Reviews - What do customers think about Lovely, Like Jerusalem: The Fulfillment of the Old Testament in Christ and the Church?
Vintage Nichols May 1, 2010
Please do not be dismayed by the previous reviewer's comments. You can easily enough discover the axe he has to grind by consulting his other reviews. Unfortunately he suffers from a constipation of the bright emotions typical of those moderately well educated in Biblical studies and "historical-critical scholarship" -- typically the bane of luminous Biblical insight. Trust, rather, the blurb by Professor Levering, and arm yourself by also reading the critical comments on the other reviewer's review.
Nichols' book is reliable introduction to how the Old Testament is intended to be read in the light of the New. (I use the term "intended" advisedly as one who dismisses as nonsensical the idea that one should edit out faith commitments in his scholarship. Scholarship from "the point of view of nowhere"? Gimme a break.) The Gospels themselves furnish examples of Nichols' thematic, as when Old Testament passages are interpreted as finding their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. (Pascal's "Pensées" are full of this.)
It is laughable that the previous reviewer suggests that Ignatius Press publishes nothing of "scholarly" import. Its numerous publications of the tomes of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar, I suppose, are pulp fiction? Please. The fact that Nichols cites Evangelical and low church Anglican authors, furthermore, is no flaw when these authors offer genuine insights and when Nichols' aim is clearly to pull together illuminating insights from wherever they may be found. The sad fact today is that the best Biblical scholarship is not the province of liberal Catholic writers, who have been too often infected by the disease of postmodern skepticism ("incredulity toward metanarratives") -- about which there is very little that is really "post" - "modern" at all (just another recension of the Enlightenment project).
Don't waste your time chasing the latest historical-critical rabbit down the bottomless hole of "contemporary Biblical scholarship." It will not only turn you into a disgruntled sour-puss, but melt your mind to cheese. Have you noticed how blithely uncritical these "scholars" are about the Kantian and Neokantian assumptions that shape their now "postmodern" approaches to Biblical "scholarship." It's simply mind-numbing. (Have a look at Roger A. Johnson's THE ORIGINS OF DEMYTHOLOGIZING.)
No, instead, do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK (Nichol's book). You will gain in understanding and insight. It won't make you stupid and grumpy. And you will be very happy you read it.
Quite disappointing compared to other books by Nichols Dec 17, 2008
Having read several books by Nichols which I found having a good (academic) level and dealing with recent authors or issues, I was having similar expectations with this book. However this book is quite popular (I should have paid attention to the publisher), one of these books in which the author uses up your patience by taking ten pages to say what could be said in one page.
Moreover the stuff dealt is quite « stuffy ». This book deals with the Old Testament, but mostly dated works seem to have been consulted. Nichols somehow shortly (and rightly) criticizes the outdated and flawed classic source hypothesis, but refuses to show any interest in the fragment theory (e.g. see the synthetic works of Thomas Römer on the the Yahwist or the Deuteronomist, actually the Deuteronomist school) which solves the problems of both the fundamentalist and classic source views : "I do not wish to follow those, who... would depreciate its [the OT] likely historical value even more"... Where is the honest inquiry here?
After many pages (chapters 1-3) of paraphrasing the Old Testament (with views I found naive in regard of OT scholarship) Nichols explains what he is after: attempting to refute the views of several protestant theologians or exegetes on the Old Testament (" Neo-Marcionism", ch. 4): - Schleiermacher (Christians should not ling to the letter of the law and thus not to the OT...); - Harnack (the OT tribal god is antithetical to the NT theology about Jesus, likewise for ethics); - Bultmann (the OT is misleading and the little value it has can also be found in Greek tragedy or some philosophies).
Nichol replies by reusing outdated answers to this problem, namely typological interpretation of the OT, citing (mostly obscure) OT exegetes like A. G. Herbert who wrote around the 1940's (ch. 5) or likewise outdated, not so well know NT exegetes (ch. 6-8). The more famous authors he cites are von Rad for the OT and Dodd for the NT, in any case all being outdated scholars. He then elaborates a bit on typological hermeneutics, drawing on famous Catholic French theologians like Danielou or de Lubac who wrote in the middle of the twentieth century. Some latter chapters are somewhat more substantial, dealing with pope Gregory on Job, Origen on the Song of Songs, and Aquinas on the Pentateuch. They serve as examples of what Nichols means. The book ends with a bibliography which is quite outdated, and misses some of the most important older books on the subject, such as Henri Clavier's Les Variétés de la pensée biblique et le problème de son unité (Brill, 1975), whose conclusion (e.g. his citation of Marc 2:22) on the relationship between the two testaments (p. 364-365) differs quite from Nichols' .
I did not find in the answers provided by Nichols a convincing refutation of « neo-marcionism ». Had he also more dealt with exegesis, he would have also noted another problem in need of answer: the liberties, the misuse of the OT by the NT authors.