Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of A PEACEABLE HOPE by David J. Neville

The New Testament paints an interesting picture of Jesus. It is one that is at times seems to conflict. Jesus' teachings focus on love, peace, and nonviolence. Yet Revelation and certain parts of the gospels seem to show Jesus returning at the end of history as a violent avenger. How do we reconcile these two images of Jesus? A PEACEABLE HOPE by David J. Neville attempts to deal with this problem.  Specifically, the book's aim is to challenge the Bible's seemingly violent eschatology.

The book looks at the four Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. Neville shows how some places seem to promote a violent eschatology, while others seem to promote a peaceful eschatology. I found his exploration of Matthew interesting in the contrast between Jesus' straight-forward propositional teaching and his parables. Also interesting is Luke's primarily peaceful focus of eschatology. Neville treats John's Gospel and the book of Revelation as written by two different authors. I was surprised by this because I've read the evidence for both books sharing the same author.

Throughout the book, the author acknowledges the clear complexity of a New Testament that envisions a peace-promoting Jesus coming back in vengeance, and he so while hanging on to several of what he calls "treasure texts" that seem to refute this idea. While I don't agree with all of the author's conclusions on how to approach the biblical text, I deeply appreciate the author's wrestling with this issue because it is one that I wrestle with as well. I think it's important that we face it head-on because our biblical picture of God is vitally important. A PEACEABLE HOPE sheds much light on the complexity of the issue.

Review copy provided by Baker Academic

Photo Credit: Baker Academic

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