This attractively presented book is aimed at newcomers to the Old Testament. The author is enthusiastic about his subject and this is evident in the upbeat use of modern idiom and suggestions for reflection which are culturally relevant to (younger) people in Britain today.
The book is well written in clear English and very readable. Sometimes it seems a bit too simple. Each chapter has an introductory Summary which covers: What is this chapter about? What books are referred to? What other books would be helpful? How is the chapter organized? and What should I be able to do by the end of this chapter?
The book is laid out as a progressive course. The first few chapters provide introductions to literary criticism, historical-critical methods, exegesis and source criticism, canonical criticism, historicity and Old Testament theologies. Subsequent chapters work through the biblical texts from creation, through the Pentateuch according to D and P, earlier prophets, wisdom literature, later prophets, apocalyptic writings, Psalms, Chronicles and the five scrolls. In each chapter there are suggestions for reflection on experience and passages to be read and reflected on in the light of experience.
There is a lot of good material in this book with a wide-ranging bibliography for further study. However, it is all text, there are no illustrations, no maps. Holdsworth is keen to promote his modern method of study but in eschewing older methods he is in danger of allowing his students to miss some genuine gems. This interesting book should definitely be recommended to newcomers to the Old Testament, but not by itself.
Sue Groom, September 2005
The Revd Sue Groom is the Director of Deanery Licensed Ministry for the Kensington Episcopal Area of London. Before this she was Vicar of St Matthew's, Yiewsley and also served as the Reader Training Officer for the Willesden Episcopal Area. She is the author of Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew (Paternoster Press, 2003).Order from www.christianbookshops.org
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