UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The Message of Samuel
The Message of Samuel The Message of Samuel
Bible Speaks Today Series

Mary J Evans
ISBN 9780851112954 (0851112951)
IVP, 2004

Category: Commentaries

I know that it looks bad for London School of Theology people to be praising books written by other London School of Theology people, but sometimes, dear reader, it has to be done. Here's why: I never expected to be able to say truthfully that I'd just a read an Old Testament Commentary and enjoyed the whole thing. Now I can say that. And it feels as though the author enjoyed writing it, too, which is definitely not the feeling that you get from most commentaries.

I think what caught fire in me was the focus on the story. Evans has a good ear for story and a real gift for being able to hear it as if for the first time. She notices things, not always little things, that I would have totally spaced on and consequently missed the point. This is a wonderfully accessible commentary as well. She resorts to telling us about the Hebrew on occasions when it matters, fortunately managing to do so in a way that is neither condescending nor complicated. Mostly, though, I was mesmerised by the story.

But she not only understands the story, she understands the story-teller and communicates a great deal to us about the human and divine intentions behind the text. Almost unconsciously, I as reader found myself comprehending the larger picture through the way that she told me and showed me the snapshots. The writer in me wants to read the book again, trying to ignore the content, in order to observe and learn from the craft and art. It's just I have no confidence that I could ignore such interesting content, even reading it a second time!

This is a book for you whether you've earnestly desired to find a way into the Old Testament or whether you've been reading through the Bible twice a year since you became a Christian at the age of 8. Surprises and reassurances await, whoever you are. For me the experience was mainly about enjoying Scripture, but those of you who feel cheated without Application will find that there too. Many times, the book will pause in telling you the story of Saul or Samuel or David and reflect on the ways that we're like that even now. Even here, it's the story-teller speaking, not the thought police.

Read this book and begin to re-discover the delights of the Old Testament.

Conrad Gempf, April 2004

Dr Conrad Gempf teaches New Testament at London School of Theology. He is the author of Jesus Asked (Zondervan, 2003), Mealtime Habits of the Messiah (Zondervan, 2005) and Christian Life & The Bible (LST, 2006). He writes extensively for various books, journals, magazines and websites; here's his blog: Not Quite Art; Not Quite Living.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.


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