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33 of 34 found the following review helpful:
Excellent! A passionate introductory work showcasing the unity of the OTDec 03, 2007
Why get too excited about an Old Testament Survey textbook? I am excited, and here is why.
Paul House and Eric Mitchell combine to write this new second edition (first one published about fifteen years ago) of a text designed for use by "beginning students". In other words, this will be a required text for seminary and Christian college students for at least the next ten years!
But don't let the words "required text" fool you into thinking that this is a dry volume of facts and figures. House and Mitchell write with passion and purpose.
The passion comes from their solid belief in what the text of Scripture is:
"...the authors of this text want to make clear they affirm the inerrancy and infallibility of God's Word. Therefore, they also believe that the Bible's historical writing is based on solid historical principles. They believe there are good reasons to affirm what the Bible says on historical matters and that there are good reasons for using sound historical research when studying the Bible."
And what is their purpose? Stated in many ways, the goal of the book is to "help students learn and appreciate the UNITY of the Old Testament" (emphasis mine). They want students to delight in and learn about both the trees and the forest, breaking through to a level of understanding and appreciation for the unity of the Old Testament and hence an appreciation for the unity of the entire Bible.
"For centuries Christians and Jews alike considered the Old Testament a unified work. Jewish readers viewed the Hebrew Scriptures as a thorough account of their faith and history. Christians treated the Old Testament as the natural introduction to their New Testament. Neither group failed to acknowledge the many types of literature in the books, but both communities of faith found underlying themes and characters that bound the whole together.
In the last two centuries, however, the diversity of the Old Testament has been stressed. Children are taught that the Bible is not a book but many books. College and seminary students often analyze each biblical book in isolation from other Scripture. Few people can fit specific stories into a larger biblical picture. Lacking a grasp of the overall Old Testament plot and purpose, Bible students struggle to understand particular passages. This book attempts to chart some elements that unify the Old Testament.
They are men on a mission, and they accomplish their mission well.
They write as men who know the difference between wishy-washy preaching and bold proclamation, and they seem to be men who would prefer to hear and preach the latter. The language of the Bible is more sublime than Shakespeare, but at the end of the day we must remember we are not plowing the fields of literary criticism when we handle the Word of God. No, we are taking a living Word from a living God and bringing it as faithfully and forcefully as we can to a church of saints and a world of sinners.
So, for example, when the authors come to the introduction to "Joshua-Kings", they set the context as such:
"Deuteronomy leaves readers in suspense. Israel has set up camp just outside the Promised Land, poised to complete God's promises to Abraham. Moses has said they will succeed, but he is dead. Israel was at a similar pivotal position in numbers and failed to conquer. Will the people waste a second chance to claim their homeland? God has promised to fight for them. Will this second generation of Israelites believe Yahweh or be as rebellious as their parents?"
A resounding pastoral heartbeat beats throughout this text.
But the pastors are wondering how they would use the book outside personal study. Well, don't think for a minute that you couldn't use this within the local church. You can and you should! Wherever you might find some pastoral interns or men and women who want to dig deeper, or perhaps some mature highschoolers or homeschoolers. Ask around and see if there are even a few who will take you up on the offer to teach them the Old Testament at this level.
And don't miss out on the student guide, sold separately. Pastors, take a look at the student guide and all the fill-in-the-blank quizzes and maps and drills. In so doing you will realize that you did in fact sleep through much of your own Old Testament survey courses. You will be drawing blanks left and right as you try to answer the challenging drill sheets. This will prompt you to go through the textbook and guide for your own benefit too!
This book and the corresponding student workbook come highly recommended. Professional scholarship and pastoral sensitivity unite in a compelling textbook "for beginners"... and count me in that group because I am profiting from this one!
25 of 25 found the following review helpful:
Kindle Version: Be Aware.Jan 21, 2013
By J Reynolds
The Book is great but be aware for purchase this is NOT the book! This is the Student guide which has all the Questions and maps. I bought this thinking it was the book and it is not. Luckily I did have to use it for class but just as a reminder the Kindle version is the Guide not the Book!.
9 of 9 found the following review helpful:
Outstanding Book for the Old Testament scholarsSep 11, 2009
By fraser golden
As a newcomer to Seminary, I have always struggled with understanding the Old Testament. Though this book does not go into intricate details, it DOES give a person MUCH needed understanding about how God dealt with Ancient Isreal & its relevence to our own personanl struggles with life as a whole. I strongly recomend this book to ANYONE who is like me, slow reader, slow to understand, but OH so grateful that my eyes, mind & heart is being opened to God's true nature of grace.
8 of 8 found the following review helpful:
An Essential for Any LibraryJun 12, 2012
By Jacob Sweeney
When I took my first class on the Old Testament in college, it was more dates and authors than content. The first Old Testament Survey book I ever purchased followed suit. For many, an overview of the Old Testament is an explanation of the many theories and histories behind its composition. It is also incredibly boring. There was a time when debates of authorship and composition were cutting edge biblical scholarship. Academic battle lines were drawn and many tomes composed arguing for the validity of one position over against the others.
These are not front page issues anymore. Liberal scholars still maintain various versions of the Documentary Hypothesis and that Isaiah was written by at least two (sometimes three) different people. Conservative scholars still disagree. I am grateful that previous generations of faithful men were willing to step into the fray and defend Scripture. Yet, as these are not pressing concerns, a different generation of survey texts needs to be written; ones which focus upon the text itself and not the issues surrounding it.
It is for this reason that I commend Paul House's Old Testament Survey. Dr. House is the Associate Dean and Professor of Divinity (Old Testament) at Beeson Divinity School. His survey text stands on the shoulders of those who have long defended traditional composition and authorship of the various Old Testament texts. Rather than focus on these issues he turns his attention to the literary structure and content. He organizes his survey in keeping with the Hebrew order of the Old Testament. The Old Testament was organized around three parts: Law (Genesis - Deuteronomy); Prophets (Joshua - Malachi); Writings (Job - 2 Chronicles). This structure helps to highlight the literary features of the Old Testament. It also serves to create a unified connection of books.
Dr. House provides an excellent expositional survey of the Old Testament. In addition to the textbook is the workbook. This allows students to further study the Old Testament by underscoring the essential features of each book. Each section has a map, matching, short answer, vocabulary and areas of further study. Together these two books create an excellent guide to studying the Old Testament.
6 of 7 found the following review helpful:
A textbook designed for Bible students.Nov 03, 2007
By Midwest Book Review
Now in a revised and updated second edition, Old Testament Survey is a textbook designed for Bible students. Written by professor of divinity Paul R. House and assistant professor of Old Testament and archaeology Eric Mitchell, Old Testament Survey focuses upon the literature and narrative of the Old Testament in its methodical overview, which walks the reader through the biblical stories as well as the motives and reactions of principle characters. Charts, illustrations, sixteen full-color maps, and an index round out this excellent Bible reading companion.
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