblical theology is that there is an essential connection between salvation and judgment which consistently brings glory to God. It is a magisterial claim and I believe that Hamilton demonstrates it convincingly.
He begin with a chapter describing his thesis and then works through the various genres and sections of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament and the Law and concluding with the New Testament and the Revelation to John. Each book of the Bible is gone through in a systematic manner, allowing Hamilton to show that not only is the Bible a unified book but it is a book unified around a very particular theme. He closes with a chapter addressing several arguments against his thesis and a final chapter of practical and pastoral application.
I am a pastor of the Calvinist persuasion and fond of the work of continental Reformed theologians such as Calvin, Turretin, a Brakel and Bavinck, as well as Old Princeton, so that he idea of God's glory being central in all things is something I identify with. The result is that reading this book was like preaching to the choir, as if I was sitting with the conductor of an orchestra who was showing me the coherence of the score. Pastors and theologians identified with other traditions, or having a more of a social justice understanding of their ministry, would likely find Hamilton's work lacking and something they might desire to continually push back against. And I would suggest that they open their Bible, read the areas relevant to his writing, read their Bible again, and let God's Spirit be their teacher. They might be pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the Biblical canvas when seen from the center of glory in salvation through judgment.
on June 25, 2015
This a hard review to write. I doubt there is much question as to the quality of work and the thought that has gone into it. Hamilton is a worthy practitioner in a field that has had many disreputable ones. It will rightly get consideration by some of the best thinkers in the field of biblical theology. This should make it a five star book, and in these ways it deserves to be. However there are a couple problems that are hard to dismiss.
The quest for a single overarching theme is a worthy one, but can be reductionist if any of the subthemes fall by wayside. This is more apt to happen when do research already anticipating the result. We all do this to some extent, but I get the feeling that this book is a defense of a particular presupposition (not bad in itself), rather than a true open inquiry (which is what a Biblical theology is).
As a defense for his point of view Hamilton succeeds in showing that God's judgement is a theme that is indeed woven throughout the entire fabric of scripture. However, being central in presence is not the same as being central in purpose. For a them to be central to the story of the Bible it must be connected to something central to God Himself, alone, who is the author, and therefore central to His purpose.
Now glory is certainly central to God's essence, apart from creation, so this presents no problem to the premise. However, narrowing that to specifically glory through judgement (especially in the execution of punishent) is problematic. God is indeed glorified when he executes judgment, but for it to be the "central organizing factor" we would have to demonstrate that God would not be adequately glorified without punitive judgment. I know that in some theological circles there doesn't turn a hair. R.C. Sproul Jr, for example, has reasoned that wrath is as essential to God as any of His other attributes. Further that it is a delight to Him. Therefore, God's glory requires wrath, which in turn requires a worthy object of wrath, which in turn requires evil beings to be those objects. This inevitably leads to a slide into two heresies. First, that God is not autonomous , but His glory depends on something outside of Himself. Second, that God creates evil. R.C. Jr maintains that this is no problem by the disingenuous distinction between creating evil, and BEING evil. But this is dualism (which says evil and good are simple two sides of the same coin) which is a third heresy in itself.
Now I don't for a minute believe Hamilton would buy Jr's argument. At least I sincerely hope not. But his conclusion of the centrality of wrathful judgment to God's glory and hence to the story of the Bible, leads to obvious questions he does not have a satisfying answer to.
on January 6, 2011
With God's Glory In Salvation Through Judgment, James Hamilton has waded into the centuries-long debate concerning the center of biblical theology. Hamilton responds to many contemporary scholars who have abandoned the quest for a center to biblical theology with the thesis that God's glory in salvation through judgment constitutes that center. While the beginning and ending chapters discuss the nature of the debate, the greatest portion of the book "highlights the central theme of God's glory in salvation through judgment by describing the literary contours of individual books in canonical context with sensitivity to the unfolding metanarrative" (44). However one views the merits of positing the central theme to biblical theology, Hamilton's chief contribution is in tracking this theme throughout the canonical texts.
Hamilton makes a strong case that God's glory in salvation through judgment is, at the very least, one of the primary themes of scripture. A comprehensive biblical theology of this theme is therefore an important contribution towards balancing a big-picture understanding while studying particular books. God's Glory In Salvation Through Judgment could therefore serve as a "big-picture" reference tool to anyone studying the themes of God's glory, salvation, or judgment.
Many proposed centers of biblical theology have sunk in the quicksand of the wisdom literature. While Hamilton's thesis sputters a bit in the wisdom literature, it fairs far better than many other purposed centers and remains viable. An example of this viability is Hamilton's observation that the book of Job addresses the "mysterious, hidden nature of the justice and mercy of God" (305). Hamilton's interaction with the Song of Songs is not as strong. He makes recourse to the serpent-seed motif of Genesis and the Song of Songs as a picture of the reversal of "the outworkings of the curses on the land and gender relations" (305). This understanding is problematic because the biblical writer does not employ many lexical links that would clue the reader into this intended connection. Although Hamilton similarly imports the serpent-seed motif of Genesis elsewhere, only in Song of Songs is it an important support for his thesis.
The only other problematic aspect of Hamilton's work is he often seems to uncritically accept suggested chiastic structures when outlining a particular book. The most glaring example is in the book of Revelation (544). Although the questionable chiastic structure supports his thesis, in a book such as Revelation God's glory in salvation through judgment is so strong that even reservedly offering such a questionable chiasm detracts from his argument.
The above weaknesses aside, Hamilton fastidiously avoids side issues and continually draws the data back to the proposed theme. The result is not only a strong argument but a cohesive work despite its large scope. Readers will benefit from Hamilton's contribution to biblical theology even if they are not fully convinced of his proposed center. Hamilton powerfully argues that God's glory in salvation through judgment permeates the canon of scripture.
on September 24, 2011
God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgement is by Dr. James (Jim) Hamilton, Jr., who is associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is published by Crossway.
I must begin by saying that I enjoyed this book immensely. But I enjoyed it differently than most other books. I enjoyed this book like I would a rich, decadent peanut butter pie. The first way to enjoy any food is to look at it (If you never stop to appreciate the beauty of well-prepared food, you are missing out one of the delights that God has given to us). As you can see in the cover art to the left, the cover of the book is striking. The title of the book layered over a foreboding painting of Israel escaping the judgment handed out to the Egyptians gives you a pretty good idea what you are in for when you crack this book. The second way you enjoy a rich, decadent peanut butter pie is slowly and in small portions. If you try to jam the whole piece in your mouth, an overwhelming sensation will surely follow. The richness of the pie will overwhelm the senses to the point of revulsion. It will not taste good. However, if consumed slowly, the richness still floods the senses, but it does not overwhelm. You are enjoying this pie differently than you might enjoy other desserts, like cookies. This book is a rich, decadent biblical theology that seeks to find the center of the entire redemptive story that God is telling. This is no light afternoon reading. It's best enjoyed slowly, deliberately, with pen and highlighter in hand. So if you pick up this book, remember, it's rich and decadent. Read slowly.
Now, a more specific reason I liked this book was how it helped me better see the flow of the Bible. I was able to see how God was weaving a cohesive and coherent story within the Bible. I think my favorite parts were Dr. Hamilton's surveys on Chronicles and the Gospels. I learned a lot about Chronicles I never knew before (like how it was written later than Samuel and Kings, most likely during the time of Nehemiah, with a much different agenda). And I appreciated the surveys on the Gospels, because I was able to see how each Gospel author presented Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises that were laid out in the OT surveys. The story of the Bible became more real to me as Dr. Hamilton pointed out the specifics I had never seen before.
I did feel at times that Dr. Hamilton was stretching to make his argument. The whole book is seeking to argue that the center of the Biblical story is that God is glorified by saving people through judgment. While most of the time, I think he makes strong arguments, there were the occasional moments where I didn't see what he was trying to show me. Perhaps that's my fault and not the fault of the book. I may lack the smarts necessary to understand what he was saying!
In the end, I cannot more highly recommend this book. Just remember, it's a peanut butter pie, not a chocolate chip cookie. You'll need time to enjoy this rich and decadent work of biblical theology. But it's worth all the effort.
 - Crossway provided me with a free copy in exchange for reviewing the book.
on July 16, 2015
This is a powerful, though lengthy book (571 pages of text) about how to understand the Bible as one grand story. So often the Bible is read in fragments so the big picture is lost. Hamilton offers his thesis of what brings the whole Bible together as "God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment." He argues his position by walking through every book of the Bible to show from the text of Scripture why his thesis is the central idea of the Bible. After arguing his case he disputes two skeptics of his position and then shows why his big idea is relevant to life.
As long as you are willing to embark on such a lengthy read I would highly recommend this book. It could even be used for pastor's or others to to understand the big picture of specific books that they are preaching on or studying. The strength of this book is how Hamilton argues from every book, every chapter and every verse for his argument. He doesn't dodge or avoid what on the surface may not fit with his thesis. He rarely gets into too deep of exegesis due to the purpose of the book but has helpful footnotes throughout. The only real downsides of the book are at times Hamilton gets a little chiastic happy, in that he seems to find chiasms throughout the whole of Scripture though he always defends his position. Also, the book becomes a little repetitive since multiple times on every page he once again states his thesis. I don't think there is any way to avoid this but after 500 pages or so, you kind of get the point.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book but its size must be taken into consideration before embarking on the journey.