Benjamin L. Gladd. From Adam and Israel to the Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God. Essential Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. 200 pages. $22.00 (paperback).
Who are the people of God? What does it mean to bear God’s image? Benjamin Gladd, Associate Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, seeks to answer these questions in this inaugural volume of IVP’s new Essential Studies in Biblical Theology series (edited by Gladd himself). In this book, Gladd traces the history of the people of God across the storyline of Scripture “through the lens of being in God’s ‘image’” (4). He defines the image of God as “the divine imprint of God in humanity that reflects his divine attributes and functions in the threefold office of king, priest, and prophet” (12). He argues that this office was initially given to Adam (chaps. 1–2); then to Israel corporately (chaps. 3–4); then to Christ, who succeeded where Adam and Israel had failed (chaps. 5–7); and finally, by extension, to the church in Christ (chaps. 8–11). By undertaking this study, Gladd seeks to help Christians understand their own place in redemptive history and how they can live a life pleasing to God by bearing his image as his kings, priests, and prophets.
Over the course of the book, Gladd manages to touch on a wide range of biblical-theological themes in a way that can be easily understood and enjoyed by those with little to no theological training. While footnotes are infrequent, he helpfully provides a list of more in-depth works at the end of every chapter for those who want to pursue further study on a given topic. The book also features a good number of charts and tables designed to help readers visualize the parallels between various individuals, events, and eras of the Bible’s storyline. Gladd also constantly weaves applications into the study, never leaving the reader to wonder why a given topic is important for their walk with Christ.
Gladd expertly combines wide-angle overviews of large portions of Scripture with more in-depth exegesis of specific passages to provide a clear, coherent picture of God’s design for his image bearers from Adam to the church. Though written at an introductory level, the book is brimming with theological insights that demonstrate the continuity and consistency of the mission God has given his people to carry out.
At the very outset, Gladd makes clear that while he is writing from the perspective of covenant theology, he does not intend his book to serve as a full critique of dispensationalism (1–2, 4). That said, readers who do not already subscribe to covenant theology may object to his use of terms such as “covenant of works” (24, 47–48), and he only briefly touches on a few passages commonly cited by dispensationalists against his view of the church as true Israel (118, 126–29). Nevertheless, even those who disagree with aspects of Gladd’s covenant-theological framework can find much to agree with in his edifying study of the people of God from the garden of Eden to the new heavens and earth.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Drake Isabell, an M.Div. student at Midwestern Seminary and Content Manager for Book Notices for the Center for Biblical Studies.