I was pleasantly surprised to discover such a really well researched and balanced handling of a sensitive subject - that of the relationship between Evangelicals and Israel.
As a young man in church I was told that we were to believe various things about `the last days' many of which hinged on the statehood of Israel and their return to the `promised land' in 1948. Much of this I had to accept because I was told it was true, even though some of it ran rings around accepted Christian doctrine and often contradicted itself. For example, I was told we had to do everything to help the Jews of the diaspora return to the Holy Land. I was also told that as soon as the Jews were settled there would be a terrible war that will kill most of them. I never understood why we were supposed to herd them all into a place where they would die, when we had grown up trying to learn the lessons of the holocaust!
The confusion that was induced for me by dispensationalist teachings is somewhat clarified by Timothy Weber's excellent handling of the topic. He doesn't tell the reader what to believe, but he does give an academically rigorous treatment of the history of dispensationalist teaching starting with Darby and Schofield and reaching as far George W. Bush.
This book is all about giving a context to the relatively new `end times' teachings that have proliferated in the 19th and 20th centuries, that are now part of much of our evangelical thinking.
Whenever we get to a point where we aren't allowed to sit back and examine what we believe we are in danger of manipulation and being misled. This book is helpful because it gives the reader a context in which doctrines can be examined as to whether they are Biblical or fanciful.
Without doubt this book will be more helpful in understanding the background to end times prophecies than any single volume of the' Left Behind' series which it refers to.
The author is a past President of Memphis Theological Seminary.
It must be said that whilst being academic and having a huge bibliography and many pages of endnotes, this is an eminently readable volume. Either the author has done a good job or there is something very sad about the way I devoured it.