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Messiah in the Old Testament, The Paperback – August 8, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is an unapologetically apologetic book, part of a series, Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology, explicitly identified by the editors as evangelical and implicitly identified as conservative. There is some virtue to that clear identification, in that it minimizes the likelihood that readers will be misled; there is an ax to grind here, and both editors and author are honest about grinding it. There is also some danger, in that "apologetic" writing can leave the author merely preaching to the choir. To some extent, that is what happens in Kaiser's book. It is a thorough review and synthesis of an evangelical tradition that reads Hebrew Scripture as Old Testament and finds the Messiah there incontrovertibly identified with Jesus. Though Kaiser is not likely to convince anyone who does not begin with him by appropriating Hebrew Scripture into a Christian context in the act of labeling it "old," he does help make explicit a clash of interpretations inextricably bound with interpretive communities; it's a war of words, a useful (though hardly surprising) insight where the combatants are collectively known as people of the book. Steve Schroeder

From the Back Cover

Old Testament texts that point to the coming of the Messiah are traditionally interpreted either from the viewpoint of their New Testament fulfillment (evangelicalism) or their linguistic and grammatical distinctiveness within the Hebrew Bible (non-conservative). The Messiah in the Old Testament considers another important line of interpretation that has been neglected in building an Old Testament theology. It approaches Israel's concept of the Messiah as a developing theme and shows how a proper grasp of the textual meaning at each stage of Old Testament revelation is necessary for understanding messianic prophecy. Beginning in the Pentateuch and working through the Old Testament to the Minor Prophets, the author delineates texts that are direct messianic prophecies and examines their meaning and development within the flow of God's plan. The reader will gain an understanding of God's process for bringing the Messiah to earth through the nation of Israel, and of his intent to bring the saving knowledge of Christ to the World through them.
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Revised ed. edition (August 21, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031020030X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310200307
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald S. Meador on November 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Walter Kaiser, Jr. has given us a very rich study regarding the Messiah. His study is very specific and unique. He focuses only on passages that deal with direct prophecies/predictions of the coming Messiah. He steers clear of typology, which can sometimes be too subjective. His approach is chronological. He begins with the Pentateuch and shows us the foundation of predictions of the Messiah that God revealed in the earliest of His revelations. He proceeds to show the reader how subsequent writers of Holy Scripture built upon this foundation and developed themes of the Messiah (e.g. Prophet, Priest, King, Servant, etc.). He follows prophecies of the Messiah through different eras of Israel's history. When he gets to the prophets themselves, he groups them by the century in which they prophesied. So, the earliest parts of this book give us prophesies of the Messiah in the order that they come in our English translations of the Old Testament. The prophets, however, are not necessarily addressed in our biblical order, as their works do not appear in chronological order in our English transations.
I wish I could say this study was for everyone - I do believe it would be beneficial reading for everyone. Kaiser's study is deep, and sometimes technical. It helps to have a basic understanding of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) before beginning this book. There are a couple of places where he discusses aspects of Hebrew grammar - the gist is attainable if the reader will press on through these brief sections. So, it is readable, but some things will be outside the grasp of the average reader. Kaiser does not overwhelm one with the technical aspects of his research, but it is sometimes present.
There is another aspect of this book that may trouble some readers.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a quick survey of the major messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Actually, I found the first chapter on how to interpret messianic prophecy the most helpful chapter in the book. Kaiser rejects the double fulfillment approach that many have taken with the prophecies of Christ's first coming. He makes a case for the Christocentric interpretation being the the primary interpretation in each case study. I do not always agree with this approach, as his interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 is less than satisfying.
But in most instances, his interpretations are very good, and you can perceive Kaiser's strong evangelical faith in the volume. Recommended.
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There are a number of scholars today who claim the Tanach, the Old Testament, does not hold any information about the Messiah. The point being, of course, that if they can untie the Old and New Testaments, they can deal a severe blow to either Christianity in general --by making the New Testament stand without reference-- or they can deal a blow to conservative Christianity, by taking the New Testament as a belief system completely unrelated to Judaism. Dr. Kaiser, in this book, a part of the Old Testament Theology series, takes great issue with this contention.

Dr. Kaiser focuses on reading the Scriptures in a "single meaning," sense.

"Let us begin by admitting that the nontraditionalists have been justified in their insistence on the two criteria that must be used for interpreting prophecies: (1) the meaning of the OT references to the Messiah must reflect the author's own times and historical circumstances, and (2) the meaning must be a meaning that is reflected in the grammar and syntax of the OT text. To deny these two working hypothesis introduces pandemonium into the interpretive process. -Page 23"

Using this methodology, he traces various Messianic prophecies and promised throughout the Tanach. He begins his book with an overview of studying the Messianic texts in the Tanach. The remainder of The Messiah in the Old Testament is arranged based on the Tanach itself; the Pentateuch, the Davidic Monarchy, the Psalms, the ninth and eighth century Prophets, Isaiah, the seventh and sixth century Prophets, and the postexilic Prophets are each covered in their own sections.
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Format: Paperback
Useful exegesis of Old Testament passages which have a Messianic hermeneutic. Tends to find Messiah in some passages which I would overlook (eg Job's 4 Messianic predictions). But on the whole, a useful and scholarly appraisal of a curly topic.
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It is rare for me to rate a book as 5 stars even when it was written as recently as 20 years ago; it is even rarer for me to rate a non-fiction book so. For me, five stars means a book is not only good now, but it will be good for fifty or a hundred years. Yet Walter Kaiser's book 'The Messiah in the Old Testament' will be regarded as a standard apologetic work on Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament at least 50 years from now.

Dr. Kaiser begins by examining different methods of prophetic interpretation and settles on: '1) the meaning of the OT references to the Messiah must reflect the author's own times and historical circumstances, and 2) the meaning must be a meaning that is reflected in the grammar and syntax of the OT text'. Using these criteria he filters out many OT messianic references.

Dr. Kaiser then goes through the Messianic scriptures in chronological order, from Genesis 3:15 to Malachi 4:2. His second criterion necessarily requires him to delve extensively into Hebrew grammar. This is where his writing may become difficult for the lay reader of the Bible.

Persistence through these grammatical sections will lead the reader to a deeper understanding of the progressive revelation of the Messianic theme through the OT and how it unites the OT and NT. Detail upon detail concerning the coming Messiah will be revealed until the conclusion is inescapable: Jesus Christ is the
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