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.
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
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.
Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute.