Make the Old Testament Live: From Curriculum to Classroom

By Richard S. Hess and Gordon J. Wenham, eds.
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans (1998). v + 218 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Grisanti
12.2 (Fall 2001) : 259-260

This volume seeks to address various theoretical and practical issues relating to teaching the OT in a classroom context, whether in a university, Christian college, or seminary setting. The core essays were originally delivered at a Tyndale Fellowship OT study group in Cambridge. The editors solicited other essays to provide a more comprehensive treatment of the issue.

The first section of this volume (“Content”—3 essays) contains the most theoretical essays, which suggest broad parameters for an OT curriculum.

The next section (“Context: Seminaries, Universities, Societies”— 8 essays) contains essays that provide suggestions relating to teaching the OT in a variety of contexts, ranging from the seminary to the secular university classroom, in different parts of the world, at varying academic levels (from a basic college degree to a doctorate), from the perspective of different theological and confessional biases, and even an essay on teaching the OT in an Islamic context.

The final section (“Communication”—2 essays) includes an essay on teaching Hebrew and a pedagogical essay that seeks to connect factors that determine student learning with how a professor designs and delivers a given course. The volume concludes with an annotated OT bibliography (that also appears on the Denver Seminary website). The book has no subject, author, or Scripture indexes.

On the one hand, this volume provides the reader an interesting overview of educational challenges and suggestions from those teaching the OT in a number of settings. On the other hand, the observations are relatively diverse and at times incompatible. The “incompatibility” of certain suggestions included in the book is unavoidable in light of the diversity of cultural context and academic levels about which the authors write. Though that diversity is interesting to note, it can be somewhat confusing. As with most festschriften, the variety of perspectives found in the volume precludes its use for one purpose (except an overview of pedagogical suggestions from diverse perspectives).

The book was a disappointment to this writer because of its lack of coherence. The book may serve the needs of someone interested in surveying pedagogical variety, but will not provide much helpful guidance for a seminary or college professor.