My good friend Andy Naselli recently completed his second Phd. The first one was done at Bob Jones in Theology and resulted in an important book entitled Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology. The second one was done at Trinity under D. A. Carson, and it has now been published as From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34–35.
This book results from a whole host of good things: Andy is one of the brightest scholars I know, works as hard as anyone I’ve ever met, is one of the most organized men in the world, and he wrote this book on a superlative text under the supervision of the wise, learned, and godly Carson.
The book you hold in your hands deserves close attention for several reasons: it treats a climactic passage in what may be the most important letter ever written by one of the world’s most influential authors. Moreover, in Romans 11:33–36 Paul himself quotes two other great texts, the books of Job and Isaiah. In addition to the significance of the material treated, Andy Naselli’s treatment is notable: this book explains the use Paul makes of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3 in Romans 11:34–35, and the explanation is as insightful and responsible as it is daring and exciting.
It’s not hard to imagine a published dissertation being responsible and insightful, but daring and exciting? Indeed.
Exciting precisely because Andy Naselli dares to understand. The daring claims made here are that Paul gets the Old Testament right; that as Paul quotes the Old Testament, his citations invoke broader passages, and that the flow of thought in those broader passages corresponds to the argument Paul makes. Insight and courage ignite Naselli’s bold contention that Paul’s use of these texts cues us to a wider typological connection that Paul sees between what Isaiah said to the nation of Israel, the experience of Job, and what Paul says the Jewish people will experience in the future. The wood of Naselli’s scholarship, arranged with rigorous care, has been set aflame by his sympathetic analysis of Paul’s perspective, resulting in a sacrifice of praise with a pleasing aroma. Accounting for all the evidence, whether from primary sources or secondary literature, the blazing book yields light and heat.
How could Paul’s citation of Isaiah 40:13 be typological? Because as the quotation of Isaiah 6:9–10 in all four gospels and Acts indicates, the hardening that led to the exile from the land has not yet been lifted (cf. Rom 11:25). The prophesied new exodus and return from exile have been anticipated and inaugurated but not yet consummated. Anticipated in the returns to the land narrated in Ezra and Nehemiah; inaugurated in the death and resurrection of Jesus; there is a sense in which, having rejected the Messiah, Israel remains in exile. Paul is explaining in Romans 11 how God will keep his promise to restore his people, having made them jealous by those who are no people (cf. Deut 32:21 and Rom 11:13–14). The typological pattern of new exodus and return from exile evoked in Isaiah 40, then, is the pattern that will find its antitype, its ultimate fulfillment, when the Redeemer comes from Zion, banishes ungodliness from Jacob, takes away their sin, brings them into the new covenant, “and in this way all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26–27). Naselli also draws insightful parallels between the experience of Job and Israel in making the case that Paul’s use of Job 41:3 is also typological.
Andy Naselli shows that Paul’s use of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3 demonstrates that God established a foundation of judgment on which he built a soaring tower of mercy for the praise of his glory in the life of Job and the history of Israel, and this pattern of events will be fulfilled in the future redemption of Israel to which Paul points. To put it another way, Naselli has demonstrated that Paul’s argument here is that God shows his glory in salvation through judgment.
This book deserves the attention of all who care to understand the passages examined here, and more broadly, how the New Testament authors understand the Old. This is an exploration of unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways (Rom 11:33), pointing to the one whose mind none has mapped, to whom none give counsel or bribes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:34–36). Let me keep you from it no longer: God’s best to you in this insightful and responsible, daring and exciting read.
In my opinion you should buy this book right now and read it as soon as possible.