Book Review: Knowing Christ Through the Old TestamentPosted: February 26, 2009
Most Helpful: In Christopher Wright’s volume entitled Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament there is much helpful subject matter for one who may want to look deeper at learning how to properly see Christ in the Old Testament. Though short in length, this book (containing five chapters) covers immense depth as Wright manages to include the most important areas that must be dealt with when coming to this topic; touching upon crucial things that a seminary student or layman ought to know. The areas of this book that I personally found to be most helpful include:
1. The explanation of Jesus in the number of different ways that He is portrayed throughout the Old Testament.
2. The importance of knowing the Old Testament so that a proper view of Christ is given to the individual.
A very helpful thing – as noted above – was how Wright laid out clear, precise, and very understandable information dealing with Christology in the Old Testament. It is important to see how the gospel was brought together by the person and work of Jesus Christ, but even more so to see how the whole plan of redemption is laid out from the very beginning. Having the whole Bible complete before us makes it that much more revealing today as we are able to see the overall plan of redemption, making it all the more enjoyable to the person studying and learning these truths in the Word of God. There are a number of points Wright gives to his readers that are very helpful, such as: looking at Jesus as a story throughout the whole Old Testament, Jesus and promises, Jesus and Old Testament identity, Jesus and His mission, and Jesus’ Old Testament values. Throughout these chapters, one of the most helpful areas was how he dealt with showing Christ’s identity in the Old Testament. This is a focus often overlooked in Christological books I have read that deal with the Old Testament, and it brings much thought into the matter. Two things that were particularly helpful on this subject were:
1. The way (and number of times) the author relayed the book of Matthew back into the Old Testament.
2. Showing the use of typology in the Old Testament and the history of it so that the reader can get a better understanding of the actual use of doing typology in a manner that is correct, rather than falling into the misuse of it that can so often occur.
Another area of great importance that was looked at in Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament was in the topic of knowing the Old Testament so that a proper view of Christ can be given to an individual. As Wright lays out his topics he brings much to light by giving examples of ways that one can look in the Old Testament and see Christ. One way in particular that I had not thought of before was found in the fifth chapter, as Wright shows how Jesus’ life aligned with the moral and ethical teachings in the Old Testament. In looking at this, he brought both the Old and New Testament together by using Christ as the ethical principle for the reader’s life. It was enjoyable and very informative as he showed examples of ethical living from the Mosaic Law and then from Christ’s teaching in the New Testament.
Wright also spent a lot of time looking at and expelling Christ’s mission as seen throughout the Old Testament. This was very helpful because of the fact that oftentimes man’s sight and focus in the Scriptures is quite different than what God intended. Through this section, Wright shows what Christ was/is to the world – why He was needed, what He accomplished, etc – in the Old and New Testament, which greatly helps the reader to see the absolute importance of Christ in both Testaments. This brought to mind in great detail how even today countries, powers, militaries, groups, and individuals all have some sort of mission, just as Christ did.
Most Unhelpful: A negative factor about this book is that the chapters were 50 plus pages, and because of that it was easy to forget what the beginning of the chapter was specifically dealing with because it would go off in a different direction on a smaller area of detail, which lost its gravity because it wouldn’t quite stay with the over-arching point of the chapter. For example, as you began to read a chapter you could understand fully the point of that chapter, then within a few pages you would begin to touch upon things other than what that first point was. After 50 pages dealing with minor sub-topics, it was easy to forget how exactly these sub-topics fit into the beginning topic, and felt like chasing rabbits down several trails and leaving what the initial focus was. This particular problem is most evident in chapters 1 and 4.
Another negative aspect is that Wright’s lack of material when dealing with the covenants was not helpful, especially for those who may be deeper in theology. At times there was much room left where more needed to be said, but because of the size of the book (250 pages) he was unable to expound on the specific information which would have been desired. However, this is most likely because of the massive amounts of Christ and the Covenants books there are available to read; but in this book it was definitely lacking.