From Eden to the New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander
Biblical theology is a discipline of theology that brings together the best of a biblically faithful hermeneutic while looking at the overarching story in the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Often, especially in covenant theological circles, the overwhelming emphasis is on the covenant structure of the Bible and how these covenants ultimately lead towards the new covenant, culminating in Christ. While this approach is very good, often other themes in Scripture fall by the wayside, such as throne, garden, city, and the restoration of all things in Christ. T. Desmond Alexander, in his book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, in his succinct and pointed manner draws our attention to the big ideas of Scripture that form the basis of biblical theology from the sacred garden to the holy city, and the throne of God to the establishment of the living God’s dwelling with men in the final chapter.
Early on in the first chapter, Alexander points out that the Garden of Eden is portrayed as a sanctuary in which, “The Lord God walks in Eden as he later does in the tabernacle and the river flowing from Eden is reminiscent of Ezekiel 47:1-12, which envisages a a river flowing from a future Jerusalem temple and bringing life to the Dead Sea” (23). From these points Alexander makes the conclusion that Adam and Eve acted in a priestly manner because they met God in a holy place, a place endued with grandeur and glory that reflected all the wonderful attributes of God’s character. Further, the parameters of Eden were to be extended over all the Earth, so that the sanctuary was to be enlarged as the nation of Israel was formed, thereby encompassing and making the average Israelite a royal priest in the service of God. This service was not just to be a Levitical priest’s duty but was to fall under the task of subduing the earth.
Desmond rightfully points to the fall of Adam and Eve as having deleterious consequences for the face of humanity. Not least of these consequential sins was the promotion of violence. He writes, “The divine ordering of creation is rejected by the human couple, with disastrous consequences for all involved. Harmony gives way to chaos. As the early chapters of Genesis go on to reveal, people exercise dominion in the cruelest of ways. Violence towards other creatures, both human and animal, is the hallmark of fallen humanity” (79). The shedding of blood from Cain on towards the ways in which God’s heart was grieved that he made man all point to escalation of violence. On this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, we still feel the costliness of violence and the terror that ensues from such egregious acts.
Alexander’s emphasis on the throne of God, the restoration of all creation, and his helpful work in the last two chapters of Revelation go a long way in giving the reader a better grasp of a narrative biblical theology.
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.