By Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (2022)
Foundational & Formidable
Crossway Review Program
This book has been gifted in exchange for a review. Thank you Crossway!
Personal Experience and Level of Enjoyment in this Book:
My interest in this book, In the Fullness of Time, stemmed from the description of the title on the Crossway landing page. Considered an exegetical study of Acts and Paul, it’s further described to cover foundations of Paul’s deeply nuanced theology via pseudo-textbook format.
As I reflect on Richard B. Gaffin Jr. 's wisdom and insight, writing style, scholarly influences, and theology, the description from Crossway expressed the nature of this book to near perfection. This title stretched my understanding of the basic, essential themes of Acts and Paul well beyond my imagination and expectations. In other words, as difficult as this book was to read, it was equally enjoyable!
To speak first to the difficulty – this book undoubtedly lived up to its categorization as a “textbook”. Through 400 plus pages, Gaffin meticulously and decisively communicates each theme down to its core. In particular, though not an exhaustive list, these themes were Pentecost, pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), the kingdom, missiology, eschatology, and the resurrection (specifically in relation to Pauline theology). My challenge in balancing and understanding these themes was just that: balancing these themes. Although I’m moderately familiar with the aforementioned subjects, their particular relationship in regard to Acts and Paul are areas I don’t find myself typically pondering. Furthermore, Gaffin’s penmanship tested my vocabulary time and time again. As far as I can recall, In the Fullness of Time wins the award for most googled words in a book ever read by Sam Brock – I was literally keeping count until I got sick of tallying…
Before departing to speak on my interest and enjoyment in this book, I’d like to round out my thoughts on the overall difficulty of this read, particularly on Gaffin’s style. As a former Westminster Professor, Gaffin draws much of his personal inspiration and source material from two formidable scholars: Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) and Herman N. Ridderbos (1909-2007). Known in part for their impact and love for reformed theology, their collective passion has certainly been passed to Gaffin. It’s not reformed theology that brings forth troubles though (at least for myself). My struggles brewed progressively while reading due to the book's density, complexity, and sheer profoundness. Gaffin builds from bottom-up, starting with the micro and macro implications of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church, followed with an in-depth look at Pauline theology as it pertains to the last times and the resurrection of Christ. It would take a number of paragraphs to expound on these themes, so I’ll leave you with this – if you want to be challenged and think of Acts and Paul in ways you never did before this book may be for you. Also, keep in mind that the overall source material is derived from Richard B Gaffin Jr.’s classes taught at Westminster! Hence the reason it reads as it does.
What kind of person would like this book:
As I recently mentioned, the Christian reader looking for a decent challenge may be interested in this book. That being said, each of us are at a different stage of life and sanctification. You may find this read extremely easy while another may find it unbearably hard. I found In the Fullness of Time to be right on the edge, a space where I could tolerate the challenge and see it as profitable without finding myself completely lost (read something by Dostoyevsky if you’re interested in this feeling… or ignore this comment if you have no clue who that is). To wrap things up, I’ll say that I’m not particularly fond of or opposed to this book. I can’t find myself recommending this to many friends, though I do feel I benefited from Gaffin’s scholarship of the aforementioned topics. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again years in the future to appreciate his insights on a deeper level, but at the present moment, the desire to read something else is far greater.
Category: Biblical Studies
Format: Hardcover w/ Jacket
Page Count: 448
Published:May 03, 2022