Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 44:2 (Jun 2001)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Encountering the Book of Genesis: A Study of Its Content and Issues. By Bill T. Arnold. Encountering Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998, 234 pp., $24.99.

This textbook in the Encountering Biblical Studies series is designed for use as an upper-level college text, as a complement to an OT survey text used earlier in a student’s career. The aim is not exegetical analysis but a survey of the book of Genesis that highlights the book’s theological message and practical significance. The publisher’s preface lists both intellectual and attitudinal goals. Discussion of introductory critical issues related to the book of Genesis is reserved for the end of the textbook.

The format of the book is attractive and provides many helpful instructional tools. Numerous photographs and tables fill the pages, along with sidebars detailing key issues raised by the text. Each chapter opens with an outline of its contents and a list of objectives, and closes with a list of study questions. These features make the book easy to use in a classroom setting.

In terms of content, the book is divided into five major sections and 14 chapters. The first four major sections follow the author’s theological outline of the book of Genesis, covering chaps. 1–11, 12–25, 25–36, and 37–50, respectively. The second section includes a valuable chapter describing the differences between the worldview of Genesis and that of Israel’s neighbors. The final section deals with authorship of Genesis and includes an extensive and helpful overview of both evidence of authorship and interpretations of that evidence.

The strength of Encountering the Book of Genesis is its balanced coverage of the whole book of Genesis, including interpretive, theological, and critical issues. The author is even-handed in dealing with the wide variety of questions raised by the book of Genesis and writes in a style that is both theologically sophisticated and accessible to college students.

Whereas the book for the most part admirably accomplishes its purposes, there are a number of features that deserve further comment. First, for a book aimed at upper-level college students, more emphasis on method would be beneficial. The textbook does a wonderful job of summarizing the content of Genesis and exposing students to some of the key debates about that content. However, assuming that some of these issues would already have been addressed in an introductory survey class, more purposeful discussion of interpretive method would be appropriate.

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