Concluding Reflections

Having just completed a survey and some basic interaction with each essay in the book, Preaching the Old Testament, I would like to share some of the things I have observed.

  1. Preaching the First Testament seems to be a topic of growing concern and discussion these days. That is encouraging to me. As scholars within evangelicalism becomes more effective in reading and interpreting the OT, I believe this is important. The (what I see as important) strides made in scholarship need to find their way down to the pulpit and the congregation. This book is a move in that direction. Moreover, in encouraging pastors to preach from the OT, the contributors gave more substantive reasons than the usual, “You have to know the OT to understand the NT.” While this is true, nevertheless, they motivated by showing how the first 39 books of our canon can be preached effectively. At the same time, they called urgently for such proclamation and have encouraged those who preach by showing that it is both possible and fruitful.
  2. I appreciated the focus within the book on the original languages, both in the chapter about Hebrew as well as the discussion of preaching Psalms and Proverbs.
  3. The book has been both a reminder to me of how much I don’t know and a catalyst for questions with which I have yet to wrestle. Preaching the First Testament is a daunting endeavor that provides many challenges. To implement all of the advice presented by this collection of essays is a lifelong learning process, especially considering the other tasks of ministry. However, I appreciated the passion that each contributor had for his/her subject, even when I didn’t agree with what they were saying.
  4. There was a consistent reminder in several essays of the need to treat the text as a book that shows signs of structure, coherence, and theological reflection. This is very helpful, in my opinion. If a preacher understands that it is possible to preach the text without being an expert in Ancient Near Eastern history, sociology, etc., on the one hand or a Hebrew/Aramaic professor on the other, then his preaching will take on added effectiveness. To be specific, focusing upon the inherent structure, meaning, and theology of the text will allow the preacher to educate his congregation in the overall coherence of the text and, in this way, will show how knowing the OT influences how one reads the NT. Moreover, this is a much more effective use of the First Testament than using it primarily for illustrations/applications.
  5. Taking note of the men and woman that contributed essays to this collection, I believe Walter Kaiser, Jr., to whom the book was dedicated, has obviously had a great impact within OT scholarship. Each of the contributors showed indebtedness to and respect for this man, even if they don’t agree with everything he says. That is commendable in my opinion.

Although not all essays are equal in quality (a common drawback to collections like these), I encourage you to get the book, read the book, and put these principles into practice. I would appreciate any feedback from those of you who have read the book or from those who have been following this series. Has anything stood out to you as a reminder or as something new? Any specific questions that you would like for us to address?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you for posting this series on Preaching from the OT. Because of your series and interation with this book, I plan to buy it, read it, and teach it to Chilean national pastors. I appreciate your work on this blog and I read it faithfully.

  2. Posted by Caleb on February 27, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Thank you for this wonderful series! It has been really helpful to all of us.

    CK

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