Preaching and Teaching the Last Things: Old Testament Eschatology for the Life of the Church. By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011. 186 pp. Paper, $12.99.
A brief 163 pages followed by indexes, Walt Kaiser’s latest guide purposes to help preachers explore Old Testament eschatology with their congregations. Published by Baker Academic (the more scholarly wing of Baker Publishing Group) the book could easily be used as a supplement to a seminary preaching class. The majority of endnotes, included in the back of the book, cite mainly scholarly journals and commentaries.
Kaiser has divided the subject of Old Testament eschatology into six parts: Resurrection of Mortals, the Abrahamic Covenant, a Messianic King, the Day of the Lord, the Great Tribulation, and the Millennial Rule and Eternal State. Each part contains two or three Old Testament passages intended for preaching. Kaiser’s stated goal is to help the pastor present to his congregation several expository rather than topical messages. What is the point, Kaiser asks, of reciting verse after verse to prove one’s case or to teach a topic if the audience is uninformed of the context surrounding each? This is a very good question.
Along with sermon helps and a teaching outline, each of the 15 or so passages chosen by Kaiser come with a brief six or seven page commentary. I found these comments interesting extremely helpful. Bits of scholarly information pop up every now and then, such as a short but detailed history of the Schools of Antioch and Alexandria and their respective methods used to interpret, among other things, the Messianic Psalms (ps. 64-66). The time-strapped pastor or interested layman will find informed excursions such as these an added bonus.
An author index, subject index, and scripture index are all included, something uncommon but extremely helpful as well.
While terms such as supercessionalism and replacement theology are quickly discussed and rightly discounted, Kaiser does not feel the need to use the term Progressive Dispensationalism anywhere in the book. I found this interesting since such so much of his own understanding (historic premillennialism) matches this latest category. In fact, several times it appears relevant to the discussion, especially when Kaiser uses the terms inaugurated eschatology and already/not yet, two buzzwords used by Progressive Dispensationalists themselves. Kaiser’s discussion of Peter’s use of Joel 2 in Acts 2 comes immediately to mind (pp. 79-82).
In short, I found the book helpful and would recommend it to anyone with an understanding of Progressive Dispensationalism already in place.
Minneola Community Church