How does Bauckham’s model of ‘movement from the particular to the universal’ help us make sense of the Bible’s broad story-arc?
The second strand which Bauckham follows through the Scriptures starts in the book of Exodus. Although Yahweh elects one nation as his special possession, he does so as the one true God of all nations. By choosing Israel he makes himself known to the world. The emphasis here is on the name of Yahweh, i.e. on revealing his identity, as opposed to bringing blessing as in the Abrahamic narrative strand.
Here the particularity of election flows out to the universality of world-wide recognition. This is seen to occur paradigmatically at the Exodus, and throughout Israel’s history. The prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah see Israel’s future return from exile as a witness to the nations. Solomon views the temple functioning as a centre from which Yahweh’s name will go forth and draw the nations to worship. Often the idea of blessing is included in this revealing: in Isaiah especially the God who is revealed is the universal Saviour.
New Testament believers were immersed in this Isaianic viewpoint. The apostolic mission was seen to be the fulfilment of this hope: Jesus had achieved a new exodus at the cross, and now his chosen ones went out to announce it to the world. The goal was that ‘every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ – i.e. the mission was to reveal the true identity of Yahweh to the nations: he was the one who had acted in Jesus.
This strand adds considerable richness to the first Abrahamic one focussed on blessing. It emphasises the relational nature of God’s mission: not just to fix things but to restore a right relationship between him and us. There is no idea in the gospel of our being helped apart from knowing God.
Once again Bauckham persuasively and simply guides us through the Scripture, showing the strong continuity between the testaments, showing how his model (one to many) opens things up for us. Nice.