He began with Moses

Preaching the Old Testament today

78% of the Bible

Preaching the Old Testament today
Edited by Grenville J.R. Kent, Paul J. Kissling and Laurence A. Turner
IVP. 256 pages. 12.99
ISBN 978-1-84474-448-0

This book takes its title from Luke 24.27, the post-resurrection occasion where Jesus explained to two disciples on the road to Emmaus what was said about himself in all the Scriptures.

The book is a collection of 13 essays originally presented at the Tyndale Fellowship Old Testament Study Group in summer 2009 by some of the best Old Testament (OT) 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 the OT. The authors all have a clear love for the OT. Each treated the texts they handle with care and reverence.

The chapters follow a broadly similar pattern. Each author explains particular principles in handling the OT. They show how those principles operate with a variety of texts, and then conclude their chapter with a ‘model’ sermon outline that seeks to show the benefit of following their stated principles.

Seven of the chapters deal with how to preach different OT ‘genres’: narrative plot, characters, Law, lament, praise poetry, wisdom, and Apocalyptic. Four deal with preaching from specific OT books: Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets. There are two concluding chapters: one on preaching difficult texts (like genealogies, sacrifice, slavery, violence, etc.) and one on preaching Christ from the OT.

This book is very stimulating! It has been pitched at a level that will help all those who preach on the OT and encourage those who are scared to! I found the chapter by Tremper Longman III on Wisdom very helpful, as he showed how wisdom literature is about Christ and can be preached Christianly. Gordon Wenham’s chapter on preaching difficult texts encouraged me not to skip passages that contain things we might find obscure or difficult. Some chapters left me wanting to ask the authors, ‘But what about….’ questions! For example, I would have loved there to be more from Chris Wright on how we work out which OT laws apply directly to us today. However, not everything can be covered in a few pages, and I have been stimulated to read more from a number of these scholars.

If I had one quibble with the book, it would be that not all the authors show in their sermon outlines how the passage they have chosen is somehow about Christ. R.W. Moberly comments in the final chapter: ‘How can the OT be best understood and appropriated within a Christian frame of reference?’ Not all the model sermons did that! However, this book is stimulating and deserves to be read! It will help preachers and teachers have greater confidence in handling the OT.

Justin Mote,
Director, NW Ministry Training Course;p member, St. Andrew’s Leyland