Twitter bird logo
How and Why We Should Read the Old Testament for Public Life Today (click to view large)

How and Why We Should Read the Old Testament for Public Life Today

Research Publication

The Old Testament is full of much which is confusing, violent, and ambiguous. We asked Ryan O'Dowd, lecturer at Cornell University and author of Old Testament Wisdom Literature: A Theological Introduction, to introduce and curate a series of articles on how and why we should read the Old Testament for public life today.

Comment editors, Fall 2011

Contact Comment for bulk-rate purchases:

1-5 copies, $15.00/ea
6-49 copies, $12.00/ea
50+ copies, $9.00/ea


"This is an important project. It is nothing less than an intellectual love offering by those who honor the Scriptures to a world yearning for a sensible way to live. This kind of humble work demonstrates a societal compassion and an advocacy for those on the margin."

Dr. James C. Wilhoit
Scripture Press Professor of Christian Education
Wheaton College
April 5, 2012

"The need for the responsible application of the Old Testament's wise guidance on matters of public and political morality has never been greater. These essays, which shirk none of the difficulties, show clearly that this is not just a collection of stories for children but rather a profound engagement with some of the great issues that continue to confront a divided world."

H.G.M. Williamson
Regius Professor of Hebrew
University of Oxford
March 18, 2012

"This collection of essays on the ethos of the Old Testament both offers important moral insights and opens up a door for exploring its ethical relevance in today's world. A fine introduction!"

Dr. Paul Copan
Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and author of
Is God a Moral Monster?
February 15, 2012

"These essays are marked by common sense, honesty, and academic competence. They are free from the moralism and individualism which so often vitiates other attempts to relate the Old Testament to contemporary obedience in the public square. I heartily recommend them."

Dr. Albert M. Wolters
Professor Emeritus of Religion and Theology/Classical Languages, Redeemer University College
February 7, 2012

"The Bible—the whole Bible—is the most foundational, life-giving source for sustaining and shaping God's people. If we as Christians truly desire a worldview shaped by God though Christ, then drawing regularly from this well is one of our greatest necessities. In the case of the Old Testament, some may also view it as a great challenge. This refreshing, thoughtful collection of essays reminds us that the Old Testament always has been, and remains, at the heart of Christian faith, addressing issues as important for us and our world today as they were for Israel millennia ago. They challenge us to wrestle with these books, to make them part of us, and to be changed in the process."

Dr. Daniel Machiela
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, McMaster University
January 30, 2012

"This booklet challenges the presupposition of many in church and society today that the Old Testament is irrelevant to contemporary experience. The various articles provide both theological foundations and practical connections which will motivate readers to encounter the Old Testament again with an eye to the questions and needs of our culture today."

Dr. Mark J. Boda
Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College
Professor, Faculty of Theology, McMaster University
January 26, 2012

"At a time when the Old Testament, on the one hand, is attacked from many sides as dangerous and, on the other, simply ignored as irrelevant for Christian faith, this publication is a refreshing reminder of its ongoing significance. These essays nicely survey a wide swath of the Old Testament and demonstrate its ongoing value. Well-written, this helpful little book will whet appetites to continue probing the biblical text for life."

Dr. M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas)
Distinguished Professor of Old Testament
Denver Seminary
January 25, 2012

"The Bible is often used and abused in the public sphere. Politicians use it when it suits their needs and ignore it when texts are deemed to challenge their views. The New Atheist school cherry-picks passages, from the Old Testament in particular, to argue that the Bible is morally bankrupt and that its use in the public square is indefensible. Add to that the average Christian's general lack of confidence in dealing with the Old Testament and we are left in a position where the larger part of the Bible is effectively neutered in terms of its applicability to the world and societies in which we live.

"This issue of Comment magazine is, therefore, a timely voice of reason in the midst of chaos! This collection of six articles gives a reasoned and reasonable basis for the use of the Old Testament in public life. The pitch of the articles is accessible but their effect is profound. Anyone looking for a solid and rational foundation upon which they can build a public theology that encompasses the Old Testament should start here. All the necessary building blocks can be found in these 33 pages. Read and enjoy!"

Dr. Jamie Grant
Vice Principal & Lecturer in Biblical Studies
Highland Theological College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland
January 18, 2012

"Reading these articles shows just how much we are missing when we fail to pay attention to the first three-quarters of the Christian Bible! Like Wisdom crying out in the streets in Proverbs for an audience, The Old Testament Scriptures cry out with a word of life to all who will hear in our contemporary world. The writers have an obvious—and contagious—love and passion for their subject! We need to hear them."

Dr. Stephen Dempster
Professor of Religious Studies
Crandall University
January 13, 2012

"One can frame the booklet's title as a question. In brief and readable fashion, the six essays in it respond with sage advice and keen insight."

Dr. Andrew Dearman
Fuller Theological Seminary in Texas
January 12, 2012

Buy this product