Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book: The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel

<-Is it a book? Or is it an analogous stand-in for a book, representing the book to come and replaced by it?


The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel is not a single-author book. This is a collection of essays from contributors based out of a conference held in October, 2013. Darrel I. Bock and Mitch Glaser edited the 344 page volume. Mine is paperback, and a Kindle version is available. I assume that they are the same.

The format runs like this: each chapter is the introduced by the editors. Then, the author presents a self-contained essay on the given topic. These are interdependent, but not interwoven—you can read Craig Evans’ chapter on “Israel according to the Book of Hebrews and the General Epistles” without tackling anything in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures, as labeled here). Not that you should, but you can.

Each chapter is followed with a link to the author’s presentation at the conference and a link to an interview with the author. These are also QR codes to link these and a few other videos—I have not attempted to access these videos. My consideration has been the book and the book only. The chapters also conclude with study questions. The compilers rightly see that individual continued study is critical going forward.

The various chapters take a slice of the issues of eschatology and Israel and focus on that slice. I say both eschatology and Israel because the two are inseparable: one’s view of the way in which God will conclude the affairs of humanity must include how God addresses His chosen people, the Israelites.

I will refrain from judging an entire eschatological system here. That’s what book-length works are for, not short-form amateur reviews. I will state that I came to this book not as convinced of the system present here than the authors. That is, if you would have quizzed me about “Israel and the Jewish people in the plan of God,” I would have stammered something about a cake in the oven and left.

Bock, Glaser, et. al. have a better grasp and a firmer opinion on the matter. They are effective in communicating what their ideas are here, and focus on the proactive statement of the case rather than destroying other views.

For me, that is refreshing in a theological book. Especially one treating as delicate a topic as this, where one starts with raw nerves and goes downhill from there. The editors are to be commended for keeping it on the rails.

I cannot let pass the unfortunate use of endnotes in this book, which separates some excellent explanations from the phrases they belong to by over 300 pages. That’s not on the editors, but it does detract from the use of this book.

I would count this a valuable book in seeing how Scripture speaks to Israel and its future, including how the land of Israel is included—and how that all ties together with the rest of the world to come.

I received this book free from the publishers, Kregel Academic. They publish some lovely things, and also publish the Phillips Commentary Series. One time, they even sent me a coffee mug. I cannot be bought with a coffee mug, though. You have to fill it up.

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