The Problem of the Old Testament
Biblical Foundations Book Awards Finalist
For Christians, the Old Testament often presents a conundrum. We revere it as God's Word, but we don't always comprehend it. It has great truths beautifully expressed, but it also has lengthy lists of names that we cannot pronounce, detailed rules for religious rites that we never observe, and grim stories that we never tell our children. Theologians and laypeople throughout church history have struggled to define it, interpret it, and reconcile it with the New Testament.
In The Problem of the Old Testament, Duane A. Garrett takes on this conundrum and lays a foundation for constructive study of the Old Testament. He surveys three primary methods Christians have used to handle the Old Testament, from the church fathers to today: hermeneutical, schematic, and conceptual. Garrett also explores major interpretive topics such as the nature of the law, the function of election and covenants, and how prophecy works, boldly offering a way forward that is faithful to the text and to the Christian faith.
"I argue," Garrett writes, "that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and that it is authoritative and edifying for Christians." This thorough, accessible work is essential reading for all students of Scripture seeking to discover the Old Testament's riches beyond the challenges.
"I have appreciated the writings of Duane Garrett for many years. His careful scholarship is always of the highest caliber. He has a knack for weaving together a beautiful tapestry that combines careful exegesis and sound theology. The Problem of the Old Testament is no different. It shows us how to navigate many of the landmines of the Old Testament; it makes the argument that the Old Testament can be read rightly as Christian Scripture; and it makes abundantly clear that the Old Testament indeed finds its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's promised Messiah. The book is scholarly and readable, which is always a rare combination. It will serve students and teachers of the Holy Scriptures well for many years to come."
"This is a book to own. Duane Garrett is an admired scholar and teacher who brings to The Problem of the Old Testament a lifetime of explaining its content in ways that are both enlightening and encouraging. Pastors can use it to orient their preaching and teaching. Students will appreciate its wise guidance to the heart of issues. Laypeople will value its readability and the way it defines the challenges and offers solutions in nonobtuse language. The Old Testament is three-fourths of the Bible. This book keeps its readers from stumbling over the hard parts, the unfamiliar parts, and the confusing parts so that they can more fully grasp what God has caused to be written for their benefit."
"I have known Duane Garrett for thirty years and have had the privilege of working with him. His scholarship is always thorough, insightful, and practical. I enthusiastically recommend you buy and carefully read anything he writes!"
"Through numerous major commentaries and publications, Duane Garrett has distinguished himself as a trusted voice in evangelical scholarship. The Problem of the Old Testament represents the culmination of a lifetime of faithful academic ministry. Garrett notes the challenge the Old Testament presents for Christians as part of our two-testament canon. As we have come to expect, Garrett provides a fresh and bold way forward. Though some readers may arrive at different conclusions, this book will inspire every reader to wrestle anew with the Old Testament as Christian Scripture."
"In a time when many are predisposed to ignore or even jettison the Old Testament, this book is needed to remind us how vital the Old Testament is for the Christian faith. Duane Garrett has provided the academy and the church with a helpful and thorough discussion of the 'problem of the Old Testament.' This book will be an essential conversation partner for anyone considering the importance of the Old Testament for the church today."
"Duane Garrett clearly identifies and constructively engages numbers of 'problems' with Christian engagement with the Old Testament. He then goes on to provide accessible yet learned guidance in how Christians can approach and read the Old Testament in a way that respects the text, honors the God who gave the text, and nurtures the spiritual life of the reader. Anyone who is a person of the Book should consider the guidance provided in this book."
"Any truthful interpretation will withstand scrutiny. With exegetical precision, Duane Garrett analyzes proposed interpretive strategies to link both testaments, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Then he courageously proposes a method linking the two testaments on sounder exegetical grounding without resorting to special pleading or interpretive stabs in the dark. Students of both testaments of the Bible will find much to learn from Garrett's study, honing their interpretive skills, understanding how the biblical writers wrote and how their messages cohere into a unified whole."
"For the numerous Christians who have ever found a problem with what the Old Testament actually says, this book provides a sympathetic voice, a discerning eye, and an experienced guide. Garrett faces the problem of the Old Testament, sharply criticizing efforts to minimize the problem (e.g., allegory or theological systems). However, this book offers more than an incisive critique; it provides a roadmap for navigating the Old Testament in its historical-grammatical sense as the first part of the Bible. This book offers a true biblical theology, addressing the overarching concerns of the Old Testament with a close eye to the exegetical details of the text."
"Duane Garrett is an essential guide for Christians in their proper understanding and use of the OId Testament in our contemporary cultures. He situates his approach within a candid discussion of historic attempts to appropriate the Old Testament into the church, and offers plain analyses and compelling arguments for the strengths and ultimate failings of each. His new approach is compelling, insisting that any interpretation of Old Testament promises must consistently demonstrate relevance to ancient Israel, revelation of Jesus and for the church, and assurance for our eschatological future. His approach is permeated with hope. He provides a compelling roadmap for the relevance and justified application of the Old Testament to today's often-complex circumstances and issues of both local and global concern. It was a pure joy to read, and it will enrich my approach to teaching Christian ethics."
Part One: Facing the Problem
1. Defining the Problem
2. The Old Testament in the Early Church
Part Two: Inadequate Solutions
3. The Hermeneutical Solutions: Alexandria
4. The Hermeneutical Solutions: Antioch
5. The Schematic Solutions
6. The Conceptual Solutions
Part Three: A New Approach
7. Foundations for an Old Testament Theology
8. Election and the Covenants
9. The Law
10. Issues in Narrative
Part Four: Case Studies in Prophecy
11. The Prophetic Method: Hosea
12. The Prophetic Method: Joel
13. Summary and Prospect
Appendix A: Bonus Material from The Problem of the Old Testament: Preexilic Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14