Jason S. DeRouchie ed., What The Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible. Grand Rapids: Kregel, October 2013. 496 pp. Hardcover, $45.99.
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Jason S. DeRouchie is associate professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary. In addition to this volume, he co-authored A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew with Duane Garrett. This work is the companion to What The New Testament Authors Really Cared About which was published a few years back. Here, DeRouchie has assembled a team of evangelical Old Testament scholars to complete a survey of the Old Testament in 25 chapters.
But not just any survey.
This survey has several distinctions.
DeRouchie explains the main ones in his book overview (23-24):
- Each chapter synthesizes in 3-6 themes the lasting message of each book
- It portrays the OT as the foundation and fulfillment of the NT making it gospel-saturated and text-based
- It has a different chapter for each book of Jesus’ Bible (which means it follows the Hebrew ordering)
- It continually stresses the lasting relevance of the OT through over 160 (!) sidebars
- Introductory issues are condensed to a summary on the first page of the chapter
- The project is collaborative, featuring 17 different OT scholars (folks like Stephen Dempster, Daniel Estes, J. Daniel Hays, Preston Sprinkle, Gary Smith, to name a few)
- It is shorter and simpler than many other surveys, making it ideal for a single semester class textbook
- The clarity is enhanced by nearly 200 hi-res photos, over 80 charts and tables (!) and 12 color maps
Speaking of the pictures, I know I’m not supposed to be excited about pictures, but the glossy pages and numerous pictures are quite nice for visual learners. Other surveys are not necessarily devoid of pictures (Walton and Hill for instance have the same glossy paper with numerous pictures), but What The Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible boasts numerous helpful diagrams as well.
One in particular is used to organize the entire story-line of the Old Testament and New Testament and I snapped a pic of it so you could see:
Since this key only explains the small pictures, here’s the rundown on the acronym “KINGDOM” (30):
- Kickoff and Rebellion (Creation, fall, flood)
- Instrument of Blessing (Patriarchs)
- Nation Redeemed and Commissioned (Exodus, Sinai, wilderness)
- Government in the Promised Land (Conquest and united/divided monarchies)
- Dispersion and Return (Exile and initial restoration)
- Overlap of the Ages (Christ’s work and the church age)
- Mission Accomplished (Christ’s return and kingdom consummation)
This chart is referred back to at the beginning of each section (Law, Prophets, Writings), to further keep readers oriented to the overall storyline of the Old Testament (obviously, we only get to D).
As a whole, this book seems to be a very useful textbook, particularly if you happen to be teaching high school Bible. You not only get the whole Old Testament covered in 25 chapters, none of which are outrageously long, you get it presented in a distinctively Christian way. That is to say, you get an Old Testament survey that is Christ-centered, but in a way that is still authentic to the original context and audience. To give a flavor for what DeRouchie hoped the survey would accomplish, here’s his conclusion in the introduction (51):
As you read through this Christian interpretation of the Old Testament, my prayer is that you will encounter God and find yourself changed more into his likeness. As you revel in the message of his Word, your life should develop heightened gratitude and hope, greater surrender and commitment, more intense delight and passion, all toward God in Christ. You should become more God-exalting and less dependent on things of this world. You should find yourself less self-absorbed and more ready to pour your life out in love for others, all in the strength that God supplies.
The prophet Isaiah foretold that, in the age of restoration, the remnant of Israel and the nations would all ‘be taught by the Lord’ (Isa. 54:13; cf. Jer. 31:34). John 6:44-45 records Jesus citing this passage and then saying, ‘Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me’ (John 6:45). May the Lord now grant you ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to understand, all in a way that helps you move toward Christ in heart and soul, ‘from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor. 3:18).
Not typically what you think of when you think “Old Testament survey” is it? And that’s probably because this isn’t your typical OT survey. Instead, it’s a OT survey that was crafted to be a “springboard to delighting in God,” and was written with the editor’s Sunday School class in mind (17).
With that in mind, I would say this is ideal for classroom use, but perhaps even more ideal for personal use. If you’ve struggled to understand the Old Testament and don’t really know where to start, this book might be it. I’ve accented the user-friendliness, but beyond that, it has several appendices, one of which is a rundown of the key Old Testament chapters (the real place to start in trying to understand the OT), and one of the others is The Kingdom Bible Reading Plan. It’s a plan designed to boost your grasp of the OT through reading it alongside the new in a 3-1 ratio. The OT readings are arranged so that you get one reading from each portion of the Hebrew OT a day (one from the Law, one from the Prophets, one from the Writings). Also, there are only 25 readings a month, which gives you the flexibility to miss a day here and there.
Using that plan, and reading this book should put you well on your way to understanding the Old Testament better. There are probably other ways to do it, but this book is the best survey I know of for the average person to pick up and read and not get overwhelmed. It is multi-sensory and devotional in orientation, and written by able guides to the 2/3 of the Bible you might not understand as well as you’d want to. And since Christmas is right around corner, now you know what to ask for!