I’m excited to start a new series today called The Stacks: Must Have Books of the Season. In this series, you’ll find reviews of some of my new favorite books, giveaways, & Christmas gift ideas for the book lover in your life!
Edited by Jason S. DeRouchie, $45.99, Kregel Academic
Stop everything and buy this book! Kregel sent me a copy to review for my blog, and I read it cover to cover (although, yes, it did take a while simply because it’s almost 5oo pages).
True to its title, DeRouchie and his contributors have written a book outlining what the OT authors really cared about (scholars call this authorial intent). And while there are lots of books that already explain authorial intent, here’s what makes this book stand out:
- It outlines the theological significance of the structure of Jesus’ Bible (the OT) – how and why the Bible is arranged into a meaningful whole.
- It provides a thematic survey of the entire OT as arranged around the notion of the kingdom of God
- It offers a short and sweet overview of each book of the Bible and how it anticipates the coming Messiah
There are so many things I love about this book.
God’s story through images
This book is a visually-driven book.
You will love the charts, maps, photographs from the Middle East, and the graphics that help to visually organize the massive amount of information in the OT.
For this reason, this book is well worth the purchase price to keep on hand for a reference book. But it’s also a really great read, too.
God’s story through a unified message
Read as a whole, the OT is one book about God’s covenant love for his people as shown through his promises of a coming King. When we read the OT as individual books, we miss out on this crucial theme. Each contributor draws out this thought as the primary unifier in the OT.
Here’s what I mean.
The editor, Jason DeRouchie, offers introductory material on each of the main sections of the OT – Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Each of these sections relates to God’s covenant in some way (called the covenantal structure).
- The Law is about the old covenant established
- The Prophet are about the old covenant enforced
- The Writings are about the old covenant enjoyed.
This is extremely helpful as we seek to understand how Jesus read and used the Bible. It’s also important as we seek to read the OT forward instead of backwards (reading the NT back into the Old).
For example, in his chapter on the 12 prophets, scholar Stephen Dempster points out that in Jesus’ Bible (the Hebrew Bible) the 12 prophets were contained on a single scroll and organized just before the Writings – a little different arrangement than our English version.
Here’s why that matters. Dempster writes: “With Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, the book of the Twelve provides theological commentary on Israel’s checkered history (Genesis-Kings)…”
I never knew the prophets were intended to be “sung together” – a point that has great theological significance.
Likewise, in his introduction to the Writings, DeRouchie reveals some “canonical seams” that solidify the significance of the covenant to the OT writers. For example, in Jesus’ Bible, the book of Ruth stands as a preface to the Writings “calling the reader to interpret the remaining part of the OT through a messianic lens of kingdom hope.” (You’ll probably never read Ruth, the same way again, right?)
After reading this book, it is impossible to consider the OT as a boring ole book of gloom and doom, somehow inferior to the NT, or completely irrelevant for our lives.
As the editor says in his introduction: “If we want to know Jesus as best we can, we must saturate ourselves in the same Scripture he read – namely, the Old Testament!”
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Covenant love for Yahweh is indeed a life-encompassing, community-embracing, exclusive commitment that calls for every closet of our lives to be filled with radical God-centeredness.” Jason S. DeRouchie on Deuteronomy
“One might say that covenant loyalty allowed Israel to fully enjoy what it meant to be made in God’s image, and disloyalty to the covenant effectively dehumanized Israelite society. Being designed in God’s image meant mankind was blessed with the ability to think, to feel, to love, to rule over the earth, and to participate in the blessings of re-creation.” Chris A. Miller on Judges
“The problem with the old covenant was not the Mosaic law itself, which stood as a gracious gift from a redeeming present God… Yahweh had set his love on Israel and called it to love and serve him from the heart, but Israel’s heart never changed. Indeed, the problem with the old covenant was the sustained stubbornness and rebelliousness of the people…” Gary E. Yates on Jeremiah
What are your biggest misgivings or struggles when studying the Old Testament? Share your thoughts in the comments. If you hurry, can snag What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible for $31.88 on sale at Amazon!
Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book to review. View my full disclosure policy here.