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Book Description

18 Jun 2010
When Jesus walked with his confused disciples on the Emmaus road, he began with Moses and all the Prophets and explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself - and their hearts burned within them (Luke 24).

Contemporary people, too, can find their hearts burning as they hear God speak through the Old Testament texts. However, preaching from this part of the Christian Bible brings significant challenges and raises a number of issues, and hence can be neglected.

This stimulating volume offers guidance for expository preaching from the Old Testament, and practical suggestions for how to understand the message of its diverse literature and to apply it today. The chapters cover narrative, plot and characters, along with the main Old Testament genres and two special topics: preaching from 'difficult' texts, and preaching Christ.

The aim is to encourage use of all the Bible's rich resources, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in preaching the good news of the kingdom of God worldwide.

The contributors are internationally respected evangelical Old Testament scholars, from a wide range of church traditions, who are also active in preaching: Daniel I. Block, David G. Firth, Grenville J. R. Kent, Paul J. Kissling, Alison Lo, Tremper Longman III, Ernest C. Lucas, R. W. L. Moberly, Laurence A. Turner, Federico G. Villanueva, Gordon Wenham, H. G. M. Williamson and Christopher J. H. Wright.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: ivp (18 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844744485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844744480
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 705,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'There has never been a better time to preach. We have more resources available to guide our understanding of the text than any generation of preachers in human history. But sometimes it feels like we're drowning in information while starving for wisdom. This volume will help create a generation of genuinely thoughtful preachers who can teach people to love God with their minds. It can guide us to preaching that has integrity, power, and authority.' --John Ortberg

'I have found that nothing brings greater joy than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. This masterful collection of essays will help contemporary preachers understand, proclaim and apply all the genres of Old Testament literature with greater depth and clarity.' --Philip Graham Ryken, president, Wheaton College

About the Author

Grenville J. R. Kent is Lecturer in Old Testament at the Wesley Institute, Sydney, Australia.

Paul J. Kissling is Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director of Research at the TCMI Institute, Austria.

Laurence A. Turner is Principal Lecturer in Old Testament and Research Degrees Director at Newbold College, Bracknell, UK.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars get active with the 78% 8 Mar 2011
This book originates from Luke 24 v27, where Jesus explained to two disciples on the road to Emmaeus what was said about himself in all the Scriptures. The book is a collection of thirteen essays originally presented by some of the best Old Testament scholars from around the world. There is a unifying passion clear in all the essays. The authors want Christian preachers and teachers to see the usefulness and relevance of the 78% of the Bible which is often overlooked.

Clear, respected, robust writing in each chapter follow a broadly similar pattern including a sample sermon. Seven of the chapters deal with how to preach different genres with the chapter by Tremper Longman III on Wisdom perhaps the most helpful.

This volume is a most useful guide to those who handle scripture with regularity. Gritty, academic and Christ-centric!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Resource 3 Jan 2011
By Joseph Ryan Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Originally posted on my blog: [...]

My expectations for this volume should be laid bare at the outset. Too much is published today that is both mediocre and/or redundant. Particularly in an area such as preaching, I would be hesitant to get caught up into reading very many books if any on the subject. A book on preaching could be compared to a book on how to play a musical instrument. Perhaps the fundamentals can be gleaned from reading a text book, but to truly master the subject one must set aside the book and practice. Preaching is an activity one must be regularly engaged in should one truly want to grow and develop. There is very little need to read more than a couple preaching books because their differences are hardly significant. I do not preoccupy myself with the various preaching theories; they are largely passing fads concerned with packaging material that is often mediocre because too little attention is being placed on content. And so with that in mind, I came to this book looking for a resource that would cover the bare essentials of making use of the Old Testament for a Christian exposition, one that was particularly focused on developing content over delivery. In my estimation, the delivers in this respect, though I found some chapters appealed to me more than others.

Each chapter is the product of a different author writing from within a Christian faith perspective. Generally speaking, each chapter contains a discussion of the topic, its relation to preaching, the relevance of a Christian faith perspective, and concludes with both an example sermon (or sermon outline) and a bibliography of some kind.

Laurence Turner begins the book with the chapter "Preaching Narrative: Plot." This was one of the chapters I found most helpful, both because the narratives of biblical stories are too often ignored in the preaching of narrative texts and because of the quality of Turner's treatment. He lays out the basic structure that establishes the general characteristics of plot shared by both ancient and modern literature, and he proceeds to explain how these individual characteristics are significant for understanding plot and plot development. He highlights how one can make use of these characteristics in developing a sermon without requiring that one's sermon fit any one particular mold or structure. Complimenting the discussion of narrative was Paul Kissling's chapter, "Preaching Narrative: Characters." I particularly appreciated the encouragement in this chapter to diversify one's sermon style, occasionally delivering a sermon from the perspective of the biblical character in the first person. From from encouraging an atomistic reading of biblical characters, he addresses numerous features of narrative storytelling in the Bible that highlight the significance of characters and characterization. Students who might otherwise think it appropriate to preach a "Dare to be a Daniel" sermon will learn from this chapter that there is more to reading biblical characters than the traits we are predetermined to admire in them!

Perhaps my favorite chapter of the lot was Christopher Wright's " Preaching from the Law." Again, this is a topic that is easily and often abused or ignored in Christian preaching, and Wright's lifelong work in Old Testament Law is apparent. The chapter is in many ways a condensed discussion of issues he raised in Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. He has done a fine job in presenting his basic framework of his understanding OT law and highlighting the most pertinent issues on which to elaborate. Readers interested in further discussion will find themselves redirected to the appropriate discussions in his more expansive volume. I suspect those familiar with and sympathetic to Wright and his work on OT law will be pleased to have this chapter for students to consult to capture the essence of Wright's work, even if they are not using it in a homiletics course. Because Wright is focused on "finding the message of the law for today," some might find his chapter less helpful in respect to the various forms or sermon structures most suitable for preaching OT law.

Federico Villanueva and David Firth tackle lament and praise poetry, respectively. Their chapters do a fine job at addressing these topics. Tremper Longman tackles wisdom literature, but leaves me wanting. I must confess that my dissatisfaction with this chapter is due to a significant difference of opinion with Longman when it comes to the text of Ecclesiastes. Longman interprets the frame narrative of the text as a corrective to all that lies within it (a substantial majority of the biblical book!). While this is a legitimate interpretive option, it is not one that persuades me. I would opt for students reading this book for a class to consult William Brown's Interpretation commentary as a corrective. I appreciate Longman in the wisdom corpus outside Ecclesiastes, so the other aspects of the chapter I found to be worthwhile.

Grenville Kent, H. G. M. Williamson, Daniel Block each address the preaching of a single book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, respectively. Kent enumerates numerous negative and positive pieces of advice for preaching about a delicate topic for public discourse--sex. I can see myself measuring any future sermons on the subject should I have the occasion and comission to so preach against this chapter to ensure that I have handled to topic appropriately. Williamson discussed, among other things, how to handle preaching from a text where authorship and date may prove to be thorny issues if brought up and offered sage advice. I particularly appreciated how he handled the messianic portions of Isaiah, neither ignoring their Christ-focus nor limiting their import to it. Block demonstrated well how one approaches the task of preaching a biblical book holistically, understanding the entire structure and theological contours of the book before preaching from it. Those interested in preaching Ezekiel will find it a most helpful resource.

Earnest Lucas tackles Apocalyptic literature and does a fine job. Alison Lo addresses the Minor Prophets, and I particularly appreciate how she encourages a more holistic reading of the collection of books. For example, she writes about tracing thematic coherence across the minor prophets using "the day of the LORD" as an example. Her advice recognizes some of the interaction that occurs between the prophets, and those who read this chapter should realize that the theological significance in the ways these texts interact with one another is significant for Christian preaching. These prophetic books do not exist in a vacuum, but in a collection of mutually informing/influencing literature. While this is a basic Christian conviction regarding the entire biblical canon, it is true at another level for the collection of the minor prophets.

The final two chapters address two particularly pertinent topics on the Old Testament and Christian preaching. Gordan Wenham addresses preaching from difficult texts, and any who are familiar with Christian culture and the contents of the Old Testament should know there is plenty of challenging material in the Old Testament. Genealogies challenge attention spans; texts containing slavery and violence challenge modern moral sensibilities. These are just a few of the issues Wenham raised. Of course, one can always choose to neglect the challenging texts, but Wenham proposes engaging these texts, but with appropriate understanding and candor. Walter Moberly concludes the book with his treatment of preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Moberly engages much secondary literature on the subject, creating an excellent dialogue of scholars on the issue. The outcome is a christological perspective on the Old Testament that is neither simple nor simplistic; readers are encouraged to take seriously the context(s)of the texts to develop a frame of reference for christological interpretation.

There were some chapters I enjoyed and found more helpful than others, but the book was relatively well balanced in content. I found it odd that the bibliographies at the conclusion of each chapter were different in some respects, and identical in others. A majority included a "Further reading" list or a "Recommended further reading" list with three resources, but some had a longer list, and one had a full bibliography in place of a recommended reading list. Three of the "Further reading" lists included Ellen Davis' book Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament. While I do not doubt Davis' book is superb and worth consulting (I have not consulted it myself), I would have liked to see greater diversity in the recommendations, perhaps more focused on the specific topic being addressed. Most contributors represent a Western cultural perspective, and most are male. Preaching is not an exclusively masculine enterprise, so it would have been great to see more females contribute to this volume. My final evaluation is positive; this book would serve as a fine resource for a homiletics course in both undergraduate and graduate contexts, particularly a course focused on expository preaching. It covers many important topics clearly and concisely. I commend the book to those interested in the topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fantastic resource on preaching the OT 28 Jan 2011
By R. Hayton - Published on Amazon.com
Over the last few decades, a revival of interest in the Old Testament seems to have come over the evangelical church. Numerous resources for preaching the Old Testament and for understanding the various genres we find in the first two thirds of our Bibles have been produced. The tide is turning, and more and more we hear of careful preaching through the Old Testament again.

We still have a long way to go, however. Most conservative pulpits major on the New Testament. After all, the relevance of NT books to the Christian living today is much more apparent. Popular expositors have even given us commentary after commentary on the New Testament, to the almost complete exclusion of the Old Testament. Theology-heavy sermons from the doctrinal portions of the New Testament can serve to keep people out of touch with the reality of the story of Scripture. And ironically, in an age where everybody's story has value, the grand overarching storyline of the Bible is silenced by the Church's neglect of the first 39 books of her Bible.

Many of the resources being published that are seeking to revive a focus on the Old Testament are locked away in scholarly tomes or couched in some liberal theological garb, effectively kept away from the average pastor's and Bible teacher's reach. A new book by InterVarsity Press aims to bring scholarly resources into an accessible and highly useful format. "Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching", edited by Grenville J.R. Kent, Paul J. Kissling and Laurence A. Turner, actually manages to live up to its title's bold claim. In an accessible and user-friendly format, the book brings together contributions from a wide array of OT scholars.

After a brief introduction, the book moves on to cover OT narrative plot, OT narrative characters, the Law, Lament, Praise Poetry, Wisdom literature, the Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Apocalyptic literature, and the Minor Prophets. It also has a chapter on preaching from difficult texts and another on preaching Christ from the Old Testament. The chapters aren't too long or overly detailed; instead, they are delightfully readable. They are structured in such a way as to clearly convey the primary difficulties and recommended approaches for the particular genre surveyed. Almost all the chapters include helpful footnotes and recommendations for further study. And each concludes with an example sermon which puts the theory into practice.

As I read through this book, I kept earmarking page after page where helpful insights were shared about the various parts of the Old Testament. The sections covering narrative plot and characters were especially helpful and full of examples. Laurence Turner stressed placing each narrative in context to its larger narrative, and on sticking to the flow of the author as much as possible when developing a sermon. Paul Kissling discussed a unique strategy of comparing the speech of the characters over and against the narrator's account, as a way of finding the main point of a given story. Christopher J.H. Wright's chapter on preaching the Law was also superb. He stressed the connection Law has with grace as seen in the historical setting given in the Pentateuch. He also unpacked the lesser-known missiological aspects of the Law: namely, Israel living out God's Law as a testimony to the nations, and the application this has to the Church today.

Federico Villanueva's chapter on Lament was particularly insightful as he writes from the standpoint of a non-Westerner (he ministers in Manila). Tremper Longman's chapter on wisdom literature, particularly his discussion of Ecclesiastes and Job, was also very helpful in finding ways to grasp the main point of these books and how best to apply it to today's Christians. Similarly, Grenville Kent's discussion on the Song of Solomon was also very helpful. Even though he steers clear of a direct allegorical interpretation, he finds value in analogy and metaphor. His discussion of where God makes an appearance in the Song, and why, is worth quoting here:

"So if Yahweh had appeared directly in the Song, the culture may well have misunderstood him as condoning fertility religion or even as just another fertility god. The Song clearly separates worship and sex. it is `a non-mythological, non-cultic, non-idolatrous, outright, open celebration of God-given sexual love'." (pg. 130, quote from John G. Snaith "The Song of Songs" (Eerdmans, 1993), pg. 5.)

The chapter on Isaiah, by H.G.M. Williamson did a great job stressing the literary unity of Isaiah. He traced the theme of righteousness and justice showing how such wide themes inform the specific context of any given passage in the book. Daniel Block challenges us to preach Ezekiel, and offers several helpful charts and analyses of the book and its central message. Alison Lo gave a wonderful, yet brief treatment of the Minor Prophets. She excelled at relating the context and themes of those books to today's world and its problems. She also discussed the interrelation of the books as a wider whole (the "book of the twelve"), and provided a fascinating outline of Zephaniah.

Gordon Wenham's discussion of various "difficult texts" in the Old Testament was in the whole, masterful. Some may disagree with his stance on Gen. 1 -- explaining the wider context of the ideas about the world of the time (and thus not getting into a discussion of whether the six days are literal 24 hour days), but his comments on the imprecatory psalms, the "eye for an eye" law, apparent divine-sanctioned genocides, and OT slavery are both helpful and wise. R.W.L. Moberly's chapter on preaching Christ from the Old Testament cites a lot of material that applies to this concern. He stresses that the wider context of the Old Testament includes the canonical grouping of the books and their use by the Church. He sees a second narrative (the NT) interpreting the original narrative in a sense similar to a detective story where at the end, all the initial elements of the plot make perfect sense. He also allows for imagination to impact interpretation and helpfully walks through some examples in how to think through this in a practical manner.

The chapters in the book are not all of equal value. The praise poetry, and apocalyptic literature sections were not as helpful to me. Some of the contributors may not be as immediately accessible as others. But the beauty of this book is how it offers a manual for the preacher who is choosing an OT text to preach. This book won't be the only resource consulted, but it offers a sensible approach and several helpful points for encountering just about any text in the Old Testament. Throughout, it stresses a literary and canonical approach that focuses on the Old Testament we have, not imagined historical reconstructions. This ensures the book's usefulness by people of a variety of particular persuasions within evangelicalism.

I trust tools such as "Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching", will encourage many pastors to pick an OT book for their next sermon series. This book will prove useful for any Bible student, and I highly recommend it. May the beauty of the Old Testament captivate the hearts and minds of more teachers and preachers, and be preached with power to the congregations that God has entrusted to their care.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Inter-Varsity Press for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OT for Christian Preaching in Stereo 11 Jan 2011
By Joel L. Watts - Published on Amazon.com
Intervaristy Press Academic provides the pastoral and thinking Christian with not only a small commentary on the sections of the Old Testament but an in-depth and substance packed preaching manual. It is not just about preaching the Old Testament, but about preaching the Old Testament in a Christian church both to the critical and the uncritical ear, always pointing to Christ and the mysteries which He made known to the Church. Much like the Old Testament itself, each section is handled by different authors with different Faith backgrounds. This helps to take the monotone voice of most commentaries and place the Old Testament in stereo.

The writers do not expect the reader (and by the reader I mean the audience on Sunday morning) to fully know current scholarship nor to completely interact with it in every sermon. Some even go so far as to say that bringing up modern scholarship will do more harm than good to the preaching of these books. Yet, as a whole they do not shy away from higher criticism (and, some use it to modify modern opinions about those rough passages) including the redactional takes on Isaiah. H.G.M. Williamson makes a solid point that even with the various takes on Isaiah's composition, one can still draw together the unity of it in a sermon without undermining intellectual honesty. The same goes with other authors who note various critical aspects of certain books (the Pentateuch for one) and yet shows how the Old Testament can be preached as a substantial whole to a Christian audience who are only familiar on the surface with the stories of our childhood. Of particular note is Alison Lo`s approach to reading the Minor Prophets. Her contention, which should be explored in a much longer book, is that the Minor Prophets should be read as one book, drawing together various thematic elements which start in one book, answered in another, watching the process come to fruition by Malachi. (She cites Joel 3.16 and Amos 1.12 as an example of thematic answering scheme.) By seeing the Old Testament, sometimes with fresh eyes, these books become more about merely pointing to Christ, but applicable to the everyday Christian in the pew.

Chapters 3 through 9 cover various books and sections of the Old Testament independently, with many notable features and insights. Chapters 1 and 2 cover the most basic steps in preaching the Old Testament - preaching it as a grand narrative both in plot (chapter 1) and characters (chapter 2). It is not about ignoring portions of the text, but actually digging into the passages to examine not so much how they were formed, but their ultimate outcome and what the final author was trying to say. Too often, even with learned preachers, preaching by the verse seems to occur; however, Laurence A. Turner argues that it is important to examine not only the passage itself but how it fits into the wider narrative which surrounds it. He takes as his example 2nd Samuel 11 which is about the great sin of David. He believes that by understanding plot as a major element in `understanding of the OT narrative' that `it will enhance homiletical exposition' (p26). He is mirrored byPaul J. Kissling who insists that we have made the men and women of Scripture into mere hollow characters of the narrator's mind. He tackles this by reminding us that these characters, whether they are Abraham, David, or others such as Ezekiel (see chapter 9), were living, breathing devices long before we belittled them to serve as bed time stories to our children, eventually coming to see them the same way. Chapters 10-13, likewise, handle various issues relating to preaching the Old Testament from various larger sections or themes, such as the apocalyptic (ch10), the Minor Prophets (ch11), the difficult texts (ch12) and the final chapters, R.W.L. Moberly`s Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. In each section, not only present is care and concern for the Church in hearing the Old Testament, but so too the historical reality of the texts themselves. Each section is neither overly academic nor too base as to mimic a Sunday School curriculum, and is accompanied by some form of a sermon outline or suggesting for preaching.

To sum, we know that the Old Testament is regularly abused. Either it is neglected and seen as too ancient or incompatible with our post-modern sense and sensibilities, or abused to justify internal and social prejudices as well as to create an eschatological expectation foreign to Scripture overall. Yet, these authors present the Old Testament as Christian Scripture in such as way to make them valid in of themselves as well as texts relevant to the Christian on the pew. Books like these are important as Christianity gets further and further away from a real grounding in Scripture.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Old Testament Ministry Resource 5 Nov 2013
By Dr. Barry R. Leventhal, Distinguished Senior Professor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the finest books on how to preach and teach the Old Testament published in my recent memory. I plan on using it as one of my primary O.T. resources in all of my future teaching and writing ministries.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the scholastic side lies the true gold. 9 Jan 2012
By Euthyphro - Published on Amazon.com
Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching is an academic overview and guide for preaching but it is a fair cry from a piece on homiletics. No where therein do the various authors wax long on the importance of three points or such inanities. Instead the work focuses on individual pieces and aspects of the Old Testament and through pointed study shows the benefits, pitfalls, and practical necessities for preaching the different and diverse literatures of the Old Testament. The three man editing team of Kent, Kissling and Turner bring together a variety of voices and styles which not only strengthen the work but also reflects the variety of the task to be handled.

The book opens with two essays that take a wide look at the Old Testament and the challenges posed in preaching from narrative with the first focusing on plot and the second on character within the books. From there the full literary gamut is run from Law to Praise, from Lament to the Song of Solomon and every genre between. The material is as various as the contributing authors who come from a wide sampling of Christian denominations and from all across the globe.

A work composed of the writings of so many Old Testament scholars runs serious risk of dryness and inside jargon that would be a deterrent to a reader that did not share the scholastic inclination. That the work remains lively, impassioned and imminently readable speaks to the subtle hand of good editing and compilation. Like good stage direction it is rarely seen yet the presence reverberates throughout the work.

The scriptural insights that the authors bring to the work might be found with ample time, Sisyphean labors, and oceanic resources. Were a pastor enabled to endlessly burn the midnight oil and pour himself not only into the Word of God but into the multifarious commentaries available and the time-spanning collections of theological tomes available he would certainly be able to come up with all of the answers contained in these mere 250 pages. That one does not have to is worth the investment in the test.

Beyond the scholastic side lies the true gold of Reclaiming in its practical application to sermon preparation. The authors are not mere biblical scholars but each in his own right preaches. And should one takes the texts at face value he cannot deny that the authors preach with great zeal for Christ and his Church. Were the scholastic language scotched the practical side of the work would serve the layman just as well as the pastor; not in the preparation of sermons but in the simple study of God's Word. There is enough substance to the work to establish a more serious reading of the text than many a bible study geared to the general congregant is able. This alone is enough to recommend the book: that the advice therein seeks to bring the 'God-breathed' Word to the church at large in a fashion that is beyond the superficial without being beyond the pew-sitter.

The chapter on preaching the Law is especially poignant here. The essay on the Law focuses not on the Pharisaical minutiae but rather on the God who gives the laws and the place within the narrative that this happens. The idea that one focus on what the law says about God instead of the duty apportioned to the ancient Hebrews creates a true foundation (see the pun there) for reading the text beyond preaching upon it. Any doubt that this message need be proclaimed to God's people may be assuaged in asking any number of congregants their take on the law. Is there any doubt that most will view Old Testament law as any more than that: old, dated, suffering from old-men-in-robes syndrome. The very idea that Christ freed us from the law, that is often heard in Christian circles, extols the need.

Reclaiming fills the need, or, more precisely, it aims to equip pastors, preachers, and lay-leaders with the tools and understanding necessary to fill the need. Were we to take Timothy's 'all scripture is inspired. . . and useful' seriously then it must be admitted that the lack of all scripture in most pulpits is a shameful waste of the resource God provided the leaders of his Kingdom.

Propter Sanguinem Agni,

This book was provided to me free of charge by the publisher. They asked only for my honest opinion. Nothing weird or anything like that. I am only disclosing this information because it is illegal if I don't. I'm pretty sure that I would go to prison, probably for life, seeing how reviewing a product you are given for free under the guise of having purchased it yourself is similar to murder. O laws, like whitewashed tombs!
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