The Biblio-Files

bib·li·o·phile (bĭb'lē-ə-fīl') n.

1. A lover of books.
2. A collector of books.

20.4.10

The Shadow by Ryan Dalgliesh

Last week I was able to knock out The Shadow. I bought this book shortly after its release for two reasons.

First, I know Ryan Dalgliesh. He and I shared the same town (San Angelo, TX) back when I was in college. We've had many edifying conversations about the Bible, and back when I was in quasi-pastoral ministry, I asked Ryan to preach in my stead while I was away. Overall, I can remember some of the discussions, sermons, and Bible-studies that would eventually become this book. Needless to say, I was eager to read it, knowing it would be helpful as well as warmly familiar.

Second, since I've been at seminary, the one thing I find most theologically mouth-watering is Biblical Theology (BT) and learning to preach Jesus from the Old Testament. BT sounds redundant, but it's a technical term that refers to a specific way to study the Bible, namely, by examining redemptive-history as is unfolds from Genesis to Revelation. Over thousands of years, through a multitude of authors, and in the midst of much diversity, the Bible keeps a staggering coherence that seeks to make one simple point: Jesus. The entire Old Testament points to Him in various and sometimes unexpected ways. The more folks become skilled at seeing Jesus in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, the more gospel-centered and edifying our Bible reading (and consequently, our preaching) will be. So, to know that another book is coming out that helps people see Jesus in the Old Testament is a good thing.

The Bible is about Jesus, and The Shadow is about that.

Praise

Let me make a few short comments about this book and then turn to hermeneutical issues regarding "seeing" and preaching Jesus in the OT.

First, Ryan is a gifted preacher and writer. Nothing keeps me turning pages better than a well told story; nothing keeps me turning pages better than a great explanation of the Bible. When the two of those make a baby, watch out! Ryan tells and preserves the Bible's stories in a colorful, bed-time story fashion (in a good way!). My imagination was running wild as I imagined the myriad of animals marching towards Noah's ark, or the terror Daniel must have felt in the Lion's den. (I remember Ryan once saying he loved reading Peter Pan and other children's classics. I can tell.) He has done the hard work of imagining what scenes in the Bible would have looked like, felt like, even smelled like. He puts himself in the shoes of the Biblical characters, and has turned Old Testament stories into living, breathing, high-def pictures of God's saving acts. Not something that can be done my many.

Second, Ryan has the ability connect the Old and New Testament in a helpful way. People talk about how advances in telecommunication and transportation have "shrunk the globe." I could be in China, or at least Skype someone in China, with the click of a mouse. With access to such technology, the world indeed seems smaller than it used to. The same thing happens when gifted teachers know the Bible well. The Bible "shrinks" when someone can take an Old Testament text and show how it is linked to the New Testament in a way that is clear and understandable. Ryan has always been able to do this, and he comes through again in his second book.

Finally, Dalgliesh preserves the Bible's message of the cross, namely, penal substitionary atonement. He is faithful in discussions of sin, blood sacrifice, or the substitionary nature of salvation. The end of each chapter includes a call for repentance, and faith alone in Christ alone for salvation. I can only imagine how powerful it would be to hear these chapters preached! Ryan has a high view of God, the Bible, sin, and the gospel, and if one walks away with an deeper understanding of these things, then one can be sure he's read a good book.

Some Subtle Issues

Now, here's the thing. Not everyone agrees on the way in which Jesus shows up in the Old Testament. Too often, people see things that are merely similar or analogous to Jesus' work (take for instance, the story of Rahab and the scarlet cord from Josh. 2:17-19), and mistakenly "see" Jesus where he was never intended to be seen. In effect, one can overread the Bible due to such sensitivities.

At this point, the distinction needs to be made between seeing and preaching Jesus from an OT text and seeing and preaching Jesus in an OT text--the latter being harder but more grounded in the text itself. To be sure, Jesus does say that all of Scripture points to Him (Luke 24:44), but a text that reminds you of Jesus in the OT is different from an OT text that is explicitly pointed to (by the NT writers) as a "type" of the person and work of Jesus. Consequently, this will affect how one reads and understands the OT and the Bible's storyline overall. Similarities can be arbitrary with no organic link between them, but "types" are the historical pointers (people, events, and institutions) that are linked to another and show how God's story is progressing to Jesus. Though Ryan in no way dilutes the gospel in any portion of his book, there is a sense where at times the explicit NT links are missing. Nothing that Ryan has written is theologically lacking, but there seems to be some textual liberty taken due to mistaking similarities of the person and work of Christ for types that the NT writers acknowledge. Typology, not similarity, is the key to understanding the OT.

For more on this issue as well as helpful books on this very topic, see:

Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible

Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching

Edmund Clowney, Preaching and Biblical Theology

A Commentary on the New Testament's Use of the Old Testament

On Christocentric Hermeneutics overall, find helpful articles, here.

For an article that is similar to Dalgliesh's approach, see SBTS's Jim Hamilton's works on typology, here.

One final issue pertains to Dalgliesh's chapter on Psalms 22, 23, and 24. The way David penned these pslams is portrayed as if David was merely dictating abstract words about a priori events that were foreign to his own personal experience. True, the OT writers were carried along by the Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21); true, there were things they wrote that at times they themselves did not fully understand (1 Pet. 1:10-12); true, some portions of Scripture are the result of God simply saying, "Write this down" (The book of Revelation); but not all the authors of Scripture, especially David, did not produce their writings in such a way. David most likely wrote Psalm 22 while he was surrounded and threatened by his enemies. His words, though highly metaphorical, correspond to actual events that happened to him personally. The same is true with Psalm 23 and 24. David penned his psalms almost as an inspired journal to his life. His pain, anguish, sorrow, joy, and praise were all real emotions linked to real events that he experienced. Though David was writing of the Anointed One to come, I'm just not sure he did so in the way that Ryan's chapter portrays.

Overall, this book was a fun read. It was clear, accessable, and left me with a desire to go read my Bible. Thanks Ryan for your hard work. You make the Bible, especially the OT, come alive in ways most people can't. I hope your book is read by a lot of people and they come to know their Bibles better as a result.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
Peace.
E

11 comments:

Blake White said...

Good review man. Sounds interesting. Btw, Goheen & Bartholomew have an abbreviated version of "The Drama of Scripture" out. More good BT (maybe a tad more accessible). Thanks.

ryan dalgliesh said...

Plevan,

First of all, let me say "Thanks so much" for taking the time to read the book and post a review. that means a lot to me. I'm glad you enjoyed the story telling and were able to picture them vividly. That was my hope. Obviously one of my goals in writing the books is bringing along those who may not be as well versed in scripture as you so that is why i wrote it in the manner that i did.

I perfectly understand your argument with Rahab and agree that similarities are not necessarily types.

However, i'm going to have to disagree with your take on Psalm 22,23,24. Bebee shared the same concerns as you do and i totally understand them. While David probably didn't pen them in his chamber i am certain he penned them of Christ. I base that off of Acts 1:16-20 which quotes Psalm 109 and says that David wrote this through the Holy Spirit. Second, from Acts 2:23-31 where Peter says that David was a prophet and "foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of Christ" quoting Psalm 16. Acts 13 Paul uses the Psalms to say that David was writing of Jesus (v13-37) and quotes Psalm 2 and 16. We can't forget that Acts 4 Peter again (quoting Psalm 2) indicates that what David wrote came through the Holy Spirit and was actually related to Christ. Jesus recognizes that David wasn't writing of himself in Psalm 110 when in Mark 12: 35-37 he says "David himself, in the Holy Spirit declared..." (Mt 22:41-45 also tells this story).

as you mentioned Jesus says that everything concerning himself and written in the Law, Prophets, and Psalms had to be fulfilled. Jesus indicates that David wasn't writing about himself, and Peter says that "David spoke concerning [Christ] and being therefore a prophet, foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ."

We can't just assume that Psalm 2,16,109, and 110 are the only Psalms that David knowingly wrote about the LORD.

I am not bothered at all by your take on Rahab. But your take on the Psalms bothered me a bit because i felt that it overlooked these other texts that i have mentioned above.

I'd love to hear your response to these verses.

Thanks, man. And seriously, thanks for reading the book and writing a review.

ryan

ryan dalgliesh said...

Please know that i'm not at all upset by your review. see... i'm smiling :). I totally agree that David wrote of his own circumstances, but i also think that in that there was a deeper layer. I don't see how David could refer to himself as "the King of Glory" in Psalm 24.

Please know that i'm not mad or trying to defend myself. i know that sometimes in text things come across wrong.

I really can't express how deeply appreciative i am of your having taken the time to read the book.

thanks, again.

ryan

Eron said...

Thanks for the reply. I didn’t expect you to get wind of my review this quickly, yet I did expect that once you did you would respond in the fashion you did, namely, thoroughly and biblically (in good ol’ Dalgliesh fashion). I knew beforehand (no pun intended) that my review would eventually reach your screen, and you would send me back to my Bible for me to wrestle with my own ideas. Thanks for that. Even after this reply I intend to interact with your thoughts.

Interestingly, as in times past, when we’ve had an apparent disagreement I have always walked away a bit confused, thinking we don’t really disagree. So it is now. Here’s why: You opened and closed your response on these statements: “While David probably didn't pen them in his chamber I am certain he penned them of Christ,” and, “We can't just assume that Psalm 2,16,109, and 110 are the only Psalms that David knowingly wrote about the LORD.” I couldn’t agree more.

As I reread my post I can see how I may have left room for you to think otherwise. I didn’t exactly expound on how David in fact did speak of Christ. Overall, though, I think maybe the rub comes in how David wrote of Christ. We are in full agreement that David wrote of Christ (the Psalms too clearly reveal David as having a clear expectation of a coming Messiah), but the nature of how he “knowingly” wrote of Christ (and the events surrounding him) is not as obvious as is sometimes portrayed. Five minutes trying to persuade a modern Rabbi how Jesus fulfills the OT, especially from the Psalms, would prove that the nature of prophesy-fulfillment goes beyond saying, “See, Peter and Paul say that Psalm 2, 16, 22, 23, 24, 109, 110 are about Jesus, so, they’re obviously about Jesus.” But, when you go back a read the Psalms that are quoted in the NT (as I know you have thoroughly) they often seem to be arbitrarily ripped out of context. David doesn’t always seem to be saying what Paul or Peter say he’s saying. How do we account for this and how do we explain to people that these texts aren’t used out of context, even when a cursory reading of the whole Psalm quoted suggests otherwise? Well, I think it involves finding a different way of understanding those passages as well as the nature of typology overall. It doesn’t involve deciding whether David “saw” Jesus or whether Jesus fulfills the Psalms (or for that matter, the whole OT), but only how. I think your chapter on the Psalms could set people up to oversimplify the nature of prophesy-fulfillment, not to mention inspiration. It doesn’t set people up to err theologically. Brother, you are superb at explaining the Bible—superb! I am constantly envious of your knowledge of the Bible. I occasionally tell people about this guy back in TX who knows the Bible better than everyone in the room. But, textually, I think your chapter on the Psalms was, well, maybe not my favorite.

Yet, at the end of the day, there is no disagreement. I just maybe would have liked for you to portray David surrounded by enemies (109:1-3), hearing their war chants outside his palace (2:1-3), feeling unfathomable anguish because of their blasphemies and the wagging of their heads (22:6-8), feeling forsaken (22:1) because of how their insults have pierced his hands and his feet (22:16), yet committing his spirit to God (16:7-11), trusting that God would fully vindicate His servant and in due time make all his enemies a footstool for his feet (110), causing all the nations to eventually flock to the Son (2:10-12). Yeah, I would have liked that more.

Much love. Much respect.
I know I didn’t deal with your NT references. I will. I just laid out for you what I think comes before that.

Thoughts?
E

ryan dalgliesh said...

Reading your reply to my reply to your response to my book makes me love you all the more. I didn't feel like we were disagreeing sharply to be sure. Mostly my pride was offended but my pride should be offended until it is so shamed that it leaves my heart.

I struggled with how to write this chapter and reading your last paragraph i now wish i had written it that way.

I may know the Bible but i always want to be careful how i present it. I am glad that you feel my theology is sound and i will eagerly await your thoughts on my next book whenever that should happen.

Tell everyone at Southern (only those from Angelo... no need to tell EVERYONE) "hello" for me.

thanks for taking the time to invest in me and sharpen me as a man of God.

ryan

Eron said...

D,

Thanks bro. Much love.

Your comments sent me back to my Bible like Ezra on crack and Kool-Aid. It's been a while since I've searched around like that! Not to mention, I spent a few hours reading chapters and articles on the New Testament's use of the Old, and man, I know very little about typology [but enough to say what I said...;D ]! Yet, you have that affect on me like no one else. Thank you brother.

I also don't want you to feel discouraged about that chapter. Bro, it was well written for sure. In fact, I failed to mention that I think your book will help tons of people. Your aim was to make it easy to see Christ in the OT, and I think you went above and beyond that. Overall, textually speaking, I liked your book more than Kirkland's. In fact (again), I was in a local bookstore today and had the owner order some copies of your book to sell in his store. Most books in this issue are not accessible to the average reader. Yours is and I am happy to get it in more people's hands.

As far as prophesy-fulfillment goes, all that is needed on the surface is exactly what you offered. If Peter and Paul's words in Acts comes to people's minds when they read the Psalms, they are reading their Bible's faithfully and in accord with the apostles' preaching. Whether they can hold their own against a "modern Rabbi" is irrelevant, not to mention unlikely to even occur. This type (no pun) of discussion is reserved for Bible nerds like us. It's an important discussion, but on a level that most Christians will never go.

If you are at all interested, I took a preaching class at Southern last semester and we talked about this very thing. A book I found tremendously helpful is Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Goldsworthy. I have a link to that in my post. If you ever get a chance, that book can articulate what I am saying 100X better.

Anyway. Thanks for you humility. I want to interact more. I'm still reading on this issue and learning exactly how the NT uses the OT. It's crazy and overwhelming, especially when Greek and Hebrew exegesis starts flying around.

All that to say, good to hear from you again. Let me know your future ideas for books. I am sort of, maybe but probably not, quasi-thinking about a writing project, but we'll see.

Thoughts?
Keep in touch.
E

Kevin Kirkland said...

Hey Plev- why you picking on me now. Just keep talking to Ryan- at least he has the knowledge to defend himself. No need to tell him his book was better- I have already told him that. (lots of times) Send our love to all the San Angeloians in Kentucky. Have a great day my friend.

Eron said...

Kirkland,

Hey man, I’m not sure how to take your comment. At first it sounded like you took my comments personally, but “send our love” and “have a great day” threw me off. I’m going to assume that maybe you were a little bothered by my comments, so I want to err on the side of apology. I wasn’t trying to “pick on you.” If you read my review of your book a while back, you would see that I thought highly of it and you (If you didn’t see that review, just scroll down. It’s down there somewhere.). I don’t think his book was necessarily “better” overall. You wrote two different books on two different issues, but textually (except for the Psalms) I felt more at home with his hermeneutical approach. There was nothing in your book that I disagreed with. Yet, I would say you could have made many of the same points from New Testament texts without having to allegorizing Nehemiah. That said…

“Just keep talking to Ryan” sounds a bit harsh. Brother, nothing I said about you (whether in this discussion or in my review of your book) warrants that kind of…instruction. You wrote a book and thus subjected it to public evaluation and review. I, as well as anyone, am entitled to my own (hopefully, grace-filled) opinion. To take comments of critique (in the midst of much praise, mind you) as “picking on” you seems to tap into some pride, something which Dalgliesh was willing to identify in his own heart. I sought to be balanced in my evaluation of the both of you, along with every other book I review. Do you know how hard that was for The Shack? However, I am willing to admit that maybe my comment to Ryan was unneeded. I wasn’t trying to diss your book or your ministry or anything by that comment.

It’s good for me to have interacted with both you and Ryan. The advantage of knowing authors personally is the feedback they offer on my own feedback. This discussion shows me how hurtful my words can be, and it influences future reviews, whether I know the authors or not.

…and by the way, where is the book I’ve written? Exactly.

All that to say, I will tell everyone from SA hello, if I remember.
Have a good one, brother.
Eron

Kevin Kirkland said...

Hey Eron

I am so sorry. I was purely joking and should have made that more clear. I had no problem with anything that you said about my book or Ryan's book. I think you are brilliant and enjoy very much your reviews on books and often look to them to see if I should venture into reading certain ones.

I thought your review of my book was very fair and well said. I thought you moved in grace and consideration of the subject, the style of writing, and me. My only regret with the book per your review is that I did not send it to you before we went to press so that you could have helped me do a better job of using the allegory of Nehemiah in a new covenant stance. I understood exactly what you getting at and while I feel like I made it clear that the process itself was the paramount piece of the allegory, I could have done a better job of explaining that the end results for Nehemiah and the end results for us are subject completely to God's sovereignty. As I was writing the book, I often came to the same question you posed, "Will the walls be rebuilt?" Scripturally speaking, I find the answer to be "no" in consideration of the entire nation, but I also find the answer to be "yes" for individual families and churches that will engage in repentance and a mass returning to the Lord.


I love you Eron- always have. In hindsight I wish I had consulted you as I was writing- the eye cannot say to the ear, I don't need you. I do need you and so many others that I have come to understand as not my adversaries but as my brothers that long to see the Word rightly interpreted and the Kingdom come quickly. Ryan and I may seem like an odd couple to some, but our friendship is of the utmost importance in my life and I grow everyday in the Word because of his influence in my life. He has made me better and i hope he has gleaned some measure of grace and compassion from me as well. It is a beautiful marriage, that for some time my pride kept me from even considering. Pride is the enemy of God in me, and over the years, I have learned that normally when I am offended, i am walking in it.

I was not hurt or offended by anything you said my friend. Again, I apologize that I left the door open for interpretation with my last comment, but I wanted to ensure you that I was not offended or hurt in any way.

I know it is just a matter of time before God moves in your heart for a book and I am very much looking forward to reading it- I have much to learn and consider you someone I can learn from. Keep the reviews coming and keep making much of King Jesus. May the Lord bless you and keep you my friend.
The ear,
Kevin

Eron said...

Kirkland,

Hey man. Thanks for the humble words. The tricky thing about blog comments is that the absence of tone and facial expression can and do lead to misunderstandings. Like I said overall, I thought that maybe you were joking (glad you were), but there seemed to be a tone, but I wasn't sure. So, I wanted to err on the side of apology and grace.

That last comment was really helpful for me. Thanks man. I reread my own comment to you and found it to be a little defensive even though I wanted to apologize. So, sorry for that.

All that to say, I hope you're doing good. It was good to touch base with you regardless of the comments. Cheeze and I often converse about the good ole Angelo days and sometimes your influence comes up. We're both grateful for you, brother. You've had a hand in both of our lives and you've always been encouraging to me. Just know that.

Cool, mayne. Talk to you later.

Oh yeah. Did your son ever develop that spiral I taught him to throw out by the ASU pavilion? I sometimes wonder.

Peace,
E

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