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Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters Paperback – July 31, 2014
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"Iain Provan thinks and writes outside the academic box. He asks questions that matter for life, and he shows what is at stake in taking seriously a biblically-rooted vision of reality."―Walter Moberly, Durham University
"What does the Old Testament―one of the foundational texts of western civilization―really say and what is its relevance for us today? Iain Provan's scholarly and practical answers to these questions will challenge Old Testament critics, enlighten believers, and provide guidance in bringing faith perspectives to bear on the challenges of the modern world."―Hon. Preston Manning, PC CC AOE, Founder of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy and former Leader of the Official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament
"Iain Provan, one of evangelicalism's finest Old Testament scholars, has provided a much needed book..."―G. Kyle Essary, Apologetics 315
"Seriously Dangerous Religion will be helpful to Christians and non-Christians alike who struggle to understand how the Old Testament relates to our modern world."―Elliot Ritzema, Bible Study Magazine
"I highly recommend this book to readers who want a read a solid defense of the Old Story, of biblical faith, of God's work in the world."―Claude Mariottini, Northern Baptist Seminary
"This ought to be the first book an Old Testament seminary professor assigns and the primary or sole textbook for an undergrad 'Introduction to the Old Testament' class. Pastors and priests should scoop it up and pour over it with pen in hand, pausing after every chapter to muse over the points the author makes, and the ways the biblical faith stands out against other traditions and metanarratives."―Rev. Dr. Michael W. Philliber, Associate Pastor, Heritage Presbyterian Church, Edmond, OK
"This is an incredible bookunlike anything else out there."―John H. Walton, Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College
"A rare combination of deep and wide learning and a compelling and clear writing style. Provan is as comfortable in Mesopotamian texts as in Agatha Christie, the Rig Veda, Lord of the Rings, or the Qur'an. He opens the Old Testament onto a world he believes needs to hear its distinctive notes in a creative and engaging presentation."―Reverend Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
"[Seriously Dangerous Religion] will be a particularly helpful read for those heading off to university or entering the workforce, but is broad and deep enough that every reader will find much to profit from and to reflect on."―Daniel C. Timmer, University of Sudbury, Themelios
"[Provan's] 'thinking outside the box' creates a broad range of uses for the work, whether in university classes in world religions, theology, apologetics, hermeneutics, as well non-professional areas as discussion groups and church or Sunday school classes. Seriously Dangerous Religion is a 'must read' for anyone interested in these issues."―Randall C. Bailey
, Faulkner University, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
"In the world in which biblical studies currently exists, projects such as this are worthy of extended time and reflection."―Richard S. Briggs, St John's College, Durham University, Review of Biblical Literature
"Seriously Dangerous Religion is a major synthetic statement of unparalleled scope, deserving a wide readership. It illuminates and challenges, even as it confirms that rumors of the Old Testament's demise are greatly exaggerated."―Stephen B. Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament in the Divinity School and Director of Graduate Studies of the Graduate Program in Religion at Duke University, Syndicate
"At its heart Provan's volume is a book about worldview. For this reason, it offers the reader a unique resource that blends careful and thorough biblical theology and exegesis with cultural analysis."―William A. Ross, University of Cambridge, Westminster Theological Journal
"Seriously Dangerous Religion is a seriously helpful book in that it simultaneously offers what is usually called an 'Old Testament theology,' vindicatesthe Old Testament in the face of its cultured despisers, and demonstrates the diversity among the various world religions all while being written in an engaging manner that should appeal to more than just specialists."―Nathan Chambers, Journal of Reformed Theology
"Provan's explanations and insightful exegesis also result in helpful descriptions of family, the relationship of God to humanity, and similar topics."―Shawn W. Flynn, Saint Mark's College, Pro Ecclesia
About the Author
Iain Provan is the Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College. He lives in the Vancouver, Canada area.
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This book demonstrates, like none other I have ever read, why it is the secular academy and liberal Christianity that needs to carefully reexamine its picture of the Bible. In profound and eminently readable style, Provan shows that a biblical faith grounded in Jesus Christ is not the vestige of humankind's earlier ignorance, but an enlightened vision pointing to a reality that is academically satisfying, theologically coherent, and philosophically profound. This book should be read by any person who is tempted to conclude that their Sunday School knowledge of Christianity can no longer stack up up against 21st century science. True, it may need to mature some, but Provan shows that the heart of biblical faith trumps Dawkins' "God Delusion" in profundity, and rapidly neutralizes the acidity of Dennett's view of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." Similarly, any person who thinks Christianity is just one approach to truth among a whole set of near-equals, should carefully consider Provan's arguments before comfortably settling into a pluralistic melting pot of vacuous religious idealism.
I cannot emphasize enough that the book is every bit as readable as it is intellectually profound. As such then, I come to my biggest concern about the book. Because of its length (512 pages) and, I assume, its publisher's (Baylor) view of its being primarily accessible and of interest to a scholarly audience, it is expensive. I wish the publishing entity of Baylor would come to see that it will do a lot better financially on the book if it will price it in a way that makes it accessible to the general reader. True, it is an outstanding piece of biblical scholarship, but it is also highly engaging for the non-specialist. It should be widely read by pastors--their sermons would benefit from it tremendously. Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders all should read this book, but I'm concerned most won't when they see the price tag. It is the youth who are beginning to think Christianity irrelevant in this information age who would benefit the most though, and I am concerned that its price makes it inaccessible to most of them. This book could change their lives, but the cost far too often will seem so prohibitive that many will never find out.
Be that as it may, the book is worth every penny for all of us, and I personally am deeply grateful to Iain Provan for investing the amount of time he did to put this beautiful piece of work together in such an accessible manner.
In this work, Iain reminds the reader that we are all caught up in some kind of story that shapes how we participate in life and from which we make sense of fundamental issues of being human and our place within the ongoing experience of life. His core contention is that the Biblical story, as maligned as it is currently, continues to offer a better answer to a core set of foundation questions when read carefully and when contrasted with alternative responses to these core questions. Ten questions form the outline of the chapters that follow including: What is the world? Who is God? Who are Man and Woman? Why do evil and suffering mark the world? What am I to about evil and suffering? How am I to relate to God? How am I to relate to my neighbour? How am I to relate to the rest of creation? Which society should I be helping to build? What am I to hope for?
Iain uses the early chapters of Genesis to provide insightful and compelling answers to these questions in a way that may cause many to say, is that what it says? I need to read that again. He builds on these perspectives through the use of additional examples, primarily from the Old Testament, to buttress his case. For each question raised Iain then offers responses to these questions from a variety of world religions in which he points out differences and, in some cases similarities, to his reading of the Biblical account.
The book is both profound and readable and profoundly readable. Any bright college student can follow the argument and examples. Philosophers and theologians will find enough in here to engage their mind for a very long time. For each chapter much more could have been written but the argument and examples provide just enough food for thought without overwhelming the reader. There is an additional lifetime of reading in the footnotes and suggestions for further reading on each of the questions raised.
He proceeds to make his case by demonstrating how the Old Testament answers ten important questions in Chapters 2-11 and by comparing the Old Testament's answers with those of the Ancient Near Eastern myths, ancient Greco-Roman philosophies, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and/or "modern" religions. During the course of this, he clearly demonstrates, among other things, that all religions are not basically the same.
Chapter 12 gives a fuller answer to each of the ten questions that takes into account the New Testament. I would have liked the book even more if his taking account of the New Testament material on each question had come immediately after the discussion of the OT material.
Chapters 13 and 14 review and summarize the entire book. The book includes a 20-page bibliography, a 14-page scripture index, and eight pages of author and subject indices.
The book is occasionally a bit of a slog, but for the most part it is very readable and frequently insightful. Each chapter ends with a brief, well-written summary. It could be a readable alternative to reading a systematic theology (if anybody actually does that).
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The writing is lucid and engaging. Provan is an author who wants his readers to understand his arguments.Read more