Old Testament Exegesis by Douglas Stuart (4th edition)


Subtitled “a handbook for students and pastors”, this volume has been a standard in the field for many years. Now in its fourth edition, it is poised to continue its usefulness for many more years. Mr. Stuart is a highly-respected Bible scholar, who has written several outstanding commentaries. I’ve enjoyed using several of them myself. In this volume, he goes through his process of performing exegesis on Old Testament passages. This book is especially valuable for those new to exegesis.

The structure of the book, with every section and subsection numbered, makes using it as a reference at any point of the exegetical process very efficient. After you work through the volume initially, you will find it easy to go back and check certain elements where you may be confused. There’s even a handy analytical table of contents at the beginning to help you zip to the needed location. While you might not have his exact method, you must think of everything he addresses at some point in the exegetical process. I don’t personally do everything in the exact order he says, but I found him to be engaging and suggestive. It even struck me as I read that there were some elements of the exegetical process that I could improve.

Chapters 1 and 2 are aimed more at students doing exegetical papers in seminary. Not only does he explain the process well, but he also illustrates his point with scriptural passages on several occasions. Chapter 3 shortens the process for pastors creating sermons. He takes the process even through application and sermon. Chapter 4 is a fine bibliographic chapter suggesting books for each phase. The suggestions are quite extensive.

The only downsides I could see in the book is that it reduced the process to such a science that the art was lost. Further, some of the language work he suggested is realistically not going to be done by pastors. Finally, if the student or pastor is just beginning, it would take years to build the library he recommends. In his defense, I’m sure he was suggesting buying one good book in each category.

You might want to check out a similar volume on the New Testament from the same publisher. Don’t miss the list of common Old Testament exegesis terms and the list of frequent hermeneutical errors in the back of the book. As a guide or refresher, I recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

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