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Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching Paperback – October 24, 2010
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"I wholeheartedly recommend this fine book." (Scott A. Wenig, The Journal of the evangelical Homiletics Society., March 2011)
"This is a very useful book that no Christian preacher should be without." (R. Ryan, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 35.5 (2011))
"Given the diversity of the contributors, preachers will find this to be a valuable resource as they seek to be faithful expositors of Old Testament texts." (Michael Duduit, Preaching, May/June 2011)
"I have found that nothing brings greater joy than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. This masterful collection of essays will help contemporary preachers understand, proclaim and apply all the genres of Old Testament literature with greater depth and clarity." (Philip Graham Ryken, president, Wheaton College)
"There has never been a better time to preach. We have more resources available to guide our understanding of the text than any generation of preachers in human history. But sometimes it feels like we're drowning in information while starving for wisdom. This volume will help create a generation of genuinely thoughtful preachers who can teach people to love God with their minds. It can guide us to preaching that has integrity, power and authority." (John Ortberg, pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, California)
"This book offers a thorough discussion of the various tasks facing the Christian preacher in proclaiming the gospel from the pages of the Old Testament. Particularly unique among recent treatments of this sort is the fact that each of the contributors is a noted Old Testament professor, scholar and proven preacher in his or her own right. Also, each seeks to encounter the gospel not only within the New Testament but from within the Old Testament as well. The contributors are thus much more inclined to look for their answers to Old Testament problems and hermeneutical guidelines from within the Old Testament itself. Also helpful is the example sermon included with each chapter." (John H. Sailhamer, author of The Meaning of the Pentateuch)
"We are fortunate to be studying and preaching on the Old Testament at a time when critical study has produced many approaches to the Old Testament that will aid the preacher. That would have been inconceivable a few decades ago. This volume is a most useful guide to the way those approaches resource preaching on different kinds of texts in the Old Testament." (John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary)
"InterVarsity Press and the team of pastors and scholars who worked on Reclaiming the Old Testament are to be congratulated on producing a much-needed monograph with some very practical suggestions on how to understand the message of the Old Testament. While not every suggestion will be adopted by all, the conversation is extremely important if we are ever going to get back to teaching and preaching the full counsel of God. Laypersons will profit from reading this text as much as the clergy, for each of the chapters hits on some of the major issues of our day." (Walter C. Kaiser Jr., President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
About the Author
Grenville J. R. Kent is lecturer in Old Testament at the Wesley Institute, Sydney, Australia.
Paul Kissling is professor of Old Testament and biblical languages and director of research at the TCMI Institute, Austria.
Laurence A. Turner is Principal Lecturer in Old Testament and Research Degrees Director at Newbold College, Bracknell, U.K.
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Top Customer Reviews
The writers do not expect the reader (and by the reader I mean the audience on Sunday morning) to fully know current scholarship nor to completely interact with it in every sermon. Some even go so far as to say that bringing up modern scholarship will do more harm than good to the preaching of these books. Yet, as a whole they do not shy away from higher criticism (and, some use it to modify modern opinions about those rough passages) including the redactional takes on Isaiah. H.G.M. Williamson makes a solid point that even with the various takes on Isaiah's composition, one can still draw together the unity of it in a sermon without undermining intellectual honesty. The same goes with other authors who note various critical aspects of certain books (the Pentateuch for one) and yet shows how the Old Testament can be preached as a substantial whole to a Christian audience who are only familiar on the surface with the stories of our childhood. Of particular note is Alison Lo`s approach to reading the Minor Prophets. Her contention, which should be explored in a much longer book, is that the Minor Prophets should be read as one book, drawing together various thematic elements which start in one book, answered in another, watching the process come to fruition by Malachi. (She cites Joel 3.16 and Amos 1.12 as an example of thematic answering scheme.) By seeing the Old Testament, sometimes with fresh eyes, these books become more about merely pointing to Christ, but applicable to the everyday Christian in the pew.
Chapters 3 through 9 cover various books and sections of the Old Testament independently, with many notable features and insights. Chapters 1 and 2 cover the most basic steps in preaching the Old Testament - preaching it as a grand narrative both in plot (chapter 1) and characters (chapter 2). It is not about ignoring portions of the text, but actually digging into the passages to examine not so much how they were formed, but their ultimate outcome and what the final author was trying to say. Too often, even with learned preachers, preaching by the verse seems to occur; however, Laurence A. Turner argues that it is important to examine not only the passage itself but how it fits into the wider narrative which surrounds it. He takes as his example 2nd Samuel 11 which is about the great sin of David. He believes that by understanding plot as a major element in `understanding of the OT narrative' that `it will enhance homiletical exposition' (p26). He is mirrored byPaul J. Kissling who insists that we have made the men and women of Scripture into mere hollow characters of the narrator's mind. He tackles this by reminding us that these characters, whether they are Abraham, David, or others such as Ezekiel (see chapter 9), were living, breathing devices long before we belittled them to serve as bed time stories to our children, eventually coming to see them the same way. Chapters 10-13, likewise, handle various issues relating to preaching the Old Testament from various larger sections or themes, such as the apocalyptic (ch10), the Minor Prophets (ch11), the difficult texts (ch12) and the final chapters, R.W.L. Moberly`s Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. In each section, not only present is care and concern for the Church in hearing the Old Testament, but so too the historical reality of the texts themselves. Each section is neither overly academic nor too base as to mimic a Sunday School curriculum, and is accompanied by some form of a sermon outline or suggesting for preaching.
To sum, we know that the Old Testament is regularly abused. Either it is neglected and seen as too ancient or incompatible with our post-modern sense and sensibilities, or abused to justify internal and social prejudices as well as to create an eschatological expectation foreign to Scripture overall. Yet, these authors present the Old Testament as Christian Scripture in such as way to make them valid in of themselves as well as texts relevant to the Christian on the pew. Books like these are important as Christianity gets further and further away from a real grounding in Scripture.
The book opens with two essays that take a wide look at the Old Testament and the challenges posed in preaching from narrative with the first focusing on plot and the second on character within the books. From there the full literary gamut is run from Law to Praise, from Lament to the Song of Solomon and every genre between. The material is as various as the contributing authors who come from a wide sampling of Christian denominations and from all across the globe.
A work composed of the writings of so many Old Testament scholars runs serious risk of dryness and inside jargon that would be a deterrent to a reader that did not share the scholastic inclination. That the work remains lively, impassioned and imminently readable speaks to the subtle hand of good editing and compilation. Like good stage direction it is rarely seen yet the presence reverberates throughout the work.
The scriptural insights that the authors bring to the work might be found with ample time, Sisyphean labors, and oceanic resources. Were a pastor enabled to endlessly burn the midnight oil and pour himself not only into the Word of God but into the multifarious commentaries available and the time-spanning collections of theological tomes available he would certainly be able to come up with all of the answers contained in these mere 250 pages. That one does not have to is worth the investment in the test.
Beyond the scholastic side lies the true gold of Reclaiming in its practical application to sermon preparation. The authors are not mere biblical scholars but each in his own right preaches. And should one takes the texts at face value he cannot deny that the authors preach with great zeal for Christ and his Church. Were the scholastic language scotched the practical side of the work would serve the layman just as well as the pastor; not in the preparation of sermons but in the simple study of God's Word. There is enough substance to the work to establish a more serious reading of the text than many a bible study geared to the general congregant is able. This alone is enough to recommend the book: that the advice therein seeks to bring the 'God-breathed' Word to the church at large in a fashion that is beyond the superficial without being beyond the pew-sitter.
The chapter on preaching the Law is especially poignant here. The essay on the Law focuses not on the Pharisaical minutiae but rather on the God who gives the laws and the place within the narrative that this happens. The idea that one focus on what the law says about God instead of the duty apportioned to the ancient Hebrews creates a true foundation (see the pun there) for reading the text beyond preaching upon it. Any doubt that this message need be proclaimed to God's people may be assuaged in asking any number of congregants their take on the law. Is there any doubt that most will view Old Testament law as any more than that: old, dated, suffering from old-men-in-robes syndrome. The very idea that Christ freed us from the law, that is often heard in Christian circles, extols the need.
Reclaiming fills the need, or, more precisely, it aims to equip pastors, preachers, and lay-leaders with the tools and understanding necessary to fill the need. Were we to take Timothy's 'all scripture is inspired. . . and useful' seriously then it must be admitted that the lack of all scripture in most pulpits is a shameful waste of the resource God provided the leaders of his Kingdom.
Propter Sanguinem Agni,
This book was provided to me free of charge by the publisher. They asked only for my honest opinion. Nothing weird or anything like that. I am only disclosing this information because it is illegal if I don't. I'm pretty sure that I would go to prison, probably for life, seeing how reviewing a product you are given for free under the guise of having purchased it yourself is similar to murder. O laws, like whitewashed tombs!