A while back, I was taking advantage of the fact that RTS not only has a good library, but a great bookstore as well. One day when I came in, I stumbled upon this new release by Eerdmans, Hearing The Old Testament: Listening For God’s Address. Knowing that I’d be teaching a year of Old Testament survey soon, I knew this was a book I needed to check out.
Originally, I was planning on reviewing the book in a single pass, but I decided instead to take my time. This is partly because the book’s design itself requires a bit of explanation.
Most of the time when you get a collection of scholarly essays like this, there is not much internally to make them a unified whole. Not so with Hearing the Old Testament.
In the preface, Craig Bartholomew tells us:
At the heart of the hermeneutic advocated in this book is the belief that our love for the Old Testament and our desire for God will come together only when we make the goal of our interpretation to listen for God’s address (xv).
To cast this vision more thoroughly, the first part of Hearing the Old Testament is just a single essay by Bartholomew called “Listening for God’s Address: A Mere Trinitarian Hermeneutic For The Old Testament.” For Bartholomew’s hermeneutics, the doctrine of the Trinity does 5 things:
- Implies acceptance of Old Testament as authoritative Scripture
- Alerts us to the fact that the Old Testament is part of a larger whole
- Alerts us to the importance of attending to the discrete witness of the Old Testament
- Alerts us to the proper goal of, and primary context for, reading the Old Testament
- Does not close down but opens up interpretation of the Old Testament
Obviously Bartholomew puts a little more meat on these propositions, but I think he makes a pretty solid case overall. Having set out his vision, Bartholomew then distributed this essay among the other contributors of the book who are writing on methodological issues in Old Testament interpretation:
- Al Wolters on the history of the discipline
- Bartholomew himself on philosophy
- David Beldman on literary approaches
- Tremper Longman III on history
- Mark Boda on biblical theology
- Stephen Dempster on canon
- Christopher Wright on mission
- M. Daniel Carroll R. on ethics
These contributors then interacted with Bartholomew’s opening essay either positively or critically in putting together their thoughts. In this way, though we have many different voices present in the book, they are at least all singing off the same page. To hear what they sound like though, you’ll have wait until my next post, which hopefully will be sometime next week.