Old Testament Picks

Dr. Walter Moberly, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation at Durham University, UK, was on campus recently. He gave a series of lectures on the topic: Why Believe the Bible?

Prior to the lectures, NTS Old Testament Professor Joseph Coleson met with a group of local pastors to share resources for preaching and pastoral ministry. Below is that list with his brief description of each.


Moberly, R. W. L. Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Insightful and engaging. Moberly models a promising way forward with what we may term “exegetical theology.” With each of a number of theological themes, he probes a primary text--sometimes a panoply of texts--in considerable detail and depth, then moves to consideration of each theme, and some of its ramifications, more broadly across the canon of the Christian Scripture (OT and NT). Moberly will stretch, challenge, and enrich the reader’s thinking, wonder, and worship.

Janzen, J. Gerald. At the Scent of Water: The Ground of Hope in the Book of Job. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.

Janzen is marvelous in this slender theological commentary on Job. The real value of the volume lies, however, in what Janzen calls his “mini-theology” of the Old Testament, presented in chapters one-three. His analogy of Israel’s “factory default position” in the Patriarchal period of Genesis 12-50, contrasted with the “customized default position” agreed to at Sinai, is masterful and endlessly thought-provoking.

Arnold, Bill T., and Richard S. Hess, editors. Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.

For those enamored of history, the central question of this volume, What can we really know about ancient Israel’s history? will be sufficient incentive to acquire and read it. In variously authored chapters, this question is considered from Genesis through the Hellenistic period.

Hoffmeier, James K. Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Hoffmeier, James K. Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hoffmeier is primarily an Egyptologist and Egyptological archaeologist. As the subtitles indicate, in these two works he presents the voluminous and solid textual, geographical, and archaeological evidence for a real Israel’s presence in, and Exodus from, Egypt, and their sojourn for a generation in the Sinai. Ignorance may be bliss, but with Hoffmeier’s work, it no longer is an excuse for dismissing Israel as a historical entity at the end of the Bronze and the beginning of the Iron Ages.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015.

In Genesis One, Walton argues for a “functional” rather than a “material” ontology of origins, reading Genesis 1 as an account of the inauguration of the earth as God’s “cosmic temple.” This is the correct approach, if we would read Genesis 1 as it was intended. I have not yet read the second volume, but relish the anticipation of doing so, and recommend it also, on the strength of the first. In light of Walton’s work (though this also was true before these volumes appeared), to speak of contradictions between “science” and “faith” (or of the “war between science and faith”) is as nonsensical as asking how many innings Tom Brady pitched in the Super Bowl last year, or how many touchdowns the Kansas City Royals scored in their final game against the New York Mets to win the World Series this year. Walton is profound and erudite, and at the same time both easy and fun to read.

Of course, many other recent works could be included here, if time and space allowed. Happy--and blessed--reading! 

Postscript: On December 10, Dr. Judi Schwanz will be hosting a brown bag lunch gathering to discuss the latest resources in her field of pastoral care and counseling. If you are in the area, please join us on campus, starting at noon in the Koinonia Café.