Sunday, December 21, 2014

Some unusual terminology, but well worth the effort

An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach by Bruce Waltke with Charles Yu

This review is unprecedented as far as this blog goes in that I am reviewing a book that I have not yet finished. In fact, I am only about half way through. It has been rather heavy going, but it is worth the effort, and I intend to finish it next year.

An Old Testament Theology is a comprehensive textbook on the Old Testament. Waltke goes through it book by book, though some sections of the Bible receive more coverage than others. Genesis gets 173 pages, Job gets 19, Song of Solomon gets nothing at all.

One of the interesting features of the this book is that each chapter is of the form "The Gift of...". This strikes me as a great organising principle for the Old Testament: "The Gift of the Cosmos", "The Gift of Liturgy", "The Gift of Kingship", etc.

The other thing that strikes the reader is the non-standard vocabulary employed. The hardest to get used to is the rendition of the covenant name of God as "I AM" throughout the book. Even more annoying is the use of "vice-regent" used several times. I think the word meant was "viceroy" (which has the associated adjective "viceregal") or else "vicegerent".

On the other hand, the best example of unusual terminology in the book is Waltke's use of "Sworn Land" instead of "Promised Land". Waltke notes that God doesn't just promise the land to Abraham, he swears an oath to him that he will give it. I wonder if the phrase will catch on.

In conclusion, this book will reward readers who put in the effort to carefully read, ponder, and evaluate what it says.

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