Old Testament Today 2nd Edition – Review
Old Testament Today, A Journey from Ancient context to Contemporary Relevance by John H. Walton and Andrew E. Hill is now updated in this 2nd Edition from Zondervan. It takes a new look at the authority and value of the Old Testament. It shows how to study it by placing it in its proper context and shows how it applies today.
Most surveys of the Old Testament talk about the people, places, and events, but they rarely understand the ‘why’ behind the events. Rather than just focusing on the content, this book focuses on the concepts in the Old Testament.
Almost every page contains high quality images that include art, maps, artifacts, archaeological digs, timelines, scrolls, etc.
- Survey of each book
- Archaeological finds
- 150 most significant chapters
The book is divided into units, each covering a specific portion of the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, history, prophecy, and poetic books. Each unit starts with orientation, Yahweh focus, key verses, key plotline terms, an outline, and a timeline. Each unit ends with a list of reflections, key terms, and a list of books for further study. Each unit covers the books and their concepts in great detail.
The stance this book takes on the authority of the Old Testament is that it is the Word of God and that if you believe Jesus is the Christ then you must accept the OT as authoritative because he used it as such. Walton and Hill take the Scriptures for face value based on a worldview of faith. They explain that interpretation must take into consideration the genre, cultural perspective, and the focus of revelation (showing a difference in what the Israelites believed and what the text is communicating). So when the Scriptures use phrases such as windows of heaven, we should understand that the focus of revelation isn’t that there are literal windows on heaven. They teach to be discerning of Scripture and to be careful with making claims of Scripture that Scriptures doesn’t claim itself. In other words, ask if a claim is based on tradition or Scripture. The example given is of Galileo being persecuted because his scientific discovery that the earth is not the center of the universe went against the popular belief of his Church at the time.
Walton and Hill do cover a lot of theology, but they don’t always take a specific stance themselves. For example, they conclude that God is the Creator, but they don’t take a stance on the specifics. They conclude that we must be open to changing our views based on scientific research. I agree with this to an extent – we must be open minded and willing to change our views, but I would say that our interpretation of Scripture should be compared with other Scripture and not interpretive science. Scientists interpret facts based on pre-conceived ideas and we shouldn’t just blindly accept those interpretations and assume our interpretation of Scripture is inaccurate. This requires critical thinking from both sides. Since Walton and Hill are focusing on way the Israelites interpreted Scripture, I would have liked to have seen more time spent on their interpretation of the Creation account. They do go out of their way to not read something into Scripture. They are careful not to make the Scriptures say something they are not saying.
There is much more in this book than I can describe. It is constructed well with a sewn binding and a hard cover with a textured feel. The paper and print is what I expect in a textbook: thick paper with full-color photos. And this books if filled with photos. It was a joy to read for this review. This is a great book for personal or group study and is perfect for the classroom setting.
Zondervan Academic provided this textbook free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review. My opinions are my own.
I am usually reluctant to have any one or any book tell me how to interpret scripture, usually using cross references, concordances, and dictionaries assist me in allowing The Bible to interpret itself. Having said that, guides such as these and commentaries are valuable after I have done my initial work on any given scripture. This guide looks to be one that has relevance for today’s reader. We have so many study aids available to us now that sometimes the information overwhelms. I have never found any scripture, the Old Testament included irrelevant to modern life, perhaps it is my own unique ideas about what the Bible is and how I should respond to it.
This looks like a good read after one has already done the proper study using the Bible for its own interpretation.
Yours in Christ