A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Ross Harmon
Michael Barrett introduces The Gospel of Exodus into an academic and worldly culture that questions both the historicity of the Gospels and the Pentateuch and the relationship between the Gospels and the Pentateuch. Barrett supports the historicity of the Bible and examines the “big picture of Exodus” to show that Exodus promotes the gospel message of Jesus Christ (5). The book is divided into two sections. Part One shows the connection between theology and history, and Part Two elaborates on the theological themes of Exodus. The book contains fourteen chapters—two in Part One and twelve in Part Two—that further subdivide the book, along with three excursus and the conclusion. In each of the fourteen chapters, Barrett includes “Questions for Thought” that may be used for reflection or discussion questions in a group study.
In Part One, “The Facts of the Matter,” Barrett addresses the historicity of the Pentateuch, for, without Moses recording true and actual events, the theology and faith of the Pentateuch dissolve (1). Barrett discusses misery, deliverance, and gratitude. These three themes capture the theology of salvation. He also recaps how God redeems Israel and the Church. Barrett shows the typological connections between the Church in the NT and Israel in the OT: the “spiritual (invisible Israel) is the same as the spiritual (invisible) church” (12-13). Moreover, Barrett discusses how God redeems His chosen people through the blood of Christ, not ethnicity (13-14). In addition, Barrett claims that Israel’s redemption from Egypt is a historical reality (occurring around 1446 BC) which can serve as a type (i.e., an actual event with real participants that God uses as a symbol for truth and “to point to spiritual realities”) (16-22).
In Part Two, Barrett features, summarizes, and discusses portions of the exodus narrative. Part Two has three sections, which reflect the Heidelberg Catechism: misery (Ch. 3), deliverance (Chs. 4-10), and gratitude (Chs. 11-14) (3-4). Barrett introduces theological connections between the exodus and the gospel within these chapters. For example, Barrett highlights Israel, their need for salvation, God as a redeemer, their faith in God, God saved them by the exodus, and Israel’s gratitude for salvation. He then relates Israel to the Church, Israel’s time in Egypt to living in sin today, and the exodus to redemption in Christ.
One chapter may serve as a sample from Part Two and a standout chapter, Chapter 7: “Deliverance by Substitutionary Sacrifice.” It highlights the sometimes-overlooked connections between Exodus and the New Testament. First, chapter seven directly links Jesus’ death to the Passover (107). Also, Barrett observes the misery that has befallen Israel in Egypt and the good news that God has chosen to show His grace upon Israel, like the Church (Rom 9:15) (109). Moreover, Barrett discusses God’s plan of deliverance through the blood of a sacrifice (110). In the Exodus narrative, the blood is drawn from a scapegoat or the Passover lamb, but in the New Testament, rescue will come from Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the world’s foundation (Rev 13:8)” (111). Barrett elaborates in fuller detail about how the lamb is the obvious substitute (111), the perfect substitute (112), the slain substitute (113), and the successful substitute (114). Throughout each sub-point, Barrett cites several verses from both Exodus and the New Testament to thoroughly illustrate the typological connection between “The Gospel of Exodus” and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Upon review, Barrett’s work brings awareness to the value of the Old Testament, along with showing the continuity of God’s message between the OT and the New Testament. Three factors are necessary to consider before recommending this book: (1) How well does Barrett accomplish the goal of his argument, (2) In what instances does Barratt fail or struggle to support his claim, and (3) What audience is best served by The Gospel of Exodus.
Barrett definitively shows that the theological message of Exodus reveals the truth of the gospel message of salvation. Barrett’s extensive tracing of types formed in Genesis through Scripture unto the book of Revelation provides numerous examples that provide a solid cumulative argument. Additionally, the typological connections focus on salvation history. Barrett has clear writing that connects God’s salvation found in the exodus to the greater and final salvation found in Jesus (248-249).
The work has two shortcomings: First, the book does not adequately define the method (a moderate drawback), and second, two of the book’s excursuses seem unrelated to the book’s topic (a minor weakness). First, the book does not clearly explain types or typology. Some grace should be extended to Barrett because the book is not directed toward the academy. However, a careful eye will find his provided definition of type, “is a picture prophecy,” lacking in detail. Barrett points the reader to his other work Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament, for a “thorough discussion of how to identify and interpret types” (17 fn. 1). Perhaps a middle ground could have been provided, like a definition in the back of the book or a lengthier description in the introduction or front matter.
Second, Barrett includes three excursuses. The excursuses discuss the name Jehovah, “The National Covenant,” and modern views on observing the Sabbath. The excursus about the name Jehovah and observing the Sabbath do not clearly align with the focus of the book. The chapter on the name of Jehovah provides the author’s view on using Jehovah as a title for God. It’s not clear what the relevance of the discussion has concerning the content and arguments of the book. However, Barrett may have in mind a target audience who holds to two ends: (1) A group that exclusively refers to the title of God in the OT as Jehovah, and (2) a group that finds Jehovah as a misrepresentation of the tetragrammaton. The excursus on observing the Sabbath is also ill-fitting within the book. The excursus on the Sabbath (199) is associated with the chapter on the ten commandments, which it follows (181). However, the excursus seems to be more of the author’s hobby horse than a lesson on the typological associations between the exodus and the NT.
These quibbles do not detract from the value of the book, however. As foreshadowed within the review, The Gospel of Exodus is recommended for pastors and church members. In addition, seminary students would also benefit from Barrett’s typological survey of salvation types associated with the exodus. This book would serve well as an independent study for small groups or individuals seeking to learn about the unified message of the salvation story in the Bible. Additionally, the book works as a companion to a sermon series on the Exodus. In sum, Michael Barrett’s The Gospel of Exodus is a quality resource for seminary students, pastors, and church members studying the salvation history from Genesis to Revelation. The typological study also teaches the unity of the Bible. Barrett’s volume provides an accessible explanation of one of Scripture’s most essential metaphors, the exodus.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary