【Book Review】The Progress of Redemption
Professor: Rev. Dr. Moses Wong
Date: 2015 Fall Semester
The Progress of Redemption: The Story of Salvation From Creation to The New Jerusalem. Authored by Willem VanGemeren. Zondervan Publishing . Chinese Edition by Chinese Evangelical Seminary. 684 pp. NTD 650.
This Biblical theology textbook, unlike general biblical introduction or survey books, addresses the research on the Redemption history of God. It consists of 12 Parts that reflects the 12 redemptive periods be designed according to the Scripture, the Redemption history begins with the creation of God, and ends up with the new Jerusalem. Furthermore, it can be divided into 5 major periods – Old Testament (P1~P8); New Testament(P8. Ch26); Intertestamental Period(P9~P10); Church History(P11); and the Prophetic future(P12).
In the Old Testament period part, at first VanGemeren describes the richness of the creation of God with a literacy method, Part 1 Chapter 3 opens the curtains of the redemptive history which means that God begins to rule over the creation, at that time everything is good (p64). However, due to the rebellion and the disobedience of human, they are limited in many aspects as the punishment of their sin (p90~106).
VanGemeren then records a double-theme: (1) God’s election and promise; (2) Patriarch’s faith and obedience (p137). Nevertheless, after the death of Moses and the coeval leader of him, Israel plunges itself falls into all kinds of disasters. We can see God’s grace be given to Israel once again and again, though admittedly their hearts are increasingly hard as we see in the period of the Judges (p212). The sixth part includes the Kingdom time of Israel, in which records the establishment, division(p300), and recovery(Part 8), he also lists several crucial developments at that time (p254).
After the intertestamental period (P380~393) is Jesus and Kingdom (Part 9), in which examines the importance of Christ period by arguing the literary, canonical and redemptive-historical characteristic aspect, that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ; Redemptive progress; God’s Kingdom; and the Messiah mission of Jesus. Part 10 is the Apostolic Period which function is to testify Jesus’s stories, and how does it contribute to the spread of the Kingdom from Judah to the Gentile world.
Though the special revelation is ceased, the work of the Spirit and God still effects the world. Part 11 speaks of Church history until our age and Part 12 looks forward for the incoming Jerusalem. The whole redemptive story reveals the great plan for the revelation and works of God in Jesus Christ (p585).
Vangeneren, who teaches in Trinity Evangelical Divinity Shool, is an influential evangelical biblical scholar. He places the status of Redemptive history on its properly place.
In general, the book is not so hard that average person can read it without any more obstacles. Its popularity and reader friendly is a very great contribution to evangelicalism Biblical Theology. However, a great work is not merely applies to layperson but also worthy for religious specialists, as pastors, seminary teachers(to great extent the books is a exalted textbook), seminary students, and so forth. Otherwise, the words chose and academic words usage are simply and easy for his readers to understand.
Moreover, VanGemenren uses a line to link the whole scripture from Genesis to Revelation very smoothly and naturally, even the topic is divided into and covered by so many minor chapters and parts. To achieve it requires an extraordinary high talent, skill, knowledge.
A significant advantage of this selection, it goes without saying, is its convenience of searching for the Biblical theology works results from its comprehensiveness, balance and depth of materials collection. The Biblical theology subject is a big picture and a whole series of drama, in the 600 pages thick book, VanGemeren discusses the redemptive historical history line in a very detail way and style.Since the topic is so widely and it is not easy for readers to select and to buy so many books, this selection would be the best choice for a pastor or a seminarian who has the intention to gain valuable quintessences about Biblical theology in an effective way.
Furthermore, the Chinese translation is well-written and fluent, with a good command of vocabularies. In spite of the fact that not all people are masters of the original text, through the translation we can still truly receive such penetrating teachings.
In the closing paragraph, I recommend anyone who intends to investigate and research certain central arguments in this book, but without prior study, to read some books on biblical theology or even take Old Testament or/and New Testament Introduction course(s) at least in Bachelor level, master level preferred.