Bound for the Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan

Oren R. Martin, Bound for the Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015. Pp. 208. $25.00, paper.9780830826353

In this book, Oren R. Martin demonstrates how, within the redemptive-historical framework of God’s unfolding plan, the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden. This promise also serves as a type throughout Israel’s history, anticipating the even greater land, prepared for God’s people, which will come as a result from the person and work of Christ. This land will be enjoyed in the new creation for eternity. Martin unpacks the land promise as it progressively unfolds across the Bible’s two Testaments in ten chapters as follows.


Here Martin lays the foundation for his study by briefly surveying the land promise in biblical scholarship. He explains his approach, which includes unity in the diversity among the books of the Bible, continuity between the Old and New Testaments, progressive typology, and interpreting texts within their textual, epochal, and canonical horizons.


In this chapter, Martin shows how the land theme is organically related to both the kingdom of God and the covenants as they unfold and progress across the canon. More specifically, he establishes a framework for understanding the place of God’s people in the kingdom. Martin concludes that the biblical story describes the teleological design of God’s people in his place under his rule.


Martin considers here the importance of Genesis 1–11 for the entrance of Abraham into God’s redemptive plan. He examines the nature and scope of the Abrahamic covenant and the promise of God in Genesis 12–50. He concludes that, with Eden as the prototypical place for the kingdom, the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom. This land promised is a type of a greater reality with international and worldwide dimensions.


This chapter evaluates the progress of God’s fulfillment of his promise of land to Abraham in two plot movements in Israel’s history. First, Martin looks at the exodus event and demonstrates how it is a means through which God fulfills his promises to his people, constituting the beginning of a great journey to relocate to a new land. Second, Martin considers Deuteronomy’s way of portraying the land. This includes the land as a gift Yahweh owns, a new paradise with the Edenic creational mandate passing on to Israel, and a place of inheritance and rest where “life” and “prolonging of days” are experienced when there is obedience.


In this chapter, Martin continues his focus on the progress of the fulfillment of the land through Joshua and Kings. Standing in continuity with Deuteronomy, Joshua marks a new beginning that results in conquest, occupation, and possession of the land. With the arrival of David, who appears in a Joshua-like role, the fulfillment of God’s promise of the land significantly advances and escalates. Solomon is portrayed as an Adam-like figure who on the one hand typifies a restoration to Edenic conditions, while on the other hand being responsible, through his disobedience, for the second expulsion from the sanctuary-land and the end of the monarchy.


In this chapter, Martin examines the loss of land in exile and the prophetic anticipation of an international and universal restoration brought through a new covenant, which advances God’s cosmological plan from Adam through Abraham, and is cast in terms of an Edenic land, city, and temple—all of which are coextensive. Martin concludes that through the substitutionary work of a Davidic Servant-Shepherd-King, God will make a new creation that is reminiscent of the idyllic conditions of Eden, where his people will dwell securely.


In this chapter, Martin examines the most relevant passages in the Gospels of Matthew and John to demonstrate that the land promised to Abraham will finally be won by Christ. Christ, being the typological fulfillment of Israel, has inaugurated a new creational kingdom through his physical resurrection.


Martin considers here the fulfillment of the land promise in Paul, highlighting the inheritance language that Paul uses which is linked to the Abrahamic promises. There is a future orientation inherent within the idea of inheritance, which is expressed through the typological correspondences that unfold within the Old Testament. The fulfillment in Hebrews comes through Christ and his work. God will bring those who preserve in faith into his eschatological rest, the heavenly Jerusalem, their final homeland, and the unshakeable kingdom. Finally, in Peter we see a transformed eschatological reality with the promised new heaven and new earth.


In this chapter, Martin examines the new creation in the book of Revelation as the fulfillment of the land promise. More specifically, the new creation is depicted as Edenic paradise, temple, and city (new Jerusalem).


Martin concludes his study by making theological connections and applying the interpretative findings of the previous chapters to eschatology. More specifically, this chapter evaluates how the land promise is interpreted and fulfilled in the theological systems of dispensationalism and covenant theology. In the end, the chapter provides a via media in the light of the arguments presented throughout the book.

Martin’s via media is indeed what covenant theology teaches if understood properly. It seems that Martin is equating covenant theology with replacement theology, which is not accurate. Covenant theology does not see the church replacing Israel; rather the church consists of the believing Israel along with believing gentiles in both the Old and New Testaments.

Martin skillfully connects the land theme with the garden of Eden in one hand, and the new heaven and new earth on the other. He reads the land promise in light of the overall plan of redemption and particularly through the person and work of Christ. Martin interacts with many scholars and cites a number of resources to the point where his own voice is lost in the presentation. It is hard to distinguish his own argument or contribution in the subject.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities

Matthew Richard Schlimm, This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015. Pp. 272. $22.99, paper.9780801039799

In this book, Matthew Richard Schlimm offers strategies for reading and appropriating the OT, showing how it can shape the lives of Christians today and helping them appreciate the OT as a friend in faith. Schlimm discusses twelve theological and biblical issues found in the OT.


In this chapter, Schlimm shows how the OT can give the church fresh ways of thinking about God, humanity, and creation.


Schlimm tries to make the case for reading the stories in Genesis 2–4 symbolically rather than being historical narratives. For Schlimm, the characters of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel are simply mirror images of ourselves as representatives of humanity as a whole. This conclusion seems to go against the way in which the rest of the Scripture understands these chapters and their characters.


Schlimm argues here that the OT critically borrowed ideas from surrounding cultures. Therefore, Christians should be critically open to evolution and see science as a friend to the Scripture. Schlimm does not address the question of the extend to which Christians should be pen to evolutionary theories and scientific discoveries when they contradict the Scripture?


Schlimm discusses different approaches of dealing with Bible’s morally questionable stories including, in one hand, searching for saints in the text to uphold them as examples to follow, and on the other hand, the “pursuing paradigms” approach which admits that no human in Scripture provides a perfect model for us to emulate. Schlimm argues that reading stories well requires us to understand the story experience, which reflects real-life experiences.


Schlimm seeks to correct some mistaken premises when one reads the OT violence. He makes helpful hermeneutical observations that description is not prescription, we should not imitate God, we should not apply such texts directly to our daily lives, and we should not read individual passages in isolation from other passages.


Schlimm provides his approach, which requires rejecting biased interpretation and seeking gender equality, counteracting male-centeredness, by questioning troublesome texts, and by recovering neglected texts that work against male domination.


Schlimm lays out some laws that seem strange in the OT including dietary, purity, and ritual laws. Schlimm suggests that we read these laws with sympathy and openness, paying attention to culture’s customs and relating particulars to the whole.


Schlimm invites us to think of the OT as a law professor, where we encounter issues that beckon for serious theological reflections—matter like holiness, poverty, disgust, food, sacred space, and sacrifice.


Schlimm deals with the question whether the OT contradicts itself. He admits that there are many sorts of theological and ethical tensions within the Bible. He argues that since God is transcendent, his truths in the Bible are much bigger than we are and present conversations about who God is and what he wants from us.


Schlimm reflects on the prayers of complaint in the Bible to highlight their acknowledgment of the grief, anger, and anguish that normally accompany life. But there is also hope: that night shall end, and a brighter day shall arrive.


Schlimm seeks to explain God’s anger to show how the OT reveals a God who is deeply concerned about evil—but also slow to anger. He argues that God’s anger exists in uneasy tension with his love. Schlimm concludes that the OT shows four characteristics about God’s anger: 1) it is real; 2) it needs to be taken seriously; 3) God is slow to anger; and 4) This anger does not endure.


In thinking about the OT’s authority, Schlimm offers his model of the Old Testament as our friend in faith. According to this model, the OT offers an invitation to a richer, fuller, and more faithful life.

This seeks to invite Bible readers to see the OT as a friend of faith, thus it becomes accessible, personal, and practical. Each chapter ends with a list of annotated books and recommended resources for further study.

Working under the false assumption that the OT is an enemy, Schlimm tries to make a friend out of it. The weakness of Schlimm’s suggested model is not recognizing that the Scriptures primarily bear witness to Christ and his work (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39). Thus, any reading that dismisses Christ and his work from its focus misses the purpose of the OT and its role as a Christian Scripture.

 Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

The Song of Songs: An Introduction and Commentary

Iain M. Duguid, The Song of Songs: An Introduction and Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015. Pp. 160. $18.00, paper.9780830842865

In this book, Iain M. Duguid offers an introduction to the Song of Songs with discussion on its title, authorship, date, approaches of interpretation, canonicity, themes and message, and structure and unity. This introduction is followed by an analysis, translation, and commentary of the text. Duguid argues that Solomonic authorship is not necessary and considers a date after the exile as more likely for the book.

Duguid takes the book as a love song. He briefly discusses the allegorical, natural, typological, and the three-character hermeneutical approaches. Duguid adopts the twofold interpretation, combining natural and spiritual meanings. He reads the book against the backdrop of wisdom literature. For Duguid, the Song is designed to show us an idealized picture of married love in the context of a fallen and broken world. Duguid also regards the book “parabolic” in that it speaks of our imperfection as humans and as lovers and thus it drives us into the arms of our heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.

While Duguid does not rule out the typological reading of the book, he prefers to couple it with the allegorical interpretation where both comprise the spiritual meaning. He then wishes to divorce this spiritual interpretation from the book’s literal meaning—what Duguid calls “natural” reading. One is left wondering, to what extent can we divorce the spiritual and natural readings? Is it even possible to separate the two at all? And what constitutes the “natural” reading of any Scripture if it does not include any typological or spiritual sense?

A more helpful hermeneutical approach is the analogical and canonical reading, which seriously takes into consideration the book’s immediate context and literary genre as wisdom literature. According to this approach, the book is read following Proverbs and Ruth in the Hebrew canon. Proverbs 31:10 speaks of אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל (‘eshet-hayil) “virtuous woman” (cf. Prov. 12:4) and then comes Ruth as an example and embodiment of this virtuous woman, thus was called אֵשֶׁת חַיִל (‘eshet hayil) (Ruth 3:11). The Song of Songs follows this motif as it presents the celebration of the virtuous woman’s love with her lover. Proverbs describes the ideal wife, which Ruth is. Song of Songs describes the bliss of love and can apply to Boaz and Ruth by juxtaposition. This canonical consideration sets the stage for the analogical reading once we consider the wider canonical context. In this context, we learn that Yahweh’s relationship with his people is often couched in the language of the covenant of marriage. This relationship finds its ultimate expression through the covenant mediator’s work on the cross.

Duguid summaries the main themes and message of the book, which are centered on love and sex within a committed marriage. The Song also speaks against asceticism. Once the book’s message is identified through natural or literal reading, Duguid wishes to see a message beyond marriage that looks into the heavenly bridegroom through the work of Christ.

Although not arguing for a strict narrative behind the Song or a chiastic structure, Duguid sees a broad development and logical flow where there is a movement that leads up to and way from the marriage. Duguid rightly observes that the Song leaves the couple (and us) at the end longing for something more complete.

The second major part of this book has an analysis, where Duguid outlines the book, Duguid’s own translation of the book, and then a commentary. The commentary discusses the context of each passage at hand, then Duguid offers comment on the passage where some key phrases and words are highlighted, and finally there is the meaning that explains the passage from a practical perspective with spiritual life applications.

Although the book is a poetic song in its genre, this does not negate the possibility that it might reflect a story that took place in history. In other words, it could be a historical account written poetically in form of a song, in the same way Genesis 1, for example, is written in a poetic style to reflect historical account.

Duguid takes the approach that the man in the poem is an idealized figure, a poetic persona rather than a historical individual. For Duguid, the focus of the Song is not on the specific identity of the lovers so much as it is on the nature of their love. He understands אֲשֶׁר לִשְׁלֹמֹה (‘asher lishlomoh) “which is Solomon’s” (1:1) not as designated authorship, rather as possession. Thus, according to Duguid, the Song’s title suggests that this book is in some general sense about “that which belongs to Solomon.”

Duguid’s book is good for pastors and preachers. It is not academically technical as one might expect, rather it is practical and handy. It relies on many resources and Ancient Near Eastern comparisons. While there are spiritual applications, this book lacks a coherent presentation of the Song’s contribution to biblical theology. Since Duguid adopts the view that Solomon is neither the subject of the Song, nor its author, he sees the Song’s primary significance as describing human relationships. He fails to read the Song canonically in its final shape and place within the canon. This canonical hermeneutics operates within a theologically articulate interpretive method that opens the door for reading the Song, which belongs to Solomon, in light of the Davidic covenant and the promise for David’s son and everlasting throne (2 Sam 7). The Song also has borrowing images from the Garden of Eden (Gen 2–3) that one cannot neglect if we are to understand it canonically. These images not only connect the Song to the first garden, but also looks forward to the consummate garden in the new heavens and new earth.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

قيامة المسيح انتصارٌ على الموت

عندما سقط آدم وحواء في الخطيَّة، وسقط معهم كل نسلهم من الجنس البشري، ساد الموت وأصبح حتميًّا على الجميع كنتيجة طبيعيَّة لدخول الخطيَّة إلى العالم، وقضاءً عادلًا من الله على عصيانهم (رومية 5: 12). فأجرة الخطيّة هي الموت (رومية 6: 23). وبمجيء الموت أصبح هو العدو القاسي للإنسان ويهابه الجميع. وبهذا أصبح الإنسان طيلة حياته في صراع مع الموت، يحاول بشتَّى الطرق أن يجد له مهربًا، ولكنه دائمًا يفشل

ولما جاء المسيح متجسِّدًا في جسم بشريتنا كي يحمل عنَّا عقوبة ولعنة الخطيَّة كان لزامًا عليه أن يجتاز أيضًا في الموت الذي هو عدو الإنسان. مات المسيح لكي يتحمَّل جزاء الخطيَّة نيابةً عن شعبه. ولكن الموت لم يكن له القوة الكاملة التي تستطيع أن تُبقي المسيح في القبر. لذلك قام من الأموات في اليوم الثالث. وكما تنبَّأت الأسفار المقدَّسة في العهد القديم عن موت المسيح، كذلك أعلنت أيضًا قيامته. كتب يوحنا عن التلاميذ أنهم بعد قيامة المسيح مباشرةً لم يكونوا بعد يعرفون الكتاب: أنه ينبغي أن المسيح يقوم من الأموات (يوحنا 20: 9). وعلى الرغم من أن يوحنا لم يوضِّح ما هي النصوص الكتابيَّة في العهد القديم التي لم يدرك التلاميذ أنها تشير إلى قيامة المسيح، إلا أنه هناك العديد من النصوص التي يمكن أن تكون المقصودة هنا (مثال: مزمور 16: 10؛ إشعياء 53: 10-12؛ هوشع 6: 2؛ يونان 1: 17).

يصف بطرس الرسول معجزة قيامة المسيح بأن الله أقامه من الأموات، واضعًا نهاية لأوجاع الموت التي كانت على المسيح، حيث أنه كان مستحيلًا على الموت أن يُبقي المسيح في قبضته أو أن يظل المسيح في داخل القبر أكثر من ثلاثة أيام (أعمال الرسل 2: 24). نعم لقد أقامه الآب من الأموات لأنه رب الحياة (أعمال الرسل 4: 10؛ 5: 30؛ 10: 40؛ 13: 30، 33-34؛ 17: 31؛ أفسس 1: 20). فليس للموت سلطان عليه البتة.

أما الرسول بولس فيعلن أنه بقيامة المسيح من الأموات تعيَّن المسيح ابن الله بقوة (رومية 1: 4). يظن البعض خطئًا أن المقصود هنا أنه بقيامة المسيح قد تعيَّن ابنًا لله، مما يعني أن بنوَّة المسيح للآب ليست أزليَّة. لكن هذا ليس المقصود من تركيب الآيَّة في الأصل اليوناني. بل المقصود هو أن المسيح تعيَّن ابن الله بقوة. أي أن القيامة أعلنت قوة المسيح وأظهرتها للجميع. فالمسيح وُلد بضعفٍ في جسدٍ بشري، حيث صار من نسل داود حسب الجسد (رومية 1: 3)، لكن الآب أقامه من الأموات كي يظهر أمام الجميع بقوة. لهذا قال المسيح لتلاميذه بعد قيامته: “دُفِعَ إِلَيَّ كُلُّ سُلْطَانٍ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَعَلَى الأَرْضِ” (متى 28: 18).

يذكر كاتب الرسالة إلى العبرانيين أن المسيح أشترك في اللحم والدم، أي اتَّخذ طبيعة بشريَّة في تجسُّده، لكي يبيد إبليس، الذي له سلطان الموت، بالموت (عبرانيين 2: 14). فالمسيح انتصر على إبليس مُستخدمًا سلاحه الذي يهدِّد به البشريَّة، أي الموت. كيف تحقَّقت هذه النصرة على إبليس بالموت؟ كان ذلك بقيامة المسيح.

كيف للمؤمنين بالمسيح أن يفكروا في الموت إذن؟ يُعلن الرسول بولس هذه الحقيقة الهامة قائلاً: “وَإِنْ كَانَ رُوحُ الَّذِي أَقَامَ يَسُوعَ مِنَ الأَمْوَاتِ سَاكِنًا فِيكُمْ، فَالَّذِي أَقَامَ الْمَسِيحَ مِنَ الأَمْوَاتِ سَيُحْيِي أَجْسَادَكُمُ الْمَائِتَةَ أَيْضًا بِرُوحِهِ السَّاكِنِ فِيكُمْ” (رومية 8: 11). هذا هو الرجاء المبارك لكل مَن يؤمن بالمسيح. ليس للموتِ سلطانٌ على أولاد الله. فكما أقام روحُ الله المسيحَ من الأموات، هذا الروح نفسه الساكن فينا سيُحي أجسادنا عند مجيء المسيح.

لم يعد الموت عدوًّا لأبناء الله. يُرعب الموت فقط مَن هم في عداوة مع الله بسبب الخطيَّة. لكن بالنسبة للمؤمنين ليس للموتِ أيُّ سلطان عليهم. إن كنتَ تهاب الموت فهذا يدل على عدم ثقتك الكاملة في شخص المسيح وعمله. لكن إن كنتَ تهتف مع بولس قائلاً: “لِيَ الْحَيَاةَ هِيَ الْمَسِيحُ وَالْمَوْتُ هُوَ رِبْحٌ” (فيلبي 1: 21)، فأنت إذن مِمَّن قد نال بركة الخلاص بعمل المسيح على الصليب ونصرة قيامته. ليكن شعارنا في هذه الأيام “يَتَعَظَّمُ الْمَسِيحُ فِي جَسَدِي، سَوَاءٌ كَانَ بِحَيَاةٍ أَمْ بِمَوْتٍ” (فيلبي 1: 20). آمين.

د. ق. شريف جندي

Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives

Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves, eds., Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014. Pp. 352. $26.99, paper.9780801039928

This book is a collection of fifteen essays, organized in four parts, and written by different scholars, to present a theological, biblical, and scientific case for the necessity of belief in original sin and the historicity of Adam and Eve in response to contemporary challenges.

Part One: Adam in the Bible and Science

1. Adam and Eve in the Old Testament by C. John Collins

Taking Genesis 1–11 as a coherent narrative, Collins argues that the writer of Genesis was talking about what he thought were actual events, using rhetorical and literary techniques to shape the readers’ attitudes towards those events.

2. Adam in the New Testament by Robert W. Yarbrough

Yarbrough exegetically considers the New Testament’s Adam passages. He argues that Paul faithfully represented Jesus’s intent and commission.

3. Adam and Modern Science by William Stone (a pseudonym)

Stone places Adam in conversation with crucial evidence from paleoanthropology to show how Adam’s historicity and the human fossil record are not in conflict. He provides evidence to confirm the expectation of a discontinuity between the genus Homo and the australopithecine genera and places Adam at the root of genus Homo.

Part Two: Original Sin in History

4. Original Sin in Patristic Theology by Peter Sanlon

Sanlon focuses on Augustine and his vision of God, humanity, and ethics that was thoroughly informed by his understanding of original sin. For Augustine, had Adam not been a historical person, then the reality of original sin, which shaped God’s grace and its conception, would collapse.

5. The Lutheran Doctrine of Original Sin by Robert Kolb

Kolb highlights the relational aspect of Luther’s definition of original sin, which is the breaking of the bond between Creator and human creature. He traces the development of Luther’s understanding of original sin through Philip Melanchthon, the Formula of Concord, Martin Chemnitz, and Philipp Jakob Spener.

6. Original Sin in Reformed Theology by Donald Macleod

Macleod summaries the Reformed view of original sin that all human beings are born with a propensity to sin, and by nature are incapable of loving God, repenting of sin, or believing in Christ, apart from the new birth. Macleod explains the covenant of works, Adam’s federal relationship to his posterity, the imputation of Adam’s guilt, and our inheritance of corruption.

7. “But a Heathen Still”: The Doctrine of Original Sin in Wesleyan Theology by Thomas H. McCall

McCall offers an overview of the Wesleyan doctrine of original sin, which historically held to federalism but later modified it.

8. Original Sin in Modern Theology by Carl R. Trueman

Trueman surveys the highly diverse phenomenon in modern theology of original sin. He reviews six mainline theologians who have been influential on various strands of modern thought and stand in continuity with certain aspects of Enlightenment critiques of classical orthodoxy.

Part Three: Original Sin in Theology

9. Original Sin in Biblical Theology by James M. Hamilton

Hamilton argues that biblical theology is the attempt to discern the interpretative perspective that the biblical authors employed in order to adopt it as our own. This perspective includes a first man, Adam, whose sin had ramification for all humans and universal consequences.

10. Threads in a Seamless Garment: Original Sin in Systematic Theology by Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme

Reeves and Madueme demonstrate that a gospel that omits Adam and original sin is far less good news, if good news at all. These biblical doctrines show how kind and good God is and what good news is therefore offered to the weak and helpless sinner.

11. “The Most Vulnerable Part of the Whole Christian Account”: Original Sin and Modern Science by Hans Madueme

Madueme acknowledges that science is an aspect of God’s general revelation and Christianity is a revelatory faith with divinely revealed doctrines including original sin. For Madueme, full harmonization between science and Christianity will ultimately and certainly happen in the eschaton.

12. Original Sin in Pastoral Theology by Daniel Doriani

Doriani discusses original sin in relation to pastoral call, evangelism, church leadership, and pastoral care.

Part Four: Adam and the Fall in Dispute

13. Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12–19 by Thomas R. Schreiner

Schreiner argues that the most plausible reading of Romans 5:12–19, both exegetically and theologically, supports the doctrine of original sin and original death.

14. The Fall and Genesis 3 by Noel Weeks

Weeks deals with the difficulties of searching for earlier texts or sources behind Genesis 3 then he turns to what the text itself says, working his way through some of the crucial exegetical puzzles before making sense of the sequential narrative. He affirms the reality of Adam’s sin and relative relationships of God, Adam, Eve, and the animals.

15. Adam, History, and Theodicy by William Edgar

Edgar argues that the historicity of Adam is crucial in theodicy. It explains why God is not accountable cause for evil in the world. In fact, as Edgar shows, there is no intrinsic reason why God’s goodness could not allow evil, as long as it will one day be eradicated.

The essays in this volume are timely and much needed in contemporary discussion on the historicity of Adam. The historicity of Adam and original sin are essential, irremovable, relevant, and credible elements of the Christian faith.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy