"I am a bit puzzled over why many Christians seem to think the Old Testament is such a 'problem.' I know the usual answers to that, but I can find many of the same 'difficulties' with the New Testament. What I am not so puzzled about is why some pastors and teachers are perplexed about expounding Old Testament texts. For nearly two hundred years a skeptical brand of Old Testament criticism has largely held sway in our universities and divinity halls; it 'un-godded' the Old Testament, implied the Old Testament documents were extremely complex and involved, and managed to make Old Testament studies mostly boring, lifeless, and dull. Of course the occasional student finds this high priestly craft of Old Testament criticism attractive but many simply write the Old Testament off. If it's as complicated as they have been taught then it is far too bewildering and esoteric for them to bother about - except for dipping into the Psalms for occasional funerals.
I'm not on a crusade against the villains of Old Testament studies. One learns even from the 'villains.' And there have been far more hopeful signs in Old Testament studies in recent years. But I still believe that traditional Old Testament criticism has had the effect of killing the Old Testament for the church. This little tome can hardly reverse that, but it is meant as an exercise in reading the Old Testament for fun and profit. As my mother-in-law used to say, 'It's different anyway.' And maybe it will help.
Most of what I do in the following pages involves discussing examples of Old Testament narratives. I have tried to select examples from a broad range of possibilities. By the way, I assume that you have the biblical text handy in order to carry on your 'Berean' work."—Dale Ralph Davis, from the preface
“Because they not only want to inform you of God’s might and majesty but impress you with his might and majesty—and they likely know that to do that they need to give you not only facts for your brain but pictures for your imagination.” (Page 18)
“Yet in our own Scripture work we easily ignore its chief Interpreter. Professionalism rather than piety drives us. We needn’t be surprised at our sterility and poverty if we refuse to be beggars for the Spirit’s help.” (Page 2)
“And so of every text or narrative we always ask: Where does this occur? Where does it occur literarily? What story comes before it? What account follows it?” (Page 5)
“Why are there 18 chapters of ‘deliverance’ before 5 chapters of ‘law’? Exodus is simply giving us the good news: always remember that the grace of God precedes the law of God. What Yahweh has done comes before what Yahweh demands; he gives redemption before he imposes requirements; he first sets you free, then shows you how a free people are to live.” (Page 81)
“We need to hear some loving mockery behind us, crying, ‘So what? What difference does all this study make for anyone? Why should I want to pay any attention to this?’ If we are constantly ‘berated’ that way, it will make us far better interpreters.” (Page 7)
Dale Ralph Davis has written a wonderfully straightforward, readable book entitled, The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts. Davis, like Goldsworthy, laments how complicated we have sometimes made biblical interpretation and instead outlines a basic approach to careful, sensible reading which opens up the theology of Old Testament narratives. This is one of those books that makes you want to preach after reading it!
—Preaching.com Bible and Bible Survey Review 2007
I think Davis succeeds admirably in his goal. I found myself stirred up reading the book. He writes well and shows how, even though there are difficult and confusing parts of Scripture, it is not that difficult to find key truths. This is a very encouraging and helpful book.
—Ray Van Neste, Director, R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee
With many examples, and interesting illustrations, Davis teaches us how to grapple honestly with what sometimes can be intimidating, difficult and uncomfortable portions of Scripture...This book is not only suitable for preachers and teachers, but can be read with great profit by all Christians who want to get more of a handle on Old Testament narrative.
Davis maintains that avoidance of difficult texts ‘gets us and nowhere and impoverishes the church.' His excellent chapter on appropriation/application includes the damming sentence: "I hold a reader who does not appropriate and/or a teacher who will not apply Scripture is practicing abortion on the Bible." You may or may not want to imitate Davis Style but if you read this book you will want to lift his structures and insights straight off the page. And that is no bad thing for the church.
—Ann Benton, author and wife of John Benton, Evangelicals Now
There is no more gifted expositor of the Old Testament in our day than Ralph Davis. His book not only brings scholarly research to bear on the subject, but also reflects his many years of preaching week after week through the Old Testament. What a gift to the church to have such a fine book.
—Richard Pratt, President, Third Millennium Ministries, Orlando, Florida