Edited by Grenville J.R. Kent, Paul J. Kissling and Laurence A. Turner. IVP Academic, 2010. Paper, 256 pages.
Christian preachers are naturally drawn to New Testament texts—the life and teachings of Jesus, the Pauline letters and so on. Yet if we are to preach the whole counsel of God, it is vital that we also proclaim God’s truth as revealed in the Old Testament.
Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching is an outstanding collection of essays that explores the various literary forms found in the Old Testament and offers insights for preaching texts in each genre. Chapters are written by an outstanding team of evangelical Old Testament scholars, and this volume does an excellent job of blending strong scholarship with the practical issues faced by preaching ministers.
For example, Grenville J.R. Kent provides a most helpful chapter on preaching in the Song of Solomon—a biblical book that has stymied any number of preachers, unsure of exactly how to deal with these texts, which is likely why we hear so few sermons on this book. Kent candidly discusses the church’s reluctance to speak to sexual issues, but reminds us how urgent it is for people to hear biblical truth on this subject to counter the culture’s bombardment of sexual messages.
Kent identifies several ways we should not read the Song of Solomon, such as allegorizing it or overdramatizing it. (He offers several interesting examples of how the book has been imaginatively allegorized through the centuries.) He offers practical counsel for appropriate ways to read the book, offering possible themes to explore in preaching and teaching. Finally, Kent suggests several tips for preaching the book and offers a sermon outline on one passage from the book (4:12—5:1).
This approach is characteristic of the entire book. Although written by top scholars, the book is written at a popular level with an eye to helping those who preach and teach in local churches.
Gordon Wenham’s chapter on “Preaching from Difficult Texts” offers helpful insights on preaching from texts that are genealogies and those that deal with issues such as sacrifice, slavery and violence. For example, he explains, “The law of talion, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” actually is meant to provide “a rule to cap violence, not to legitimate it. It was a maximum, not a minimum penalty.”
The closing chapter, by R.W.L. Moberly, deals with “Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.” He offers some useful insights on a topic that has drawn the attention of many homileticians in recent years.
Among the other authors are well-known evangelical scholars such as Daniel Block and Tremper Longman III. Contributors represent an international cast, including scholars from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and the Philippines.
While readers will not find universal agreement with every writer, given the diversity of contributors, preachers will find this to be a valuable resource as they seek to be faithful expositors of Old Testament texts.