A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised
Miles V. Van Pelt (ed.)
This is the first of two large (and expensive!) tomes from Crossway, covering both the Old and New Testaments and written by past and present Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) professors. Ligon Duncan writes in the preface ‘in many seminaries…there exists an unhealthy relationship between biblical theology and systematic theology, but at RTS we value both and want our students to understand their necessary and complementary value’. There is a wealth of reflection on the Scriptures between these pages, with the introduction by Van Pelt worth (nearly!) the price of the book alone. The argument for arranging the chapters by the division of the Hebrew Bible shows that even the way the Bible is organised is there to teach us something, which we often miss. In fact, the introduction left me wanting to immediately read Chronicles, a book written at the end of the Old Testament, which contrasts with Samuel & Kings deliberately to point readers forward to the coming Messiah. That is one of the strengths of the book – it leaves you amazed at things in the Bible you’ve perhaps never seen before. It also sparks thoughts as to how we should use various Biblical books. For example, if Ezra and Nehemiah are there to show that Israel’s return from exile fell short, are we missing at least some of the point if the only gospel connection we make from them is how we can spiritually rebuild churches? The book is thoroughly Christ-centred, taking issue with those like Howard Marshall who represents ‘a large portion of evangelicalism’ when he says that Jesus is not the principal subject of the Old Testament.
A few typos survive (eg 1995 for 1955 on p. 526) which is disappointing for a volume that clearly aims at permanence. The book does however earn marks for not transliterating Hebrew!
Much theological training these days does well at drumming into our heads the need to understand Biblical passages in the context of the book – this volume shows the value of understanding the books themselves in context of the whole Old Testament.
Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.