Toward an Old Testament Theology by Walter C. Kaiser

Thank the Lord for Bible scholars; those men who spend endless hours pouring over what every other scholar and pseudo-scholar in any known language for the last 2000 years has said about every sentence and word in Scripture. And thank the Lord that you “are not” one. Kaiser is a true scholar, and we are grateful for this volume that develops in depth the theology of the Old Testament. Surely the reader will at times weary of the constant references to the opinions of unknown, but apparently worthy, scholars of all ages. It is amazing at times how many ideas can be gleaned from what seems to the average Joe–Christian as a straightforward passage. It is equally amazing, after all the intellectual dust has settled, to discover how often Joe–Christian was right. When all is said and done, maybe the regular non-scholar type can understand the Bible, even if they don’t read this book – Part One of which I don’t recommend to any but the most hardy.

Part II, thankfully, makes up the bulk of the book and is in essence an excellent overview of the entire Old Testament. Here Kaiser shows both the connectedness of the various sections of the first thirty-nine books of the Bible, and the uniqueness of those sections and books.

This is good material for any careful student of Scripture to use early in their study of an Old Testament portion of Scripture. Kaiser is solid in his analysis, and his conclusions are hard to dispute. I am certain this author is not a dispensationalist, but neither does he take the normal Reformed position on many things. For example, he sees the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants as eternal contracts with the literal nation of Israel and the descendants of David. The church, in Kaiser’s view, has not swallowed up the promises to Israel (see Part III, “The Connection with New Testament Theology”). I especially enjoyed, and ear-marked for future reference, discussions on “rest,” (pp. 127-130), the “fear of the Lord” (pp. 168-181), “The New Covenant” (although I differ with Kaiser”s position) (pp. 231-235), and overviews of the individual Old Testament books.

This is a very helpful volume for the serious student of the Old Testament. Most will probably want to skip (or at least skim) the first part, which is far too technical for those of us with “smaller minds.” But the rest of the book holds nuggets worth mining.