What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible
Edited by Jason S. DeRouchie
A vibrant book on the Old Testament that is both theologically astute and pastorally sensitive, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About is a real gem. Edited by Jason S. DeRouchie, Professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary, this book is an assemblage of some of the finest OT evangelical scholars from Stephen Dempster to Preston Sprinkle. Rather than outline the book from a Christian canonical perspective, the authors follow the Jewish order by looking at the Law, Prophets, and Writings in order with an eye towards the progressive revelation of God’s work in history. This academic book is unique in that seeks to identify three to six lasting themes in each chapter (23) that give an answer to the theological trajectory of each OT book while maintaining a focus on the transformative character of God’s revelation in each book for God’s people. The usual questions of authorship, recipients, purpose, date, and immediate context are covered in one page snapshots at the beginning of each chapter. This book is Christ-centered, replete with practical application, and has a theological focus that is refreshing without getting too bogged down in arcane details.
What was really wonderful about this book was the details that come out in the chapters which make the biblical text come alive. In the chapter on Genesis, Stephen Dempster writes, “A speaking reptile would have shocked an ancient audience. The content of the speech increased the severity of the shock. First, the snake used the term “God” (Elohim) and not “the Lord God,” a striking aberration in this section of the text. The snake did not know God covenantally – in personal relationship. It only knew about God” (69). The deceiver, from the very beginning, sought to dethrone God even by the very use of his language. Dempster helps the reader understand that the snake knew about God and his power but was not in a position of humble reliance upon him. One is reminded of Calvin here in his writing on the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self that is paramount to belief in God. A personal and transformative relationship is not the kind of connection the snake had with God, nor did the snake desire that kind of relationship for Adam and Eve. Furthermore, Kenneth J. Turner adds some key details about the Law that are very helpful by writing, “That is, the Old Testament Law, provides a paradigm for understanding how to love others, even today….” (96). The Ten Commandments especially provide a vertical and horizontal lens in which we understand how to relate to God and others covenantally.
At every point, this book was challenging and deep in its spiritual wisdom and theological insights. I know this book would be a great help to students wanting to gain a better understanding of the Old Testament while never forgetting that Christ is the one who holds both testaments together. On a side note, one can see the imprint of Stephen Wellum and Peter Gentry’s book, Kingdom Through Covenant throughout the entire book. The only real deficit I saw in the book was a very limited bibliography at the end of each chapter. Additional items in an extended bibliography at the back of the book would help students in their research and writing. Overall, this is an excellent resource!
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.