Preaching the Old Testament. Edited by Scott Gibson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Review by Timothy Raymond–

Preaching the Old Testament is a very helpful, though somewhat eccentric book.  As the title indicates, it’s dedicated to helping preachers more effectively preach the first 77.2% of the Bible.  What organizes the volume is that it’s actually a series of essays written in honor of Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. by his friends and former colleagues (most of whom are still associated with Gordon-Conwell Seminary).  Chapters are devoted to helping preachers maintain their Hebrew after seminary, exegeting the various genres of the First Testament, understanding cultural background, preaching New Testament passages that quote the Old, and effectively preaching the Old Testament in a twenty-first century context.

By and large, I found the book thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.  The authors have certainly considered their subjects thoroughly and present helpful suggestions for becoming better preachers.  Some of the chapters I found especially beneficial include “Keeping Your Hebrew Healthy” by Dennis R. Magary, “Toward the Effective Preaching of New Testament Texts that Cite the Old Testament” by Roy E. Ciampa, and “Preaching the Old Testament Today” by David L. Larsen.  These chapters included much material I had never heard before and which I could foresee employing in the future (especially the chapter on maintaining your Hebrew).

The only reservation regarding Preaching the Old Testament that I’ll mention here is that the book seems to lack unifying organization.  The essays vary notably in structure, intent, and quality. Some move logically through their subject while others seem to meander.  Some are elementary while others are rather technical.  I found John Sailhamer’s entire chapter on preaching from the prophets nearly incomprehensible (I think he may have been interacting extensively with liberal positions with which I am unfamiliar).  Perhaps some better editing or clearer pre-writing parameters would have been helpful.

At the end of the day, I suppose the greatest benefit I’ll take away from Preaching the Old Testament won’t be any brand-new insights or some entirely different paradigm for proclaiming God’s word.  Rather what this book provided to me was strong encouragement and motivation to preach from the first three-quarters of God’s word.

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Read blog posts by Raymond here.