Book Review – Preaching Old Testament Narratives
Preaching Old Testament Narratives is a book by Benjamin Walton which, as the name suggests, is aimed at helping pastors navigate through Old Testament passages. To do this, Walton suggests the following five steps in Part 1:
- Select the Complete Unit of Thought
- Identify the Theological and Historical Contexts
- Study the Plot
- Determine the Original-Theological Message
- Craft the Take-Home Truth
Part 2 is dedicated to unfolding the five steps. I found this division to be very helpful in explaining how the author actually conducts his sermon preparation. I found his chapters on developing applications and “moving to Christ” especially helpful because, as anyone knows who has preached from the Old Testament, these are the two most difficult things to do. For some reason we tend to have a difficult time making good theological applications from Old Testament narratives without resorting to moralism or misappropriating the meaning of the text. The same holds true for moving to Christ in an Old Testament passage. How often we forget that the Old Testament bears witness to Christ (Luke 24:27). That said, Walton interprets this to mean that some and not all passages are about Christ. While I think this is probably true, I also believe that all of the Old Testament (taken as a whole) is testifying to Christ and the promises we have in him. That being the case, I would probably be quicker to move to Christ in some passages than the author.
Overall I believe Preaching Old Testament Narratives by Benjamin Walton is a great book to help preachers develop their sermons from the Old Testament. The only thing that I believe is missing from the book is an emphasis on the Law-Gospel distinction in preaching. By this I mean, like the Lutherans, that a preacher should pay particular attention to the themes of law and gospel in the text (this is not to be confused with Old and New testaments or dispensations). In other words, when preaching from the Old Testament, we should use the law as the law was intended to be used, and once the hearer has been brought to see his or her sin via the schoolmaster of the law, allow the gospel to be the vehicle by which the believer is changed and sanctified. That said I don’t fault Walton for not including it in his book as it doesn’t appear to be a part of his core conviction on preaching. It is merely something that I feel is missing based on my understanding of how scripture is to be used to bring about change in the church.
Preaching Old Testament Narratives is a wonderful resource and would make a good addition to any pastoral library. I would go a step further even and say that this book should be read by parents in order that they can accurately unfold the Old Testament for their children during their times of scripture reading together. This is a book that you will want to pick up if you are in the position to teach from the Old Testament in any context.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Ministry in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Where to purchase
Purchase Preaching Old Testament Narratives at ChristianBook.com (CBD)
About the Author
Benjamin H. Walton (D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is president of PreachingWorks, an organization dedicated to helping pastors maximize their preaching potential. A respected homiletician and former pastor, Ben has taught or lectured at several colleges and seminaries. His work centers on the fusion of biblical interpretation and communication for the purpose of excellent preaching.