Alan Bondar’s first book is a good primer volume that presents the full Preterist interpretation of New Testament prophecy. For those not familiar with the position, it asserts that all of the prophecies of the New Testament (and a good portion of those in the Old) were fulfilled in the first century (preterist, basically being the Latin term for “past”). For the full preterist, these prophecies include what is commonly called the Second Coming of Christ, which they claim was fulfilled “invisibly” or “symbolically” in the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in A.D. 70. For them, there is no more “second coming” in our future. We are in the full Messianic Era, the New Heavens and Earth, now!
Bondar did not come to this position easily. In fact, according to his acknowledgements, he was converted to this position during the course of writing this book.
The first three chapters of this book were the contents of that original, incomplete manuscript. My intention was to help people learn to read the Bible in context. I had a totally different direction in mind for the rest of the book. But as I began to put my own words into practice, I realized that my intended conclusions for the rest of the book were not being drawn from my prescribed method of reading the Bible
That change in direction is the strength and weakness of the book. As a strength, it has helped in create a good and fairly non-technical introduction to the arguments in favor of this Eschatology. But the weakness remains that these first three chapters need some expansion, as I think they are critical to Bondar’s position. It appears that Bondar rushed past them to get to the “good stuff” of presenting and defending Full Preterism. For the record, these three propositions are:
• The Bible was written to a particular audience
• The Bible was written in a particular time
• The Bible was written for our joy
I agree wholeheartedly with these three statements. But they are not drawn out nearly as much as I think they should be. If they are the base of his methodology, then they deserve more than the few pages they are given. For example, since, as Bondar claims—and I agree—most readers assume that he Bible was written directly to them, some of the techniques for breaking this engrained mental pattern should be presented. Accordingly, it is imperative when reading Paul to identify to whom his pronouns apply. Sometimes “we” may be the Apostles, sometimes it is Paul and his companions, sometimes it is the Jews, sometimes it is the entire church. If we assume “we” (pun intended) is always all Christians at all times, a misunderstanding of Paul is going to be the inevitable result. Indeed, Bondar uses this process in pages 213-218 when discussing 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. But it comes out of the blue. Though perhaps natural to Bondar, this methodology should have been explained in the first chapter. After all, it helps define exactly who is “the particular audience.”
Second, though the methodology of Bondar’s three statements led him to full Preterism, it is not clearly explained how! I think a new section transitioning to his defense of full Preterism is in order. I assume the time references to all the prophecies (soon, about to come, etc.) when combined with recognizing the first century audience receiving these words was a first century audience would make Bondar’s case. Indeed, Alan may even say this is obvious. I would say, to the audience intended for this book—those not familiar with the position—this transition needs better clarification. I would put such a defense between the first three chapters and Bondar’s later expounding of Full Preterism. In short, take the reader by the hand and help him learn the basic strokes before pushing them headfirst into the Preterist pool.
All that said, I think Bondar’s book fills a much need gap for those who wish to discuss full Preterism, or at least explore the position. It is, as I said, a good introduction to the position that still gives some pretty weighty exposition and exegesis of the Scriptures should the reader wish to go deeper. Certainly it is much more “newbie” friendly than, say the works of Don Preston and some others in the Preterist camp.
In terms of its convincing ability, I cannot say as I am pretty much a full Preterist myself. My only hesitations are the more common Preterist interpretations of the Millenium of Revelation 20, their assertion that the New Covenant Age—and therefore the planet Earth—will last for eternity, and some measure of Gnostic rejection of the value of the physical creation over the a spiritualized existence in heaven. Nor are these explicit requirements of this eschatology, as Sam Frost—another full preterist—has noted them himself.
Overall, with these few criticisms aside, this is an excellent book. Its defense appears cogent and complete. Also, Bondar writes without the rancor one often finds in this camp against “the futurists.” He is a gracious as well as a persuasive writer. Those looking to investigate Full Preterism could not find a better introductory volume. It is readable and enjoyable. I look forward to his next book.
Reading the Bible Through New Covenant Eyes can be ordered here. Note that the price varies as sometimes the publisher offers deals without notice. Also be aware that the book may take some time to be shipped—almost six weeks in my case—as it appears the publisher does a printing based on demand rather than doing a full run up front.
However, it is worth the wait. Well worth the wait.