Benjamin L. Gladd
Reviewed by: Jeffery A. Landis
Date posted: 09/27/2020
From Adam and Israel to the Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God, by Benjamin L. Gladd. IVP Academic, 2019. Paperback, 200 pages, $17.59 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Jeffery A. Landis.
Dr. Benjamin Gladd is an associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary. From Adam and Israel to the Church is the first volume in the new series Essential Studies in Biblical Theology. Gladd is the editor of the series and the author of this first volume. Gladd writes that this volume is an “attempt to produce an accessible, biblical theology on the people of God and the divine image” (2). He does so by tracing the image of God from the garden to eternity in the New Creation.
Gladd understands that being created in the image of God means that “Adam and Eve were called to represent God by functioning in the threefold office of king, priest, and prophet” (12). As image-bearers, we are called to emulate the three offices of our Lord. This threefold office is key to the structure of the book and is used to understand the calling of Adam, Israel, Jesus, and the church.
In addition to the threefold-offices theme, much time is spent on the threefold gradations of holiness seen throughout Scripture from the garden to Mount Sinai to the tabernacle/temple. This gradation is first seen in Genesis 1–2 in the structure of the garden. The world apart from Eden corresponds to the outer court of the temple. The garden itself parallels the holy place in the temple. The most holy place, where God dwells, is understood by Gladd to be equivalent to Eden itself, where God dwelt with his creatures.
Another theme that Gladd develops relates to the role Genesis 1:28 plays in the world today. Gladd contends that the Lord’s direction to Adam to fill the earth and exercise dominion is understood as still being the church’s call today. We exercise this dominion, in part, as we bring the gospel to the world as representatives of Christ working in his power and authority. Through Christ and then his church, Satan is being subdued and the nations are being welcomed into the community of Christ.
Gladd succeeds in his desire to make this book accessible to the church. It is not a light read but one that most members of the congregation could understand and benefit from. This book is a positive presentation of good biblical theology. He does not make an effort to defend covenantal theology but presents it in its richness for the reader to appreciate. At the end of each chapter, a helpful summary and section on application are provided. Gladd provides many Scripture references and does a good job connecting passages, giving the reader helpful insights.