I had high expectations when I first read about the book. The approach was rather unique because the book does not present the OT according to the order of books in the English Old Testament.
Rather, following the arrangement of the Jewish canon, this survey attempts to present the essence of what is revealed in the Old Testament, with a conscious eye toward the fulfillment found in Jesus as clarified in the New Testament. (p. 13)
For that I commend the editor and authors for taking this approach. Regarding Isaiah, DeRouchie follows the conjectures of Beckwith regarding the Baha Bathra (tradition in Babylonian Talmud). Thus, Isaiah is placed after Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In the Jewish canon (BHS [Hebrew] and TNK [JPS English]), Isaiah is placed first among prophets. Not a major issue, but interesting that he would follow this arrangement. Not sure that it helps the thrust or the overall view of the book.
All of the authors are committed to inspiration, historicity, and the miraculous aspects of the text of the Old Testament. It is refreshing to read a book in which the focus is on the text itself and not on conjectures of sources, redactions, etc. This makes it imminently practical for pastors in congregations.
The authors provide many good insights into the Old Testament as they work their way through the material. Each chapter has a heading page in which four questions are addressed, which act as a summary of the book: Who? When? Where? Why? At the end of each chapter is a table with Key Words and Concepts. This inclusion pattern aids the reader going into the chapter and then reviewing afterward. Excellent pedagogical practice.
For me the chapter on Ezekiel (by Preston Sprinkle) was exceptionally well done. He presents the glory of Yahweh, the departure of the glory, and the restoration of the temple in light of the fulfillment of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. I found the placement of Figure 12.2 (Mosaic Covenant Blessings, Curses, and Restoration Blessings) odd. Since there was nothing specific about Ezekiel in the Figure, it seems better fitted as an introduction to the prophetic writings or as a conclusion to the prophetic writings.
Psalms (John C. Crutchfield) also ranks as one of the best. The three major types of psalms (praise, lament, thanksgiving) are presented in simple terms with appropriate tables and lists. Particularly helpful were Figures 16.5 (Psalms by Genre Category) and 16.6 (The Continuum of Emotions in the Genres of the Psalter). In many discussions of psalms, emotions may be noted, but little else. This second figure shows the range of emotions of the person of faith. Equally helpful in visual display is Figure 16.7 (Movement from Lament to Praise in the Psalter); the reader easily notes the emphasis move from lament in the beginning section (Book I) to praise in (Book V). Appendix 1 adds even more table data for the study of the Psalms.
The primary concern is with the heavy “covenantal” emphasis especially in the introductory chapter and Appendix 3. It appears that the kingdom covenant grid is laid over the Old Testament, but seems a little forced. A secondary concern is that by highlighting the covenant in that way, the nation of Israel is raised as the center of the Old Testament. Yet for New Testament writers (and Jesus himself) the key point is the covenant (of promise) with Abraham, with Israel as a subset of that greater promise (I.e. Galatians 4).
Design and Presentation
As with all recent books from Kregel, the presentation of the material, the aesthetic detail prove extremely helpful in a book of this nature. The authors provide excellent aids for the student of the Old Testament: charts, maps, outlines, high quality photos, and lists. The data sections are well done, easily read, and understandable. Kregel is to be commended.
Despite my concerns this is a valuable book and can be used effectively for teaching and for lay people to learn more about the Old Testament. Well done, Jason DeRouchie and Kregel Academic.
Note: Thanks to Kregel Academic & Professional for the review copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.