Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fesko's "Last Things First" 1

A recent book I've purchased, J. V. Fesko's "Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology," promises to be a good read. Essentially, Fesko's purpose is to shift the lens through which many read Genesis 1-3 from creative to protological; that is, instead of narrowly regarding Genesis 1-3 as little more than a purposeless amalgamation of scientific facts, Fesko argues we should reexamine our presuppositions and: (1) understand the intent of Genesis 1-3 to be multi-faceted but primarily Christological and eschatological, (2) categorize what we learn from these chapters under a more general locus like "protology" or "first things," and (3) understand what these first things are by means of (but not exclusively) what Scripture reveals to be "last things." Although I have the bad habit of failing to review books in full, if I shall again fall short, I hope what I do cover will spark someone's interest.


As Christ’s redemption of the elect is the principal means by which God’s glory is manifested, one’s hermeneutical presuppositions should reflect Scripture’s high emphasis on Christology. It should be unsurprising, then, that the significance of Genesis 1-3 is understood by Christ, the apostles, and the prophets to be protological rather than simply and specifically creative. While scientific issues enjoy prevalence amongst contemporaries, God’s revelatory purpose in the first few chapters of Genesis lie elsewhere. After distinguishing between the typical dispensational and evolutionary approaches to Genesis 1-3, Fesko wittily observes:

“God asks a volley of questions regarding the how of creation to prove that Job does not know how the Lord created the world. If one assumes the common interpretive theory on Genesis 1-2, Job could have replied to God, ‘Yes, I do know! I’ve read Genesis!’”

In fact, the first dozen chapters in Genesis leave unanswered many questions about world history. Why? Because such information is not essential to God’s revelatory purpose. More to the point, Genesis 1-3 does explain that God created by fiat, yet specifics as to how He created beyond that are not mentioned; the reason any specifics are mentioned may sufficiently be explained by the following reasons: typological significance, utility for contrast to the special nature of the creation of man, and historically relevant elements (e.g. that which may have been regarded as gods by neighbors to the original audience is said to have been created by God, exemplifying His sovereignty).

Genesis 1-3 has less relevance to modern debates about lengths of days and evolutionary processes than either side are want to admit, and even if it were not so, noting similarities between the first and second Adams would be a more pertinent – if less attempted – goal in light of the aforementioned fact that, when Scripture is allowed to be its own interpreter, the focus upon Genesis 1-3 is clearly Christological and eschatological. The introduction provides a parting gem best summarized in Herman Bavinck’s depiction of the first Adam:

“He is the prophet who explains God and proclaims his excellencies; he is the priest who consecrates himself with all that is created to God as a holy offering; he is the king who guides and governs all things in justice and rectitude. And in all this he points to the One who in a still higher and richer sense is the revelation and image of God. To him who is the only begotten of the Father, and the firstborn of all creatures. Adam, the son of God, was a type of Christ." (The Image of God: Human Nature pg. 562)

Relevant passages: Job 38; Isaiah 65-66; Luke 24:27; John 1; Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 1, 15; Revelation 2:7

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