Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 61:4 (Dec 2018)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Persistence of God’s Endangered Promises: The Bible’s Unified Story. By Allan J. McNicol. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018, 248 pp., $102.00.

As the subtitle states and the book’s author confirms, this worthy read attempts to argue that the Bible presents a unified story. In his introduction, Allan McNicol states frankly his purpose with the words, “I wish to suggest in this book that true and worthwhile connections can be made between the Testaments because the Bible (as one book) is held together by a unifying narrative” (p. xi). The remainder of the author’s work focuses on the ambitious task of identifying and justifying that core unity within the biblical story.

In the first three chapters, McNicol surveys the rise and fall of the Grand Narrative of Scripture as a result of the Enlightenment, describes the failed attempts by Christian theologians to put it back together, and offers his solution to the dilemma. The Grand Narrative of Scripture was held together by the acceptance of typology and the acceptance of the scheme of prophecy-fulfillment. These shadows of Christ in the OT were revealed in the NT and bridged the great divide between the Testaments. The underlying belief in the historicity of the events related in the Bible was foundational in undergirding the Bible’s metanarrative. Following his mentor Hans Frei’s analysis in The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, McNicol opines that with the rise of the Enlightenment, the biblical narrative became detached from its historical mooring as more and more of the Bible’s history was rejected and reclassified as saga or myth, beginning with the stories in Genesis. In response to these assured results of historical criticism, the meaning of the Bible’s narrative was reinterpreted as reflecting the human condition or allegorized (p. 26). Subsequent attempts by later interpreters to bridge the chasm between the Bible of the critics and its story are examined and found wanting. For example, Childs’s canon criticism may provide a necessary corrective to the atomistic results of historical criticism with its canonical reading, but it fails to uncover any unifying factor between the testaments.

At this point in the book, the author suggests that only a literary model can pave the way forward for biblical theology. McNicol’s proposed literary model is similar to the story world created in the great 18th- and 19th-century realistic novels. In his opinion, such a structure fits the Bible well. It provides a narrative framework for a story that stretches from the creation of Adam to the conversion of the nations in Revelation. In his opinion, this literary setting encompasses the diverse genre in the Bible and finds middle ground between an ari...

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