Even a casual reader of the Bible quickly discovers that not all books in Scripture are the same. The Bible contains an amazingly diverse representation of literary styles. Reading Genesis is not the same as reading the Gospels, which is not the same as reading Revelation. Many biblical introductions give an overview of content and themes, but a reader often has to seek out specialized technical works for exploring methods for interpreting specific books or literary types in the Bible.
Fortunately, this week we are pleased to release three new titles from Tremper Longman, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, that will allow the reader to gain a better understanding of Genesis, Exodus, and Proverbs. Not overly technical, these books should not be understood at commentaries but rather as interpretative strategies.
How to Read Genesis
In order to read Genesis intelligently, we must consider the questions, the literature, and the times in which Genesis was written. In How to Read Genesis, Longman provides a welcome guide to reading and studying, understanding and savoring this panorama of beginnings–of both the world and of Israel. And yet, Longman does so unapologetically from a Christian perspective. As Longman states in the preface:
Why read the book of Genesis? To understand our origins. To understand who we are, our meaning in life. To comprehend our place in the world, our relationship with other creatures, with other humans and with God himself. To recognize the significance of the rest of redemptive history culminating in the ministry of Jesus Christ. … The purpose of How to Read Genesis is to explore the interpretation of the book of Genesis. In the process I will present an overarching understanding of the book itself, but in addition, I want to reflect on the principles of interpretation that are most important to arriving at a proper understanding of the book. It is to these principles that we turn in the next chapter [pp. 15-16].
And if you have the Theological Journal Library, be certain to read Nigel Black’s in-depth review of Longman’s How to Read Genesis in JETS, vol 49, issue 3, pp. 586-588.
How to Read Exodus
Without the book of Exodus the Bible would lack three early scenes: deliverance, covenant, and worship. Longman provides a box-seat guide to Exodus, discussing its historical backdrop, sketching out its literary context, and developing its principal themes.
In addition to providing an interpretive strategy for reading Exodus, Longman also includes a section that explores the long-debated role of Old Testament Law in Christian life. Longman writes:
While God is unchangeable, his law is not always the same from generation to generation. The changes are not because God is fickle in what he wants, but rather because his people change over time and because his work of redemption progresses from age to age. Christians need to use their sanctified intelligence and Christ-transformed conscience as well as a well-informed hermeneutic as they seek God’s will in the law [p. 161].
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If your Accordance Library includes the Theological Journal Library, be certain to read Eugene Merrill’s review of Longman’s How to Read Exodus in Bibliotheca Sacra vol. 168 (2011), issue 670, p. 243.
How to Read Proverbs
Proverbs are memorable capsules of wisdom, chiseled in words and polished through use by those who have traveled that path ahead of us. But the proverbs of the Bible are woven into the web of divine revelation and rooted in the “fear of the Lord” that is the beginning of wisdom. In How to Read Proverbs, Longman provides insight into how Christ is the climax and embodiment of wisdom.
The volume is filled with great insights and guidelines for understanding this ancient work of wisdom. Near the end of the volume, Longman offers a summary of his thought with 13 “Principles for Reading the Book of Proverbs.”
If the Theological Journal Library is a part of your titles in Accordance, check out John C. Crutchfield’s review of Longman’s How to Read Proverbs in the March, 2004 (vol. 47) issue of JETS (pp. 145-146).
All three of Tremper Longman’s Reading Series can be purchased individually or together at an even deeper discount.
Three (3) Longman “How to Read” Modules