From Eden to the New Jerusalem

An Introduction to Biblical Theology

From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology

T. Desmond Alexander’s From Eden to the New Jerusalem is an introduction into the discipline of biblical theology. Alexander introduces the reader to the discipline by exploring six themes found within chapters 20–22 of the book of Revelation. Begot out of a personal study of these chapters, Alexander has two observations that he attempts to show in this work: “(1) the biblical description of our future existence has more in common with our present life than most people assume; [and] (2) the concluding chapters of Revelation offer a window through which the main themes of the biblical meta-story may be studied.”[1] The book’s structure is contingent upon Alexander’s six themes. Thus, there are eight chapters: (1) “Introduction”; (2) “From sacred garden to holy city: experiencing the presence of God”; (3) “Thrown from the throne: re-establishing the sovereignty of God”; (4) “Dealing with the devil: destroying the source of evil”; (5) “The slaughter of the Lamb: accomplishing the redemption of creation”; (6) “Feasting from the tree of life: reinvigorating the lives of people from every nation”; (7) “Strong foundations and solid walls: living securely among the people of God”; and finally, (8) “Conclusion.”

Although not an exhaustive treatment of the Bible’s major themes, Alexander’s biblical theological treatment of the six themes in Revelation 20–22 (which, could be argued for as the most important themes in the Bible) winsomely covers the entire biblical meta-narrative as it reaches culmination in Jesus Christ. His presentation of the biblical data remains close to the text and comes with pastoral intention. He writes, “Good theology always has pastoral implications. Doctrine and praxis ought to be closely related.”[2] I think Alexander succeeds. His research is scholarly and extensive, yet written in simple, non-technical terms that the layperson could easily understand. Furthermore, his pastoral care permeates every chapter, which implicitly calls the reader to set his hope fully in the Lord Jesus Christ and his New Jerusalem. Therefore, I commend T. Desmond Alexander.

The Presence of God 

Alexander provides a strong case for the divine presence in God’s temple, which echoes that of G.K. Beale and Gordon J. Wenham, by viewing the Garden of Eden as God’s “temple-garden” that was originally meant to expand and fill the earth with his image by means of his image-bearers’ fruitful multiplication (Gen 1:28). He provides three main reasons for this:

(1) Since the garden is a place where divinity and humanity enjoy each other’s presence, it is appropriate that it should be a prototype for later Israelite sanctuaries … (2) Because they met God face to face in a holy place, we may assume that Adam and Eve had a holy or priestly status. Only priests were permitted to serve within a sanctuary or temple. (3) Although it is not stated, the opening chapters of Genesis simply imply that the boundaries of the garden will be extended to fill the earth as humans being are fruitful and increase in number.[3]

He then notes the important links between the Garden, the tabernacle, and “the various sacrificial sites that existed” in between these two sanctuaries, which Alexander says is “a significant step towards the fulfillment of God’s initial plan that the earth should become his dwelling place.”[4] That is, just as the various sacrificial sites in Genesis were “impermanent, miniature forms of sanctuaries,”[5] the tabernacle, and later the temple of Jerusalem, both serve as microcosms of the New Jerusalem where God will make his dwelling forever with his people.[6] In the NT, the concept of temple finds its culmination in Christ, wherein God’s temple is the body of Christ—that is, the church. Alexander explains: “Since Christ’s body is the temple of God and since, as Paul repeatedly emphasizes, Christians are those who are ‘in Christ’, it naturally follows that the church, as the body of Christ, is also the temple of God.”[7] 

Therefore, NT believers experience the presence of God in a far greater manner than the saints of the OT, for the very presence of God, by virtue of union with Christ, dwells within them. And even still, despite “progression from Eden to tabernacle to Jerusalem temple to church”,[8] Christians await an even greater experience of God’s presence in the New Jerusalem. Alexander places the theme of God’s presence first in the book because it not only provides a frame work “for understanding the biblical meta-story, but it enables us, as we shall see in our remaining chapters, to understand better complementary themes that run in parallel from the initial chapters of Genesis to the final chapters of Revelation.”[9]

Dealing with the Devil

The only real quibble I had was in chapter 4: “Dealing with the devil: destroying the source of evil.” Although Alexander helpfully speaks to the Bible’s peculiar silence regarding “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan” (Rev 20:2), and although he deals with the Devil’s reign on earth,[10] his serpent-like nature,[11] his influence on earthly kings,[12] and his ultimate demise,[13] Alexander fails to discuss the origin of Satan himself. He doesn’t deal with the fact that “the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made” (Gen 3:1). Granted, Alexander’s purpose for including the biblical theme of Satan is not an exhaustive purpose, but knowing his origin as one created by God himself could have enhanced Alexander’s argument for his ultimate demise because the sovereign Lord who created him will certainly defeat him.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, I give the book five stars. Alexander’s arguments are coherent, his writing is simple and clear, and he is thoroughly evangelical and lovingly pastoral. Also, his select bibliography is worth perusing. In fact, I plan to use it as a spring board for future biblical theological research projects in the future.


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[1] T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2009), 7.

[2] Ibid, 11.

[3] Ibid, 25.

[4] Ibid, 31.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 37, 44–60.

[7] Ibid, 70, 72–73.

[8] Ibid, 73.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid, 100–102.

[11] Ibid, 102–109.

[12] Ibid, 109–111.

[13] Ibid, 111–120.