Question surrounding the nature and authority of the Bible have, in recent years, demonstrated the critical need for global understanding of the Scriptures. A global understanding means not only mastery of the inspired documents, but an understanding of their context, their transmissional history, and hos they have been studied. Often it is said that reading the Scriptures themselves is enough and while this is true, it cannot be denied that in doing so we also read them through the framework of our own cultural matrix.
The authors of The Word and the World: An Introduction to the Old Testament recognize the complexity of these issues, and are particularly keen on these issues as they pertain to the Hebrew Scriptures. It is no secret that recent de-emphasis on the integrity of Scripture has significantly impacted our appreciation of the Old Testament especially in regards to the prejudices of our culture to events, behaviors, and other items the Old Testament regards as normative. This makes the task of properly introducing and orienting the Hebrew Scriptures to all readers and especially students enormously difficult. Yet, the authors of this book have provided an excellent introduction which fulfills the mandate to uphold the integrity of Scripture, grapple with critical issues, and most importantly understand the Old Testament as a document critical and useful to the Christian faith.
The authors begin their Introduction by orienting readers to the culture, history, and literature of the Ancient Near East by showing points of continuity and discontinuity with the culture, history, and literature of the Ancient Near East. They then provide a comprehensive summary of the historical transmission of the Old Testament text from the earliest manuscripts to today. The Introduction then turns--unlike many introductions--and deals with the way scholars approached the Old Testament and measuring the degree to which various scholars' methods have reconciled with traditional Christian interpretation and thought.
The majority of this text does, however, deal directly with the biblical text. But it is prepared interaction--the student does not enter unaware and in being aware students are prepared to grapple with the text, its sometimes troubling portrayals of God, and any number of other problems. Each biblical book is covered individually and is arranged by genre first and canonical order second. Each chapter covering a biblical book provides historical, literary, and cultural context for that book particularly, an outline, brief commentary, study questions, and an extended reading list. Moreover, The Word and the World also includes a large number of maps, explanatory charts, outtakes and other helps to maximize learning and retention, and maintains and strong focus on information rather than detracting imagery.
The Word in the World is an ideal text book for High School seniors, and introductory level Bible courses in colleges. It is comprehensive, stimulating, and drafts the students into the Old Testament narrative with grace, ease, and yet remains highly informative. An excellent resource for teachers.
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