A Major Old Testament Study

Introduction to the Old Testament, by R. K. Harrison (Eerdmans, 1969, 1,338 pp., $12.50), is reviewed by R. Laird Harris, dean of faculty, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

This magnum opus of Dr. Harrison is a welcome addition to the literature on Old Testament introduction. The book falls into two major sections: about 500 pages of general material on Old Testament study, and about 700 pages of special introduction treating the individual books. There is also a helpful section on the Apocrypha. The first section, which could well have been bound as Volume I, gives material on the history of the science, archaeology, chronology, the text of the Old Testament and its canon, and the theology and worship of the Old Testament.

As is obvious from the bulk of the book, it is a major study. Not only does Harrison range widely in the topics he treats; he also shows a tremendous grasp of the literature of the field. His work is especially valuable for citations of British and Continental authors. A few American key studies have not been noted, as, for instance, the article by Jack Lewis (“What Do We Mean by Jabneh?,” Journal of Bible and Religion, 1964), which brings into question the Council of Jamnia (cf. pp. 278 and 1186). But in general American authors are also used extensively, and writers of all shades of theological opinion are cited.

Although the work is extensive, it still is somewhat of a survey in some areas for the simple reason that it covers so wide a field. For instance, Part Two on archaeology covers only sixty-two pages, whereas J. A. Thompson’s book The Bible and Archaeology covers almost 500 pages. Harrison’s Part Seven, Old Testament theology, covers seventy-eight pages, ...

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