Recently there have been several books published on the topic of Jesus in the Old Testament. While technically not a new book, P&R will be releasing the 25th Anniversary edition of The Unfolding Mystery on August 28th 2013. In the introduction Edmund Clowney makes the point that it is possible to know a story from the Bible and yet miss the Bible’s story. I agree with Clowney of the importance of seeing the Scripture as a whole pointing us towards Jesus Christ whether prophetically, typologically or directly. This includes the Old Testament. In nine chapters, Clowney provides the reader with a survey of selected passages from the Old Testament and how it points us towards Christ. In most instances Clowney does this well. I enjoyed how he observed the meaning of names of various Biblical characters has significance in anticipating Christ through a redeem lineage: Seth is related lexically to the verb meaning “appoint” or “establish” that is echoing Genesis 3:15 of how God has appointed enmity between the Messianic “Seed” and the devil’s seed. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude” that reflects the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. Issac’s name meant laughter—with the mother Sarah laughing not in unbelief as she did previously but because of incredulous joy. Israel’s name meant “God Prevails,” which indicate who really won when Israel wrestled with the Divine Angel of the Lord. There were however instances that Clowney was trying too hard to put Christ into the text such as the account of Jacob wrestling in the dark was described by Clowney as foreshadowing Christ’s agony in the darkness of Gethsemane. He also wrote that “the theocratic law of Israel as the people of God is continued in the church,” but also add that “its sanctions are spiritual, not physical.” I would say the theocratic laws of Israel is for the state and not the church, and that they are not “spiritual,” if by spiritual Clowney means “non-physical,” since there can not be any such thing as a non-spiritual law if it’s coming from God. This is not to take away the bigger portion of the book that is good, and that Clowney does a good job of unfolding Christ in the Old Testament. The format of the book is also helpful: Clowney’s granddaughter has written study and application questions that are included at the end of each chapter that are excellent for personal reflection and also group discussion.
NOTE: This book is provided to me free by Presbyterian and Reformed and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.