5 Stars Out Of 5
An Exceptional Starting Point for Old Testament Studies
August 24, 2015
The World and The Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament is an engaging exploration into the historical and cultural milieu of the Old Testament and the literature which comprises the Hebrew Scriptures. Guided by the expertise of professors Eugene H. Merrill, Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti, the reader is gently ushered through the introductory matters that concern the study of the Old Testamentboth cultural (the world) and textual (the word). However, the present volume should be recognized as more than a mere arrangement of Old Testament related data. Similar to the New Testament counterpart, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Kstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 2009), Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti have produced a work that contains a number of significant differentiators from other introductions on the market.
First, The World and the Word does an excellent job harmonizing the importance of the Old Testament in light of the New Testament-centered mindset of the contemporary culture. Throughout the volume, although especially within parts 4-7, the authors continually emphasize the theological riches of the Old Testament that are presupposed by the writers of the New Testament. For the reader who has spent the majority of their life within the arena of New Testament studies, this will bring a supportive dimension to their current understanding of New Testament theology. For the reader who has spent the majority of their life within the arena of Old Testament studies, this will bring a breath of fresh air to the seemingly stagnant world of the Old Testament. The authors have really done an outstanding job underscoring the importance of the Old Testament in all aspects of the Christian life and doing so in an inviting and engaging manner.
Second, The World and the Word is presented to the reader in a logically ordered study that is not always witnessed among other Old Testament introductions. The volume opens with a brief introduction about the aim of the book and the genre of Old Testament introductions. Following the introduction, the authors seek to bring the reader into the world of the Old Testament, discussing the historical setting (ch. 2), the cultural (ch. 3), and the intersection between the Old Testament and other Ancient Near Eastern literature (ch. 4). After the reader is steered through the world of the Old Testament, the authors turn attention to the textual establishment of the Hebrew Scriptures, discussing the composition (ch. 5) and canonicity (ch. 6) of the Hebrew Bible, as well as a brief introduction to the transmission and textual criticism of the Old Testament text (ch. 7). Finally there are two transitional chapters that place all the preceding content into the framework of Old Testament studies, the development of the historical-critical method (ch. 8) and the present state of Old Testament scholarship (ch. 9), before discussing the books of the Old Testament specifically. This is order of presentation is beneficial for the reader, especially those new to Old Testament studies, and somewhat unique the The World and the Word, because it places a workable structure around the discipline as the reader weighs through the details of specific Old Testament books.
Third, The World and the Word is concise, clear, and comprehensive enough to ground the reader with a firm understanding of the intricate world of Old Testament studies. This volume does an exceptional job at delivering to the reader what is needed to walk away with an established understanding of the introductory matters of the Old Testament. This is not always the case with other introductions on the market. Some may see the brevity of this volume as a disadvantage because of an apparent lack of detail. Nonetheless, the reader should rest assured knowing that the authors have collectively compiled nearly 600 pages of "need-to-know" introductory information about the Old Testament spawning from a lifetime of teaching and studying the text itself. If the reader remains deeply interested in a particular topic presented and would like to embark on further study, the authors have compiled a goldmine of bibliographic information at the end of each chapter. If that doesn't perk your interest then there are twelve beautifully colored, high-quality maps that can be found in the appendix.
Overall I was very pleased with The World and The Word and thought that Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti produced a well-rounded volume that is sure to benefit readers of all shapes and sizes. If this is your first encounter with an Old Testament introduction you are in for a treat. If this is your second or third rodeo you will be amazed at the clarity of detail and breadth of information to be found in this volume. From the intentional organization or the content to the execution of each paragraph, The World and The Word is a resource that you should not be withoutespecially if you are a student of the Scriptures.