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How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets

, 2017
ISBN: 9781433554032
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The Prophetic Books of the Bible are full of symbolic speeches, dramatic metaphors, and lengthy allegories—a unique blend of literary styles that can make them hard to comprehend. How can we know if we are reading them the way God intended them to be read?

In this accessible guide, leading Old Testament scholar Peter Gentry identifies seven common characteristics of prophetic literature in the Bible that help us understand each book’s message. With illustrations and clear examples, Gentry offers guidance for reading these challenging texts—teaching us practical strategies for deeper engagement with the biblical text as we seek to apply God’s Word to our lives today.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Discusses how to understand and interpret the Prophetic Books of the Bible
  • Offers an accessible guide to digging into the difficulties of the Old Testament text
  • Presents a clear, readable handbook useful for biblical scholars new and old


  • Calling the People Back to the Covenant
  • The End of the Covenant, Judgment, and Restoration
  • The Function of Repetition in Hebrew Literature
  • The Purpose of the Oracles concerning the Foreign Nations
  • Describing the Future, Part 1: Typology and the New Exodus
  • Describing the Future, Part 2: Apocalyptic Language
  • Describing the Future, Part 3: The Already and the Not Yet

Praise for the Print Edition

When reading the Prophets, one may despair like the Ethiopian eunuch puzzling over Isaiah, ‘How can I understand, unless someone guides me?’ Fortunately, Peter Gentry meets us on the road and asks, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Gentry ably guides us through this strange and foreign land.

—Lindsay Kennedy, assistant pastor, Calvary Chapel Bothell, Bothell, WA; blogger, My Digital Seminary

This is just the book I was looking for! And why? To serve as an essential guide and resource text for my Lusaka Lutheran Seminary exegesis of Isaiah class. Gentry succeeds most admirably in his stated objective, which is to enable readers to read and understand the Prophets. And he does so in a way that is truly exemplary, employing a clear, concise, logically developed writing style that makes it relatively easy to probe this potentially difficult subject—the Old Testament prophetic literature. The basic principles and procedures of text interpretation are given substance in many helpful reading strategies that are exemplified by some crucial biblical case studies—primarily Isaiah, but also other prophetic texts that reflect upon the fundamental covenantal tenets of the Mosaic Torah, Deuteronomy in particular. All the key topics and tactics necessary for more effectively delving into the Prophets are introduced and amply illustrated: literary-stylistic cues, discourse structural markers, function of the foreign nations, Yahwist covenantal theology, biblical chronology and typology, and, of course, correctly discerning the future, including the apocalyptic genre. In short, the author demystifies the Hebrew prophets and successfully relates their writings also to hermeneutical issues facing the church today—all in the space of less than 150 pages. This book would serve as a helpful introduction for adult Bible studies as well as college-level courses on hermeneutics. Scholars teaching at higher academic levels too would benefit from Gentry’s excellent pedagogical approach. I had intended to complete my review of this book periodically, over the space of two weeks; however, once I got started, it took me only two days. Whether one happens to agree with the author’s various interpretive conclusions or not (I do!), one must commend him for the careful manner in which he arrives at them. Many readers now will look forward to some sort of a teacher’s guide (including various content and application questions) that could accompany this indispensable resource on the Hebrew prophets.

—Ernst R. Wendland, instructor, Lusaka Lutheran Seminary, Zambia; Internal Examiner, University of Zambia

Having established a stellar reputation already through his many publications in Old Testament studies—especially in Septuagint and biblical theology—Gentry reflects broad expertise here in his treatment of prophetism as an institution and in the literary output of the canonical Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. This is more than ‘just another book on the Prophets: their lives, times, and ministries.’ The approach in this case goes beyond the standard of the oeuvres already at hand. Gentry knits together most skillfully the strands of criticism, theology, history, poetry, apocalyptic, and pastoral practicality in a style that betrays at once solid scholarship and transparent readability.

—Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

Product Details

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Dr. Gentry comes to Southern with an expansive knowledge of biblical languages. He served on the faculty of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College for fifteen years and taught at the University of Toronto, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Tyndale Theological Seminary. Dr. Gentry is the author of many articles and book reviews and has given presentations to groups such as the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament and the Society of Biblical Literature, of which he is also a member. He is currently editing Ecclesiastes and Proverbs for the Göttingen Septuagint Series and is giving leadership to the Hexapla Institute.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Start the year strong with Logos!


    Digital list price: $14.99
    Regular price: $11.99
    Save $4.20 (35%)