Book Give Away: Go to the bottom of this post for details.
Over the last year I have become a big fan of David Murray. It all started with some articles he wrote on the nature of counseling and its relationship to the Bible. I found him to be clear-headed and balanced when dealing with some very difficult issues.
Assuming he was a counselor, I was surprised to find that he is actually the Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Having grown fond of his blog, I was delighted when I learned he was releasing a new book called Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. I contacted Dr. Murray to get a prepublication copy of the book to review, and he was kind enough to oblige.
The title of this book says it all. Dr. Murray is writing to help normal Christians seek and find Jesus in the Old Testament. Dr. Murray stated three goals for the book: (1) to make it accessible to people in the pew, (2) to provide one book that outlines several methods of Christological reading, and (3) to help readers actually do Christ-centered reading of the Old Testament.
Did he succeed? I would answer with a resounding “Yes!” Let me start with the book’s strengths, which are many, and conclude with a few perceived weaknesses.
1. Biographical. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is Murray’s own biography. Interlaced through the pages of the book, Murray tells his own story of learning to read the Old Testament christologically. The biographical aspect puts the reader immediately at ease. Murray doesn’t come across as some towering academic, but rather as a normal person. This gives the reader hope that they too can learn what Dr. Murray is teaching.
2. One Stop Resource. Murray certainly accomplished his goal of writing one book that gives several ways of seeing Christ in the OT. I’ve wanted a book like this for years. As a pastor, I always have to recommend several books on the subject to feel I am giving people a holistic approach. And even then, the books usually fall on the more technical end of the spectrum, making it unlikely that congregants will actually read them. But now I have one book that I can confidently recommend to my people.
3. Scan-able. You can tell Dr. Murray is a good blogger and teacher by the way the book is put together. More and more, conventional wisdom is to make your writing scan-able by creating clear sub-headings throughout the chapters. Not only is it easier to read didactic material this way; it allows the reader to quickly get the big picture of the chapter as well as locate important information quickly.
4. Typology. Murray’s chapter on typology is excellent. He says, “A type is a real person, place, object, or event that God ordained to act as a predictive pattern or resemblance of Jesus’ person and work, or of opposition to both” (138). Murray argues, rightly in my opinion, that OT types were predictive to their original readers. In other words, when OT saints read about the exodus, or David, or the priesthood, they knew these were types pointing to a future messiah. OT saints read scripture typologically. Unfortunately, many today suggest that typological reading is reserved for inspired apostles. Thus, we can only recognize a type when a NT apostle makes it explicit for us. Murray rejects this and promotes a rich and balanced typological reading that all Christians can learn and profit from.
I could truly go on and on. The strengths of this book are massive. But let’s look now at a few weaknesses.
1. End-notes. One of the most annoying aspects of reading this book was the end-notes. I’m sure the motive was to make the text seem more clean and seamless.
But it would have been far more helpful to have the verses in parentheses, or at least footnoted at the bottom of the page. As it stands, though, I consider the end-notes to be an unnecessary obstacle to accessing important information. And my bet is that 99% of readers, like me!!!, will be too lazy in most cases to turn to the end. Which means this book about Scripture, by it’s very form, is making it difficult to get to Scripture.
2. Covenant Theology. I only list this as a weakness because I am persuaded that covenant theology misunderstands the relationship between the covenants. Surely God has one gracious plan of redemption. But covenant theology tends to minimize the discontinuities between the covenants by insisting that they are all different administrations of the same covenant of grace. Inevitably, then, I believe this scews the way they read the OT, especially the character of the Mosaic Covenant as well as what is actually new about the New Covenant.
3. Covenantal Shifts in the Psalms. One thing I wish Dr. Murray would have talked about in his chapter on reading the Psalms was how the covenantal shifts between Old Covenant and New Covenant affect how we read certain Psalms. And in one sense, he did this by showing that the Psalms are fundamentally songs to Jesus, about Jesus, and songs we sing with Jesus. But specifically I’m thinking of verses like Psalm 51:11, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” How is a Christian to sing this verse in light of Christ’s work and the permanent indwelling of the Spirit? My point is simply that it would have been helpful to have a few more examples of difficult verses and how Christians read them in light of covenantal shifts.
Buy this book! If you’re a pastor, a lay-person, or a small group leader, this book will be an invaluable resource for your Christian life and ministry. To find out more about Dr. Murray, you can check out his blog, follow him on twitter, or friend him on facebook.
Book Giveaway: I will be randomly selecting one winner to receive a free copy of Jesus on Every Page by David Murray. You only need to do two things: (1) Leave a comment below, and (2) Share this review on facebook and twitter. Copy and paste the information below right into your facebook or twitter account. I will select the winner randomly on August 30 at 5pm.
Facebook: Check out this review by Andrew Barlow of Jesus on Every Page by David Murray. http://bit.ly/15eEqhg
Twitter: Check out this book review by @andybarlow75 of #JesusOnEveryPage by @davidpmurray http://bit.ly/15eEqhg