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Learning about the Old Testament

By Allan Harman
January 2018 | Review by Nick Fuller
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-743-5
  • Pages: 136
  • Price: 5.50
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Book Review

This is a readable introduction to the history and theology of the Old Testament (OT). The author was the principal of the Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne and writes from a Reformed, evangelical point of view.

Harman begins with advice on approaching the OT: it is the Word of God and to be respected and treated as such. He has a useful note on the progress and nature of OT revelation. He points out that, while archaeology is useful in illuminating the message of the OT, it cannot adjudicate on its truthfulness. The OT stands on its own terms.

He then tackles the content of the OT in terms of its historical progression. He points out the importance of the notion of ‘covenant’ to our understanding: an idea from the secular realm which helped Israel understand their relationship to God.

It needs to be noted that Harman questions the length of the days of creation in his consideration of the early chapters of Genesis. He also points out differences of opinion about the extent of the Flood and site of the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea. This does show there is a division of opinion on these matters.

There are useful chapters on Abraham, Moses and the Exodus, the 10 Commandments, the sacrificial system and the Tabernacle. Each chapter also ends with a bibliography to facilitate further exploration of issues raised.

The author spends time on Israel’s monarchy and shows particularly well the promise of a king and its connection to the end of the period of the Judges. He also shows how the kingship of Israel pointed forward to the final messianic kingship. There is an excellent chapter on Wisdom literature and the Messianic hope. The book ends with helpful advice on preaching the OT.

Patrick Buckley


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