"Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two?" by David E. Holwerda (Eerdmans, 193 pp.; $12.99, paper); "Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament," by Christopher J. H. Wright (InterVarsity, 256 pp.; $14.99, paper); "The Messiah in the Old Testament," by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. (Zondervan, 235 pp.; $17.99, paper). Reviewed by Frank Thielman, associate professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Alabama.
John's gospel tells us that the Pharisee Nicodemus once stood up for Jesus by reminding a group of his colleagues that they could not arrest the Galilean rabbi without giving him a hearing. They were not pleased with this reminder. "Search the scriptures," they retorted, "and observe that no prophet comes from Galilee" (John 7:52).
That was one of the earliest recorded salvos in a battle that has continued for many centuries over precisely how, if at all, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. Today most Jews do not believe that Jesus fulfilled their Scriptures in any sense, and many view Christian claims that Jesus fulfilled this or that verse in the "Old" Testament as attempts to wrest Jewish traditions from their rightful owners. Christians, on the other hand, agree that Jesus and the church represent God's faithfulness to his promises in the Old Testament, but they often disagree on the specifics.
Have God's promises to Israel in the Old Testament been fulfilled in Jesus and the church in some way not immediately obvious to the authors of the Old Testament themselves? Or do some promises concerning Israel still await precisely the fulfillment that the authors of the Old Testament seem to have intended?
Three recently published books address these important issues. In "Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two?" David Holwerda ...1