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Hidden But Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery Paperback – November 3, 2014
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"There are many books about the general concept of mystery and its related instances in the New Testament. However, Beale and Gladd have put forth a comprehensive survey of how 'mystery' is used in the New Testament. . . . This careful, conservative analysis deserves the close attention of biblical scholars of any stripe." (James Wetherbee, Library Journal, October 15, 2014)
"An important examination of a crucial theme for understanding some of the New Testament's use of the Old Testament, carried out by two scholars who have thought long and hard on the issue." (Roy E. Ciampa, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship)
"In the realm of lay readers, I can hardly think of an area that is more misunderstood than the area of prophecy; in the realm of biblical scholars, I can hardly think of a topic more controverted than the relationship between the Old and the New. At the crosshairs of both discussions is Daniel's term 'mystery.' For the sake of both readerships, I'm grateful that we finally now have a book that reduces the mystery behind 'mystery.' Many others will be grateful as well, and will want a copy for their own library." (Nicholas Perrin, Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School)
"An intriguing theological and exegetical exploration of a key New Testament theme, especially in Paul. As the book's authors argue, the early Christian use of 'mysteries' surely reflects the strong influence of Daniel." (Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary)
"This deeply rewarding book will richly repay the time and effort given to digest its contents. Hidden But Now Revealed is especially geared to scholars, pastors, church officers, and interested laypeople. I would encourage others to read it too." (Jeffrey C. Waddington, New Horizons, November 2015)
"Comprehensive and accessible, this book is a model of intertextual exegesis and hermeneutics for the sake of biblical theology. . . . Serious Bible students will find in Hidden But Now Revealed helpful detailed intertextual analysis of the way in which mystery in the book of Daniel is interpreted, adapted, and revealed in the New Testament." (Sherif Gendy, Ordained Servant, May 2015)
"Beale and Gladd have ably demonstrated the viability of the claim that the New Testament writers understood and respected the context of the Old Testament passages to which they alluded and cited. Chapter 11, the conclusion, and the appendix provide a masterful synthesis with hermeneutical implications extending far beyond the narrow topic of mystery. Beale and Gladd express the hope that 'pastors and students will benefit from this project because of its emphasis on how the two Testaments relate.' Pastors, students, and academics alike will indeed find it beneficial to familiarize themselves with the contents and conclusions of this excellent volume." (R. Andrew Compton, Calvin Theological Journal, April 2015)
About the Author
G. K. Beale (PhD, University of Cambridge) holds the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament and is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. His books include The Book of Revelation (New International Greek Testament Commentary), 1-2 Thessalonians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series), The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New, John's Use of the Old Testament in Revelation, The Temple and the Church's Mission and We Become What We Worship.
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Hidden But Now Revealed begins with a look at the use of mystery in the book of Daniel, where “Revelation of a mystery can be defined roughly as God fully disclosing wisdom about end-time events that were mostly hitherto unknown” (43). The second chapter continues providing background into the New Testament’s use of mystery by analyzing the use of mystery in early Judaism, looking at a few key texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Targums. Like in the book of Daniel, mystery in Second Temple Judaism is eschatological and characterized by an initial hidden revelation followed by a fuller interpretation.
Having illumined the background of the use of mystery in the book of Daniel and early Judaism, Beale and Gladd devote the next eight chapters to an examination of every one of the twenty-eight occurrences of the word mystery in the New Testament. For each occurrence, the immediate NT context and the wider OT/Jewish context are both examined, concluding with an analysis of how the NT occurrence stands in both continuity and discontinuity with the OT and early Judaism.
Recognizing that studying a biblical theme isn’t as simple as just doing a word study, the penultimate chapter looks a few key NT topics that fit within the category of revealed mystery without using the term mystery – the staggered nature of the resurrection, the christological understanding of the Old Testament, Jesus as the temple, inaugurated eschatology, and the gospel itself. Finally, the last chapter compares and contrasts biblical mystery with pagan mystery religions and demonstrates that they do not have much in common and that the NT concept of mystery should be understood from the background of the OT, not pagan mystery religions.
Finally, the appendix provides a condensed version of a forthcoming paper by Beale entitled The Cognitive Peripheral Vision of Biblical Authors. Because hermeneutical presuppositions shaped this study and because it has implications on our understanding of the NT’s use of the OT, the essay is a helpful read. It argues that “Old Testament writers knew more about the topic of their speech act than only the explicit meaning they expressed about that topic. If so, there was an explicit intention and an implicit wider understanding related to that intention. It is sometimes this implicit wider intention that the New Testament authors develop instead of the Old Testament author’s explicit or direct meaning” (341).
Hidden But Now Revealed provides a robust study of an important biblical concept that’s connected to many key New Testament doctrines. It’s accessible to the serious layperson, but detailed footnotes and plentiful excursuses also provide much to think about for pastors, students, and scholars. An exegetical and biblical-theological study, this book fills a lack in the literature on the biblical concept of mystery. All with interest in biblical theology, NT use of OT, or the biblical concept of mystery would greatly enjoy this book.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an unbiased review*
Fair enough. I proceed forth to find out if I can track with them. And the concise answer is . . . it is tough - and I am apparently not a maximalist.
I do enjoy much of their teaching on the mysteries as revealed in Daniel and the New Testament. The way God has worked these mysteries and revealed them to his people is so very glorious. But through the whole book I am hedging on some of their connections. In particular, the recurrent assertion that New Testament authors were dependent on Daniel for their understanding of mystery gets old. If this argument were removed, much of the book would not exist.
Then I get to Revelation 1:20. Jesus reveals the mystery of the seven stars and the seven lampstands (candlesticks). The seven stars are the angels (messengers) of the seven churches (listed in Rev. 1:11). And the seven lampstands (candlesticks) are the seven churches. Jesus unwraps this plain and simple.
This is not at all sufficient for our authors. They teach that it has other meaning than what Jesus has clearly stated. For instance, "The interpretation reveals two distinct characteristics of the church: the angels in heaven represent the earthly church, and the seven lampstands symbolize the church on earth, which also has its existence in heaven" (pg. 262). Or, "The unveiled mystery in Revelation 1:20 not only concerns the church as the latter-day temple, but it also includes the nature of the kingdom in which the church participates" (pg. 265).
Say what? I read around these and other similar statements in the ten pages on Rev. 1:20. There is nothing to confirm them as the interpretation. When Jesus tells you patently what the interpretation is, you don't have to go to extreme means to tie it to Daniel, Zechariah or anyone else.
This is a book written by scholars and other scholars will joyfully read, quote and debate it. But I suspect typical lay Christians will soon bog down in it and thus it will be of little benefit to them.
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