by Matthew Richard Schlimm
Baker Academic Press, Grand Rapids, Mich. 254 pages
Who has not heard the old comment, “I believe in the God of the New Testament” because “the God of the Old Testament is … ”? Usually that sentence ends with “weird” or “wrathful” or even “hateful,” if not “very strange.” For generations, all the way back to Marcion, Christians have struggled with how to understand the Old Testament, particularly the odd passages that an honest person must reject (such as the imprecatory Psalms).
The author of this fine volume seeks to correct this problem by approaching the Old Testament (and the entire Bible) as a friend with whom it is required to disagree and necessary to quarrel. He seeks to address the questions that (always) arise when Christians read the Old Testament. What’s more, he does this with clarity, honesty, scholarship and pastoral awareness that illuminates the text. He addresses straight on issues of violence, sexual practices, the law and a host of problematic Scriptures. The writing style is engaging without being overwhelming. This book might easily be used with an adult class wrestling with the Bible. It will help Christians sustain the unity of the Biblical witness without demeaning Jews in the process. It certainly belongs in every church library.