02 November 2008

Old Testament Studies

I have recently begun a concerted effort to study the Old Testament in more depth, for the purpose of more fully grasping the weight and purpose of what is said in the New Testament. I fully stand behind the idea that much of the confusion in the modern church, leading to many odd and misleading doctrines, comes from a faulty, or often totally absent reading/understanding of the words and language of what was laid out in the OT.

I wish to share some of the books I have begun using for this study, and if you know of any others that are great, please let me know. These are just a few that I currently have in my possession for the study. The first being picture above, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This massive 1239 page volume promises to hold a wealth of wisdom as it looks to take the words of the NT and find their OT reference point. Click the book photo or link to read some great reviews and additional information.

Another book I will be using is "An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach" by Bruce K. Waltke. I do not know much about it aside from the great reviews it got. The author is listed as being one of the outstanding OT scholars around, and is the professor of OT at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. I did find it odd that some reviewers listed him as leaning towards dispensational understandings in some area, which I thought strange for someone supposedly Reformed, but noticed he did get his ThD from Dallas Theological Seminary), so I am hoping it is not too persuasive in his writing.

Another book I recently heard of and acquired which sounds promising, is "A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context" by Scot McKnight. The book looks at Jesus and his dealing with national Israel and its role as God's holy people in the first century world, and his message calling them to repentance.

I see people too often taking words of the NT way out of context and making odd applications to today's church, when the thrust of what was being said was directed at the specific first century people, under specific scenarios applicable to their culture and issues of that time. This is not to say that I don't feel we can glean applications from most all of scripture, but far too often, the original intent and application is ignored, unknown or just abused beyond all reason, and the true thrust of what is being said gets butchered. So far, I have begun reading the prologue, and have been pleased with the direction this book is heading.

A couple recent NT Wright book purchases which I have also begun reading, are directed along the same line, and so far have proved very enlightening and helpful to my studies. The most recent book which goes for the throat of modern understandings in various areas, and gets to some of the roots of the historic meaning of issues, is "Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church." One of the reviews on the back cover states
Responsible Christians must carefully study this book. It uniquely meets the challenge facing the Church with recovering the original, radical understanding of resurrection, salvation, and the Good News of life now in the Kingdom of God. - Dallas Willard
It sounds very promising and helpful.

Another of his books that I actually began reading a couple months ago, is volume three of the Christian Origins and the Question of God series, entitled "The Resurrection of the Son of God." I have read a good chunk of the beginning and have been well pleased on the amount of great historical depth he presents. I have been on the search for the first two volumes (hoping to find them in hardback at a reasonable price), but know my continued reading in this volume will be beneficial.

And the last major set I will mention (but not by far the last of the books I will use), is a nice set I recently acquired, entitled "The IVP Bible Background Commentary" and has a volume on both the New and Old Testament. It appears to be a very interesting commentary, which each verse/section presenting background information and references that will hopfully aid in my study.

There are various other titles I have gleaned from recently, and I am always on the lookout for books to further and deepen my study in this area, so feel free to post suggestions of what has been beneficial in your studies in this area.

I am sure as the study continues, I will be sharing pieces of what I find in these volumes, and welcome any discussion you may wish to share.