Everybody knows the Old Testament, or so we think. Most of us have spent countless hours constructing shoe-box arks in children’s Sunday school classes. We know that Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham. When I was a boy, I listened in rapture to the daring deeds of Samson, though I often confused him with Hercules. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down. We remember that David managed to be both a sensitive poet-singer, and battle hero. And that God intervened for Daniel in the lion’s den. We sang the songs, but in the end, the whole thing turned out to be a cacophony, an adventure story salad.
The Old Testament does contain many stories, but at the same time, it is really only one story. Dr. Peter J. Leithart, in A House For My Name, helps us find the story within the story. He has written a compelling survey of the Old Testament that helps us to read it like the symphony that it is. Instead of treating the individual stories as mere opportunities for moral lessons or as hooks on which to hang our systematic theology, either of which they certainly can be, Leithart places the stories in their redemptive-historical context, helping us to see exactly how Christ is revealed in the Old Testament, where we too often think Him concealed.
Leithart, a Presbyterian minister and a fellow of theology and literature at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Ida., demonstrates that the history of God’s covenant people is really the history of God’s covenant, that God, the master storyteller, creates the events that prepare hearts and minds for the coming of the Son of David and for the consummation of His eternal kingdom. Some of the stories that are more familiar to us get a quick glance. However, others that we understand less are given more space, more exposition, more context. Be prepared to be challenged to expand your thinking.
What perhaps most makes this work such a great tool is the purpose for which it was designed. While filled with insights the reader would be hard-pressed to find at any seminary, the book was written for families. In his preface, Dr. Leithart writes, “This book is designed to be read aloud at the dinner table during family devotions, and I have tried to write it in such a way that even very young children will begin to grasp the sweep and beauty of the Bible.” I have been using it for just such a purpose for several weeks, and I can attest that Leithart has succeeded.
A House for My Name is an outstanding book that is suitable for readers of any age. It is published by Canon Press.