Book Review: Jesus The Messiah by Bateman IV, Bock, and Johnston

Jesus The MessiahI’ve always been intrigued by the facet of Jesus’ ministry commonly labeled his Messiahship. I have found that it is one of the most spoken of in the Bible and, at the same time, the most misunderstood. Even among the people God called to himself, namely Israel, this idea of messiah was grossly misunderstood. The question of Jesus being the messiah has been raised more than a few times in the past. Volumes upon volumes have been written by those outside of the bubble of Christianity railing against the claims that Jesus is absolutely who he said he was. I am thankful for books like Jesus the Messiah: Tracing The Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King for the sheer fact of its depth of insight and historical accuracy.

The foundations for such a text are unmistakably clear from the outset. “Jesus the Messiah: Tracing The Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King offers contextual-canonical, messianic, and Christological developments of God’s promise of ‘messiah’ within the larger framework and unfolding of Jewish history in canonical and extra-biblical literature. Naturally, the foundation upon which we build is with what Christians today call the Old Testament.”

The authors make it very clear to the readers the materials they are using to build with and they do well to stick to the blueprints during the course of the text. Part 1, presented by Gordon H. Johnston, walks us through the Promises of a King by showing us the trajectories of messiah in Genesis through Zechariah. Here we are confronted with the promise to Abraham, the Davidic promises, the messianic Psalms, and the prophecies of the coming messiah. Johnston does an excellent work of making the tough passages and Hebrew language understandable and applicable to Christ. He leads readers on a journey of Jewish thought without making the reader refer to a dictionary in order to clearly grasp  the often unread passages which point us to Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of these promises and prophecies.

Part 2 shows us glimpses of what could only be called Expectations of a King. We being by trekking through some obstacles to Jesus Messiahship during the second temple period. Presenting material from a 550 year period can seem overwhelming at first until one considers the lacking amount of material to use. Herbert W. Bateman IV brings us through, at some points almost unimportant material on the surface, but as one begins to grasp at the beneficial truths the prices begin to fall into place and the whole is made a bit clearer. We are moved from a position of looking at trajectories of messiah and brought into a place where we are now anticipating them. These three chapters on anticipation (9-11) do not disappoint. Having the knowledge that Christ is the messiah brings this section an added sense of awareness of the historicity of the truths I claim to be truth. I was greatly helped by this section knowing what the people before Christ would have anticipated in a messiah and how the events of the Second Testament actually turned out.

Darrell Bock closes out this text with the a closer look at the New Testament and the indwelling of the Christ into our human world. We are given a window into the Coming of a King and Bock does not lose steam while bringing us to the end of the line. Bock makes a significant contribution noting that, “These number of uses of the term ‘Christ’ (Greek for Messiah) raise the question of the relationship of this hope to the variety of expressions that accompanied either the Messiah or the age of the eschaton of deliverance for which Judaism longed. What our survey shall show is a synthesis and linking together of ideas that often were treated more distinctly or separately in the Jewish texts we have already surveyed in either the Hebrew Scripture or second temple period. This synthesis allowed Christians to claim that an era of fulfillment had been reached and unify the biblical portrait of promise. This synthesis permitted many fresh ideas to be connected to the setting forth of the Messiah, as the term has become a magnet for all types of eschatological ideas in the new Jesus community…..God’s messianic puzzle was gradually coming into focus, pieces that seemed unrelated are now being reconsidered and connected to God’s messianic portrait of promise.”

The language used in this book was at times confusing only before the whole statement was laid out in its context. One must simply continue to read in order to understand the fullness of this text and the fullness to which it points. With my Bible in hand I believe this text is the greatest expression and explanation of the portrait that was being painted which would ultimately show Christ as the historic and ultimate Messiah. This text clearly shows that there could not have been anyone else in mind when the writers penned their testaments. I am glad for scholarly work such as this which can be taken and studied alongside the Bible. This text would be very hard to read without the Bible in hand. I commend this work to serious students of God’s Word and to those in the church who would love to have a fuller expression of Christ as Messiah. This work is definitely a 5 star book that will continue to be used for study for years to come.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You can purchase this text from the following link:

Jesus the Messiah: Tracing The Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King
By Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock & Gordon H. Johnston / Kregel Academic & Professional

A definitive exploration of the scriptural and cultural expectations surrounding the biblical Messiah. With painstaking detail, three renowned scholars trace the theme of the Messiah through all of Scripture—from Old Testament promises and expectations to their unique fulfillment in Jesus. Maps and charts will round out your understanding of this ancient concept. 464 pages, hardcover from Kregel.


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