We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…
- Publisher: Creative 4 International (Martin Manser)
- ISBN: 978-1-9096-8002-9
- Pages: 1040
- Price: 9.21
Open your Bible: Old Testament commentary
Martin Manser (Ed.)
Creative 4 International,
1040 pages, £9.21 (Kindle)
In spite of its prodigious length, this book is largely devotional, designed to be read little and often. From Genesis to Malachi, the entire Old Testament is covered passage by passage.
The book aims to provide short and accessible summaries or elaborations of each passage. ‘Conservative, evangelical scholarship’ (p.9) is said to underpin the exposition.
The 39 Old Testament books are distributed among seven contributors, including Derek Kidner, John B. Taylor and H. L. Ellison. The result is gathered together in this weighty volume.
Historical context appears to be the main goal of each commentary. However, this seemed to be to the detriment of insightful application of the biblical text. Indeed, I struggled to be stirred or challenged by what I read. Yes, ‘what’s happening’ seemed to be answered, but ‘What does it mean for me?’ or ‘See how great our God is!’ were somewhat sidelined.
For instance, the commentary on Genesis 50 addresses issues of Egyptian funerary culture, but omits highlighting and celebrating Joseph’s remarkable insight into God’s sovereignty: ‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20).
David’s famous, fateful encounter with Goliath is another example. A perennial favourite in Sunday school, it is ideal for inspiring faith in young and old alike. However, in this book, literally half the commentary on this is spent addressing four textual difficulties in 1 Samuel 17. For a devotional, I believe that drawing out lessons and providing encouragement would be much more suitable and appreciated.
A further, serious shortcoming is the naturalistic approach to miracles in Genesis. Taking Genesis literally is only mentioned in the context of what not to do (p.14). A local flood, a mortal prelapsarian Adam, and natural causes behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah reveal a liberal approach to theology.
Nonetheless, there is a fair amount of sound scholarship and helpful explanation of the text. Unfortunately, it is too few and far between for me to really recommend this book.