A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament. Edited by Roy B. Zuck with consulting editors Eugene H. Merrill and Darrell L. Bock. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 446 pp. Cloth, $27.99.
In his foreword to this book, Dr. Kenneth Barker (of NIV renown) states, “In my estimation, it is the best evangelical volume to appear on the subject of biblical theology in my lifetime.” Though my shorter years on this earth would make a similar statement less impressive, I whole-heartedly agree with him.
The book’s contributors all teach at Dallas Theological Seminary (Robert B. Chisholm, Thomas L. Constable, Homer Heater, Eugene H. Merrily and Roy B. Zuck), which brings some consistency to interpretations. Overall, the entire volume is clear and helpful, though as with many mufti-authored works, treatment and quality is uneven.
One author’s contribution deserves special mention. I must heap plaudits on Dr. Merrill for his mastery and exposition of the central theological theme of the OT (called the “theological center”). Though many ideas have been proposed in modern OT studies, none has been more clearly stated and developed than his here. Merrill does this primarily in chapter one, especially in his treatment of Genesis. In my opinion, this makes the first thirty pages more than worth the high price of the book.
Merrill argues that the theme of OT theology is God’s rule over the earth and all other things through His image, the human race (p. 30). His support focuses on Gen 1:26–28 with an insightful exposition. Such a theme sees Israel as the means by which God will restore His rule through man, which man lost in the fall, and Jesus Christ as the Second Adam who will regain God’s rule over the earth.
Fortunately for the reader, Merrill develops his theme in a total of twelve books of the OT. The other authors do not appear as cognizant of the theme, although the book implies that it also informs their respective theologies. Though they do a commendable job in developing theological emphases of the various books, they do not master the essential synthesis as does Merrill.
I have always been an advocate of synthesis which emphasizes the unity of the Bible and the single divine Author. This informs our analyses of the parts of the Bible and our development of theology from the Bible. I am excited that this OT theology provides such a unity and has articulated it so well. It will lay a firm foundation for teaching and preaching the OT books.
I recommend that this book find a place on the shelf of every serious Bible student, teacher, and preacher.
Charles C. Bing
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Pastor, Burleson Bible Church