Archive for the ‘old testament scholarship’ Category

Here’s a wonderful resource that’s worth bookmarking!  The Old Testament professor at The Master’s Seminary has taught in the past on the book of Genesis.  Fortunately for all of us his lectures are online for free!

Here are the videos:


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Four Faculty Members of Dallas Theological Seminary got together to do two Podcasts to have a Biblical response on the topic of Same-Sex Sexuality.  Specifically they are responding to the arguments that some have tried to explain away the verses in the Bible that described Same-Sex Sexuality as a sin.

The four professors are Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Robert Chisholm, Dr. Joe Fantin, and Dr. Jay Smith who are from the Old and New Testament department of the Seminary.  I appreciate that these are scholars of the Bible giving their input on the text.  They examined the biblical passages often brought up on homosexuality.  The first video is on on material in the Old Testament while the second video is on the material in the New Testament.


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Richard Taylor. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, July 27th, 2016. 208 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is part of the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series published by Kregel Publications.  Previously I have enjoyed the work on interpreting Old Testament historical books by Robert Chisholm very much and was looking forward to this volume largely because of it.  I was also excited for this volume since apocalytpic literary forms is one of the hardest to interpret in the Old Testament and as a preacher it would be helpful to think through critically and be equipped in handling passages of Scripture like the book of Daniel.


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This commentary series put out by Kregel Academic is amazing.  Last year I reviewed another commentary in this series on Exodus by Duane A. Garrett and I’ve thumb through volume one of this particular three volume series on the Psalms by Allen Ross and I’ve been blessed by the contents in them.


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A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs

Mark S. Gignilliat. A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism: From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, June 10th, 2012. 186 pp.

The author made it clear in the beginning that the intended audience of the book was for “anyone who is in interested in the Bible, its history of interpretation, and the particular problems and approaches to Old Testament studies in the modern period.”  Thus book wasn’t just written for scholars and seminarians in mind but for the larger Christian lay readers although the author admits that as he writing this his inclination was to make the work more technical.  As a result the author himself explicitly explain that he needs to write this book with more of a biographical sketch of important figures of Old Testament scholars in light of the general public’s interests for human stories.  Thus the book is divided into seven chapters with each focusing on one particular modern Old Testament scholar.  I think the book might be more appropriately titled “A Brief Survey of Old Testament Scholars” instead, lest people think it is a survey of the history of Old Testament Criticism so no one is fooled by the title since some chapters focused on more biographical contents than descriptive details of the scholar’s academic contribution.  I suppose one shouldn’t really blame the author for doing so if he can successfully get the readers to know more about these scholars rather than have the readers be bored in seeing these men as another group of dead unknown Germans scholars.

Readers of the book will notice right away how early in the history of modern Old Testament criticism that it is driven by presuppositions and philosophies that is foreign to Scripture.  The clearest and worst example of this given in the book was Spinoza (although I don’t think the author intended to do that).  I was surprised to read about how bright Spinoza was but sadden to see how far he veered away from biblical orthodoxy even among his fellow Jews.  The book noted how Spinoza’s motivation in his approach towards the Old Testament was one that began with human autonomy and the assumption that reason is in conflict and above faith, etc.  While the other scholars the book survey is less overt than Spinoza in undermining the Bible nevertheless I would say one see in varying degrees the compromises and the import of bad philosophical starting points among various scholars’ approach to the Old Testament.

The author however makes it clear that he wants Evangelicals to have a greater appreciation for these scholars and their contribution even if one disagrees with them.  In that vein I appreciated the chapter on Julius Wellhausen and the author explaining Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis clearly and simply for the lay reader.  I learned that Wellhausen’s formulation of his documentary hypothesis was in the context of his attempt to reconstruct the original historical setting of Israel in light of naturalistic presuppositions and not just merely to break up the Scripture into parts per se.  Although I have misgivings with the documentary hypothesis I think a strength of the book is the presentation clearly and accurately of what these scholars believed.

The chapters that really stood out to me were the ones on Gerhard VonRad, William Albright and Brevard Childs.  While I have been cautious and continue to be discerning when I read anything from VonRad (or anything that others attribute to VonRad), nevertheless I have a deeper sense of respect for VonRad the man and the scholar.  I never knew until this book of the courageous stance he took against the Nazis when he was a German Old Testament scholar at the universities.  His courage is inspiring when one consider the anti-Jewish climate in Hitler’s Germany.

It was also neat to learn of biblical scholars that was shaped by the polymath William Albright whose impact on Old Testament studies is his use of archaeological findings.  By far my favorite chapter was on Brevards Childs whose canonical approach has more use for Evangelical students of the Old Testament than some of the other approaches mentioned in the book.

I must say that Christians must read this book with discernment.  I think at times the author could have been explained more of the problems with some of the scholars surveyed.  Nevertheless I felt that all these scholars has things we can learn from; the biggest encouragement from these men lives was that I want to continue to be diligent in my study of God’s Word with all my mind, strength and soul.

I recommend the book, and rate it 4 out of 5.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Purchase: Amazon

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  Responses will be delayed.

Warfare in the Old Testament The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies

Available on AMAZON

This is a wonderful book by an Old Testament professor who has done his doctoral dissertation related to ancient warfare.  Given the prevalence of war in the Old Testament, this book serves as an important resource in giving the background information for our understanding of Scripture.  The content of the book is well researched and interesting.  It also helps that the book is filled with beautiful illustrations that feature ancient drawings, archaeological finds, helpful maps and contemporary painting recreating what warfare in the past must have looked like.  They are very helpful and the author Boyd Seevers did a good job coordinating what he has to say with the illustrations.

The book focuses primarily on warfare in the Ancient Near East.  The author begins with the Hebrews during the era when they entered into the promise land.  Two chapters are devoted towards Israel and their military.  This is followed by two chapters on Egypt, one chapter on the Philistines, two chapters on the Assyrians, one chapter on the Babylonians and the final chapter on the Persians.

Every kingdom’s military is presented in an organized and clear manner. Each time a certain kingdom is introduced, the author takes the literary license of giving us a fictional “eye witness” account of a warrior so we can get the idea of what it must have been like.  This is followed by discussion of the specific kingdom’s historical background, military organization (structure, military branches, etc), weapons (long-medium-short range offensive weapons and defensive measures), and strategies/tactics.  Each section and subsection is clearly labeled which makes this an easy access reference for later use.

Over all, the book has more strengths than it did weakness.


  • In the introduction the author is conscious of cultural experience with warfare and he acknowledges that he never served in the military and grew up in the United States during a time of social upheaval where serving in the military was not necessarily valued.  Realizing his limitation, the author took the initiative to share a Marine sergeant’s insight concerning war.  It was really good especially concerning tactics!  I must confessed my own biases: I myself am a Marine veteran of Iraq.
  • There were a lot of things I learned from this book that I didn’t know beforehand: The book made the point that the Babylonians and Persians seem to be generally less cruel than the Assyrians during warfare and the Assyrians tend to use a lot of psychological warfare with their opponents.  I learned what a composite bow is (a bow that was glued together of various pieces of wood which allow the arrows to go futher).
  • I appreciated the fact that Seevers cited primary sources and also important secondary sources in the study of the Ancient Near East; especially exciting for me is his reference to Yadin’s work on Old Testament warfare in light of archaeological finding.  I have been thinking about getting Yadin’s work for some time now but I have hesitated given how it is somewhat outdated; this new volume by Seevers is a much needed update on the topic.
  • The end of the book has a good list of recommended resources for further study.


  • The input of the Marine concerning strategy waned by the time we get to the middle of the book.  It would have been nice to see more insights from him!
  • Some of the colors on some of maps were clashing and hard to distinguished at time given how they were a few shade different.


I highly recommend this book for anyone with interests in the Old Testament, the Ancient Near East and military history.  Pastors and Bible Students will gain much from this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

To purchase the book CLICK HERE.

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Jonah The Scandalous Love of God Youngblood

To purchase the book on Amazon, Click HERE

Jonah is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  I preached through this book two years ago and I learned a lot from it.  So in picking up this new commentary that just came out, I was looking for a work that can get more insights from the text beyond what previous commentaries have pointed out.  This commentary didn’t disappoint—as a matter of fact, I learned a lot of new things about the book of Jonah as a result of reading this book.  At this time I would say that this commentary tops them all.

The author interacts with other major books and articles on the book of Jonah.  The author did a good job with the introduction which on my Kindle indicates that it made up eighteen percent of the book.  There is a lot that is pack in those eighteen percent!  This is the first volume in a new Old Testament commentary series published by Zondervan and the editor aims to make it not just a typical exegetical commentary but one that engages with the text using the tools of discourse analysis, analysis of literary forms, canonical criticism (specifically, the canonical significance of a passage) and insights from inter-textuality.  This commentary is also immensely rich with exegetical insights one expect from a traditional exegetical commentary such as lexical details and grammatical observations.

What were some of the things that I learned from this commentary?  Since there are too many examples I will stick only to some of the highlights in the first two chapter of the book of Jonah.  One literary device the author noted that I haven’t noticed before in the book of Jonah was the use of suppression of historical and geographical detail as a rhetorical device.  Two years ago when I went through Jonah 1:3 in the Hebrew I was stuck with why there is a third person feminine singular suffix for the word fare when I was thinking of Jonah as the referent (therefore should be third person masculine singular) but the author made a good point that this was referring to the ship and therefore one must not miss that Jonah was so desperate to leave God that he paid for the whole ship’s fare.  The author also made the observation that the Hebrew verb for “go” (boa) is used in the story for opposing the movement of God as oppose to other verbs of motion which serves to imply Jonah’s unrighteous heart whenever the word appears.  Youngblood also noted that the adjective “big” appears in the book twelve times and always with reference to obstacles to Jonah and his wishes.  The author also advanced the latest view that Hesed which is typically translated as “loving kindness” actually does not refer to covenantal love but instead to action and attitude of love beyond the call of duty.  The book also made me change my position concerning the prayer of Jonah in chapter two which I originally believed was a prayer of repentance; but the author Youngblood argues that it’s otherwise and quite conclusively I must say.

Whether one is a season exegete or a new student to Biblical Hebrew, this work will be fun, challenging and informative.  If you are going to go through Jonah in great details you need this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Against the Gods John Currid

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is a great book that contributes to the discussion of the relationship of the Ancient Near East (ANE) to the Old Testament.  Have you ever heard people assert that the Old Testament is merely plagiarism of ancient pagan religion or that the authors of Scripture indiscriminately borrowed from the heathens?  Is the Old Testament compromised syncretism or simply a literary copy cat of another religion’s myth?  This book helps the Christian navigate through such questions and challenges.  For starters who might need to be caught up to speed, chapter one gives a nice survey of the history of the study of the Ancient Near East painting a portrait of how these studies originated and its trajectory since.  While the author acknowledges in the introduction and conclusion that the discussion of how ANE relate to the OT can be quite complex, he advances what he calls “polemical theology,” as a paradigm that help make sense of OT and ANE religious parallels.  “Polemical theology” basically describes a conscious ploy by Biblical writers to use the thought forms and stories from cultures of the Ancient Near East in order to apply it to Yahweh exclusively while often using the same motifs in an ironic fashion against the polytheistic gods and goddesses it originated from.  After delineating what polemical theology means in chapter two, the bulk of this book is an examination of the data from ANE sources and the application of Polemical theology.  Here the author John Currid brings his scholarship and knowledge of the ANE record to bear.  For instance, chapter three concentrate on Genesis 1.  In light of how some have attacked the Genesis’ creation account for “borrowing” from other mythologies, Currid demonstrates how the Creation account essentially is antithetical to the creation account of the Egyptians and other Ancient Near East religion, especially with the Bible’s account of not deifying the stars, sea creatures, etc.  Currid is fair:  He acknowledges parallels, documents it well but he always argue that the differences are significant, since it is at the level of worldview and theology.  The differences are not incidental—the polemical and at times poetical jabs that the Old Testament makes shows these differences are intentional on the part of the writers of the Bible.  Much of the book focuses it’s case on Genesis and Exodus, a familiar territory to the author’s area of expertise. I wished we could have seen more of Currid’s analysis of polemical theology with other parts of the Old Testament.  One chapter stands out:  Currid has an excellent study on the rod of Moses that is a good demonstration of what lexical word studies and the proper use of Ancient Near East data looks like:  After noting that Moses’ rod was more of a typical rod versus the significance of the rod of the Egyptian Magicians, Currid shows how there is a polemical “smack” against the Egyptian’s religious worldview at play.  Currid note how the Bible says it’s Moses “rod” that swallows the Egyptian rod rather than saying it is a “snake,” thus retaining the polemical force.  I think this book is helpful in light of what Peter Enns, Walton, Longman III and Waltke has to say.  I highly recommend this book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Net Galley and Crossway without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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William Barrick

Central Seminary recently asked Old Testament professor Dr. William Barrick to speak for their MacDonald Lecture series on the topic of Biblical creationism and Biblical authority.

These are hot topics today during a time where people attack the subject of Biblical creation, the historicity of Adam and the hermeneutics of Genesis.

Listen to them, follow along with the PDF document, enjoy it and be equipped!

General Sessions

Creation Outside Genesis   PDF

The Historicity of Adam    PDF

The Problem of Death       PDF

The Creation Record: Is It Poetry?     PDF

Question and Answer Sessions

Monday Q & A

Tuesday Q & A

UPDATE: To have this save on your device as a podcast, click HERE.

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did-JESUS-exist-bookA few days ago we saw some of Bart Erhman’s fallacious argument in his book Did Jesus Exist?   Apparently there’s plenty of obvious problems in Ehrman’s book to make a blog series on them.  Tonight I want to look specifically at a claim he made concerning First-Century Judaism.  On page 272 Ehrman describes the beliefs of “Jews in the days of Jesus,” saying:

Among the first commandments given to the Jews by this God was “You shall have no other gods before me.’  Jews by and large did not deny that other gods existed, but they were not to be worshipped by the Jews themselves.” (Page 272; emphasis not in original).

An unusual statement.  In the sentence before, Ehrman acknowledges the role of the Jewish Scripture (what Christians call the Old Testament) in shaping first century Jewish theology.  Ehrman extrapolates from the first commandment that Jews are to worship one God but felt that this does not mean first century Judiasm would have to subscribe to the belief that there’s only one God and not any other.  Two criticisms need to be made.

Point 1: I wish Ehrman would have demonstrated his case that the Jews of Second Temple Judaism were open to the idea that other gods might exist.  At a minimum he should have given a footnote of studies supporting this view or better yet Ehrman should have made the case himself using direct primary sources.

Point 2: Ehrman’s chief error here is his omission of what the rest of the Jewish Scripture has to say.

For instance, consider these passages from the Book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:6-8 declares,

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last,

And there is no God besides Me.
‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
[a]From the time that I established the ancient [b]nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”

Then in Isaiah 45 there’s a cluster of similar teachings.  Note in verse 5:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will [a]gird you, though you have not known Me;

Isaiah 45:14:

 Thus says the Lord,

“The [a]products of Egypt and the merchandise of [b]Cush
And the Sabeans, men of stature,
Will come over to you and will be yours;
They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains
And will bow down to you;
They will make supplication to you:
[c]Surely, God is [d]with you, and there is none else,
No other God.’”

Isaiah 45:21-22:

“Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.
22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.

Finally Isaiah 46:9:

“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,

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Purchase: Amazon

I am reviewing this commentary from the perspectives of the need and desire of an expositor of the Scriptures. For anyone going through the book of Obadiah exegetically I would say that this is a must read commentary. Bound in these pages are really thorough syntactical and grammatical analysis. The author was not kidding when he said in the introduction that since Obadiah is a smaller book, this afford the opportunity for him to go more in-depth in his analysis of Obadiah. This works ended up being a thick work for a part of the Bible that’s only 21 verses! There are good lexical data given in this work. The author holds to the unity of the book of Obadiah which might seem somewhat unusual to run across something like this for this Bible commentary series, which dabble so heavily on historical critical method. The author is to be commended. I like the way Raabe note other interpretation then offers the reason for his interpretation by showing how a word or construct operates a certain way in another passage of Scripture. I wish more commentaries would argue for their position this way! Furthermore, I appreciated the extended discussion as an excursus on the topic of the metaphor of drinking and the wrath of God, with lexical studies on the word cup, drink, drunk and wine, followed by the study of it’s metaphorical use of relevant passages that suggests God’s wrath.

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Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has hosted many great resources, sermons and lectures online that is a tremendous blessing to the body of Christ.

They recently have loaded up online lectures concerning Old Testament Biblical Theology as taught by Dr. C.N. Wilborn, who gave the recorded lecture in 2009.

Though my theology is not Presbyterian, nevertheless I do hope to listen to them and get to learn from it.

Here are the MP3s to the thirteen part series.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

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I. Identifying a narrative through its elements

a. Elements of narrative are important because they are the defining factor in determining whether the genre of a literature is a narrative.

i. If a text is a narrative, there are certain elements expected.

b. The essential elements include[1]:

i.      Scene

1. This is probably the most important element.

2. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

3. In the Hebrew text, the component of scene can be established by the pattern of wayyiqtol.[2]

a. Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

b. Wayyiqtol is often used to establish temporal or logical sequence.

ii. Plot

This concerns the beginning, middle and ending of the development of the narrative.

iii. Character

1. Who is involved in the narrative?

iv. Setting

1. Where in space/time does this narrative takes place?

v. Point of view

c. Other elements:

i. Dialogues

1. Old Testament narrative has a lot of dialogue

ii.Rhetorical devices

II. General principles in interpreting Old Testament narratives

a. Identifying the intention of the text[1]

i. This should be the first step

1. Analogy: Not knowing the intention first is like a kid drawing and saying he does not know what he’s drawing until he’s finished.

ii.      Sometimes the intention is stated in the text.

iii.      Sometimes the intention is not explicit.

1. Look for repetition

a. For example, what is repetitious in Genesis 39?

b. What does it reveal as to the purpose of the text?

2. Consider how the text fits into the greater context of the section or book.

b. Considering the theology of the text

i.      Some of the accounts of events in narratives are not moral examples to emulate.

1. Narrative is often more descriptive rather than prescriptive.

2. When possible, the proper interpretation of other portion of the Bible must be taken into account in interpreting particular narrative events.

a. The prescription found in the Bible must be the basis of interpreting the descriptive events in Old Testament narrative.

b. The Bible’s genre of law, proverb, prophecy and epistle might be important at this point.

ii.      Asking theological questions of the text[2]

1. What does this account tell us about God?

2. What does it tell us about the human condition?

3. What does it tell us of the world?

4. What does it tell us of the people of God and their relationship with Him?

5. What does it tell us of the individual believer’s life of faith?

iii.      The details here under “Considering the theology of the text” are essential steps in dealing with the tough “nasty” portion of narratives in the Bible.

1. “Don’t be afraid to wade into the nasty narratives of the Old Testament, for it’s in the nasty stuff you’ll find the God of scary holiness and the incredible grace waiting to reveal himself.”[3]

c. Watch the characters

i.      Who are the main characters in the narrative?

1. Why are they important and what purpose do they serve in the text’s intention?

ii.      Who are the supporting characters in the narrative?

1. They are the foil for a reason, so why are they mentioned and how does this serve the text’s intention?

iii.      God is always in the narrative, even if He is not explicitly mentioned

1. This is why it is important to ask the theological questions of the text (see above).

d. Attention to the details of each scene[4]

e. Be conscious of the setting

i.      There might be relevant background information that aid in interpretation.

f. Discern the point of view even within dialogues

i.      Distinguish between dialogues and straight narrative.

ii.      Non-dialogues serve as the “Voice of God” about the event.

iii.      The dialogue can portray the point of view of the speaker.

1. This is true unless the narrative makes it clear otherwise that the dialogue is a lie.

2.Point of view from human dialogue might not be truths from God.

g. Understand the plot

i.      The plot is the development of each stage within the narrative.

ii.      The plot is how each scene relates to each other!

[1] Dale Ralph Davis, The Word Became Fresh: How to preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts, (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), 4.

[2] Ibid, 29 footnote 1, quoted from Daniel I. Block, Judges, Ruth, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holdman, 1999), 604-605.

[3] Ibid, 74.

[4] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 80.

[1] The following essential elements are found in Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 69-76.

[2] The discussion about the wayyiqtol is from Robert B. Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 119-120.


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As the reader of Veritas Domain know, this week has been devoted to free books online touching on Christian worldview, theology and apologetics.

I truly believe that Messianic Prophecies are important in the Presuppositionalist’s apologetics arsenal (what better way to open up the Scripture to the nonbeliever, while also being conscious of epistemology, philosophy of history and one’s worldview?).

This word, Types, psalms and prophecies:Being an Old Testament Studies, is a bit of an older work and the free edition is published in 1907.  The author was a Messianic Jew and have written other works that is beneficial to the Christian studying the Old Testament.  It is unfortunate some of his works are not online for free.

If you want to read the work in it’s entirely (more than a sample) on Google books, click HERE.

It can also be downloaded.

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Dr. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary and contributor to the upcoming Genesis volume of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary is an example of Godly scholarship, diligence, wisdom and Christian holiness for anyone who knows him

His diligence always encourage me.

He has on his website his entire Sunday School lessons on PDF for the entire Psalms (all one hundred and fifty!)

They are available for your edification below!


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