Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament

Cover: The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament 

I have long been fascinated by the cross-references between Old Testament prophecy and the Gospels, as well as, other connections between the Old and New Testaments. Yet, I have hesitated to purchase books on this subject for fear that they might merely collect dust on my shelf. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tyndale had published The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.  Unlike many of the more scholarly titles, this one is designed for lay persons and is divided into bite size portions which can be read in five to ten minutes.

I found this book Gospel-centered and encouraging. It would be an asset to those who are looking for ways to "preach the Gospel to themselves" daily. The devotions stand alone allowing the reader to begin in any location. Furthermore, there is a helpful index which would allow one to find devotions relevant to a passage he/she is already reading.

However, while there is much in this book to commend, there are a number of occasions in which Ms. Guthrie moves into spiritual interpretations not intended by the original authors of Scripture. These interpretations are mere speculation and have no Biblical support. For example, the people in Luke 7:13-16 "remembered what Elisha had done for the Shunemite" (July 14) and the stew pot in 2 Kings 4:38 "became an illustration of the world, a 'stew' of humankind's ideas, religions, and attempts to satisfy their spiritual appetites (July 15). In the reading for February 26, Ms. Guthrie says:

"In her beauty, her purity, and her chosenness, Rebekah was a picture of the bride of Christ."

Furthermore, on October 15, Ms. Guthrie writes about the Ethiopian eunuch (of Acts 8) saying: "In a culture in which many descendants meant everything, this eunuch, who had no hope of a son who would carry on his name, understood that Jesus died without descendants so that he might give those who come to him by faith an everlasting heritage."

The problem is that none of these things are expressly stated or implied by other verses in Scripture. We simply have no way of confirming that any of these things are true. These are just a few examples of speculation in this book. I'm not sure if Ms. Guthrie gleaned these ideas from her sources or if she developed them independently as there are no footnotes or endnotes in the text. I truly wish I could recommend this resource as there are many good, Gospel-centered entries, however, it does not seem wise.

"Words in the Bible have a meaning fixed by the intention of God, expressed through the mind of the human authors. It cannot be made to mean what we choose without tampering with God's Word. But the atmosphere of our time puts so little premium on truth that the language of the Bible and of historical Christian documents has become a wax nose to shape according to the desires of the speaker" (pg 196, Think by John Piper).

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Ms. Guthrie does in many portions of this book. Therefore, I would not recommend this book.

* Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

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