Tag Archives: book reviews

A Review: What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About, by Jason S. DeRouchie

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.

Book Breakdown

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.

You can purchase What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About on Amazon for $34.78 today.

A Review: Rediscovering the Church Fathers by Michael A. G. Haykin

The significance of studying the church fathers cannot be measured. Their defenses of Christian doctrine against the earliest heresies, their rich interpretation of Scripture, and their brilliant philosophies are definitely worth careful consideration. Rediscovering the Church Fathers is a great place to start. As Michael A. G. Haykin walks you through the lives of the most important key figures in church history, you will find yourself captivated by the godly lives of these men who devoted their time and effort to edifying the body of Christ. This book is for anyone desiring to have a beginner’s understanding of the lives and writings of the early church fathers.

Haykin begins this book by stating its purpose in the first chapter: the need for studying the fathers among evangelicals. Haykin states that we should study the church fathers for such reasons as freedom and wisdom, understanding the New Testament, correcting mistaken views about the fathers, apologetic reasons, and for spiritual nourishment. The second chapter considers the life and thought of Ignatius of Antioch. He was known mainly for his martyrdom, and some even call him insane for the way he viewed his sure death. As Haykin brings out, Ignatius was willing to die by martyrdom because he “is certain that his martyrdom will please God” (p. 42). The argument of this chapter is that the Christian message was “so central [to] Christian orthodoxy, that it was worth dying for” (p. 48).

Chapter 3 is an examination of the apologetic writing, The Letter to Diognetus. Haykin walks you through the significant points of this letter and demonstrates how apologetically minded the author of this letter was and how this letter contributed to the shape of the early church in that it “permeated the ancient church’s witness to a sin-shaped culture” (p. 67). Chapter 4 is a study of the life and thought of the great exegete, Origen. Haykin gives a detailed biography of Origen’s early life and his contribution to the life of the early church by writing commentaries, books, and pioneering interpretation of biblical texts. This is one of the best balanced treatments of Origen that I have ever read. Chapter 5 is a look at the lives of two men who helped thrust religious piety towards the Lord’s Supper: Cyprian and Ambrose. Haykin shows the ways in which they both contributed to a biblical understanding of the Eucharist. Cyprian’s contribution was that he viewed the Eucharist as “a place where the believer knows afresh the forgiveness of the Lord and as a result is suffused with joy” (p. 97). This, of course, is the more reformed view of the Lord’s Supper. Ambrose’s contribution however, was that he identified “Christ’s words of institution as the means by which a change is effected in the elements of bread and wine” (p. 100). Ambrose’s thought would lead to a confusion of symbol and meaning, but nevertheless, both Cyprian and Ambrose are good representatives of the shifts in thought about the Lord’s Supper during that time. Haykin brings this out very well.

Then chapter 6 is a lengthy examination of the life and thought of Basil of Caesarea. This chapter is full of great quotes and rich writings from the pen of Basil, and Haykin shows what a great monastic reformer he was. Haykin mentions Basil’s defense of the Holy Spirit’s deity, during a time of controversy by noting the greatest work from the pen of Basil, namely On the Holy Spirit. This too, like the treatment of Origen, is one of the greatest readings on Basil of Caesarea. Chapter 7 is the last of the church fathers that are studied in this book, and it consists of a brief biography of Saint Patrick. Haykin tells us what the economic and social setting of that time was, and then proceeds to talk about Patrick’s career and his conversion. This is one of the most beautiful conversion stories in the history of the early church. What Haykin writes about Patrick’s conversion is worth getting this book. Haykin also notes what Patrick is most known for: his great missionary efforts. And Haykin concludes this chapter with a brief look at the impact he had on the Celtic church.

In chapter 8, Haykin gives a personal testimony to his encounter with studying the fathers. He talks about his honored mentors who introduced him to Patristics (the study of the church fathers), and encouraged him to further study. Then Haykin describes his doctoral studies on the life and thought of Basil and Athanasius. The appendixes of this book are also helpful. Haykin asks the question, “Where does one begin reading the fathers?” (p. 157). He then lists a number of helpful books that would aid anyone in their understanding of Patristics. Haykin concludes this book with an examination of one of his mentors, Jaroslav Pelikan, and his thought in Patristics. This part of the book is very touching because you get to see the personal life of Dr. Haykin.

What Haykin attempts to accomplish throughout this book is to give an outlook of how these early Christian figures have shaped our understanding of theology. They have contributed through their preaching, their many books, and in some cases their deaths. Haykin gives a new perspective on these great Christian thinkers by showing the different ways in which they have shaped contemporary Christianity.

Get Rediscovering the Church Fathers $9.39 for Kindle, or $13.82 Paperback.