Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 17:2 (Spring 2000) p. 79
Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, by Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999. Pp. 512.
For teachers of introductory classes in Old Testament survey, choosing a textbook from the wide array of choice can be a challenge. Some textbooks are chronological and thematic, while others are organized in a book-by-book or canonical fashion. Some are decidedly evangelical, while others dabble in methodological pluralism. Moreover, teachers may argue that there is a gap in the market for a textbook with which students will actually engage. Attempting to fill this lacuna, Baker Book House has promulgated a new series, with a number of introductory textbooks. From the outset, Bill Arnold and Bryan Beyer’s Encountering the Old Testament is described as being intended for the undergraduate arena. This is most helpful to know, and even though it will potentially impinge on the number of copies sold, the instructor is done a great favor. Baker is producing a different series aimed for the seminary audience, but this book has the beginning student in mind. The pedagogical orientation of the textbook is made clear from the introductory note “To the Professor.” In this note the authors delineate their view that this book is designed for the classroom, and that following the canonical arrangement of the (Protestant) Old Testament is the most accessible framework. They also explain that illustrative material (charts, maps, graphs) comprise about twenty percent of the book, and the lavish color photographs make the book more accessible to a generation inundated with a host of visual images and technology. Consequently, there is a “multimedia” feel to the book which will undoubtedly appeal to many. A complaint could be registered that many chapters end with virtually a blank page, and that with more care additional text might have been supplied. This is a copy editor and publisher problem, however, and the authors should not necessarily be faulted.
The authors are clearly aware that a range of evangelical teachers could use this book. Since there is considerable diversity even among evangelicals about many issues in Old Testament studies, the authors have chosen to present the evidence in an equitable manner. So, for the issue of a thirteenth or fifteenth-century date for the Exodus, Arnold and Beyer dutifully unfold the various matters of the Merneptah inscription, literal versus symbolic numbering, and the identity
FM 17:2 (Spring 2000) p. 80
of the unnamed Pharaoh responsible for such inflexibility during the period. They conclude the discussion as follows: “Reevaluation of the archaeological evidence shows that archaeology cannot answer this question...
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