Work and our Labor in the Lord
James M. Hamilton Jr.
Pbk, 128pp, £12.31
James Hamilton, a professor of biblical theology at The Souther Baptist Union, has produced in this book a brief biblical theology of work. The book is part of a new series from Crossway: Short Studies in Biblical Theology. The four chapters look at work from the perspective of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. In other words, he explores work ‘as it was meant to be, as it is, as it can be, and as it will be’.
I was surprised to see the use of inclusive language - but it soon becomes clear that this is deliberate. Hamilton approaches and interprets the scriptures through the lens of a complementarian position. Unfortunately, this position is assumed and not justified. This is a shame as it limits the usefulness of the book.
‘God put Adam in the garden to work and keep it, and he put the woman in the garden to help the man’ (p. 41).
Woman is man’s helper:
‘What does the woman’s role of helping entail? Perhaps it would be easier to say what helping does not entail, for helping would seem to involve everything but what the man is to do. God created the woman so that together they could be fruitful and multiply, and God created her to help the man lead, protect, and provide. The jobs were given to the man to do, and the woman was given to help him do them. These roles are established so that together the man and woman can accomplish the tasks set out in Genesis 1:28 and 2:15’ (p.25, man the garden italics).
And this despite that the term helper is used of God (e.g. Ps 70:5; 115:9) but no limits seem to be placed on God’s role as a helper!
There is much own the book which is useful and insightful. But, for me, the complementarian framework through which Hamilton reads the scriptures mars the book. For those who agree with the complementarian position, the book will be well received.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Creation: Work in the Very Good Garden
God’s Design for Work
Work in the Garden Genesis 1–2
The Blessings of the Covenant Deuteronomy 28:1–14
Judgment on God-Given Tasks Genesis 3:16–19
Work Outside Eden
Chapter 2 Work After the Fall Fallen, Futile, Flourishing
Work under the Old Covenant
Chapter 3 Redemption: Work Now that Christ Has Risen
Renewal of Mind: Work unto the Lord That Adorns the Gospel
Work in Christ
Chapter 4 Restoration: Work in the New Heavens and New Earth
What We Were Made To Do
The Building Materials
The House They Build