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Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship Paperback – August 3, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Peterson has researched 160 books in preparation for this project, which speaks to his thoroughness. My guess is that he found every instance of worship in the Bible. Recommend this book to your pastor, worship leaders, and Bible teachers; but warn them that it is deep reading. Each chapter concludes with a summary in laymen's terminology, which helps make it more readable." (Cindy Grabill, Church Libraries, Summer 2010)

Another first-rate example of Peterson's careful exegesis and gospel-centered hermeneutic. (Alex S. Leung, six steps, January 19, 2008)

"The author cuts back through the undergrowth of our inherited traditions to the clarity and straightforwardness of the biblical teaching. . . . Despite the scholarship behind it, all this is done with a beautiful simplicity and clarity that makes the book readily available to a wide circle of readers." (I. Howard Marshall)

About the Author

David Peterson was senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College, Sydney, where he still teaches part time. He served as principal of Oak Hill College, London, from 1996 to 2007. His books include Engaging with God, Possessed by God (both IVP) and Hebrews and Perfection (Cambridge University Press).

I. Howard Marshall (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen; D.D., Asbury) is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Honorary Research Professor at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland. Among his numerous publications on the New Testament are his commentaries on the Gospel of Luke, Acts, 1-2 Thessalonians, the Pastoral Epistles, 1 Peter and 1-3 John. He is coauthor of Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters and Revelation and coeditor of the New International Greek Testament Commentary series, as well as the author of the series' volume on Luke. He has also authored New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (August 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830826971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830826971
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Wat on September 5, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In preparing to develop and teach a theology of worship for our church's Sunday School, I have of late accumulated a large number of works on the topic which provide some rudimentary background and systematic foundation, only to turn and focus primarily on practical methodology. I have also found a fair number of writings with 'an agenda'...several appear to have been intended to rebut a recent argument or conflict.
What has been sorely lacking is a balanced and sound exegetical development of a Biblical theology of worship FROM THE BIBLE, apart from the contemporary rhetoric and 'worship wars' which characterizes so much current thought.
Peterson begins with a thoughtful (though not entirely comprehensive...Carson's seems more thorough to me) definition of worship, and works through detailed examinations of key OT and NT passages of prescriptive and descriptive texts. I found his textual work both defensible and insightful, and his conclusions provocative and resonant with the corpus of the Scriptures.
This book, in conjunction with the recent "Worship By the Book" (edited by D.A. Carson) to be the two most useful materials on worship I have found for my preparations.
Other works which I found more narrowly useful on particular related subtopics include John Frame & Marva Dawn (useful in a David Wells-ish postmodern perspective on worshippers, although a subtle Christian Feminism perspective is noted).
Hopefully, an objective reading of Peterson and Carson will yield similar conclusions in your studies.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tom Wadsworth on January 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've been studying this issue for more than 25 years, and I've read many more than 100 scholarly books and articles on the subject. Peterson's work stands far above all others as the premiere treatment of the biblical material on worship.
He successfully cuts through today's all-too-common misconceptions of the word and presents a comprehensive picture of what the Bible really says about it. Peterson is a qualified scholar, and his research and handling of the Greek and Hebrew origins ably demonstrates his expertise.
He is also unafraid to challenge other scholarly works on this complex subject. His respect for scriptural teaching and his capability for "rightly handling the word of truth" is obvious on every page.
This is not light reading, yet it is apparent that Peterson has endeavored to write in a style that may be understandable by seminarians and professors, as well as those in the pulpit and those in the pew.
Properly understood and applied, Peterson's book has the potential to revolutionize Christian churches and revitalize Christian lives. A hundred years from now, I dare to say that Peterson's landmark work will still be regarded as the benchmark book on the subject.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 10, 2004
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This book had moments of diffculty when I read it. However, the clarity with which he develops the relationship of God to humanity is powerful.
Throughout all scripture we see God's consistent and faithful initiative to be with us and to draw us to himself. We see it from the leading of the Israelites out of the desert and giving of them the Ten Commandments, the tabernacle, the temple and finally through the sending of Jesus to give his life for us. Our perpetual challenge is to respond with acceptable worship, according to God's his criteria, not ours. Perhaps the greatest temptation to which many of us fall is to respond to God's love with our preferences in offerings, choices and individual preferences based on style. From Genesis to Revelation we see mankind's attempt to remold what God says is acceptable worship into what is culturally relevant and appealing to society. Worship is a lifestyle not an activity. Worship, which is acceptable to God, can take many forms such as service to others, confession of sin with grateful submission and respecting him to the point of obeying his commandments. However, all external acts are of no avail, if our hearts are not humble before God. Peterson is clear that the only worship that is acceptable is perfect worship - that given by Jesus to his Father. We are invited share in that worship because of God's design and the work and person of Jesus, his incarnation, sacrificial death, his resurrection and ascension to be in the presence of God the Father.
I can certainly recommend this book for one who is looking for a biblical basis for what God's calls worship. Peterson does a great job.
Larry Ellis
Denver CO
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By sixsteps on March 18, 2008
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As the principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, England for the past 11 years, David Peterson has been a significant vessel that God has used to elevate that seminary to be one of the largest in the United Kingdom and in the Church of England. Only recently succeeded by Michael Ovey as Principal, Peterson has shown himself to be an astute interpreter of the biblical text, being formerly a lecturer in New Testament at Moore College in Sydney, Australia. As such, it is no wonder why Engaging With God is another first-rate example of Peterson's careful exegesis and gospel-centered hermeneutic.

Subtitled A Biblical Theology of Worship, Peterson's Engaging With God is the author's attempt at a biblical theology of worship that is evangelical and generally free from denominational bias. Students of biblical worship would be happy to see an extensive exegetical volume finally released, as Peterson provides a full-orbed examination of what worship is according to the whole counsel of God and the entirety of Scripture - both the Old and New Testament.


In his introduction, Peterson establishes the nature of Christian worship as "an engagement with [God] on the terms that he proposes and in the way the he alone makes possible" (20). The rest of the book is hence an explanation of `engaging with God' as an idea that is found in the totality of Scripture. With this purpose in mind, Peterson thus begins careful exegesis of the Old (in chapters 1-2) and New Testament (in chapters 3-9) to provide the foundation for his thesis.

The groundwork for his biblical worship theology is provided in the first two chapters, where Peterson examines engagement with God from the Old Testament.
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