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Themes in Old Testament Theology Paperback – 1 Dec 1979

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Paperback, 1 Dec 1979

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8b757864) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b5675a0) out of 5 stars A Relational Loving God 7 April 2000
By Michael Hayes - Published on
Format: Paperback
A theology of the Old Testament has always been an encyclopedic subject to tackle for theologians. The wide variety of theological themes are as diverse as day and night, and yet they are as connected with each other as light and shadow - one theme leading to another. William Dyrness' book does just that. Although he does cover many different themes from the Old Testament, his treating seems to flow together in harmonious song. It is not difficult to perceive that Dyrness sees the God of Israel as one who has an affinity for relationship with His people. This appears to be one of the major threads that unifies not only the author's book but that of the Old Testament itself. It was interesting to read that Israel's God, as opposed to the contemporary pagan gods of the day, identifies Himself not through His territory - this is assumed - but through His relationship(s) with human-beings and the events which characterize His dealings with them. It is through these relationships that God reveals himself to humanity. Therefore, the author suggests that God's revealing Himself through major encounters with humankind is " . . . clearly the foundation upon which the patriarchal history rests." (29) God in the Old Testament is identified through His activity among men, not by some forensic definition alone. God is intricately involved among the people of whom He has chosen to reflect His holiness in the earth. The author goes on to say that at issue is not God's existence but man's faith. It is this faith that allows man to enter into relationship with God. In this relationship which is characterized by a Suzerain covenant, "there is a particular behavior that is appropriate. . . ." (28) This is expressed through God's will which " . . . was revealed at Sinai" and is the basis of all judgement concerning the relationship. (56) Although many of the contemporary pagan gods were feared of bringing destructive judgement upon a less than obedient constituency, the God of Israel's judgement is different. God is the true judge whose judicial appraisals become redemptive in nature - again, the relationship aspect of God is present even in His judgement. The author expresses the difference between the pagan myths of creation and the creator God of the Old Testament. Unlike the pagans, the Hebrews saw this God as being intricately involved with all of His creation. It is not a myth for the Hebrew but history taking its natural course. Therefore, nature is not seen as existing independent of God. He (Dyrness) is careful to express the Old Testament's belief of God's somewhat metaphoric interaction with nature which is against pantheism. (74) I was somewhat dismayed at this statement however. What exactly is metaphoric (or not) about God's interaction with His creation? The author does not appear to clearly outline his meaning here. Even so, God's creation of human-beings is completely different from all other creation in-that "their fundamental relationship lies with God, and within that relationship lies their fundamental independence of the creation." (80). They are separate and above all other created life based upon their ability to interact with God upon a superior relational level. Humans are considered souls created wholly by God and do not carry souls around in hollowed bodies - both are the entire package. However, this creation abused God's friendship and stepped outside of its proscribed boundaries. Dyrness suggests that the term "your eyes will be opened" shows that they would see things differently from the moment they ate of the fruit. They would see beyond that which God limited them to see. It would seem that God seeks to re-affirm this "limited" eyesight through the expression of His will - the law. Even though it was promised that Adam and Eve would die after they sinned, the Old Testament still assumes a theme of resurrection after death. This hope, suggests the author, is founded in the O.T. belief that God is the unique progenitor of life and faith in Him gives life. Those who would be partakers of this life beyond that of human (earthly) existence must walk in the way of the righteous which in-turn brings forth the fruit of a life that - like Job - will be "vindicated" by the one who judges righteously. "Here the faith of the OT reaches to the very threshold of God's further revelation in Christ." (241). Here is a faith that is completely founded upon a trusting relationship with God; so much so that one's life is given over to Him in the belief that He will justly preserve it. All other avenues of preservation are discarded and God's original purpose for self-revelation is finally attained - the redemption of humanity. I must admit I did not believe that this book would be as enlightening as it was. Although small for a complete theology on the O.T. it is credible and biblical in its findings. I enjoyed the author's style of writing and would seek to find other books from his pen.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b5675f4) out of 5 stars Good source for the basic content of the Old Testament 6 April 2000
By Robert M Penrose - Published on
Format: Paperback
The author's intention in writing this book is one of, "opening up the Old Testament for the Christian" (p. 16). He does so by discussing the major themes and events therein and attempting to analyze these with respect to their overall significance for the understanding of God's purpose. Definitely engaging, is his comparison of the Bible as a symphony. He implores that "all the basic themes are presented in the Old Testament", and the New Testament simply weaves them together and enhances these themes (p.18). If one were to study merely the New Testament alone, many of the "most moving melodies" would be missed. This book serves to examine the theological content of the Old Testament and, where appropriate, allude to its counterpart found in the New Testament.
Dyrness seems to fulfill his purpose rather well, in that this book is a good overview of the theological content of the Old Testament. The themes are developed in a similar manner from section to section and the result is a consistent sampling of the major points of theological concern. Most interesting, perhaps is the section on "wisdom" in which he describes the relationship of the Hebrew understanding of this concept to that of the surrounding nations. Through this comparison, he elaborates on the wisdom literature found in the Old Testament and its place within the mind of its ancient readers.
Overall, though, the author may leave much to be desired for a learned student of the Old Testament. The content is basic, and while beneficial (perhaps essential) to the beginning student, there are few themes brought out that may entice a more advanced reader to pursue deeper contemplation. The book, therefore, could be best thought of as a general review for those already possessing a solid theological background in the Old Testament.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c1231ec) out of 5 stars Insightful overview 13 May 2005
By Glenn M. Harden - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this well-written overview of Old Testament themes, Dyrness seeks to redress an imbalance he sees in modern evangelical theology that emphasizes the New Testament almost to the exclusion of the Old. In contrast to this practical minimization of the relevance of the Old Testament in the modern church, he declares that "there is real movement of God toward humankind and a real fellowship between them" (18) in the Old Testament. As he explores such overlapping themes as God's self-revelation, sin, the covenant, piety, worship and the hope of Israel, Dyrness draws attention to this movement of grace and fellowship between God and humanity. Although he is a systematic theologian by training, he takes the Old Testament at its own words, rather than trying force a systematization on it. In so doing, he generally avoids sectarian dogmatism, although on rare occasions something he says could be controversial for an evangelical Christian (e.g., his dismissal of theistic evolution (79)). What shines through on nearly every page, however, is his erudition and deep insight into Old Testament theology. I highly recommend this books to students of the Bible.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b56787c) out of 5 stars Still Valuable Semi-Introduction 16 Dec. 2006
By Steve Jackson - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a concise overview of Old Testament theology from a conservative Protestant perspective, this book by William Dyrness might fit the bill. Dyrness discusses the material thematically, with attention paid to the historical progression of various concepts. The approach is quite conservative, particularly as concerning the dating of texts, sources, and the like.

I should mention that this book presupposes a fair amount of knowledge of the history of ancient Israel as well as theology, so it isn't for those lacking a basic knowledge of these subjects. The book was published in the late 70s, making it a bit dated, but the subject matter is, as they say, timeless.
HASH(0x8b567abc) out of 5 stars Wonderful 11 Oct. 2015
By natalie Stover - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This work should be on the shelf, either electronic or other, of any one who truly seeks to understand a thorough overview of the theological landscape of the old testament.
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