We are into chapter 2 of B and M now. Here Bauckham shows how his model of ‘movement from the particular to the universal’ pays off in terms of explanatory power for the Bible viewed holistically. This is where we get to do some serious engagement with the text, at a large scale level. Strap in for a test drive, with Bauckham at the wheel.
Bauckham follows four strands of the Bible story, each with its own ‘trajectory’. Starting with:
Abraham’s call is a striking narrowing-down after the universality of the early chapters of Genesis. However from the start it is clear that this election has the nations in view also. The promises to Abraham emphasise ‘blessing’, but this is to be for all nations. The rest of Genesis, following Abraham’s offspring, creates an expectation in the reader that blessing to the world is the goal of this family’s story. However after this the theme drops off, with just a few glimpses in the rest of the OT. The most notable is Isaiah 19:24-25: “Blessed be Egypt my people and Assyria the work of my hands and Israel my inheritance.”
The NT takes a lot more interest in this Abrahamic promise, esp. Paul in Galatians 3. Matthew begins and ends his gospel with this theme of the promise to Abraham for the nations.
The ‘trajectory’ of this strand, then, is ‘blessing’. This concept sums up in the most comprehensive way God’s purpose for his creation, from Genesis 1 onwards. Blessing includes salvation as well as creation goods, the former being God’s re-assertion and rescue of his own purposes for the creation, in the face of sin and the curse. Curse and blessing run in parallel through much of the Bible story, but with Christ bearing away the curse in his own body, blessing is finally established as God’s last word to his creation. In fact Paul calls this word ‘the gospel’ (Gal. 3:8-9).
That’s the first strand of ‘particular to universal’ offered by Bauckham. Nice strand.