Philip Yancey has a way of confronting our most cherished - but misguided - notions about the Christian life. In his newest book, Yancey challenges the perception that the New Testament is more important than the Old, that the Hebrew Scriptures aren't worth the time they take to read and understand them. Writing as always with keen insight into the human condition and God's provision for it, Yancey debunks this theory once and for all. Yes, he agrees, the Old Testament can be baffling, boring, and even offensive to the modern reader. But as he personally discovered, the Old Testament is full of rewards for the one who embraces its riches. With his candid, signature style, Yancey unfolds his interactions with the Old Testament from the perspective of his own deeply personal journey. From Moses, the amazing prince of Egypt, to the psalmists' turbulent emotions and the prophets' oddball rantings, Yancey paints a picture of Israel's God - and ours - that fills in the blanks of a solely New Testament vision of the Almighty. As he reconnects for us the strong, sinuous chords that bind the Old and New Testaments, Yancey reclaims the Reformers' deep sense of unity between the two. Most important, he says, reading the Scriptures that Jesus so revered gives believers a profound new understanding of Christ, the Cornerstone of the new covenant. "The more we comprehend the Old Testament," Yancey writes, "the more we comprehend Jesus."
Interesting and well worth reading, though not particularly deep or inspiring. Recommended.
Are God's people remaining faithful?
Do we believe that God reigns?
pg. 201 Do I/We Matter?
pg. 206 Does God Care?
pg. 211 Why Doesn't God Act?
Questions that most have asked or perhaps will ask at some point in their life?
“Old Testament is a testimonial letter of Christ, which he caused to be opened after his death and read and proclaimed everywhere through the Gospel” Marin Luther
We often poke and prod the text so much we forget to just sit back and allow the text to read us.
That’s what Philip Yancey does in his latest book, The Bible Jesus Read (Zondervan: 1999). After spending much of his Christian walk reading and re-reading the New Testament Yancey discovers the Old. Yancey chronicles his journey with what he felt were some of the hardest books to approach, yet the most rewarding.
The wonderful simplicity of this book is that each book is approached on its own terms. Often biblical interpretations come with their own slant or bias. Within a page or two of almost every commentary readers can dismiss a book for being either too literal or too liberal.
Never claiming to be a scholar, yet at the same time obviously well-read, Yancey approaches the text much like Prof. Terry Fretheim does in his Pentateuch course. He just looks at the texts as they are found on the page. His personal theological slant is a non-issue because when the Bible is read at this most basic level the issues that divide us never come up. Instead he finds the most basic human/God relational questions and explores them.
Calling upon the most ecumenical of authors, e.g., Martin Luther, Thomas Merton, C. S. Lewis, Abraham Heschel, Jack Miles, Kathleen Norris and countless others, Yancey successfully bridges the chasm that denominationally and theologically separates American Christians.
If the Old Testament has traditionally been difficult for you there is now a two-part solution. First, to cover the narrative aspects read Walter Wangerin’s The Book of God (Zondervan: 1996) a modern, easy-to-read novelization of the Bible. Then approach the non-narrative aspects of the Scriptures–or, if you already have the basic storyline down you can skip to this step—read Yancey’s book. Yancey brings his readers through seemingly random placed Psalms and confusing oracles of God to rediscover a God so loving it is no wonder Jesus quoted often from these books.
Yancey looks at five books/areas of the Old Testament that are difficult for many Christians and in his very readable way, walks through the themes and issues he finds to be the most basic. The books he looks at are Job, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and the Prophets and claims these as his favorites.
As he dives into these books he finds that the Old Testament God is in fact the same as the New once given a chance to be known. In fact, Yancey makes it clear to his New Testament biased audience that “we cannot understand the New Testament apart from the Old.”
He winnows away at the idea that God as portrayed in the Old Testament is somehow different or harsher than the new. Amazingly he does this without making the reader feel that this is Yancey’s mission with this book. His only agenda seems to be to pass on the exciting experience he’s had with the Old Testament in recent years. In fact, his approach to the Old Testament is so enlivening that it is possible for the Old Testament to move from a non-existent topic in your sermon writing to a regular feature.
This book makes wonderful devotional reading, easy enough to be read even in the depths of the semester. It would also make a great book to use in a beginners’ or intermediate level Bible study in the parish. It approaches the Bible in the same way most non-trained parishioners would, but with a responsibility one would expect from a trusted scholar. Yancey is a popular enough author that The Bible Jesus Read is available at almost every bookstore.