Book Review: Praying With Ancient Israel: Exploring the Theology of Prayer in the Old Testament, eds. Phillip G. Camp and Tremper Longman III

Praying With Ancient IsraelFor those looking to get an academic glimpse into the theology of prayer in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Praying With Ancient Israel: Exploring the Theology of Prayer in the Old Testament will beneficially fit that need. A collection of articles originally presented (except for one) over three years at the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars’ Conference, each covers a select book or books of scripture (with the exception of Lamentations and Song of Songs) with an average of about fifteen pages per article. Given the variance in breadth of material to be covered (e.g., the Pentateuch vs. Daniel), some articles focus on specific passages and points to get a sense of the whole while others cover much with less depth. Though approaches vary, all are beneficial and provide direction for further study (see footnotes and select bibliography). Not a mere academic journey, those who want encouraging and practical application will receive it—most articles specifically end therewith, but the articles are written by professing Christians with the purpose of both educating and edifying as a whole.

The chapters and authors are as follows:

  • Prayer in the Pentateuch — Phillip G. Camp
  • Prayers in the Deuteronomistic History — Timothy M. Willis
  • Prayers in the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) — John T. Willis
  • Prayer in the Minor Prophets (The Book of the Twelve) — Andrew E. Hill
  • Prayer in the Psalms — Tremper Longman III
  • Prayer in the Wisdom Literature — Elaine A. Phillips
  • Prayer in Ruth and Esther — Brittany D. Kim
  • Prayer in Daniel — Wendy L. Widder
  • Prayer in 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah — Claude Mariottini

 

A few highlights to chew on from my reading:

Most of us are familiar with and speak of different postures in prayer: standing, kneeling, prostrate, etc. What Timothy M. Willis hit me with is describing David’s posture in prayer as that of a servant.

“The Enlightenment has strongly influenced many people to assume that human reason lies at the heart of all life, including religion. Rationalists enjoy making sharp distinctions between categories, most of which are unfounded from a biblical perspective. It would be a very serious mistake to sharply distinguish between a paryer, a prophecy, and a song. Songs, prayers, and prophecies are usually closely connected; it would be impossible to distinguish each one convincingly.” — John T. Willis

Elain A. Phillips points out that Job’s friends never addressed God on Job’s behalf. Let’s not forget to pray before jumping in someone’s business or offering advice.

Heartbreaking: “[U]nlike Job, Naomi offers no resistance against her fate. As a vulnerable widow, powerless to execute justice for herself in the human realm, she may feel that she has no recourse when Yahweh, “the Almighty” (Shadday), has acted as a prosecuting witness against her. Whatever the reason for her passivity, the text gives no indication that Naomi expects Yahweh to hear or respond to her complaint.” — Brittany D. Kim

 

Conclusion:

I found every article helpful in some way and will certainly be using this book as a resource for further study. Recommended.

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