Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, by John V. Fesko. Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2007, 208 pages, $18.99, paper.
There are far too few accessible books on covenant theology and the biblical theology of the opening chapters of the Bible. The situation is made worse both by the revisionist efforts to alter the contours of historic Reformed covenant theology and by the perfect storm of controversy we encounter when covenant theology meets the opening chapters of Genesis. However, it seems to me that John Fesko's recent book, Last Things First, has now altered the landscape of available books on these topics. Moreover, Fesko has written one of the clearest and most helpful works of Reformed covenant theology available to date.
Last Things First grew out of a series of adult Sunday school lectures on the opening chapters of Genesis at Geneva OPC in Woodstock, Georgia. Fesko explains in the introduction that he was motivated by a desire to get beyond the perennial debates over the length of days in order to understand the place of these chapters in the canon, particularly in presenting the Fall of Adam and the work of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. This modest explanation quite frankly does not account for the exceptionally thorough biblical and theological research which characterizes the whole book; nor does it prepare the reader for the foundational topics which are so helpfully presentedthe interlocking subjects of federalism, hermeneutics, protology, and eschatology. The six substantive chapters in the book cover such things as the imago Dei, the threefold offices of Adam and Christ, the covenant of works, Christ as the Second Adam, and the Sabbath. Each of these topics would on their own offer valuable insight into both the exegetical and systematic fields of Reformed theology. Presented together, they are an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to preach or teach on Genesis or covenant theology.
What impressed me the most about the book was its interaction with a vast amount of historical and contemporary sources while giving an even, confessionally sound presentation in accessible language. This will delight pastors and teachers and possibly also provoke a few scholars and authors to mild envy for Fesko's apparent ease in doing this.
Several categories of readers will want to pick up this book: ministers, teachers, interested laymen, and students of all kinds. In particular, those who have not had the chance to formally study with one of the significant covenant theologians of recent years will find in Last Things First a fine place to get oriented in an economy of time.
Pilgrim Presbyterian Church
Dover, New Hampshire
Dave Holmlund, a minister in the Orthodox Church, is the pastor of Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in Dover, New Hampshire. Ordained Servant, May 2009