Tremper Longman III. Old Testament Essentials: Creation, Conquest, Exile and Return. Downers Grove: IVP Connect, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-8308-1051-2. Paperback. $18.00.
I love reading and teaching the Old Testament. I believe that Christians who know the Old Testament have an easier time understanding the New Testament. As Paul wrote, “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4).
However, it is a fact that many Christians have a difficult time reading and understanding the Old Testament. Many books have been written to help Christians study the Old Testament and understand its message. Reading and studying these books is essential if one is to gain a better appreciation for the Scriptures Jesus knew so well.
Tremper Longman III has written a book which will provide students with a basic introduction to the Old Testament. His book, Old Testament Essentials: Creation, Conquest, Exile and Return (Downers Grove: IVP Connect, 2014) can be used profitably by an individual who wants to gain a better understanding of the content of the Old Testament. The book can also be used as a Bible study resource for small groups.
The book is divided into seventeen weekly sessions, and each session covers a major section of the Old Testament. The following is an outline of the book and the content of each session:
1. Creation: God Created the Cosmos
2. Fall: Humanity Rebels Against the Creator
3. Abraham: The Father of the Faith
4. Isaac and Jacob: The Promise Continues
5. Joseph: The Promise Survives
6. Exodus: God Saves His People from Bondage
7. Wilderness Wandering: God Refines His People
8. Law: God Makes His Will Known
9. Priests, Holy Place and Sacrifices: Coming into the Presence of the Lord
10. Conquest: God Gives His People the Land
11. Judges: Spiritual Confusion, Moral Depravity, Political Fragmentation
12. Saul, David and Solomon: The Rise of Kingship
13. Psalms: Worship the Lord
14. Wisdom: Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Life
15. Divided Monarchy: The Road to Judgment
16. Prophets: God’s Covenant Lawyers and Apocalyptic Visionaries
17. Exile and Return: Divine Hostility and Restoration
Longman’s objective is to help students understand God’s work in the world, from the creation of man and woman in Genesis 1 through Israel’s exile and their restoration after the Babylonian captivity.
The structure of the book is designed to help Christians interpret major areas of the Old Testament and to apply the Old Testament to their Christian walk. On page 12, Longman describes the four pillars of his book.
1. Bible Study: Students are assigned a text to read in preparation for the study of the Bible.
2. Reading: Each lesson includes a brief essay introducing the content of the assigned text.
3. Anticipating the New Testament: This section is designed to help students discover how the assigned text relates to the New Testament.
4. The Ancient Story and Our Story: This section is designed to help students apply the lessons of the assigned text to Christian living.
Each lesson contains several questions to help the student “think about some of the crucial issues of the passage” (p. 12).
Longman’s book is excellent for individual or group Bible study. Pastors and Bible study leaders will benefit from Longman’s scholarship and his reverence for God’s Word as they lead people into a deeper study of the Old Testament. I strongly recommend this book to those who desire to gain a better understanding of the Old Testament.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary