When you think of the Exodus, what do you think of? For me I still have Dreamwork’s ‘Prince of Egypt’ jumping to the front of my mind. The authors of ‘Echoes of Exodus’ tell us we must think bigger than that.
In fact, we should think of the Exodus as fundamental to our understanding of the Bible. We should be seeing the echoes all over the place. God’s plan is about saving a people from slavery to freedom, and that applied physically to the Israelite nation in the book of Exodus, as well as to people today. The authors go on to explain that what we really need is ‘true freedom’.
In order to show us this grand theme throughout scripture, Wilson and Roberts say we must ‘hear’ it: “ “in the same way you can’t logically prove that West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliet” without hearing the echoes. They go on to say that we should think of Scripture as music (p21). We use metaphors all the time and they “have great power to fashion the way we conceptualise things” (p23). By seeing Scripture as music we start to see that these echoes of Exodus are everywhere.
From here they go onto demonstrate the idea of Exodus is all over the place – starting at the Last Supper, and working through the story of the Exodus.
By the time I got to the end of this section (aptly called the First Movement), I thought ‘you know what, these themes come up in Genesis – have they missed them’? Then I turned the page to see the Second Movement was going to take us right there. We then move through the rest of the book in four movements, encompassing the whole Bible.
There are some really intriguing Exodus echoes that would benefit from going back and working through again. For example the idea that ‘exodus stories often begin with the naming of little boys (p62), or the connection to the cleansing of Canaan from hostile powers being used in Mark as Jesus comes casting out demons and illness (p127). These are ideas that I have not thought through much before, and would greatly benefit from spending more time in the text.
The authors openly admit that there is no ‘logical’ way to prove that these echoes exist and are deliberately included – but a lot of them sure are convincing!
There were a few times when I wondered if Exodus was the base paradigm to look to. This is something I think the authors wondered about too, as they go on to say: “it is not just the Last Supper evokes the Passover in hindsight; it is that the Passover evokes the Last Supper in advance.” From a Biblical Theology perspective I want to say that the Exodus was a pivotal point for Israel and is constantly pointed back to by the rest of the Bible. But whether everything points back to/forward to the Exodus may be a stretch too far – although there was no particular point where I felt like the authors went too far. I wonder if perhaps James Hamilton’s idea of ’salvation through judgement’, albeit being less specific, is what the authors were getting at in points.
One thing I really loved was that the authors also did not leave us wondering ‘so what?’ at the end. A lot of the time these ideas can be presented and then left in the ‘ivory tower’ per se, and not applied to the average Joe on a day-to-day level. Each chapter has review questions and thought questions to help you digest what you’ve just been thinking about, and the chapters are not particularly long. I would have appreciated some more detail in points – but I do not think that was the author’s intention.
I can see this book working really well in a church book group, or amongst a few friends. It must say that it surprised me not to find this book as part of the ‘short studies in Biblical Theology series’ put out by Crossway – ‘The Exodus and the Redemption of God’ perhaps. As a church we need to get our heads back into Biblical Theology, and I love that Crossway is putting out books in this theme.
As a fellow Brit, I have to say I appreciated reading a book that had analogies I could fully relate to (rather than pulling out my cultural translator). Having Mordecai described as the Buttons character of Esther was a highlight.
Once again, a big thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book through their Blog Review Program.
Echoes of Exodus is released in the UK on March 31st.