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Full of symbolic speeches, dramatic metaphors, and lengthy allegories, the Prophetic Books of the Bible offer a unique blend of literary styles that are often challenging to comprehend. In How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets, leading Old Testament scholar Peter J. Gentry identifies seven common characteristics of prophetic literature in the Bible to help readers understand each book's message. Using illustrations and clear examples, Gentry not only offers guidance for reading these challenging texts, but also teaches practical strategies for deeper engagement with the biblical text that leads to application of God's Word to everyday life.
|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Publication Date: 2017
When reading the Prophets, one may despair like the Ethiopian eunuch puzzling over Isaiah, How can I understand, unless someone guides me? Fortunately, Peter Gentry meets us on the road and asks, Do you understand what you are reading? Gentry ably guides us through this strange and foreign land.
—Lindsay Kennedy, Assistant Pastor, Calvary Chapel Bothell, Bothell, Washington; blogger, My Digital Seminary
This is just the book I was looking for! And why? To serve as an essential guide and resource text for my Lusaka Lutheran Seminary exegesis of Isaiah class. Gentry succeeds most admirably in his stated objective, which is to enable readers to read and understand the Prophets. And he does so in a way that is truly exemplary, employing a clear, concise, logically developed writing style that makes it relatively easy to probe this potentially difficult subject—the Old Testament prophetic literature. The basic principles and procedures of text interpretation are given substance in many helpful reading strategies that are exemplified by some crucial biblical case studies—primarily Isaiah, but also other prophetic texts that reflect upon the fundamental covenantal tenets of the Mosaic Torah, Deuteronomy in particular. All the key topics and tactics necessary for more effectively delving into the Prophets are introduced and amply illustrated: literary-stylistic cues, discourse structural markers, function of the foreign nations, Yahwist covenantal theology, biblical chronology and typology, and, of course, correctly discerning the future, including the apocalyptic genre. In short, the author demystifies the Hebrew prophets and successfully relates their writings also to hermeneutical issues facing the church today—all in the space of less than 150 pages. This book would serve as a helpful introduction for adult Bible studies as well as college-level courses on hermeneutics. Scholars teaching at higher academic levels too would benefit from Gentrys excellent pedagogical approach. I had intended to complete my review of this book periodically, over the space of two weeks; however, once I got started, it took me only two days. Whether one happens to agree with the authors various interpretive conclusions or not (I do!), one must commend him for the careful manner in which he arrives at them. Many readers now will look forward to some sort of a teachers guide (including various content and application questions) that could accompany this indispensable resource on the Hebrew prophets.
—Ernst R. Wendland, instructor, Lusaka Lutheran Seminary, Zambia; Internal Examiner, University of Zambia
Having established a stellar reputation already through his many publications in Old Testament studies—especially in Septuagint and biblical theology—Gentry reflects broad expertise here in his treatment of prophetism as an institution and in the literary output of the canonical Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. This is more than just another book on the Prophets: their lives, times, and ministries. The approach in this case goes beyond the standard of the oeuvres already at hand. Gentry knits together most skillfully the strands of criticism, theology, history, poetry, apocalyptic, and pastoral practicality in a style that betrays at once solid scholarship and transparent readability.
—Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
When traveling to a foreign land, the experience is so much richer when you have an experienced guide to explain the unique customs, point out things you might have missed, and take you to places you would not dare traverse alone. For modern Western readers of the Bible, the Prophets are a foreign land, even if we do not initially realize it. Peter Gentry, with his decades of experience traveling in this difficult terrain, can be your expert guide to the biblical Prophets through reading this book. I'm overjoyed that Gentry is sharing in print for a wider audience what I first found so helpful as class lectures a dozen years ago. Pick up this travel guide and experience the biblical Prophets afresh.
—Richard Lucas, biblical and theological studies mentor, The NETS Center for Church Planting and Revitalization; associate pastor, Christ Memorial Church, Williston, Vermont
Peter Gentry is a master exegete and theologian, and in this brief volume he supplies excellent guidance for those of us who desire to read and understand the Prophets with greater biblical faithfulness. With clear prose and numerous examples, he identifies how we should approach the prophetic genre——its grounding in the Mosaic covenant, its structure and use of repetition, its engagement of foreign nations, its use of typology and apocalyptic language, and its appropriation and already-but-not-yet fulfillment in the New Testament. Gentry helps us grasp how the prophets communicated their messages, and by doing so he empowers us to become better interpreters of Gods Word. I highly recommend this book.
—Jason S. DeRouchie, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary
Many people set out to read through the Bible but get bogged down in the Old Testament Prophets. Some push ahead anyway, others skip ahead—both missing out on the full counsel of God. But theres hope—everyone should read Peter Gentrys new book! Under seven key topics he asks the right questions, and his answers are the most insightful Ive seen. Pastors and scholars: youll benefit too.
—Brent Sandy, Former Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana; coeditor, Cracking Old Testament Codes; coauthor, The Lost World of Scripture
contemplativereflections4 Stars Out Of 5Book Review: How to Read and Understand the Biblical ProphetsJuly 18, 2017contemplativereflectionsQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0In "How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets," Peter Gentry hopes to help readers learn how to appreciate biblical prophetic literature as intended by the biblical authors. The author's main premise is that we often employ a Western perspective to interpret the Bible in a logical manner which inadvertently leads us to draw erroneous conclusions on what the text is saying. Instead, Gentry advises that we should become acquainted with the Eastern background, culture, and language that the biblical authors were immersed in so that we can appropriately comprehend what is trying to be conveyed not only in the individual words but also the literary form of the original text. Instead of being a step-by-step handbook or a scholarly textbook, the book is a short collection of specific topics that the author believes would be instrumental to help readers grasp the basic elements of his suggested approach. The first two chapters involve using a redemptive-historical lens in reading the prophets that centers upon the covenants that God established with mankind that points to the future restoration of all things through Christ. Chapter 3 concerns the repetitive nature of Hebrew literature that serves as the key underlying literary structure in various genres in the Bible but especially prominent in the prophets. Chapter 4 considers the relationship between the oracles concerning foreign nations and how these prophecies connect with God's grand plan of redemption and restoration. The last three chapters deal with specific issues in understanding future predictions including the use of types and antitypes, apocalyptic language, and short-term/long-term fulfillment of prophecies. The book concludes with an appendix that examines the literary structure of Revelation as a fitting case study to tie in the ideas presented throughout the chapters.
I would gladly recommend this book to all those who struggle in reading the biblical prophets. Although the topic may be relatively dry for most readers, the author is able to keep the concepts simple and illustrations concise so that a wide audience can appreciate the helpful pointers and illustrative examples presented. I concur with Gentry that many contemporary Christians use a Western, post-Enlightenment perspective in reading the Bible that ends up extinguishing the literary beauty and wisdom of God's written revelation. Moreover, I would argue that in addition to equipping ourselves with the right tools to study Scripture, we need to also foster a love for reading the entire counsel of God with joy, marvel, and expectation as His Word is the primary means by which we can taste and see that the Lord is good.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.