Item description for The Old Testament: An Introduction by Rolf Rendtorff & John John Bowden...
Overview The Old Testament is a collection of writings which came into being over a period of more than a thousand years in the history of the people of Israel and which reflect the life of the people in this period. Therefore, there is a reciprocal relationship between the writings or 'books' of the Old Testament and the life of Israel in its history. This "Introduction" attempts to take account of this reciprocal relationship. The first part deals with the history of Israel. It takes the Old Testament texts themselves as a starting point and first of all outlines the picture of historical developments and associations which the texts present. An attempt is then made, on this basis, to reconstruct historical developments by introducing material from outside the Bible. The second part attempts to present the texts collected in the Old Testament as expressions of the life of Israel. The third part discusses the books of the Old Testament in their present form.
Publishers Description The Old Testament is a collection of writings which came into being over a period of more than a thousand years in the history of the people of Israel and which reflect the life of the people in this period. Therefore, there is a reciprocal relationship between the writings or "books" of the Old Testament and the life of Israel in its history. The understanding of the texts presupposes insights into the historical context and the development of the life of Israelite society, while at the same time the texts themselves are the most important, indeed for the most part the only, source for it. This "Introduction" attempts to take account of this reciprocal relationship. The first part deals with the history of Israel. However, its approach differs from most accounts of this history. It takes the Old Testament texts themselves as a starting point and first of all outlines the picture of historical developments and associations which the texts present. An attempt is then made, on this basis, to reconstruct historical developments by introducing material from outside the Bible. This method of working leads to close connections between the second and third parts, because it has to take account of the nature and original purpose of the texts and their function within the biblical books as they are now. The second part attempts to present the texts collected in the Old Testament as expressions of the life of Israel. The third part discusses the books of the Old Testament in their present form.
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Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.85" Weight: 1.15 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 1991
Publisher Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN 0800625447 ISBN13 9780800625443
Availability 0 units.
More About Rolf Rendtorff & John John Bowden
Robert A. Kugler is the Paul S. Wright Professor of Christian Studies at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Leviticus at Qumran (Brill, forthcoming). Rolf Rendtorff is Professor Emeritus, University of Heidelberg. He has published extensively on the Pentateuch, and particularly on Leviticus and topics related to it.
Rolf Rendtorff was born in 1925.
Rolf Rendtorff has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Old Testament: An Introduction?
Uninspired view of the Bible Oct 4, 1999
Rendtorff has provided his readers with a unique introduction to the Old Testament. He makes it clear in the introduction to the book that this volume is not concerned with a detailed look at the theology of the Old Testament (p. x). It grows out of the insight that understanding the biblical texts "presupposes insights into the historical context" (p. ix); however, the biblical texts are "the most important, indeed for the most part the only source" (p. ix) for the historical context. This reciprocal relationship of the biblical texts and the historical context shapes the entire book.
This reciprocal relationship is described in the three parts of the book. The first two sections develop this relationship quite fully, by approaching history and the text from opposite perspectives. When you are finished with the first two sections of the book you are left with an appreciation of the tensions that exist between the Old Testament text and the history of Israel.
The first part looks to the Old Testament text as a source of the history of Israel. It takes a chronological approach to the texts and attempts to reconstruct the history of Israel. Rendtorff gives many examples of the difficulties in doing this by making clear the various gaps in the Old Testament's record of Israel's history.
The second part takes the opposite approach and explores how the Old Testament, as literature, grew out of the social structure of Israel. Here Rendtorff uses five different aspects of ancient near east culture-local community, legal system, religious system, the monarchy, and the prophets-to develop his theme. In each of these cultural areas he shows how different genres of the biblical literature grew naturally from their life settings.
The third, and longest, part looks at each individual book of the Old Testament. In this section Rendtorff follows "the course of the traditions as `literature'." By looking at the final forms of the books as the theological literature of Israel Rendtorff attempts to show the Jewish religious community at work. In doing this, he synthesizes separate ideas that were developed in the first two sections of the book. There are many difficulties with this book. The flaws in it are very serious. In spite of the many problems with this book, there are several reasons to recommend this book to the reader.
The different approaches the book takes to the Old Testament text gives the reader new insights into the meanings of various areas of the Old Testament. The third section of the book gives a wealth of information in one location about the natural breaks in the biblical text. This kind of information can help with interpretation of the text as well. Careful consideration of this third section would help anyone trying to understand some of the more obscure passages of the Old Testament.
There is an extensive bibliography at the end of each topic. This arrangement is useful for someone searching for a specific type of text. The usefulness of these bibliographies, however, may be limited for English speaking readers since many of the works listed seem to be in German.
The editing of the book is poorly executed. There are numerous spelling and grammatical errors. It would appear that the translator doesn't know English as thoroughly as German. And the editors of the English version apparently spent little energy in proofreading the manuscript. The reference system in the margins of the book could be very useful to the scholar. Its usefulness, however, is compromised by numerous errors. For instance, the discussion of Exodus in the third part of the book is labeled by the reference system as "Genesis" (pp. 139-144).
Rendtorff handles the Bible as if it were any other important historical document. In ignoring the issue of inspiration from God, Rendtorff wanders astray in some of his thinking. This is the most damaging problem in this book; even though Rendtorff handles the text carefully and with respect, he seems unaware of the living nature of the text. Nowhere in this book will you find a discussion of the central theme of the text, the record of redemptive history. By handling the text like it is merely an important historical document Rendtorff has ignored the meaning and the importance of God's Word.