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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Introducing the Old Testament" (Tremper Longman III)

TITLE: Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
AUTHOR: Tremper Longman III
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012, (192 pages).

This is an abridged edition of the larger volume, "An Introduction to the Old Testament," co-authored by the same author. The other author, Raymond Dillard, passed away suddenly when the original edition was almost completed. This new edition, abridged from the original by about 60% focuses on about half the original emphases. The unabridged edition deals with each of the 39 old testament books by describing the historical background, the literary style, and the theological message of each book. This new edition continues this format, even though it is shortened. The basic conviction is that a deep knowledge of the Old Testament will help readers toward a better understanding of Jesus and the gospel. The short guide maintains the following format for each book:

  1. Content: What is the book about?
  2. Authorship and Date: Who wrote the book and when?
  3. Genre: What is the style of literature of the book?
  4. Connections: How does the book anticipate the Gospel?

The bibliographical information that used to be spread out in the original volume has now been compiled under three easy to follow headings; Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. Looking more like a commentary in some way, and a theological guide in another, it is also a useful handbook for pastors, teachers, and preachers who need a refresher course without having to look through their old seminary books or to get back into the original larger work. That said, the ease of access has a shortcoming. Unlike its predecessor, where readers are left to draw more of their own understanding and conclusions themselves, this new short guide is more directed, where the author includes his own interpretation as well. For example, in the section on Genesis, the literary artistry graphic present in the original has been removed. The very brief treatment of each book can leave the hungry reader wanting more. The already brief treatment of "Approaching the New Testament" has also been shortened through further paraphrasing. That said, not everything is reduced or taken away. The author has added in discussion questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate further study and research. This is definitely helpful and enables the reader to do some independent work and reflection, or with a group. The overall flow of thought is more compact and fluent. The reduction of content is substituted with a better and clearer paraphrase. This new edition, though written more for the popular audience, is still a good enough guide to launch anyone toward a better appreciation and understanding of the contexts of each Old Testament book.

For pastors and teachers who do not have much time to prepare or to deliver their material to a busy audience with little time, this book's concise way of teaching the contexts of the Old Testament is godsend.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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