This book is the latest release of Kregel’s helpful “Handbook for Old Testament Exegesis” series, edited by David Howard. It tackles what is, perhaps, the most difficult genre in the Bible—Apocalyptic Literature. Though the volumes in this series are designed for graduate-level courses, this volume by Richard A. Taylor is accessible and reads well.
Chapter 1 sets the stage by carefully answering the question, what is apocalyptic literature. That chapter begins by explaining the importance of genre in exegeting the Old Testament. He also relates well that which most surprises the student as he reads – scholars have trouble even agreeing on what the definition of apocalyptic literature is. Taylor does give us a definition on page 33, but its paragraph length shows the difficulty of definition here. He also defines the kind of apocalyptic literature types that we may encounter in the Old Testament. Perhaps, like me, you don’t see a lot of “ex eventu” prophecy in the Old Testament as he does.
The next chapter is quite helpful as it surveys the places in the Old Testament that you encounter apocalyptic literature. He also discusses a great deal other extrabiblical Jewish apocalyptic texts. I personally find those texts to be of much less value in understanding true Old Testament apocalyptic texts than modern scholars, but every such book is bound to discuss those spurious texts.
There’s much help for the preacher in carefully defining types of figurative language you might encounter. Clearly, that type of language cannot be explained in the same manner as we do with narrative texts. From there, he goes on to explain the process of interpreting apocalyptic literature.
Along the way, you will find words well-defined, lists of other books you might need for exegesis, and examples of his method on specific Old Testament texts. In addition, there’s a very helpful glossary at the end of the book. The appendix on antecedents of apocalyptic literature would be far less help to most preachers.
Because he covers his subject in about 200 pages, this is probably the perfect book to have on the subject. Some folks might be satisfied with the apocalyptic literature chapter in a regular hermeneutic volume, but if you want more, this is the book for you.
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