Review: Jesus the Messiah by Herbert Bateman IV, Darrell Bock, & Gordon H. Johnston

5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Herbert Bateman IV, Darrell Bock, & Gordon Johnston
Publisher: Kregel Academic
Buy Jesus the Messiah
Reading Level: Moderate

The outline of Jesus the Messiah is straightforward but covers a large amount of ground. These authors are “tracing the promises, expectations, and coming of Israel’s King,” Jesus the Messiah, throughout the entire Bible and in inter-testamental literature. They describe their approach as contextual-canonical, messianic, and Christological.

With contextual-canonical, we express how the earliest testament in part and whole generated such promises in the context of the progress of revelation. By messianic, we conclude how these messianic options were being contemplated by Jews through messianic reflection as we enter the time of Jesus. . . . With christological, we consider how Jesus and the earliest church put all of this together into a coherent portrait that they also saw as revelatory about the promise as they entered into the debate over the various options, affirming some elements, rejecting others, and adding fresh emphases of their own. (p. 26)

This approach is the linchpin of this book and they do an excellent job of explaining the relevant messianic texts within this framework and in a way which is balanced.

The book separates into three sections. Section one examines the messianic texts found in the Old Testament (Bateman IV). Section two examines non-canonical texts from the Second Temple period (Johnston). Section three covers messianic texts in the New Testament (Bock).

Jesus the Messiah will ground you understanding of messianic prophecy in Scripture. The contextual-canonical emphasis grounds each passage in its immediate context and redemptive history while also pointing to the Christological trajectory. As a firm believer in a Christ-centered hermeneutic I gleaned much from their careful exegesis and counter-balance to some of the poor copy and paste techniques found in the Christ-centered hermeneutic camp.

On the other side, I was delighted to see how many times each of the authors brought a contextual point forwarded which in my opinion strengthened the position of covenant theology and could have been considered a weakness of dispensationalism (pp. 151, 363, 364). That is a sign of a good theologian.

Lastly, because of the prominence of Second Temple studies today, section two will prove indispensable. You can hardly involve yourself in any academic discussion of Christianity without knowing something about Second Temple Judaism. And even if you don’t involve yourself in any academic discussion N. T. Wright has popularized doctrines built on an understanding of Second Temple Judaism. Reading Jesus the Messiah will only help as you interact with those arguments.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can see myself referencing it frequently in the future. It’s written on a level slightly more academic than your average Christian book published today but is far more approachable than something written directly for academia. If you’re a studious reader this book is worth the effort.

A free copy of this book was provided by Kregel Academic. If you plan on purchasing Jesus the Messiah, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by purchasing from Amazon.