Winner of the Word Guild Award for best book in Biblical Studies (2014).
In recent years, more and more Christians have come to appreciate the Bible’s teaching that the ultimate blessed hope for the believer is not an otherworldly heaven; instead, it is full-bodied participation in a new heaven and a new earth brought into fullness through the coming of God’s kingdom. Drawing on the full sweep of the biblical narrative, J. Richard Middleton unpacks key Old Testament and New Testament texts to make a case for the new earth as the appropriate Christian hope. He suggests its ethical and ecclesial implications, exploring the difference a holistic eschatology can make for living in a broken world.
“Richard Middleton plunges boldly into a most-treasured misreading of the Bible. He shows the way in which ‘other-worldly’ hope of ‘going to heaven’ is a total misread of gospel faith. In a demanding, sure-footed way he walks the reader through a rich deposit of biblical texts to make clear that the gospel concerns the transformation of the earth and not escape from it. Middleton summons us to repentance for such a mistaken understanding that has had disastrous practical implications. This is a repentance that he himself avows. When his book catches on, it will have an immense impact on the way in which we think and act about our common future in the gospel, a common future with important socioeconomic, political derivatives.”
—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
“It is no small irony that the majority of serious, Bible-believing Christians subscribe to a view of life in the eschaton that is fundamentally unbiblical. Middleton provides a much-needed corrective in his perceptive exposition of ‘holistic eschatology,’ which effectively unites the Old and New Testaments in stressing God’s commitment to the flourishing of the created universe of which we are a part. This book is so comprehensive, so exegetically based and theologically rich, that it could serve admirably as a basic textbook on biblical theology. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
—Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Richard Middleton has been one of my most important teachers. Every encounter with him changes me. This book is no different. Helping us see all the bad hermeneutical habits we’ve acquired (perpetuated by our hymns and choruses!), Middleton invites us to read the Scriptures afresh and see, perhaps for the first time, the biblical hope of a new earth. If read as widely as I hope, this book would transform North American Christianity.”
—James K. A. Smith, Calvin College; author of Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works
“Middleton’s vision of the renewal of all things is comprehensive, learned, accessible, and exciting. As an additional advantage, it is true. This is a stellar piece of work.”
—Cornelius Plantinga Jr., author of Engaging God’s World