Review: The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology (Gage)

Warren A. Gage, The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001; reprint from Carpenter, 1984), 142 pages.
I would like to thank Wipf and Stock for providing me a review copy.
Wipf and Stock | Amazon

Overview

I didn’t know much about Wipf and Stock until recently, but I discovered that a number of books I have read and enjoyed are being republished by them. I hope to review some of them here, since they deserve some attention (including Dumbrell’s The End of the Beginning, and Jordan’s Through New Eyes). Warren Gage’s book was originally published by Carpenter in 1984, but Wipf and Stock began reprinting it in 2001. Dr. Gage is an Old Testament professor at Knox Theological Seminary in Florida.

Gage’s book is divided into two parts. In Part 1, Gage lays out the eschatological nature of the first seven chapters of Genesis. In so doing, he unashamedly employs a typological hermeneutic (similar to that of Jim Jordan, Peter Leithart, William Dumbrell, and Meredith Kline). Thus, he argues that “Genesis 1–7 constitutes a paradigm for macrocosmic (world) and microcosmic (Israelite) history; that is, that the history of the prediluvian temple-cosmos is synthetically paralleled in the histories of the postdiluvian temple-cosmos, the first Temple of Israel (from exodus to exile) and the second Temple of Israel (from second exodus to second exile)” (4–5). Gage traces various themes from Genesis 1–7 through the Bible, though most of his time is spent in Genesis and the New Testament. This is a loss, in my opinion, since much of what he identifies can be seen throughout the OT and culminating in the New. I expect that Gage was constrained by space (Part 1 is only 71 pages). The themes he identifies are:

First, God is considered as the protological Creator and the eschatological Redeemer. Second, Adam as the first man is compared with Christ as the last Man. Third, the protological fall of man into cursing is considered in view of the prophecy of the eschatological restitution of man to blessing. Fourth, the earthly Edenic beginning is compared with the promise of Edenic Zion in the end. Fifth, the protological pattern of the Noahic judgment is considered with regard to its eschatological recurrence. (5)


These five themes correspond to Creation, Adam, Fall, Conflict of the Seed, and Judgment, which are typologically repeated in The New Creation, The New Adam (Noah), The Fall Renewed (Ham), Seed Conflict Renewed, and The New Judgment (16). The renewed conflict between the seed and the new judgment proceed from Genesis 11 to Revelation 22. Thus, Gage focuses primarily on only two divisions in history—prediluvian and postdiluvian. The following chapters, however, do discuss other typological instances of
each individual element in Biblical history. What Gage doesn’t do extensively, though, is show how the pattern (the five elements together) repeats multiple times through history.

Part 2 is a verse by verse commentary (“meditation”) on Genesis 1–7. Gage is engaging and insightful in these pages. A few quotes will illustrate:

Commenting on Gen 1:2c:

The account of creation moves in a broad sweep from the restlessness of the Spirit to the Sabbath rest of God. In the beginning the Spirit hovers over the womb of the old creation to bring forth the first Adam. In the fullness of time the womb of Mary, overshadowed by the Spirit, will bring forth the last Adam (Luke 1:35). All the sons of redemption, the children of the new creation, will at last be born of water and the Spirit of [in?] the womb of God’s will (John 3:5). (77)

And on 3:21:

It is fitting that the Lord God, who was to make the last sacrifice (Heb 9:26), should make the first; to furnish the first Adam with robes of righteousness, the last Adam would suffer nakedness and shame (Ps 22:18; Matt 27:35). This slaughter is the first sermon, and there is much Gospel in it. Here the Lord provides the skins of the innocent to “cover” the shame of the guilty. In this offering of the animals, the earth first tastes innocent blood and Adam first savors unmerited favor. (102)

Response

It is a whirlwind of fresh air to read a book on Genesis that ties Genesis into the big story of the Bible without spending much time on source-critical or historical-critical issues. The more I read the Bible the more I see how foundational all of Genesis, but especially the first 12 chapters are. Gage’s typological hermeneutic is alive in contrast to the at times stale hermeneutic of many critical commentators on Genesis. It is biblical and theological from the first to the last. That being said, there are a few comments that ought to be made.


First, it would have been nice if Gage had spent more time discussing how the five element pattern recurred throughout Biblical history (e.g., in Israel, in Jesus, and in the Church). I think Gage is right to see the pattern writ large across the whole Bible, but the Bible is like a fractal with patterns within patterns within patterns. More could have been said about smaller instances of the pattern of redemption.

            Second, the reprinted edition looks like it was printed from scanned pages of the first edition. The text isn’t as sharp or dark as it should be. The pages also have random specks that one would expect if it were a photocopy or scan. I’m very glad that Wipf and Stock is republishing this fine work, so I don’t want to complain too much, but it would have been nice if they had cleaned it up a bit before printing.

Conclusion

I give this book 5 stars and would strongly recommend it to everyone from lay people to scholars. The footnotes make clear that Gage is aware of the larger scholarly issues, but he keeps that out of the text, for the most part. Thus, the work is accessible to the untrained, but is respectable scholarship as well. Pastors who are preaching on Genesis will find it especially valuable, as will anyone who is interested in grasping the big picture of the Bible as it is contained in the first few chapters of Genesis.

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About Peter Green

I am a doctoral student at Wheaton College. My dissertation is on vineyard imagery in the Old Testament, particularly as it is used to convey the theme of Creation to New Creation. My interests are (in no particular order): biblical ethics, epistemology, apologetics, sacramentology, science and faith, biblical theology, OT theology, biblical political philosophy, and intertextuality. I consider myself to be in the historic Reformed tradition, and attend a PCA church. I graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary--the PCA's denominational seminary--and hope work for Reformed University Fellowship, which is the PCA's campus ministry, following my PhD studies.
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