Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Baptist's Old Testament Bible Survey

What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus' Bible. Edited by Jason S. Derouchie. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. 2013. 496 pp. $45.99.

Everyone needs a good Old Testament survey. Most whole-Bible surveys lack sufficient detail to be of much use to serious students of the Bible. Individual commentaries may contain too much detail. This book is a happy medium and a great place for laying a solid foundation of Old Testament understanding.

What Sets This Book Apart
There are four main characteristics that set this Old Testament survey apart from other volumes:

The first and most obvious distinction is that the book follows the order of the Jewish canon. Whereas Jews and Christians both accept the same books in the Old Testament, they arrange them in a different order. DeRouchie follows the order that would have been the most common in Jesus' day, commonly identified by three main sections, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Although the order of the books is not divinely inspired, the Jewish division of the canon offers some helpful insight as to the purposes of these books.

The second most obvious distinction is the book's high-quality visuals. Full-color photographs adorn many pages throughout. The book also includes useful maps and charts. I especially liked the charts from the chapter on the Psalms. These images help reinforce each chapter's content and aid in comprehension.

Third, the Old Testament is presented in a well-rounded way. By this I mean that the authors are committed to the authority and truthfulness of the Old Testament and the purposes of each book are clearly presented and explained, not only in light of the original audience, but the Old Testament messianic expectation as well. Most Old Testament surveys do not emphasize the messianic link nearly as much as this one does.

Fourthly, although Kregel doesn't highlight this in their advertising, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About is a Baptist's Bible survey. That's not to say that people from other denominations or faith traditions won't appreciate or benefit from this survey. It is very "evangelical," though mildly Calvinistic. However, it is endorsed by a "who's who" of modern Baptistdom, including a number of Southern Baptists. Jason S. DeRouchie (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the main editor of this book and associate professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary (John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church).

Although I think the book's subtitle (A Survey of Jesus' Bible) more clearly presents the book's purpose, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared about is a new favorite on my shelf.

I received this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. The opinions expressed on my own.

Side note: I took an Old Testament survey course this semester in seminary and I found this book to be much more enjoyable than my class textbook, and not just because I didn't have any homework from it. It really is a gem.


MCHblog said...


I just read one of your older entries on the myth of strapping on a dead body to a murderer as a form of punishment. here’s the thing: you make some good points that this story may be a false one, but you don’t present anything that completely refutes that it may in fact have existed at some point. So why make such a big deal about it? The idea of strapping on a corpse and comparing that to what we do when we sin, is an extremely powerful one. Maybe those preachers who use that illustration should say "this might be a myth there are some conflicting views on this, but i am going to use this illustration because it paints such a powerful word picture to the believer struggling with sin…" I plan to continue to use that illustration with others and myself when I think apprpropriate. And i will be careful to let others know this might be a myth, but that does not negate the poweer of the illustration. I just think there are more serious misdeeds out there in Christiandom than this one. The indignance you exhibit in your post seems a waste of your time and energy.

Andrew Wencl said...

The problem with the story is that it is false. Pastors should never present as true something that is false. It kills credibility if people find out. There's sufficient evidence to show that the story was a distortion and gross embellishment of a short passage from The Aeneid.

I don't mind reusing illustrations, but it's better to say something like, "It's like being chained to a dead body..." rather than to say, "There was a tyrant who..." or something that gives the impression that it's historical. When pastors present something as fact that they know to be false, it's wrong. When they present something as fact when they haven't done their homework, it makes them look stupid or careless.