Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook by Gary V. Smith

The idea behind the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series is an outstanding one. Short, to the point, yet scholarly and well documented. Gary V. Smith is a well-known scholar of the prophetic writings and is informed enough to write a useful handbook; and that he did. He covers the fundamentals, rather than just the essentials (see below). That is, Smith not only tells us how to interpret, but what to do with that information. Most commentaries/exegetical handbooks stop at interpretation.

• There are chapters on “Proclaiming Prophetic Texts” and “From Text to Application,” which are extremely useful in our day and age. Very few of us know how to preach from these texts without over spiritualizing them. Rather than giving God’s message, we usually end up giving our own (with the best of intentions, mind you).
• FOOTNOTES. Oh, yeah!  I love having footnotes rather than endnotes. This is a major plus for any academic work.

• The type is set in a small font; specially the Hebrew font. I had trouble reading some of the vowel markings. Not good. I understand the need to make the size of the book manageable, but please remember that 40-year-old and above also want to read scholarly books and continue studying.
• Some charts had too dark a background, which made reading the text more difficult.
• Maybe the content was a little too brief. Again, I understand the purpose behind the brevity, but at many points I was left wanting just a little more information. I would definitely love the book at double its current size.
• A little too critical of the text itself at some points. Since I believe the Bible to be completely inspired of God. Some of the current critical views do not settle well with me.

With that said. I would pick this book up first when beginning a study of the prophetic material, and work from there. It should not be the only source of information by any means, but it is a useful one.

3/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.