For those who don't love studying the Old Testament, this is the year to take the leap into what you may have thought were icy waters, with the best group of new LDS books on the Old Testament that I have yet seen. What you'll find beneath the surface of this flowing river of scripture is a place without shallows, where surprises and vitality loom at every bend, and whose submerged power and currents are shaped by a testimony of Jesus Christ.
James Ferrell, author of The Hidden Christ, said it this way, "There is no greater testament of Christ and his divinity and mission than the testament hidden below the surface of the Old Testament. Every story is his story, preserved at a level that would survive the loss of every plain and precious thing."
I am impressed and excited with the excellence, scholarship and depth of the new books just published on the Old Testament, and they have arrived in time to profoundly aid our personal exploration of the gospel doctrine curriculum this year. Frankly, the 40 minutes, we have each week in our gospel doctrine classes are only enough to barely skim the surface of this multi-layered scripture, this treasure that sits before us with so much depth.
The Old Testament calls out to us to have personal study and these books, open on our desks with the scriptures spread before us, make a great team to enhance our understanding and open our eyes. Though I have taught Old Testament courses several times, these books bid us to plunge again with new eyes.
We will also help on Meridian by publishing not only our regular gospel doctrine lessons, but also a rich supply of Old Testament articles this year. If you have been waiting on the shore or dabbling in the shallows with the Old Testament, make this the year to wade in.
The Hidden Christ
by James L. Ferrell
Best-selling author of The Peacegiver and The Holy Secret, Ferrell notes in his new book The Hidden Christ, that the first thing that was revealed to Adam and Eve when they left the Garden of Eden was the law of sacrifice, "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth" (Moses 5:7).
"The Lord then revealed that this similitude was but the beginning, for "all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath; all things bear record of me" (Moses 6:63).
Ferrell's premise is, then, "If everything given of God from the beginning bears record of Christ, then it follows that our understanding on any particular matter is incomplete until we see how it bears record of Christ. So of every scriptural element and story, we should ask, 'How does it bear record of the Savior?'"
Ferrell then works his way through the Old Testament answering that question about the key events. From Creation to the Fall, from the Abrahamic covenant to the lives of the Patriarchs, from Joseph as a deliverer to the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness, each bears its type and shadow of the Savior.
These types and shadows are clear in the historical sweep of the Judges of Israel, the stories of Samuel and David, even in the short account of Jonah.
Some of these types you may have seen before. For instance, Joseph of Egypt is clearly a type of the spiritual and physical deliverance offered by the Savior. The similarities between them are many. Here's a small sampling: Joseph is the beloved son. He reveals that he will rule over Israel. The children of Israel reject him out of jealousy and hate. Notwithstanding their mistreatment of him, he seeks out his brethren on behalf of his father.
What may be more surprising is that Joseph's brothers are in similitude of us-and then the story takes on a more personal significance. Ferrell says, "Through our sins, we, in effect, have thrown the Savior into the pit. We are the cause of his suffering." Yet, what is Joseph's response when he saves them and reveals himself to them? "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried."
Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament
By Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Dana M. Pike and David Rolph Seely
Like an armchair visit to the Holy Land with knowledgeable LDS scholars as guides, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament is visually and content rich. With stunning photographs, maps, calendars, and drawings, this is a book where no expense or effort was spared to make it beautiful and layered with meaning. It will be an excellent edition to any coffee table as well as to your library.
Yet, it is so much more than that as it is meant to walk us into the ancient world, giving us a context for the events and people described in the Old Testament. The Old Testament can be foreboding because its world is so distant from our own, and, in Sunday School, time allows us only the quickest brush through it, but this book brings the scripture up close and personal, explicates the things that seem so different than our world.
Though its 24 chapters are arranged in chronological order from 'The World from Adam to Abraham" to "The Restoration of the Old Testament", the content is not so much a scripture commentary as an explanation of the ancient world.
The author's say that the worlds they explore are these: "the beliefs and practices outlined in the laws and prophetic records as revealed by Jehovah-what the Old Testament says and how it says it. The other world of the Old Testament is the historical world in which the people and places recounted in the Old Testament actually existed, where political, social, and cultural connections developed among the Israelites and their neighbors. The witness of the Old Testament is that Jehovah chose a particular extended family for certain opportunities and responsibilities. Their success and failures took place in a very real world of time and space."
Here is a small sample from how this perspective is handled in a chapter called "The World of Moses: Bondage and Redemption." The authors begin by discussing who this new pharaoh may have been who knew not Joseph and examine in a special pull-out box the challenges with trying to date Moses and the Exodus. Another pull-out box gives us a verbal portrait of Miriam, while yet another details what the Amarna letters were and why they matter to us. They examine what Moses' life would have been like in Egypt, tell us more about who Jethro and the Midianites were, and explore "Where is Mt.