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An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach Hardcover – October 14, 2007
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From the Back Cover
The Old Testament is more than a religious history of the nation of Israel. It is more than a portrait gallery of heroes of the faith. It is even more than a theological and prophetic backdrop to the New Testament. Beyond these, the Old Testament is inspired revelation of the very nature, character, and works of God. As renowned Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke writes in the preface of this book, the Old Testament's every sentence is 'fraught with theology, worthy of reflection.' This book is the result of decades of reflection informed by an extensive knowledge of the Hebrew language, the best of critical scholarship, a deep understanding of both the content and spirit of the Old Testament, and a thoroughly evangelical conviction. Taking a narrative, chronological approach to the text, Waltke employs rhetorical criticism to illuminate the theologies of the biblical narrators. Through careful study, he shows that the unifying theme of the Old Testament is the 'breaking in of the kingdom of God.' This theme helps the reader better understand not only the Old Testament, but also the New Testament, the continuity of the entire Bible, and ultimately, God himself.
About the Author
Bruce K. Waltke (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary; PhD, Harvard Divinity School), acknowledged to be one of the outstanding contemporary Old Testament scholars, is professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and professor emeritus of biblical studies at Regent College in Vancouver. He has authored and coauthored numerous books, commentaries, and articles, and contributed to dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Charles Yu is currently pursuing doctoral studies in the Department of Hebrew and Semitics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
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Top customer reviews
For Waltke, the text of the Old Testament defines our theology, not vice versa. Refreshingly (from my evangelical perspective), Waltke comes across as less defensive toward "critical" scholarship than other evangelical scholars, but not at all shy of critiquing its faults. In his erudite perspective (Ph.D. Harvard, Th.D. Dallas Seminary with over 30 years of teaching the Old Testament), the Hebrew Bible contains texts written by a variety of authors, over hundreds of years, that underwent editing during various historical epochs, and is culturally situated (and therefore brings all of the benefits and challenges of a culturally situated perspective). Thus, he often comes to different conclusions from other evangelical scholars on topics of genre, science, evolutionary origins, sources, multiple authorship, redaction history, et al. Despite these possible areas of disagreement, many of which I also disagree with him, Waltke firmly believes that this compilation of texts that we call the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible finds itself as a part of God's revelation to humanity.
And Waltke loves this God. I would be remiss for not mentioning how clearly Waltke's love for God comes through these pages. He does not look at the Old Testament from a perspective of neutral reason (as if such a thing exists), but instead comes to the text very openly as a believer in this God. This love also comes across to the reader almost as a pastor ministering to his people while sharing God's words with them.
I highly recommend this volume for Old Testament classes, seminarians, pastors and laity interested in a refreshingly honest, but passionate discussion of what God has revealed through these texts.
Waltke's book is thorough in its coverage of many aspects of the OT: the surrounding ancient near eastern (ANE) cultures and religions and literatures, interesting and relevant details of the history, insight into the OT text itself and the ancient Semitic languages, and excellent overviews of each of the OT books. Waltke's organization of the OT around the backbone of the "Primary History" is worth the price of admission. The Primary History has really helped me in organizing the OT books in my mind as I read them.
Be sure to not skip Part One, Introduction. Waltke gives you valuable tools here, such as application of literary analysis, for understanding the OT text.
Dr. Waltke's view of the hope and beauty of God's promises and God's word shines through on every page, including the chapter titles.
Waltke adopts a Reformed, covenant approach to interpreting scripture, rejecting the dispensational approach of his youth. He divides the Bible into several blocks of writing: the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) Wisdom Literature, and prophetic literature.
There is a great chapter on narrative theology, addressing the different points of view in the text (God, the human characters, the narrator). I also loved the chapter on poetics and intertexuality. The beautiful symmetry and chiasm in Genesis 1-11 sheds much light on the interpretation of this passage. He also discusses typology and how some texts evoke and alude ot others within the canon.
In the Primary History section of the book, Waltke discusses the gift of the cosmos, how God overcame chaos and darkness to create a habitable world. He contends that Genesis 1 is designed to counter pagan ideas about the construction of the world. The world itself is not divine, God is.
He also discusses the literary form of Genesis 1-2:4a, contending that it is narrative history, not myth, and that it reflects an Ancient Near eastern Comogeny, an example of God's accomodation to the viewpoints held by the people of the time.
There is a discussion about the gift of Adam, or mankind. He believes that the "us" in 1:26 refers to the heavenly court, not to the second person of the Trinity. He mentions that Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2:5-10 are reflections on Genesis 1:26-28. There is also a discussion of theological anthropology: the Hebrews words of body, soul, heart, spirit, and life.
Waltke also teaches that men and women are equal in creation, parenting, worship, prayer, and giftedness, but that the male is the hierarchical, government head, just as the Father as the governmental head of the Trinity.
Waltke also defends the essential historicity of the events in the Garden of Eden, the life of Abraham and the Exodus, as well as the fall of Jericho. For Waltke, Genesis-2 Kings really lays out the central theme of the OT.
I loved this book. I gained a lot of insight from the text from Waltke's exegesis. I highly recommend it.