Book Review: A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism by Mark S.Gignilliat

4 out of 5 stars
Publisher: Zondervan (available May 29, 2012)
Buy: Buy: Amazon, CBD, or Monergism
Difficulty: Moderate

Why Old Testament Criticism
Mark Gignilliat’s A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism is a helpful resource for understanding the major players in the area of Old Testament criticism. From the outset of the work Gignilliat makes clear that his treatment is in no way exhaustive, but a bird’s eye overview of Old Testament criticism. He achieves this by identifying seven key figures in Old Testament criticism, who are familiar names to theological students that range from Benedict Spinoza to Brevard S. Childs. He says from the outset the impetus of this book was his own lack of knowledge of Old Testament criticism even with a seminary education. He assumes that this is the case with many seminarians and students of theology. So he wrote this work for theological students and seminarians to help in understanding the main players in Old Testament criticism, their background, and major impact to the discipline of Old Testament criticism.

The Who’s Who of Old Testament Criticism

Gignilliat is a true scholar and it is clear in this work by his attention to detail, helpful documentation, and useful bibliographies at the end of each chapter. While the scholarship is impressive the chapters are accessible for the student at around twenty pages each. The author clearly presents a historical theology of Old Testament criticism. With each scholar he lays out historical background, development of thought, theological emphasis, and contribution to Old Testament criticism including important works. He is clear and organized as he logically lays out his thoughts. The most accessible parts of the chapters are the historical information, while the theological sections are less so and the average reader may get bogged down in the details. He claims the evangelical point of view but is fair to all the scholars and he interacts with them well, while clearly stating his view. As the book ends he speaks of the counter movement of conservative scholarship and mentions such familiar names as Hengstenberg, Vos, O.T. Allis, and Machen. He even speaks of those who have claimed biblical inspiration but have room for redactionary theory in their thought.

Who Should Read This

This book is a good resource to have for the pastor or theological student who would like an all-in-one resource on the major players in Old Testament criticism. The author fulfills his goals of making a resource that is fair to the individuals dealt with, clear, and accessible to the target audience as a bird’s eye overview. On the other hand it may not be as accessible for the average lay person. While it is easy to follow the author’s outline and to get the major points, the sections on theological emphasis are moderately weighty and there are more accessible resources for the average lay person who wants more information on Old Testament criticism.

A free copy of this book was provided by Zondervan. If you plan on purchasing this book, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by using these links to purchase from Amazon, CBD, or Monergism. 

Lance Collins lives in Greer, SC with his wife Elisabeth and children James (4) and Piper (2). He has an M.Div. from Geneva Reformed Seminary (2009). When not reading and writing about theology, he serves at Providence Baptist Church in a lay fashion. He also loves spending as much time as he can with his family, playing guitar, and enjoying the newest technology.