In his nonfiction debut, Mapp tracks down and explicates threads of Christian prophecy in the Scriptures, operating under the familiar religious assumption that, as he puts it, “The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is about Him.”
Mapp extensively explores the Old Testament, finding incidents and symbols that he contends foreshadow later happenings in the life and ministry of Jesus. He “decodes” these incidents—events ranging from the creation of Adam and Eve to the Flood and Noah’s Ark to the Israelites’ years of wandering in the desert—by overlaying them with Christian symbology. The author envisions most of the greatest Jewish prophets and leaders, from Isaac to Joshua to Moses, as precursors and archetypes of the Christ story, even when these connections are heavily conflicted. For example, Mapp (following many experts) attempts to find Christian parallels in the worldly, entirely human life of King David. “Of course, the type breaks down in a number of key aspects,” he concedes in this instance. Bible “decoding” accounts like Mapp’s typically make allowances of this kind. Although the author contends that “many notable Old Testament passages…forecast details of His life with amazing accuracy,” “amazing accuracy” would be for Jeremiah or Ezekiel to say, “In 1,025 years, a man named Jesus will be born in Bethlehem who will be the Son of God.” “Amazing accuracy,” in other words, requires no decoding. Instead of such clarity, explicators of Christian prophecy seem forced into the same kind of word games that Mapp plays in his book, sifting through Old Testament texts for phrases that can be applied to New Testament contexts. It’s a venerable practice (indeed, the authors of the four Gospels were the first to indulge), but Mapp’s efforts will probably fail to persuade his unconvinced readers that the Old Testament writers had Jesus in mind. Yet for devout Christians who place importance on the New Testament being the fulfillment of the Old (who have, in Mapp’s tidy phrasing, the “gladly held conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord”), this book provides a handy gathering of the most popular of these interpretations. As a bonus, Mapp’s readings of the New Testament—particularly the Gospel of St. John—are enjoyably nuanced.
A useful manual for Christians seeking to find the roots of their faith in Jewish Scripture.