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Last year in Insight, I got to read a lovely book called “The Christian and the ‘Old’ Testament” by Walter Kaiser. I enjoyed it, but figured that I probably was going through it too fast to get all the good stuff out of it the first time around, so I decided to give it a second run-through (this time with my trusty highlighter!)

Walter Kaiser has two main points to prove here. The first, as the name implies, is that the “Old” Testament isn’t just pre-Christian history; it’s much more than that. And there’s a lot of really really good stuff to be drawn from it in study and reflection. The second, and this is connected to the first, is that the Old Testament sets the framework for God’s “promise plan”, which is Kaiser’s all-encompassing plan of everything that God has done and means to do. This plan really seems to include everything, and he goes throughout the OT and points to where it does. But the breadth of this plan, at times, seems to devour itself. The promise is bigger than Messianic redemption. Ok. It’s bigger than the Kingdom of God. Alright. Then what is it?

“True, it is basically a plan by which God is going to send the Messiah and, through the Messiah, is going to bless all the nations upon the earth. But those are only the bare bones of the plan. The plan grows and… includes missions…inheriting the land… fearing God so that we might know how to conduct life… be wise… eat and drink… mundane things like marriage relationships and marital love.”

I think that many people have had issue with the plan, as they feel like it’s too formulaic, or that Kaiser is trying to fix everything into a little box. But I think he really just wants the “plan” to be the planned workings of God in human history, what He will do, and how He wants us to respond. The book pretty much just goes through the Old Testament with Kaiser pointing out what the important components are. What’s the point of the Law? How does it relate to us? Where does it fit in God’s “promise plan”, what does He mean to do? Etc. And he does a pretty good job at doing that, though I would admit that sometimes he does “read” things in the text that I cannot see, though he is much more historically and linguistically capable than myself.

Overall I think it’s a good book, though slow later on. I read it mostly for additional commentary on the Old Testament (not as an argument for the “promise plan) as I read through it, and would say that it does suit that purpose. My favorite section, by far, was his treatment on the OT law, and how it relates to the contemporary Christian today. That, though, is a whole other discussion waiting to happen.

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