G.K. Beale is renowned not only for his really excellent commentary on Revelation but also for his studies on the relationship between the New Testament and the Old Testament; for example how the New Testament uses the Old Testament. The writings of Beale are characterized by a keen insight in the importance of salvation history in understanding the Word of God.
Sixteen scholars contribute to an illuminating festschrift in his honor. This festschrift with the From Creation to New Creation. Biblical Theology and Exegesis reveals the immense appreciation that Beale has garnered among scholars and exegetes of several kinds. The two editors of the festschrift were both a teaching assistant of Beale.
I highlight three essays. Daniel I. Block reassesses the evidence for Eden as a temple. He thinks it is much better to say that the temple-building accounts as being built on a platform of creation theology instead of the reverse. As a sort of axis mundi, the temple was a divinely revealed and authorized means whereby God in heaven could continue to communicate with men, even after the relationship had been ruptured through human rebellion.
The combination of features derived from the heavenly temple and the original earthly paradise symbolized the LORD’s grace in response to sin. The incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ rendered superfluous the temple’s role as the link between the fallen world and the heavenly court. The movement away from the temple as the locus of divine presence to Jesus Christ climaxes in the vision of a restored cosmos in the book of Revelation.
In his essay ‘The Power and the Glory: The rendering of Psalm 110:1 in Mark 14:62’ Richard Bauckham demonstrates that the use of ‘the Power’ in Mark 14:62 to protect the divine transcendence from anthropomorphism is consistent with ways of speaking of God that are well evidenced in the traditions of Jesus’ sayings elsewhere in the Gospels. Bauckham points among others the use of the divine passive in the sayings of Jesus. This undergirds the authenticity of Mark 14:62.
In ‘From Creation to New Creation: King, Human Viceregency, and Kingdom’ Christopher A. Beetham offers a sketch of the entire biblical epic. He shows the theme of creation is inextricable interwoven with that of divine kingship and human viceregency. The divine program to renew creation is nothing less than the reassertion of rightful divine rule through restored human viceregency over the usurped kingdom of the world.
I think this is right but would that when we restrict ourselves to this aspect of revelation we overemphasize the kingly character of man as the image of God at the expense of the priestly element it also has. Man is created to have fellowship with God. When we value the relationship between the paradise and the sanctuary we understand that man’s highest privilege was not to be a viceregent over a creation but to be a son of God. Human viceregency is grounded in sonship.
To do justice to this element of the biblical message we must not only be aware of the importance of salvation history but also of application of salvation. Perhaps, there is a weakness with this respect also in the writings of Beale himself. But it remains true we can learn of lot of this gifted scholar and also of his students, friends and colleagues who contributed to his festschrift.
Daniel M. Gurtner and Benjamin L. Gladd (ed.), From Creation to New Creation. Biblical Theology and Exegesis (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013), hardcover 339 pp, $ $49.95 (ISBN 9781598568370)