Old Testament Book Review

  • Length: 11 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Religion (general)
  • Type: Book Review
  • Paper: #49364755
  • Related Topics: God, Book, Faith, Christian

Excerpt from Book Review :

Summarizing

The Journey through the Old Testament is a re-telling of the Books of the Old Testament from the standpoint of character. Instead of plot serving as the device that moves the story along, each chapter focuses on a specific character in the Old Testament and uses selections from Scripture to flesh out that character’s arc in one chapter. For instance, chapter one focuses on Lucifer, which is fitting since he is the fallen angel who serves as the ultimate antagonist of God and man. The second chapter focuses on Adam, the third on Cain, and so on, all the way down through the major figures of the Old Testament, the prophets, and the point at which the Old Testament itself comes to a close and the people of Israel await the coming of the Messiah.

The main point of the book is that “certain people make history”[footnoteRef:2] and so it is appropriate that a book about history examine it from the perspective of the people who made it. For a book that tells that story about man’s relationship with God, which is essentially what the Old Testament is, approaching it from a character-oriented position makes sense and allows the author to expound on academic aspects while couching the overall narrative in the framework of character. Thus, the chapter on Lucifer tells how the fallen angel’s position as leader of the opposition to God came about while also providing background information like where the term angel comes from in the first place: “The word ‘angel’ is derived from the Greek word angelos which means ‘messenger’.”[footnoteRef:3] [2: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 5.] [3: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 7.]

The book tells the story of Lucifer, Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Hagar, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Jephthah, Samson, Eli, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Joroboam, Rehoboam, King Asa, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the Five Leaders, Esther, and Nehemiah. Thus the book proceeds chronologically through the Old Testament and describes each important figure. Important themes in the lives of these characters are pointed out and used to frame their stories. For instance, Adam is described as a the first man who had everything and lost it all because he disobeyed God—which sets up the rest of the examination of characters and how they are impacted by Adam’s original transgression. Noah is described as a “man who was scared into action,” and Abraham as a man who was “called to begin a nation.”[footnoteRef:4] Aaron actually receives several chapters as his arc is well-documented in the Old Testament and requires more attention to fully describe how he was selected to be a leader of the Jewish people, how his faith was tested, and how he was ultimately justified. Minor characters like Hagar, whom Abraham selects to bear his child, which ends up being Ishmael, who is juxtaposed with Isaac, who is depicted as a foreshadowing of Christ because God asks that Abraham sacrifice the child—all of these stories intersect and help to provide a compelling context for understanding the story of the Old Testament and its relationship to the whole story of redemption. [4: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 4.]

For that reason, the journey through the Old Testament is not just a journey through the Old Testament but also a glimpse into the New as well. The author constantly provides a perspective on the events of the Old Testament by looking at them from the coming of Christ and identifying the underlying meaning of what is going on. Each chapter concludes with a section entitled “Perspective” that helps to specifically focus on this relationship and orient the reader to the overall design of God’s plan as seen through the lives of these characters. For example, the author states in the chapter on Ruth that “the story of Ruth is a demonstration of grace. The problem of a famine turned into abundance on the threshing floor’—and how from that abundance came the Redeemer Jesus Christ.[footnoteRef:5] Or, in the chapter on Solomon, the author states, [5: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 158.]

“When God makes a person great, he should not abandon the principles that God used to make him great. The wisdom that made Solomon great was discarded and he lost the blessing of God.”[footnoteRef:6] By providing this type of perspective, the author shows what is most significant about the characters—i.e., what lesson should be remembered by the reader if the reader could only draw one nugget from each chapter. [6: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 220.]

But giving the overall perspective is not all that the book does: it also gives the significant details, which help to illuminate the meaning of the characters’ lives. Thus, in telling the story of Solomon the author provides a discussion on the Book of Proverbs, which are described as “the finest wisdom literature of Solomon.”[footnoteRef:7] Likewise, the Book of Ecclesiastes is described as having been written by Solomon and serving as a “spiritual autobiography of a wise man who failed to apply much of his wisdom in life.”[footnoteRef:8] So it can be seen how the author derives a moral teaching from his explanation of the arc of the characters in the Old Testament; he does so, moreover, while continuously maintaining the thread of history as it weaves the tapestry of redemption. [7: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 218.] [8: Elmer Towns, Journey through the Old Testament (Digital Commons, 1989), 220.]

The main point of the book, in summation, is to provide the most important details about the most important characters in the Old Testament and how those details help to tell a story about how man should strive to live a moral life in accordance with the laws of God and…

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…a book that can only be read through the eyes of faith. Faith allows one to appreciate the story more—but it does not preclude understanding it. Every person has the gift of reason and can look at facts and understand how they hook up together to make a unique picture. That is the magic of this book. It takes one on a journey of the facts. The reader who has faith will be like the traveler who has been up and down the river before and knows what is coming, knows what to expect just around the next bend. The reader who comes to the book without faith but with a good will and an open mind will be amazed and surprised by all the things that are seen. He will be like the person who is taking the river cruise for the first time: he may have heard stories about what to expect, but actually being there and seeing it for the first time is really impressive. The book can help to impress upon a reader’s mind the reasons that it makes sense that Christ is the Redeemer. The journey through the Old Testament lays the foundation for the mind to make that logical step: to say, “Yes, this is what it is all about. From the beginning of human history there has been this tension, this war, between God and the devil, and right in the heart of man no less. This makes sense.” And this sense can then be used to propel one to faith—which is what the book makes possible. For one who is already established in faith, the book can help to reinforce that faith and make it even stronger.

Thus, the book has relevance for all types of readers and not just for those who area already Christian. It can be used as a tool for showing those who do not know much about religion or about the history of the human race from the perspective of the Jewish people to gain clarity and insight into the past. The book focuses on the most important characters, tells the story of their lives in such a way that a moral thread can be discerned and followed all the way to the heart of God. It is the moral thread that helps to illuminate the spiritual nature of man—and by way of this illumination the real purpose of life is exposed. Man is not meant for worldly things or for worldly glory: Solomon’s tale tells as much. He had it all and lost it all because he failed to safeguard his spirit and keep it pure, keep his moral thread united to God’s heart. A reader who is out in the world wondering about the tension that he feels could find this book and see in it the explanation for that tension that he has been missing. It makes sense of the war going on in the heart and shows how real it is, how it…

Sources Used in Document:

Bibliography

Aquinas, Thomas. \\"Faith, Reason and Theology.\\" (1987).

Baker, David L. \\"Typology and the Christian use of the Old Testament.\\" Scottish Journal of Theology 29, no. 2 (1976): 137-157.

Barton, John. Reading the Old Testament: Method in biblical study. Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Becker, Joachim, David Green, and David Green. Messianic expectation in the Old Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980.

Bellis, Alice Ogden. Helpmates, harlots, and heroes: Women\\'s stories in the Hebrew Bible. Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

Klink III, Edward W., and Darian R. Lockett. Understanding biblical theology: A comparison of theory and practice. Zondervan, 2012.

O\\'Brien, Stephen M. God and the devil are fighting: The scandal of evil in Dostoyevsky and Camus. City University of New York, 2008.

Pype, Katrien. \\"Dancing for God or the Devil: Pentecostal discourse on popular dance in Kinshasa.\\" Journal of Religion in Africa 36, no. 3 (2006): 296-318.

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