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The Christ of the Prophets Paperback – Abridged, June 1, 2008
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"As we have come to expect from him, O. Palmer Robertson has given us an exceptional study of Old Testament prophecy. In a day when the church is victimized by speculative interpretations of prophecy, he has provided a solid, sober, refreshingly reliable resource for understanding this part of the Bible. Laypeople, pastors, and scholars will find this book essential for the study of prophecy." --Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
"Robertson's sure touch, exegetical thoroughness, theological sensitivity, and rigorous scholarship combine to produce works of lasting value. This is another tour de force. He opens a window on the Old Testament prophets that sheds more than just light; it radiates a passion for their study and proclamation. An essential tool for every student of Scripture who desires a robust biblical theology." --Derek W. H. Thomas
"An unparalleled introduction to the prophetic writings: sober in its erudition, comprehensiveness, and sound judgment; spiritual in its sound theology that elevates the reader to praising God; and simple in its clarity of style." --Bruce Waltke
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is thoughtfully structured, looking at:
* prophetism in general: how did prophetic ministry arise (e.g. comparing similarities and differences between God's prophets and the pagan history of surrounding nations), how did it fit into God's overall revelation through the Law and history, what characterizes how were prophets commissioned and how their veracity was confirmed;
* analysis of each prophet's context and writings, identifying major concerns that the prophet addresses and major unifying themes in the book. This is the antithesis of "pick-a-verse-and-spin-it-to-support-my-preconception theology" like characterizes much popular religious literature; Robertson looks at the prophet's messages overall and shows how individual texts that demonstrate it. For example, he demonstrates how Jeremiah's is structured around themes of "one key exhortation, two key visions, and six key words". Quoting from p. 270,
"The six key words grouped together in Jeremiah's call appear as six consecutive infinitives, four with negative and two with positive connotations: 'to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and plant' (1:10 NIV). While the significance of these terms in the message of Jeremiah is often recognized, their regular appearance at critical moments throughout the book is not generally noted. Their prominent role at seven key points makes them deserving of more extensive consideration."
... which consideration Robertson weaves into the following 12 pages.
* a review of the implications of prophecy: while prophecy is much more than prediction, what is prediction all about; and the development of central themes that unify all of the canon prophetic literature.
Robertson writes with an orthodox Christian perspective, engaging other viewpoints. He recognizes that some people who reject divine intervention a priori will explain away that prophetic writing contain any supernatural content. However, he challenges believers to be consistent in their faith: if God is active in the world, it doesn't make sense to reject prediction in prophecy just because unbelievers do so a priori. For example, in his assessment of the book of Isaiah, he addresses critics' arguments for this being a compilation of three separate writings produced over a couple centuries, but provides a compelling counterargument that the unifying themes in the book outweigh arguments for its being a compilation, when assessed from an objective viewpoint.
Robertson demonstrates continuity and discontinuity between the old testament prophets and fulfullment in the New Testament: how the themes of the prophets of the old testament are both continued, and fulfilled, in Jesus the Messiah. For example, the inclusion of the gentiles is stressed as a significant aspect of prophecy, and that Israel can never regard itself as being properly and scripturally 'restored' apart from the full inclusion of Gentile peoples.
I cite one passage from his concluding chapters up that demonstrate the basic style and premises of the book:
p. 416 "A third element in predictive prophecy underscores the fact that the Lord's prophets predict divine redemptive activities. Contrary to all pseudoprophetism, ancient and modern, biblical predictions never appear as isolated prognostications about secularized political or personal eventualities. The predictions of the prophets always relate to God's ongoing purposes to redeem a people to himself, beginning with Israel and reaching ultimately to all the nations of the world. The curse on creation will be removed, sin will be forgiven and rooted out, universal justice will be established, and peace will be restored between God and men, between men and men, and between men and creation. God's ongoing purpose for the 'restoration of all things' (Acts 3:21) provides the purposeful framework in which all biblical predictions operate."
This book is a pleasurable read, but is not a light one. It requires attention and thoughfulness, but rewards them with rich content and the elequence of how it is presented. Having completed a first read, I plan to add this to my "favourite readings" shelf for ongoing reference.