Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 19:3 (2009) p. 425
Sandra L. Richter. The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008. Pp. 263. ISBN 978-0-83082577-6. $24.00 paper.
Here is a text that will instruct its readers, no matter what level of expertise they bring to it. The author converses with her contemporary lay reader in a winsome manner, knowing well the cultural chasm that exists for many Western readers of the OT. At the same time, her years as both graduate student and professor are evident in her selection and presentation of key themes that introduce the OT. Both the text and the endnotes are goldmines of historical and theological observations and resources.
In the introduction and first three chapters, Richter acknowledges the challenges that the average Christian reader faces in coming to the OT. She proposes an organizing rubric of the five covenants that shape our understanding of redemptive history. Mindful that “Biblish” (what sounds like “Bible gibberish” to an outsider) often needs explanation even within confessional circles, she unpacks both redemption and covenant, weaving together a tapestry of ANE religious and cultural detail as a backdrop to understanding the costly nature of redemption and the historical and theological implications of “cutting” the covenant.
The reader is reminded that Genesis 1 is the lens through which to understand the entirety of the Bible. In fact, the treatment of Eden (“God’s Original Intent”) in chap. 4 is followed by “God’s Final Intent—the New Jerusalem” (chap. 5). Noah and Abraham are treated together (chap. 6), with Abraham’s part somewhat abbreviated because the reader has already encountered him in the previous study of the covenant. Once the author enters the arena of datable history (the patriarchs and following), she admonishes her reader to hold dates loosely. As she addresses Moses and the exodus (chap. 7), Hoffmeier’s works on Israel in Egypt and Sinai are among her prominent resources. Given her gift for tackling difficult questions, it is somewhat surprising that the knotty theological issue of Pharaoh’s hardened heart does not appear. Moving toward the covenant with David and the monarchy (chap. 8), the treatments of the judges and the transition to monarchy are abbreviated. Likewise, the final chapter on the new covenant and the return of the King is a quick overview.
Richter presents data that have apologetic value in regard to the historical reliability of the text. She also brings to the table strong pastoral theology. Among many examples, her articulation of the gospel in light of human need for redemption is extraordinarily well done, and she presents very basic helpful responses to the a...
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