In What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible, Jason DeRouchie brings together 16 other evangelical OT scholars to produce a truly one-of-a-kind resource. Rather than being a work by scholars for scholars, this is a work for the Church. The Old Testament is expounded and analyzed from the perspective of the cross of Christ, and the result is an unpacking of the Gospel in the Old Testament. Today’s believers are provided a practical approach to reading and studying the Old Testament. And as the authors remind us, the Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus and the early Church.
The book surveys each of the 24 books of the Old Testament—24 books according to the Hebrew numbering, that is. And the Hebrew order of the books of the Old Testament is the order the contributors to this volume follow. Each chapter gives a brief introduction as to the setting and author of that Hebrew book and then focuses on a discussion of the book’s major themes with particular regard to how it fits into the overall canonical structure. Jason DeRouchie provides introductions to each of the major sections of the Hebrew Bible: the Torah (or Law), the Prophets, and the Writings, as well as an overview of the entire Old Testament. Throughout the volume, there are beautiful, full-color photos of scenes from the Holy Land. Additionally, there are countless charts and tables on helpful subjects relating to the material covered. Memory verses and suggestions for additional reading round out each chapter. The KINGDOM Bible reading plan is also included as an appendix and will help readers in continuing to read through and appreciate the Hebrew Bible in the canonical order this book stresses.
The following excerpt from the chapter on Exodus gives a flavor of the particular approach of this work.
God’s powerful deeds against Egypt are commonly called ‘plagues’ (cf. 8:2; 9:3, 14; 11:1). As a series, however, the acts are introduced as ‘miracles’ (4:21) and ‘signs and wonders’ (7:3) — terms used more frequently than ‘plagues’ (8:23; 10:1, 2; 11:9, 10; cf. 7:9). The broader designation ‘signs’ more appropriately highlights the intent of these acts: Yahweh was working for his own glory, which included judgement (connoted by ‘plagues’) but went beyond it. This also helps the Bible reader see the connections between the ‘signs’ of the exodus and the ‘signs’ of Jesus, particularly in the Gospel of John (cf. John 2:11, 18, 23; 3:2; 4:48, 54; 6:2, 14, 26, 30; 7:31; 9:16; 10:41; 11:47; 12:18, 37; 20:30)….
The exodus is to the Old Testament what the cross-resurrection event is to the New Testament. In each case, the great redemptive act (exodus/cross) produces the covenant community of God’s people (Israel/church) who are called to serve God and his universal mission. The importance of the exodus is signaled by its constant reference throughout the Old Testament, to motivate covenant fidelity (Exod. 19:4; 20:1), to establish national identity and self-consciousness (e.g. Josh. 2:9-11; Judg. 6:8-13; 1 Sam. 12:6-8; 1 Kings 8:51; Neh. 9:9; 2 Chon. 7:22), to inspire prophetic judgment and hope (e.g., Jer. 7:21-24; 11:1-18; 16:14-21; 34:13; Ezek. 37:24-28; Hos. 11:1), and to produce personal praise and confession (e.g., Pss. 77:14-20; 78:12-55; 80:8; 106:7-14; 114; 136:10–22). In short, the rest of the Old Testament can only be understood in light of the significance of the exodus. (p. 87, 89)
This is a very readable and engaging work. The full-color illustrations, charts, maps and graphs will engross the reader. The material presented is merely a survey and so it would make for a great resource for an adult Sunday School class or a Bible Institute course. The Hebrew terms are transliterated and the discussion for the most part stays at a high level. That being said, the discussion focuses on the Messianic nature of the Hebrew Bible and how it all points to Christ. Pastors and teachers will detect a non-dispensational approach that doesn’t overtly teach any one system of eschatology (it leans to a new covenant theology approach, specifically recommending Kingdom through Covenant by Wellum and Gentry a few times). It could be used with prudence by churches from a wide spectrum of positions, yet is firmly evangelical and unflinching in its stance for biblical inerrancy. Some of the discussions about authorship and date will open the reader to some of the challenges of OT scholarship, but much is not said that could be. The balance it achieves is probably right for the purposes the book aims to serve.
The Christological focus of the book and its emphasis on how the Old Testament fits together to point to Christ, makes it most helpful for average readers, and yet it manages to avoid an allegorizing approach to the OT. The authors clearly care about the OT in its own right, and yet make the connections where textually warranted, between the themes and types in the Old Testament and the anti-types and fulfillment in the New Testament. I was disappointed to see a Christ-centered interpretive approach to the Song of Songs was not followed, and that stands as proof that this book is not a free-for-all when it comes to interpretive approach. The book is text-grounded and yet gospel-saturated. The sidebars and graphs are quite useful and the pointers for additional study will help the busy pastor.
Having met Jason DeRouchie and sat in his adult Sunday School class I could feel his passion for the gospel in the Old Testament oozing out of this volume. I am eager to find ways to use it in adult SS settings in my church too. I highly recommend this work, it will reignite a love for the Old Testament and a fuller appreciation for the beauty of the suffering servant and prophesied King, Jesus the Christ.
About the editor
Jason S. DeRouchie (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary. He is passionate about helping Christians exalt Christ and treasure the hope of the gospel from the Old Testament. He is the author of numerous publications, including A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (coauthored with Duane A. Garrett).
Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of six who resides in St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at FundamentallyReformed.com, where he has also published over 150 book reviews. He can also be found occasionally at KJVOnlyDebate.com.