I sounded off a while ago about our tendency to have a somewhat one or at best two-dimensional approach to Biblical Theology, seeing one theme as key to unlocking the whole development and direction of the Bible's message - perhaps Covenant, or Kingdom. But the Bible gives us various diverse themes that run through the Scripture from beginning to end. One of these themes is the City.
We can have a somewhat ambivalent approach to the city. On the one hand some of our cities are so polluted that you cannot breathe safely, your lifespan is shortened by the smog. Sometimes our cities are characterised by injustice and inequality, with extremely wealthy penthouses and terrible slums and housing schemes. Cities can be dangerous places with areas where it is unwise to go unless you are known and know how to behave.
We dream of the countryside, of escaping to the hills, to the beach, to the mountain, to the forest. Of silence and solitude. Of clean air and crystalline water. Even typing these words makes me relax.
The story of creation in the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. But not just any kind of city. the City of God.
Alexander's book helps us to grasp the sweep of the Bible's focus on God's city chapter by chapter, beginning with Babel, the city that has no need of the creator-God, the city of self-sufficient pride. God's purpose, however, is a different kind of city - a Temple-City, a City that is a Holy Mountain, the City of the Great King, the Jerusalem that is to come, that comes down out of heaven from God.
It's a short book, but not quickly read. It's a distillation of lots of research and reflection by many scholars, making it so rich and suggestive that you have to keep pausing to think over on what you've read. But along the way you get insights you might never have noticed otherwise. Thoroughly recommended.
I received the book free from Crossway in return for an honest review. I have to say that I get to choose the books I want to review, so it's not terribly likely that I'll ever give a negative review!