Book Review: Jesus & Israel (Holwerda)

Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two?Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two? by David E. Holwerda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holwerda’s book on “Jesus and Israel” is a book on the relationship between Jesus, and the nation of Israel.  The book is divided up into seven chapters handling the following subject content.

Jesus and Israel in the Twentieth Century
In the first chapter Holwerda spends time giving a bird’s eye view of the theology of the Jesus and Israel in the 20th century.  In order to do so he has to take the reader back to the reformation and then progress from this point forward.  A good portion of this chapter is spent examining the implications and ramifications of the Jewish Holocaust.  The event of the Holocaust has had powerful implications on the understanding of Israel in relationship to the Word and Christianity; especially in the realm of OT and End Times Interpretations.

Jesus and Israel:  A Question of Identity
The thesis or line of direction for the 2nd chapter is on questioning the identity of Israel.  Who is Israel?  Holwerda, answers the previous question through:  A Genealogical Answer, A Geographical Answer, An Answer from Heaven, A Wilderness Answer and Promises fulfilled.

Jesus and the Temple:  A Question of Essence
In chapter 3 he wrestles with the issue of the temple and the Christ.  Simply put, he shows how the temple, as the symbolic presence of God, is actually fulfilled in Christ; the Word that became flesh.

Jesus and the Land:  A Question of Time and Place
In one of the more complicated issues, Holwerda handles the issue of the Land in connection of Christ.  Holwerda takes the Old Testament view of the land and funnels it into Christ but then takes it a step further towards an eschatological fulfillment.

Jesus and the Law:  A Question of Fulfillment
By far the most encouraging chapter of the book, Chapter 5 looks into the fulfillment of the Law in Christ.  He shows and expounds on the Law from a Christological approach, drawing from the Beatitudes and then shows how Christ has fulfilled the demands of the Law.

A Future for Jewish Israel:
Is there still a future for Jewish Israel?  In this chapter we see that the Gospels and Acts are mainly silent on this question.  However, we are taken to the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans as he expounds on the nation of Israel.

Universal and Particular Fulfillment:
In the most simplistic terms he concludes this chapter and this book by saying, “… any so-called particular fulfillments of Old Testament promises that bypasses Jesus Christ cannot be the genuine fulfillment that the Old Testament anticipates.”  In other words, Christ serves as our exegetical presupposition in handling the prophecies of the Old Testament.

In the opening preface of this book it states, 
“Behind the various eschatological viewpoints labeled as millennial lie certain fundament theological assumpts that shape the entire perspective.  How one answers certain basic questions inevitably determines the shape of everything else.  Once one is committed to a certain set of basic answers, the interpretation of most promise-fulfillment texts seems self-evident.  Consequently, disagreement among eschatological viewpoints concerning the status and role of Israel is not so much a matter of this or that isolated text as it is a matter of  disagreement concerning foundational perspectives”   
I believe this statement captures the thrust of this book and the importance of one understanding the relationship of Jesus and Israel in the context of eschatology.  Thus one’s theological/eschatological presuppositions and lens really dictates how they interpret the biblical texts on Israel and also the current culture of Israel in light of the Holocaust, the 6-day war and apocalyptic speculations.

What I appreciated the most about this book is the focus of Christ.  Not only does Holwerda capture the basics of Salvation History but he also interconnects Salvation History into the realm of current talk concerning the nation of Israel.  As stated above,   “… any so-called particular fulfillments of Old Testament promises that bypasses Jesus Christ cannot be the genuine fulfillment that the Old Testament anticipates.”  Sola Christus!

View all my reviews