Book Review: Immanuel in Our Place by Longman
Tremper Longman, Immanuel in Our Place: Seeing Christ in Israel’s Worship (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2001). 228pp. Paper. $13.00
Tremper Longman’s book is a must read. For biblical scholars and pastors, it is a great review. For those who may find Meredith Kline a daunting read, Longman's book is simpler. For anyone interested in facilitating a Bible study on how to see Christ in the Old Testament, this book is sufficient. It is a popular read, on many levels, even as the series editor suggests, but that does not mean this work is void of profound truths. Sometimes the most profound truths come in simple packages and Longman’s book exemplifies this.
Longman covers a lot in nineteen chapters, but he provides a good bibliography in the endnotes and questions for consideration at the conclusion of every chapter, which pushes one to deepen his or her biblical understanding. In particular, most of his connections are fairly standard and are not too controversial. It is not until you reach chapters 15 and 16 that you may find your envelope being stretched. Chapter 15 is titled, “The Sabbath: The Focus of Sacred Time,” and chapter 16 is titled, “Christ and Sabbath: Sacred Time Reconfigured.” Any person who has adopted a view regarding the Sabbath will read these chapters wondering where Longman will end up. Is the Sabbath something to be continually obeyed? At some points it seems that Longman would agree (169); yet, at other points one is not quite so sure (179-182). Whatever his position is, he clearly demonstrates Christ’s relation to the Sabbath and how he fulfilled it.
Longman’s approach is relatively simple. Part one explores the notion of sacred space and how it relates to worship in the Old Testament. He begins in the Garden then moves on to discuss the idea of worship in certain locations after the Fall. He explains how worship occurred at altars, the tabernacle, and the temple. At the conclusion of chapter 6, he explains how Christ was the fulfillment of these Old Testament types. He opened chapter 6 by asking the question, “Where do we go to be in the presence of God?” (63). He later answers the question by saying Christians no longer require the temple or any other Old Testament type “because we have Jesus, who is God himself” (69). He then spends several pages explaining that, while Jesus was the true temple (69), Christians are also temples (70-72). Then he seeks to answer the question of whether heaven will have a temple after the final consummation.
In part two, Longman outlines the details regarding the sacrificial system. He next takes some time to explain how Jesus fulfilled those shadows. In particular, he wants to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled each type of sacrifice. Admittedly, he notes that in some places in the New Testament, a distinction is not made; however, there are places where the New Testament authors provide enough information to make a direct link to Jesus’ fulfillment of a specific type of Old Testament sacrifice. This section of his work is particularly neat, as many Christians seek to lump Jesus’ sacrifice into a general mold without noticing the nuances of his death and how it pertains to a specific sacrifice in the Old Testament.
Parts three and four cover the notion of a sacred people and a sacred time. In these sections, Longman explains how Christ, as the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizadek, fulfills the priesthood of the old dispensation and how his work enables Christians to be priests today. Briefly, he discusses the priesthood of every believer before moving on to discuss “sacred time.” It is here where he covers the idea of the Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, and several of the other Old Testament festivals.
All in all, this is a great book and one that should be on your shelf. If there is any constructive criticism, it is minor. In some places Longman makes claims that he does not substantiate biblically (133). In other places, as has been mentioned, you may wonder what his stance is on the Sabbath. However, these things are minor and should not prohibit you from purchasing and reading this excellent work.
Leon Brown, MDiv