Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Gospel and Wisdom

For many Christians, the wisdom books of the Old Testament may seem the most intriguing out of all the scriptural writings. Yet at the same time, it can be hard to know how to use them and apply them as Christian scripture, granted that all scripture is God-breathed. In this little book, Graeme Goldsworthy helps readers to understand the place of Israel's wisdom literature in the Christian life.

Goldsworthy is probably best known for his book Gospel and Kingdom, which traces the theme of the kingdom right through the Bible - God's people in God's place under God's rule enjoying God's blessing - and in this volume he addresses the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes) to see how it fits into this grand scheme. The result is a great book which is a useful introduction to this section of the Old Testament, with a gospel focus.

Before approaching the Old Testament, Goldsworthy begins with the focus on Jesus, who is the wisdom of God. Seeing Jesus as the wise man helps us understand what true wisdom looks like, as the foundation of all wisdom. From that foundation, he contrasts godly wisdom with worldly wisdom. The sum of godly wisdom is to live responsibly within the framework of the fear of the Lord, and this is what he drives home in each of the subsequent chapters.

There are discussions of the wisdom of Solomon, as well as an overview of the books of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, which are helpful in providing some key pointers to understanding and applying the books. He then widens the search to find traces of wisdom in a variety of other locations in the Old Testament, including the Psalms, before returning to Christ and seeing how he sets the example of wise living in the fear of the Lord.

All in all, it's a thought-provoking book, and will be a good starting point for some contemplative thinking on Proverbs especially. There are useful study questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to take things further. And it's fairly straightforward for all Bible readers to access and profit from. Highly recommended.

Gospel and Wisdom can be found either separately or within the Goldsworthy Trilogy.

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