Whose Promised Land?
This is a revised and updated version of a book originally published in 1983. Colin Chapman has continued to live in the Middle East and so writes from a position of experience and biblical understanding that few writers have. He has lived in this area of crisis since 1968 and now lectures at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. This is a masterly book if you wish to grasp the nature of the continuing problem in Israel / Palestine.
I don't believe anyone should try and speak with authority on the issue of the land without having a good look at this book that outlines the history, the Bible and its interpretation and the various groups that make up the complexity of the region.
Part 1 is entitled 'Understanding the History' and takes us from Abraham to the present including the seeds of the conflict, Anti-Semitism, Zionism and Jewish settlement of the land.
Part 2 is entitled 'Interpreting the Bible.' All Christians who look at the Bible as their authority and guide should read this section. It shows brilliantly how various people have interpreted the Bible and is really a master-class in how the New Testament interpretation of the Old is the key to grasping the Bible's significance for today.
Colin writes, 'Christians today do not have the liberty to interpret the Old Testament in any way that appeals to them. Everything in the Old Testament has to be read through the eyes of the apostles. It is they who, so to speak, give us the right spectacles for a genuinely Christian reading of the Old Testament' (page 184). He goes on to illustrate the point:
'If Christians today find that certain details in books like Ezekiel appear to fit certain situations in the Middle East today, they should resist the temptation to draw direct connections with these contemporary events. The reason is that since the apostle John has given his interpretations of Ezekiel's visions, this should be seen as the normative Christian interpretation of these visions, and not only one possible interpretation'.
In fact, the way Chapman interprets the Bible is a good model for getting to grips with the relevance of the Old Testament today. Not all evangelical Christians may be happy with the result, but I suggest it could open up the scriptures in a helpful and life transforming way if we gave the chapters and appendices 1 and 2 our prayerful thought.
Part 3 'Appreciating the issues today' faces the realities that feature in our news bulletins so regularly. Written after September 11, this book can help all readers look at world issues with hope in the sovereign Lord.
I warmly commend this book. If you read nothing else on the Israel / Palestine issue, read this one!