Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review of God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James M. Hamilton Jr.

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.

I followed his advice.  I got a feel of the book and read a good portion of it.  But I also have decided to use it as a resource.  (I hope in the future—in fact it will probably required—to read carefully from cover to cover).  I am preaching through the Gospel of Mark.  Reading through those section really did help me get a better grasp on the overall story that Mark is telling.  I also find in the Mark section (as well as all the others) helpful charts.

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.  You can actually buy it for only 7.99 in electronic format or buy the hardcover (which I would recommend) for under 30 bucks.  I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for a review.

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

Also check out this video:

James Hamilton - God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment from Crossway on Vimeo.

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