Introducing Old Testament Theology by W H Bellinger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having just completed my own course in the Old Testament, there was a lot here that was very familiar … except this book was done much better than my class text. Written in an accessible style with an obvious scholastic foundation, Bellinger begins by telling the reader how he will construct his argument, before presenting his well thought out discussions and then following all of that with a summary conclusion. The basic approach taken avoided any debate on the details of the Old Testament to focus more on the overall purpose and intent of the early redactors within a paradigm of divine revelation and human response. What I found extremely interesting what his initial disclosure of his religious affiliation with the Baptist church and his recognition that his revealed background would inevitably impact his scholarship and interpretation. Coming from an entirely different confession, that was enough to make me a little more attentive to potential divergence … but I never really found much. This approach to the Old Testament should be welcome to pretty much any Judeo-Christian believer.
The book opens with a survey of the current state of Old Testament theology, and the changing consensus that appears to be underway before proposing in the next chapter three perspectives through which we get a framework to better understand the text … and just as imported, what human response is expected to what was revealed. What Bellinger adds to the discussion is the idea that there is a separate prophetic theology attached to the more obvious creation and covenant theology along with a discussion of how they are interact with each other through the entire scripture along with a brief summary of the context from which they emerged. In chapter 2, he begins to develop this concept with a discussion on how the use of the Psalms as liturgy within the faith community ties it all together. “First, it suggests that the most fruitful context for sharing a theology is a worshiping community. Second, the Psalter most frequently articulates the initiative for God’s engagement with the world coming from the divine side.” It gave me an even greater appreciation for the Psalter. With that in hand, we march through the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures identifying where God is present to Bless and the human response of Wisdom (Creation Theology), where God comes to deliver and the human response of instruction/torah (Covenant Theology) and finally where God speaks and the human response of repentance (Prophetic Theology). Through out the discussion, Bellinger systematically guides the reader in well organized supporting material and interpretations that stay away from any debate or judgement on specific details to present a mile high overview of the entire scripture. Even as a scholastic work, Bellinger uses common language to make this one of the most accessible works on biblical exegesis that I have encountered … so I recommend it for all audiences :-)
Chapter 1 - Beginnings
Chapter 2 - A Shape for Old Testament Theology
Chapter 3 - Pentateuch
Chapter 4 - Historical Books
Chapter 5 - Psalms
Chapter 6 - Wisdom
Chapter 7 - Prophecy
Chapter 8 - Conclusion
I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.