Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Presence, Power, and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament" Review

It's odd that so few works today address the role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament. Sure, you have occasional works that deal with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament like Christopher J.H. Wright's fine book. But a very scholarly, evangelical approach to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is seldom found. Thankfully, Presence, Power and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament has been published. This collection of essays, written by respected evangelical scholars, does a very good job addressing the various exegetical issues in most of the texts in the Old Testament that mention the Spirit of God.

The essays range from basic introductory issues, to the Spirit in creation to the Spirit in wisdom to the Spirit in at Qumran. As might be expected, some articles are more technical (such as chapter 21) than others. Some are more enjoyable to read than others as well (Tremper Longman's chapter is quite good as is John Walton's). Some chapters almost feel more like a formality for completions sake (such as chapter 8) that don't contribute much to the overall theology of the Spirit.

Some casual readers may be surprised to find that the authors tend to be quite reserved in seeing the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. They tend to err on the side of caution and are adamant that while the Holy Spirit is present in the text, it is not the well developed theology of the Spirit we see in the NT.

This is a very helpful resource for professors and pastors. It is well worth the time investing in this large work. It is informative and useful. While I will admit that some of the chapters are quite dry (even by Biblical studies standards), I think this is a book that will be read with a great deal of profit by most.

*Thanks to IVP Academic for providing me with a free review copy of this work in exchange for a fair review*


  1. Looks like an interesting book. Have you read (or seen) Jim Hamilton's book, God's Indwelling Presence? He seems to be talking about a more technical aspect of the HS in the OT than the book you reviewed, namely, whether or not OT believers were indwelt with the Spirit or not. I would definitely recommend it if you haven't read it.

  2. Yeah Hamilton's book is good. There is actually a pretty strong critique of his thesis though by Daniel Block in Presence, Power and Promise. You may want to take a look. I think I side with Block, who argues that believers have always had the Holy Spirit.