Book Review: Christ and the Desert Tabernacle

It’s with thanks to Shaun Tabatt owner of Cross Focused Media, LLC, which serves the Christian publishing community providing social media and literary publicity services, such as book reviews and blog tours, for the opportunity to review J.V. Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle (EP Books, 2012) .

Christ-and-the-desert-tabernacleI admit it.  I like reading and seeing the Scriptures from the perspective of redemptive history.  I do.  I know there are those who do not and feel it violates the purpose and intention of the Old Testament writers and that it is in the realm of theology and not bilical studies.  They feel the Old Testament needs to be left to speak for itself and on its own terms.  I understand why folks feel this way.

But (there is always a “but” in there somewhere right?) in light of the life of Christ, I think it is near impossible not to do that.  For even the New Testament authors themselves at times utilized a redemptive historical approach in interpreting the person and work of Jesus Christ.  You could say they may have even done a tinsy winsy bit scripture twisting to get their interpretations across.  The simple fact of the matter is, once Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, everything anyone in that time knew or understood about the Hebrew Scriptures, changed.  I just don’t see a way around it.

In light of this, in reading Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle we are able to see the meaning of nearly every aspect of the Tabernacle in the light of Christ, that in fact, each piece is a shadow in some way of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Fesko does not use the term “redemptive historical” or say that that is the approach he is using but really it is.  In this book he hopes

to be able to show readers, young and old alike, that far from being boring or uninteresting, the Old Testament tabernacle, and later the Temple in Solomon’s day, is a shadowy picture of Christ and the church…. the Old Testament tabernacle is literally an entire world of references, allusions, and foreshadows of Christ and the church.  One not need go very far to uncover the connections between Jesus and the Old Testament tabernacle  – the New Testament reveals them to us (12).

From the first chapter on building materials, to the ark of the covenant, to the bread of presence and the lampstand and oil, to the priestly garments and consecration of the priests, to the altar of incense you will see and learn, and hopefully be ministered to by the ministry of the work of Christ.

We see the Letter to the Hebrews (written by Paul right Dr Dave?  😉 ) chapters 8-9, the ministry of Christ in the true tabernacle made by God, everything we see in the Old Testement account of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-31).  The Old Testament Tabernacle was a shadow of the things to come, a type of the heavenly temple.

Hebrews 8:8

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent[a] that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent,[b] was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 

Hebrews 9:

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,[h] then through the greater and perfect[i] tent[j] (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

So, there is good biblical support for looking at things from a point of view of redemptive history and I think Fesko did well with is book and I think it would be a good resource for when preaching through the book of Exodus or on the Tabernacle.

Good book!  Get it.  Read it.  Digest it!  🙂


New NICNT work on Hebrews!

Yes, the time has come and the great dean of scholars F.F. Bruce’s work is being updated by none other than the great Gareth Lee Cockerill, professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi!!

The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on the New Testament), Eerdmans, June, 2012; 768pgs.

This is the last edition of the NICNT set to be editied and approved by the renown Gordon D Fee, longtime editor of the series.

The kind folks at Eerdmans have interviewed Cockerill and today, part one was posted!  Here it is in part:

2. Why do you feel it’s time for an updated NICNT volume on Hebrews? (And what does it feel like to walk a mile in the literary shoes of the late F. F. Bruce?)

The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT)The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT)
(Click to order.)

I was just beginning my doctoral program when I had the opportunity to stand in the lunch line next to F. F. Bruce. It was in 1973, at the twenty-fifth annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Professor Bruce asked me what I was working on.  I said that I was doing my dissertation on Hebrews 7:1-25. He told me that he had just had a student (Bruce Demarest) complete a dissertation on the history of the interpretation of that chapter. One of my doctoral exams was on this very subject! When I had that conversation with Professor Bruce, I never dreamed that I would have the honor of producing the commentary on Hebrews that would replace his classic volume in the NICNT. I am humbled by the privilege that has been given me.

In our initial discussions, Gordon Fee, the NICNT editor, asked me to justify replacing Bruce. I told him that scholarship had made significant advances in understanding ancient rhetoric, in analyzing the structure of Hebrews, particularly through discourse analysis, and in studying the intertextuality of the New Testament’s use of the Old. In writing this commentary I have been true to these original arguments. This new volume shows how the author has structured Hebrews and arranged his argument to have maximum rhetorical effect on his hearers. I have attempted to interpret each passage in relation to this larger picture and to show the importance of each for the whole. I have also presented a fresh analysis of Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament that emphasizes continuity and fulfillment rather than continuity and discontinuity, the view adopted by many. By my exposition of the text I attempt to demonstrate how Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament can inform our own interpretation.

Looks like it is going to be a pretty important contribution to the study of the Book of Hebrews!  Part two is coming up later so he

why you need theological German (or just German)

Without it you will not be able to read Martin Karrer’s recent RBL review of Peter T. O’Brien’s recent PNTC commentary on the Book of Hebrews. (you’ll have to click to the link to the review on the page).  Without it you won’t be able to do much in the way of biblical studies (OT or NT) for that matter.

I need to find a way to start learning it…. (I know this will be disappointing to Dr Dave Black – though I think he would like this commentary as it uses discourse analysis in showing how the book works).

no idea though who he thinks the author is (yet).