In Handbook on the Prophets, Robert Chisholm provides students of the Bible with a thorough and insightful introduction to the challenging yet exciting teachings of the Old Testament prophetic literature.
Following in the tradition of the widely used Handbook on the Pentateuch and Handbook on the Historical Books, this guide avoids technical commentary on each verse of the prophetic books. Instead, as the author explains, it ìgives an overview of the prophetsí message through a running commentary. . . . One must see the forest as well as the individual trees, for the individual parts will not make sense without a feel for the whole.î
Chisholm begins each chapter with a brief analysis of the social and historical setting of the book under discussion. As he works through these writings section by section, he details the structure, content, and important concepts of each book. Throughout, he considers how the messages of the prophets would have been heard in their respective historical communities and how the prophetsí messages are of continuing importance for contemporary study.
ìChisholmís book is a welcome addition to the books on the Hebrew prophets. It will help readers find their way through the complexities of the writings themselves and also through the thickets of varying interpretations. The author takes a thoughtfully conservative approach to the knotty critical problems posed by the prophetic books, offering concise but incisive support for positions that take the Bibleís own claims seriously. This book will make the prophets more accessible to a whole range of readers.îóJohn N. Oswalt, Wesley Biblical Seminary
Robert Chisholm begins his Handbook on the Prophets by acknowledging that
the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible presents great interpretive obstacles. Its poetry, though teeming with vivid imagery that engages the imagination and emotions, challenges the readerís understanding because of its economy of expression, rapid shifts in mood, and sometimes cryptic allusions. The reader of the prophetic literature quickly realizes that these books were written at particular points in time to specific groups of people with whom the modern reader seems to share little.
Chisholm argues, however, that the prophetic writings are more than ancient documents. They demand attention today as the word of God, containing a message that ìtranscends time and space.î The prophets provide modern readers with insight into Godís character and challenge them to love and serve God with greater devotion.
The handbookís goal is to acquaint readers with the prevailing themes and central messages of these biblical books. While Chisholm has attempted to concentrate on these larger issues of interpretation, he notes: ìOut of necessity, I do at times address especially important interpretive issues in greater depth and attempt to synthesize and interact with the scholarly opinions expressed in the commentaries and technical literature.î Much of this discussion appears in the many footnotes, and extensive bibliographies are provided at the end of each chapter for those who wish to do additional research.
Robert B. Chisholm Jr. (Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) is professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of Interpreting the Minor Prophets and From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew.