Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review of Warfare in the Old Testament by Boyd Seevers

Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies
by Boyd Seevers
ISBN 978-0-88254-3655-0
Kregel Academic
Reviewed by Clint Walker

My freshman year of college, I was enrolled in an honors program at the suburban Chicago college I attended. What the program meant was that I took one honors class per semester. Each honors class required an extra project over and above the general requirements for the class.

In our Honors Western Civilization class, we were required to write an 90 page annotated bibliography. My interests did not mesh well with the rest of the class. They chose to study the history of warfare throughout history. I, on the other hand, chose to develop my theme around the topics of love, sex, and marriage in Western Civilization.

I am sure that the three or four people that I shared that class with then might be surprised that I chose to review a book on the history of warfare. However, this book on warfare discusses the Biblical accounts of armed conflict in the Old Testament. So, I am interested in what it says less to understand how battles were fought, and more to come to a deeper understanding of holy writ.

Even for the most casual reader, this book is fascinating. Designed as a textbook, the book profiles different nation-states that are prominent in the Hebrew Scriptures. Beginning with Israel, and then followed by Israel's military rivals, each chapter is full of figures, diagrams, and artistic renderings of soldiers, weapons, maps, and much more.

Not all of the information in the text has direct theological import, but much of it would aid in understanding and explaining what is going on in Scripture. For instance, a lot of the material might be helpful in writing sermons, especially if one is led to approach the preaching task in a more narrative/inductive style.

I am going to love having this book on my shelf and look forward to returning to it again and again. For instance, when preaching on the Exodus, I may return to the section on formations of Egyptian armies. Or when trying to understand the exile and why things happened the way that they did, I will probably return to sections on Assyria and especially Babylon.

Recommended for teachers, students and friends who love biblical history.


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