Old Testament by Elemer L. Towns the organization PDF book review
In many respects, Elmer Towns' non-fictional narrative, A Journey Through the Old testament: The Story of How God Developed His People in the Old Testament, serves as a helpful guide for correctly reading, and interpreting, the most influential events and people that occur throughout the first half the Bible (which is, of course, the Old Testament). Towns' writing style is academic, yet not so scholarly that it is difficult for the layman to comprehend. Furthermore, the author offers a number of direct quotations and passages from throughout the Bible (including some passages from the New Testament) to corroborate his findings. One of the key facets about this particular narrative is that it offers a chronological perspective of the people who directly influenced the events that are the most important in the Old Testament. By doing so, Towns is able to provide a fairly comprehensive summary of the key points that students of Biblical lore will need to know to understand the Old Testament, in to perceive how it set up and helped facilitate many of the key occurrences recorded in the New Testament (such as the coming of Jesus), as well as to allow people to contextualize the earlier times and people in terms that are still relevant today.
In that sense, there is no one central plot that runs synonymously throughout A Journey Through the Old Testament: The Story of How God Developed his People in the Old Testament. Instead, the text of Towns' narrative details approximately 50 distinguished personages (some of whom are not exactly people, such as the fallen angel Lucifer) and explains their significance in the Old Testament. Each of the nearly 50 parts of this work of literature is divided up amongst these people, and the author generally spreads an equal amount of attention between all of these subjects. As previously denoted, however, the order in which these subjects are detailed is largely chronological starting from the Book of Genesis (and even some events that preceded Genesis, such as Lucifer's iniquitous acts of attempting to usurp God's kingdom) to Nehemiah and the last of the prophets. In that respect Towns' narrative operates somewhat as a buildup for the birth and the times of Jesus, as much of the Old Testament itself functions in that regard. The narrative of Towns' book of course establishes the beginning of the heavens and the earth, the creation of man itself, as well as the establishment of God's covenant with his chosen people and the various trials and tribulations that they went through to preserve their faith in the divinity.
By partitioning such topics through the individual people who had a profound impact on these influential events (and others), A Journey Through the Old Testament: The Story of How God Developed His People in the Old Testament is able to present the minor details and insights into the lives of these many characters that may escape one's notice when simply reading the Bible. It is also highly important to note that even within the stratification of the diverse people that are detailed within this book, there are a number of subheads that categorize the different events and subject matter that pertain to such people. For example, there are at least six different chapters that are devoted to Abraham, and which details various aspects of his characterization from aspects of his faith to the nation with which he was charged by God to found. Many of the names of the chapters and elements of a character's life which they portray come from the scriptures themselves, while within such chapters the author appears to devote an equal amount of attention to both the description of the raw deeds and events that affected such a peron, as well as to analysis and interpretation of those deeds. In that respect, the reader is sure to not only understand why someone is significant enough to be mentioned within this particular text, but also to understand what the meaning of those acts ultimately had for the contemporary regard for such a person, and his or her impact upon the general narrative told within the Bible.
By choosing to detail the majority of the Old Testament, which is quite expansive in its own right, since it is comprised of approximately 40 different books covering a time period of nearly 4,0000 years, it would appear that the author of A Journey Through the Old Testament: The Story of How God Developed His People in the Old Testament is attempting to eschew a central theme in this written work. This fact becomes all the more plausible when one considers the immense variety that exists in the nature of the books that make up the Old Testament. The books in the Old Testament consist of poems, songs, laws, ethics, as well as common books of history. Still, one of the most redeeming facets of Towns' manuscript is that the author is actually able to introduce a central theme throughout all of these disparate elements. In fact, this theme is elucidated all the more through the very structure of A Journey Through the Old Testament: The Story of How God Developed His People in the Old Testament. Towns' does not merely retell the Old Testament book for book. Instead, by focusing on the central characters that influenced many of the events that would go on to gain importance in the New Testament, the author has managed to give his readers a perspective in which noted luminaries such as Abraham and David, for example, are depicted as, well, more human than the iconic stature that is generally attributed to them.
This somewhat 'everyday' rendition of these people who have been canonized or have been practically canonized serves a huge importance in facilitating the principle theme of this work of non-fiction -- that the people who exist today and who may even find themselves reading this book are just as much God's chosen people as those depicted within the narration. This realization appears as the primary motive of the author for writing this book -- to provide a means of continuity between contemporary Christians or Jewish people and those of the days of yore. In this respect, Towns' is actually making these luminaries of the Old Testament who have gone on to provide an unmistakable degree of influence both in the New Testament and in modern day worship more accessible. Furthermore, he terms the great deeds that they did and the insurmountable obstacles that they overcame in ways that your average contemporary reader can relate to. The overall effect of such a literary strategy, of course, is to emphasize that conditions in present day society are similar to those depicted in the Old Testament, much as the people are as well.
Towns' himself alludes to this fact in the following quotation.
The average American is not interested in dusty history stories. They want to know about people. And God's people want to know about God's people. So I believe they will love reading about Old Testament people like themselves. The people who lived before Christ were not much different from us today. They have the same desires, family problems, and frustrations. Yet average people, in difficult circumstances, with inadequate means, faced insurmountable obstacles and became history makers. Their lives are worth our study (Towns 1996).
This quotation demonstrates that the author has composed this manuscript primarily to document and emphasize the continuity in the humanity of Old Testament subjects that is propagated through the humanity of people during modern times. To that end, Towns' has done his best to render his Old Testament subjects in ways that "average people" can both relate to them and understand them as…