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How to Read Exodus Paperback – September 3, 2009
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"Scholarly approaches to narrative structure and archaeological, historical and theological matters become practical through study questions that help readers appropriate Exodus in their daily lives." (Christian Century, May 4, 2010)
About the Author
Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is also visiting professor of Old Testament at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and adjunct of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He lectures regularly at Regent College in Vancouver and the Canadian Theological Seminary in Calgary. Longman is the author or coauthor of over twenty books, including How to Read Genesis, How to Read the Psalms, How to Read Proverbs, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament Essentials and coeditor of A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. He and Dan Allender have coauthored Bold Love, Cry of the Soul, Intimate Allies, The Intimate Mystery and the Intimate Marriage Bible studies.
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Top Customer Reviews
Tremper Longman III
I have heard of Tremper Longman, but have never read anything that he has written, as far as I can recall. How To Read Exodus (from here on "Exodus") was a very good introduction to him as a writer as well as to Exodus.
Longman calls for his reader to read Exodus with a strategy. The strategy is to understand the literature, explore the historical background and theological theme of Exodus, and then seek to find its relevance to us. An admirable and right strategy, I think.
He continues by directing us to read Exodus as literature. This is not simply to deal with the genre of Exodus, but to deal with the shape and narrative structure of Exodus. "Exodus" presents the book of Exodus as showing us the presence of God, the covenant with the people, and the fact of servitude both to the Egyptians and to God.
"Exodus" then shows to us some of the historic context of Exodus by relating it to various law codes of its time. I like that fact that Longman does not fall into parallelomania (the mania in which inspiration is practically dismissed and the book made to be simply a product of its time), but demonstrates that there are similarities and also very pronounced differences between Exodus and other writings of its time. "Exodus" continues and deals with the event of the Exodus, its historical nature, and the significance of its having happened.
The most interesting section to me was the section in which Longman relates the story of the Exodus to his readers and then goes to show us how this relates to us as Christians. He brings out some very interesting parallels between Exodus events, the ministry of Christ, and other New Testament truths.
I initially feared that this would be a dry, boring tome that would half kill me to read. The truth is that I was very wrong, very surprised, very satisfied. I read this book in just a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed it while profiting from it. It is a highly recommended read for all who care to learn more about the book of Exodus and its significance to the Christian.
Longman begins by rooting the book of Exodus in the larger framework of the Penteteuch. He then moves to a literary consideration of the book, helping us understand Hebrew literary conventions and some emphases particular to Exodus. Longman then deals with key historical issues in Exodus, particularly the crossing of the Red Sea. The book then covers Exodus section by section, bringing out interesting insights into the book from each section. Longman concludes with a consideration of the value of Exodus for a Christian.
I will be referring to this book often whenever I teach from the book of Exodus. There were many insights I had never considered that Longman brought out through his broad view of Exodus.
It is an excellent starting point for a Bible Study or Sermon Series, or even personal study, on the book of Exodus. Especially given that each chapter has a "for further reading" list (and I wish more books would do that), as well as an appendix discussing Commentaries on Exodus (at the time of writing). So also a good book for Bible College students.
Given that this is a small book, the Author does cover quite a bit - including a good (though introductory) discussion on Authorship; examination of the plagues, parting of the Sea, and other miracles; comparison of the Law with neighbouring cultures; application of the Law for Christians; etc.
The one drawback (perhaps more of an annoyance) is that the Author overlooks that the 10 commandments are not individual numbered in Exodus (or in Deuteronomy) and that the numbering he uses is not the one we (as Lutherans) use - and not the numbering that Catholics use. Not too mention that they are numbered even differently in Judaism and elsewhere. So for a book that aims at being scholarly (in a light sense), that the Author keeps referring to things like the "6th Commandment" without commenting somewhere on which numbering system he is using, and at least acknowledging that others use different numbering systems, is a bit remiss.
Looking forward to reading other books in this series :)