It is said that there are two kind of teachers: those who teach so their students can pass tests, and those who teach so their students learn. Peter J. Gentry, in ‘How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets’, is one of the latter.
This book is an explanation, and a worked-out example, of how to grapple with the Biblical prophets in a way that doesn’t feel heavily academic, but also does not leave you feeling short-changed. As a fan of ‘Kingdom through Covenant’, it was nice to see Gentry showing more of his working throughout this book.
He starts his book out by pointing out that many people lack context when approaching the Prophets. He calls for a strategy in order to understand the books, lamenting that ‘we have been reading the Gospels of the New Testament, the narratives of the Old Testament and the book of Acts, and the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament and the New Testament (e.g., Revelation), including apocalyptic prophecies, exactly the same way we read Romans”. This is not a new complaint, but one that is rarely actually addressed by the accusers.
In order to address this Gentry breaks his book into five main sections: ‘Calling the people back to the covenant’, ‘The end of the covenant, judgement and restoration’, ‘The function of repetition in Hebrew literature’, ‘The purpose of the Oracles concerning the Foreign Nations’, and ‘Describing the future’.
From the get-go, Gentry puts everything into context by explaining how the prophets views ‘are all based upon the book of Deuteronomy
From the get-go, Gentry puts everything into context by explaining how the prophets views ‘are all based upon the book of Deuteronomy, an expansion and renewal of the covenant made at Sinai.’ He then works through examples to show how this is the case. By reconnecting the prophets back to the previous Biblical writings, he shows how we can understand the language, the appeals to other nations, and the futuristic aspects of the prophets in an easy, understandable, and more importantly, Biblical way.
The book then ends with an appendix on Revelation, which was a welcome surprise to an already valuable book. His short analysis is extremely helpful, and left me wanting a more in-depth treatment!
The advice given by Gentry in this book has been invaluable to our understanding of what we’re reading
At the time of writing, Izzie and I are reading through the major prophets in our quiet time. The advice given by Gentry in this book has been invaluable to our understanding of what we’re reading, and allows us to put the prophetic books into their correct Biblical context. It truly has made, what could be a confusing situation (especially before the morning coffee has kicked in), into a delight.
Overall I think that Peter J. Gentry has done a great job at translating his Hebrew understanding into a book for the masses. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is studying the Biblical prophets, and plan to come back to this book again and again.
Big thanks to Crossway for providing me a complimentary copy of this book I’ve been so excited to read through the Blog Review Program.
How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter J. Gentry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars