My Review of Companion to the Old Testament: For the Interpreter Within Each of Us

While reading this book, I have waffled between, “This is really minimal” to “Interesting, I did not know this”. Overall, I find the work to be a decent handbook though not very detailed. As it is designed as an overview of the Old Testament, thus the depth is lacking on purpose. Reaching an encompassing conclusion of this work, I believe it is a good volume to recommend especially as it is not a pricey volume.

One thing which I found refreshing was the layout of the work. It is not a chapter and verse reference book. Each chapter of the book addresses a different section of the Scriptures with a synopsis in a logical order based on the Protestant Old Testament. On the surface, this may seem awkward and I believe this would be a personal issue with which to deal. Some people will probably balk at the non-linear arrangement; however, I rather liked it.

I greatly appreciated the historical context interwoven with the commentary and synopsis. Understanding how extra biblical documents has helped shape our understanding of the text is an often overlooked discipline. This is not to say the extra-biblical works are more important than the text itself, it is to say they give a clearer explanation of the text. I felt the author did a good job at laying out this argument in the initial section of the book and then followed through with the practice as the book continued.

I give is a 4/5 rating because there were times it seemed as if the author backtracked and re-iterated some points a bit much. Perhaps that is because I am quite familiar with the information presented and did not feel the need to read more than once an explanation of something. There are also a couple of warnings I would like to offer for those considering this work. 1) The author used the date notation BCE/CE rather than BC/AD 2) The author does not subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible. I have a pet peeve about the BCE/CE notation when reading anything pertaining to Christianity. While I understand it is the new standard, I believe when the work deals with Christianity and/or the Bible using BC/AD is legitimate as this was the reason that designation was created in the first place. As for the non-literal interpretation, the author does a very nice job of explaining himself and his reasoning. Just wanted to alert more conservative readers of these issues as I have know several people who would dismiss this book forthwith upon discovering either of those matters.

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