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Book: Interpreting the Prophetic Books

Interpreting the Prophetic Books by Gary V. Smith.

Interpreting the Prophetic Books is the next volume in the Kregel Exegetical Handbooks series. Prior volumes in this series have addressed the Psalms, the Pentateuch, and the Historical Books. There is also a series from Kregel Academic with a volume for the various divisions of the New Testament.

Weighing in at only 214 pages, this is not an in-depth look at the Prophets of the Old Testament. Instead, this cuts across the swath of the Latter Prophets as a whole, providing short introductions to each book and then placing them in context. The traditional (or conservative, if you like,) date and setting for each book are utilized. This does not bother me at all, but if you are looking for authorship and date discussions, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

The primary benefit of Smith’s work is found in tracing the primary themes of the prophets. He does this by explaining the differing sub-genres of prophecy first and providing examples. From there, he shows how each prophet fits, roughly, into the phase of Israelite history in which they spoke.

By providing additional historical information for the differing eras of the prophets, Smith provides the interpreter with helpful additional tools. Further, he finishes the work with suggestions about applying the Old Testament era prophetic writings into the modern age. This is approached with the goal of practical holiness and not a guess-the-future viewpoint. While Smith clearly accepts that some prophecy in the Old Testament awaits its fulfillment, he supports the view that we would do well to focus on how we obey now more than trying to figure out the gusts of the winds of tomorrow.

In all, a handy refresher book for the Old Testament Latter Prophets. If you are strong in Hebrew, you may want something that digs a little more into the original text, but if your Hebrew skills have atrophied, this is a great book while you work them back up.

Free book in exchange for the review

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