“This Single Book Perfectly Organizes the Old Testament.
There is No Need for Anything Else.”
Dr. Min Young-Jin, Korea’s greatest Bible translator
who wrote the review for the tenth book of the History of Redemption series
|Dr. Min Young-Jin
Dr. Min Young-Jin is known as Korea’s representative Old Testament theologian and known as the best Bible translator in Korea.
He received his Ph.D. degree in Israel’s most prestigious college, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served as the director of United Bible Societies and as chairman of the advisory board of Asia Pacific Council.
He was a professor at the Methodist Theological University and authored the commentary books on Exodus, Ruth, Proverbs and Song of Songs (for a Bible commentary publication that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Christian Literature Society of Korea).
The tenth book of the History of Redemption series was published four years after the almost simultaneous publications of the seventh, eighth, and ninth books. A welcome guest returned with the publication of this tenth book. Dr. Min Young-Jin, Korea’s representative Old Testament theologian and greatest Bible translator in Korea, has previously written reviews for the seventh and ninth books, as well as the latest tenth book.
What led you to write the review for the tenth book?
The first review I wrote was for the History of Redemption series was the seventh book. I had no connections to Rev. Park at that time. Many theologians who had recommended the
History of Redemption series contacted me when I was asked to write the recommendation. Dr. Min Kyoung-Bae (honorary professor of Yonsei University), who wrote a review for the first book is a college senior of mine, and Dr. Do Han-Ho (Former president of Korea Baptist Theological University), and Dr. Son Seok-Tae (Honorary president of Reformed Graduate University of Korea) are my juniors. They told me to write the review without any worries. I found no theological biases when I read the book. It was not extreme to one side or another. Instead it was written in the most sound and biblical manner while it narrated the historical figures with the central theme of redemptive history. One cannot write this way unless one is grounded on the two spiritualities of prayer and the Word. It is beyond mere academic and theological writing; each sentence reveals Jesus Christ. Hence, there was no burden when writing the book review.
There is not a single point in the History of Redemption series where even the people who maliciously accuse Rev. Park can find fault. How hard do they want to work to find flaws? No one has been able to do so during all this time. I tell those people to stop the malediction and underline the parts that are wrong and bring it to me. None have approached me so far. It is a truly grateful thing.
I studied and organized all ten books after receiving the request to write a book review from the senior pastor of Pyungkang Cheil Presbyterian Church, Rev. Philip Lee. Although it is a review of the 10th book, I chose 15 keywords that help understand all the books and organized the characteristics unique to the tenth book.
The keywords of the History of Redemption series lead the readers into the book and open up locked doors. The 15 words are as listed: ① history of redemption ② administration of God ③ genealogies ④ covenants established with God ⑤ providence of God ⑥ promises of God ⑦ high priest ⑧ Ten Commandments ⑨ tabernacle ⑩ ark of the covenant ⑪ bestowals of God ⑫ commands of God ⑬ nation of God ⑭ love of God ⑮ grace of God.
To pick a figure central to all these keywords, it would definitely be Abraham. The subject of the tenth book is Abraham. The history of redemption begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the center of the history of redemption as well as its conclusion. The development of the content has been studied only on the basis of the Bible and has a very sound, christological conclusion.
The manuscript he prepared for the book review was filled with words on one side and commentary on the other, lined with study notes. Although it was a review of the tenth book, each subject was packed with memos on where certain words would appear in the series. It shows how much he studied the books in detail.
What was the most impressive or memorable in the 10th book of the History of Redemption series?
In my review, I introduced six features of the book. All six features were very impressive but the relationship between bestowal, command, and faith is the highlight of this book.
After the Thanksgiving Service for the Publication of the tenth book, president Um Ki-Ho of the Christian Council of Korea greeted me and thanked me for clearly organizing the subject of bestowal, faith and works in my review. When I inquired from him, he told me he was moved by the fact that man did not receive bestowal by faith or works but because God bestowed it and made it possible to have faith and do works. I told him that those are the words of Rev. Park, which I believe to be the most important point from his tenth book.
Modern systematic theology has been arguing about the subject of faith and works for a long time. Some say faith is first and others say works comes first, continuing a fight that has no answer. However, Rev. Park revealed that the bestowal of God comes before both faith and works. There is no faith and there is no works without the bestowal of God. I believe that this view, that the bestowal of God allowed both faith and works, is the framework of Rev. Park’s theology. This outstanding answer is something I also learned while writing the review for the tenth book.
I was also impressed that the book uses only the Old and New Testaments as the basic, primitive reference material for the study of redemptive history. Many theologians start their research not from the Bible, but from the theories of Western theologians. Once you start like this, you have to converse and comment while relying on their theology from the beginning to the end. The History of Redemption series does not contain much dialogue with other world scholars from an academic standpoint. However, this is only because the author himself is an authority on the Bible, the authority of this field. I believe Rev. Park found the materials for study within himself. He added various reference materials in the process of editing, but those were only to help the readers to understand instead of being the source of his study. I find great joy in this fact. An outstanding work came to be, because he did not rely on other books but only on the Bible.
Dr. Min Young-Jin, who received his doctorate degree from a prestigious college in Israel and dedicated his entire life to studying and translating the Bible, is acknowledged as the greatest Bible translator in Korea by Kookmin Ilbo (Korean press), and is known as the greatest Old Testament theologian in the world within the Christian community in Korea. His impression of the History of Redemption Series are as follows.
The History of Redemption series truly encompasses the theology of the Old Testament. Of those, the tenth book is the peak.
Gerhard von Rad, who accomplished the historical paradigm shift of the Old Testament Theology, described the theology as traditional history. He connected the Old and New Testament using the expression, “history of salvation,” and stated that all incidents that appear in the New Testament are reinterpretations and the conclusion of the traditions that began in the Old Testament. Walther Eichrodt, who lived a few generations before von Rad, also spoke of the fundamental consistency of the Old and New Testament, emphasizing “agreement,” and drew the connection between the Old and New Testament using the expression, “history of agreement.” These views tend to emphasize the formalities.
On the other hand, Rev. Park’s expression, “history of redemption” emphasizes the actual content. He explains in the tenth book that the history of redemption is fulfilled only through the love and grace of God, not Abraham’s faith or works founded on the law. God’s love and grace is what connects the Old and New Testament, the power that fulfills redemptive history. His methodology in the depiction of redemptive history is also derived from Moses in the Bible. Deuteronomy 32:7 appears in all the books of the author. The “days of old” that Moses emphasized is not the historical past of mankind but the history of grace, the works of God. The author considers this history of grace, especially the chronicles that appear in each site of history, as a very important indicator in understanding redemptive history. That is why he recorded detailed charts to help the readers understand the chronicles in each of the books of the History of Redemption series. Also, he perfectly organizes the theology of the Old Testament through redemptive history to only reveal Jesus Christ. The important themes of Old Testament theology are in harmony through Jesus Christ and redemptive history, fully expressing its significance.
Dr. Min Young-Jin authored four commentary books on the books of Exodus, Ruth, Proverbs, and Song of Songs, which was published by the Christian Literature Society of Korea (for the celebration of its 100th year anniversary), which is acknowledged as the greatest selection of commentaries in Korea. His commentary on Exodus caught the attention of the domestic Christian circles for its numerous references to the History of Redemption Series.
The biblical commentaries were published in celebration of the 100th year anniversary of the Christian Literature Society of Korea. Of those, I authored and published commentary on the books of Ruth, Proverbs and Song of Songs. Many times I used Rev. Park’s books for reference while writing the commentary on Exodus. Some people complained, but I declared there is no book that exceeds Rev. Park’s book on the tabernacle and garments of the priests, so I referred to it with full confidence. I was asked to teach about the Pentateuch at a theological school in Sri Lanka for a semester, and I used the content in the ninth book and the book of illustrations for my lectures.
I looked through a vast amount of material on the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant when writing the Exodus commentary. The materials on the garments of the high priest and the tabernacle can be divided into three categories: those of Judaism, Western Christianity, and Rev. Park.
The Jews did not study the details, like the blueprint of the tabernacle, but instead studied many things for film and media, like reproducing the scenes of offering sacrifices or the daily lives of the priests. They do not present a blueprint to reconstruct the tabernacle as it is, but merely suggest a rough sketch. It is the same with the western theologians. There are a few points that differ from the Jews but they also have not done detailed research.
However, Rev. Park’s research is even on level of architectural engineering, with minute calculation of the dimensions. If one desires, it is possible to use these detailed calculations to reproduce and reconstruct it. The same goes for the garments of the high priest. It is possible to actually make and wear it according to the descriptions. The details were gathered by research and study, not by relying on the materials of Jewish scholars or western scholars. If Rev. Park had started off by relying on their material, it would have done great damage to the book. Rev. Park did not focus on other things but wrote the book only through studying the Hebrew and Korean Bibles. Therefore this work of art was brought to light. He restored the design of the tabernacle and the ark itself, restructured the historical and geographical routes in order to interpret it redemptive historically and still within historical facts. There is no such material anywhere in the world. Not even the Jews were able to do this. The stones of the breastpiece, its size, and the structures inside the tabernacle are overwhelmingly different in detail. Old Testament scholars of the west and Jewish scholars will also be amazed if they read the sixth or ninth book of the History of Redemption series. I hope that the work of Rev. Park can reach them as soon as possible.
The reference material used by Dr. Min Young-Jin to write the commentary of Exodus adds up to about twenty books. Of those, three of the books are from Rev. Abraham Park’s History of Redemption series (the sixth and ninth book and the illustrated book of the tabernacle). The table of abbreviations in front of the book lists the three books of the series as a frequently used reference. Almost every page on chapters 25-31 and 36-40 in the commentary on Exodus, which deals with the tabernacle, refers to the History of Redemption series and evaluates it as the most detailed, descriptive and persuasive restoration that has been done so far, a remarkable contribution to this field. Dr. Min Young-Jin, in introducing various material that restores the garments of the high priest, evaluates Rev. Abraham Park’s book as the finest.
Any thoughts or impressions on the Thanksgiving Service for the Publication of the 10th book?
I attended the Thanksgiving Service for the book review and listened to Rev. Park’s video sermon. As I listened, I thought, “So this is how he would usually preach. He gave sermons like this at the age of 70.” I loved the structure of the sermon. He connected Galatians 3 and Matthew 5 to preach about the bestowal of God. It was amazing how the subject of the gospel and law in Galatians 3 was connected to the Beatitudes. In addition, he included no small talk or unnecessary remarks, or talk about worldly things. He only immersed in the text of the Bible to preach about the gospel using the epistles and vice versa. Apostle Paul never met Jesus in real life. However, I felt the preacher connect Jesus Christ, who historically lived and breathed on this earth, to Apostle Paul, who worked fervently also within history. I have not heard other sermons by Rev. Park but could feel how thoroughly he would give biblical teachings. This is an exemplary sermon. I prepared a book review for the Thanksgiving service but ended up talking about the grace I received from the sermon.
What would it have been like to actually meet the author?
While reading the History of Redemption series, I wondered how I could easily fly through these books with comprehension, but not with other theological books. The style of writing in most books on theology [excluding a select few] are very difficult. Even seminary students do not want to read theology books. However, Rev. Park’s books are not in the least burdensome to read. It is not only easy to read, but the elegance in his style of writing stands out. The maps, diagrams and pictures in the book are all perfectly made and greatly help the readers understand. He gave great consideration toward the readers. I can fully understand the author’s character and his nature as a minister.
There is almost a 10-year difference between me and Rev. Park. Although it is only 10 years, Rev. Park is part of the generation that experienced the Korean War, whereas I was in 4th or 5th grade. I grew up not knowing the era of Lee Seung-Man, but Rev. Park directly experienced those times. I also read the other series he authored, The Modern and Contemporary History of Korea. There are many among those who experienced the Korean War that are extreme rightists, but the series are very objective and list only historical facts. I was able to clearly learn and understand the historical events that took place when I was young, as well as its background. It is written in such great detail that I at first thought the author had been a journalist. How can an average minister hold this much interest? He must have had a heart burning with love for this nation.
If I could have met Rev. Park after reading this tenth book, I think I would have said to him, “Pastor, after you write all the twelve books of the series, please write on Christology.” Christology is the center of all Christian doctrine and is truly vast in amount. Since Christology is already contained within Rev. Park’s History of Redemption series, it would be more accurate to ask him to systemize it than to write it. Christology is weaved into all ten books, and each book reaches a christological conclusion through the history of redemption. The scriptures of the New Testament referred in the books are enough; there is no need to add anything else. However, I believe it would be a great contribution to the religious circle and aid the understanding of future scholars if the standpoint of New Testament Theology in view of redemptive history was also organized. There is nothing more I can request. This tenth book, The Consummation of the Kingdom of God: The Ten Bestowals and Ten Commands in itself is perfect in its approach of Old Testament Theology. It will contribute to the churches of Korea and churches worldwide for ages to come. Because the style of writing is not difficult, many theologians can easily encounter and learn the thoughts of the author and come to understand the depths of the Bible.
Reporter: Timothy Jung
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)