Loving the Old Testament by Alec Moyter (Timothy Raymond)
I knew I was going to be reviewing Alec Moyter’s Loving the Old Testament before I began reading it, so upon commencing this book I started scribbling down points in the very back which I considered “particularly helpful parts”. I wasn’t far into the book before I realized that I would have to essentially jot down every major point as particularly helpful. In nearly every conceivable way this little book is outstanding to the point that I can hardly believe so much useful content is concentrated into so few pages. If your typical book is coffee, Loving the Old Testament is expresso.
Loving the Old Testament is a bit difficult to describe. Try imagining a miniature overview of the Old Testament. Now blend it with a brief biblical theology in the tradition of Vos or Clowney. Now add several asides inserted at helpful points where Motyer devotes special attention to exegeting selected texts. Round it off with a hearty dose of practical pastoral applications peppered throughout and add a forward by Tim Keller and an afterward by Don Carson. If you could imagine all of this in 130 pages of 4 ½” by 7”, you’ve got Loving the Old Testament.
As far as the strengths of this book, they are legion. It’s clearly written, interesting, supported by meticulous and creative scholarship, not infrequently humorous, reverent and pious (in the best sense), and very practically applicable especially to a local church context. Furthermore, if you know anything about biblical studies from the last 100 years, you’ll know that Moyter’s is essentially the evangelical Gandalf. (And anybody who is still living who used to hang out with Martyn Lloyd-Jones must be as old as Gandalf.) I can enthusiastically recommend Loving the Old Testament as an ideal book to give to an interested layman or to use in a discipleship course. It also might make a useful tool for Sunday school classes, Wednesday night Bible studies, or even with a sharp youth group.
Since all proper book reviews comment on a book’s weaknesses, here are three, purely because they’re compulsory. First, the book includes a small handful of curious typographical errors. These obviously don’t detract from the overall message or content, but might make you smirk occasionally. Second, the book is remarkably brief, really more in the booklet category. There’s obviously nothing wrong with brevity, but at retail of $6.39, you may feel as if you want “more for your money.” Lastly, Moyter does assume a fairly traditional covenant theology and an amillennial hermeneutic of the Old Testament prophets, which will delight some of our readers while irritating others.
These perfunctory weaknesses out of the way, I don’t think I could recommend Loving the Old Testament highly enough. In a day when the vast majority of our teaching and preaching almost completely neglects the first 77.2% of the Bible, this book could result in a revival of learning the whole counsel of God, and even a revival of the spiritual life of the church. Loving the Old Testament is really a delightful little book in every day. If you’re a pastor, I’d encourage you to buy a couple dozen copies and keep them on your free book table or stocked in your bookstore.
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.