Not Your Ordinary Textbook
Jesus read the Bible. Have you considered this fact before? When you think of the earthly ministry and life of Jesus, you probably think of His teachings and miracles—and you likely haven’t reflected on the fact that Jesus read the Scriptures. We can safely assume that Jesus was faithfully taught the Scriptures by Mary and Joseph as He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). Also, it was Jesus’ custom to attend temple worship and read the Scriptures (Luke 4:26). And clearly Jesus read the Bible if He taught His disciples all about it (Luke 24:27). Today, in seminary and Bible college classes, it is not unusual to be assigned a book on the survey of the Old Testament. While there are many great textbooks available for surveying the Old Testament, this book focuses distinctly on Jesus’ version of the Old Testament. Isn’t that the one we should be studying? Of course, Jesus read the same Old Testament that we have today, but it was organized in a different order. Considering that fact, our study of the survey of the Old Testament should conform to the order in which it was originally organized. That’s one of the many things that this textbook accomplishes. This is not your ordinary Bible survey textbook. Not only does it focus on the Bible that Jesus Himself used, but it focuses on what really mattered to the authors of the many books of the Old Testament. What did they really care about? What was near to their hearts? DeRouchie answers these questions and more in his marvelous work, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible.
Each chapter is broken down into a manageable and easy-to-read way. First, each chapter begins with some introductory information about the Old Testament book(s) that will be discussed within that chapter. In only a few paragraphs, organized neatly on the page, the author answers the basic fundamental questions of purpose, authorship, and date by asking Who? When? Where? , and Why? Second, each chapter of the book begins with a section titled, “Carefully Crafted Verses from (the Book(s) Being Studied).” Found in this section are powerfully packed verses found in the book that is being surveyed. There is also a helpful chart on the first page of every chapter with bullet points that summarize the theological convictions that lay behind the author’s pen of every book in the Old Testament. These theological convictions are then unpacked in detail throughout the rest of the chapter in individual sections.
Also, pasted throughout the chapters of the book, there are striking historical images pertaining to the culture, practices, and history of that particular book being surveyed. Similarly, there are small text boxes scattered throughout the chapters that offer insightful reflections on the concepts being discussed. Additionally there are charts that provide good visual aids to capture the outline of the book(s), the chronology of certain events, and more. The chapters usually end with a summary of the concepts discussed in that chapter. That is followed by a “Key Words and Concepts” section that identifies some of the important terms and ideas discussed in the chapter. Finally, the chapter concludes with a suggested reading section that displays the names of commentaries, scholarly works, and other books that will help with studying the particular book(s) discussed in that chapter.
Strengths and Weaknesses
There are many strengths within this book, and it is safe to say that there are far more strengths to this work than there are weaknesses. First of all, one strength to this book is the range of scholarship employed. This theological survey of the Old Testament was not compiled DeRouchie himself or a few other authors. This book was compiled by seventeen scholars and professors of the Old Testament from some of the world’s leading seminaries and Bible colleges. Another great strength in this book is its visual aids. Everyone can benefit through the visual aids in DeRouchie’s book. The charts and icons that are found throughout this book help the reader to grasp the concepts that are being discussed. While the visual aids are descriptive and informatory, some of the charts could be expounded on a little better. Some of the figures (like on pages 182-183, and 236) are in need of better explanation. This book is intended to be a simple, practical help for students and some further explanation on some charts and figures would serve to that purpose. Also, study or reflection questions at the end of each chapter probably wouldn’t hurt. I understand that this book isn’t written as a normal theological survey of the Old Testament, but regardless a few questions to test your knowledge would aid the student—and that is lacking from DeRouchie’s book.
The Best Survey Textbook on the Old Testament
What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About is the most manageable, user-friendly survey of the Old Testament that a student or layperson can read. The various authors will cause you to ponder on the greatness of God’s glory revealed in the Old Testament for the good and satisfaction of His people. With the compelling visuals, clearly outlined theological concepts, and the other great resources offered in this book—you will find yourself soaking in the rich theology of the Old Testament. Still, the paramount concept that sets this survey apart from hundreds of others is that it is a survey of Jesus’ Bible—and if this book is read correctly, your mind will be informed and you will be drawn closer to the glorious God of the Old Testament.