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Does your knowledge of the Old Testament feel like a grab bag of people, books, events and ideas? How many times have you resolved to really understand the OT? To finally make sense of it? Perhaps you are suffering from what Sandra Richter calls the "dysfunctional closet syndrome." If so, she has a solution. Like a home-organizing expert, she comes in and helps you straigh Does your knowledge of the Old Testament feel like a grab bag of people, books, events and ideas? How many times have you resolved to really understand the OT? To finally make sense of it? Perhaps you are suffering from what Sandra Richter calls the "dysfunctional closet syndrome." If so, she has a solution. Like a home-organizing expert, she comes in and helps you straighten up your cluttered closet. Gives you hangers for facts. A timeline to put them on. And handy containers for the clutter on the floor. Plus she fills out your wardrobe of knowledge with exciting new facts and new perspectives. The whole thing is put in usable order--a history of God's redeeming grace. A story that runs from the Eden of the Garden to the garden of the New Jerusalem. Whether you are a frustrated do-it-yourselfer or a beginning student enrolled in a course, this book will organize your understanding of the Old Testament and renew your enthusiasm for studying the Bible as a whole.


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Does your knowledge of the Old Testament feel like a grab bag of people, books, events and ideas? How many times have you resolved to really understand the OT? To finally make sense of it? Perhaps you are suffering from what Sandra Richter calls the "dysfunctional closet syndrome." If so, she has a solution. Like a home-organizing expert, she comes in and helps you straigh Does your knowledge of the Old Testament feel like a grab bag of people, books, events and ideas? How many times have you resolved to really understand the OT? To finally make sense of it? Perhaps you are suffering from what Sandra Richter calls the "dysfunctional closet syndrome." If so, she has a solution. Like a home-organizing expert, she comes in and helps you straighten up your cluttered closet. Gives you hangers for facts. A timeline to put them on. And handy containers for the clutter on the floor. Plus she fills out your wardrobe of knowledge with exciting new facts and new perspectives. The whole thing is put in usable order--a history of God's redeeming grace. A story that runs from the Eden of the Garden to the garden of the New Jerusalem. Whether you are a frustrated do-it-yourselfer or a beginning student enrolled in a course, this book will organize your understanding of the Old Testament and renew your enthusiasm for studying the Bible as a whole.

30 review for The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry Into the Old Testament

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    My new favorite book on Genesis, although it covers a lot of other stuff as well. It's hard to define exactly what kind of book this is. Is it a commentary on Genesis? Is it a survey of Old Testament history? Is it an attempt to explain the New Testament in light of the Old? Richter offers her insights into the first 11 chapters of Genesis but then uses this section of scripture as a springboard to discuss the entire Old Testament, along with its implications for understanding the New Testament. My new favorite book on Genesis, although it covers a lot of other stuff as well. It's hard to define exactly what kind of book this is. Is it a commentary on Genesis? Is it a survey of Old Testament history? Is it an attempt to explain the New Testament in light of the Old? Richter offers her insights into the first 11 chapters of Genesis but then uses this section of scripture as a springboard to discuss the entire Old Testament, along with its implications for understanding the New Testament. The goal seems to be to help lay Christians, many of whom may find the Old Testament confusing or inaccessible, to read it with a better understanding of how it all fits together and how it connects with their faith. Her writing is both easy to read and intelligent. I was personally helped by her material on ancient near eastern culture, especially patriarchal family units and covenants. These were things I thought I already understood--turns out there was a lot I didn't know! Richter has a great knack for explaining complicated issues in very straightforward ways, and in doing so makes it much easier to understand Old Testament scripture in context. Her work on Genesis is particularly good. She addresses most of the major questions of the text, presents helpful cultural context, includes the thoughts of other commentators and current scholarship, and shares her insights on how it all matters to the Christian faith, all without being overwhelming. She also approaches issues that might be difficult for many Christians (e.g. an honest discussion of the 7-day creation) with a good balance of intellectual honesty and pastoral wisdom. This book will not be a very useful tool to use in conjunction with a study of Genesis--unlike a commentary, it's organized more by topic than by verse and chapter references. However, this is now THE book I will be recommending to students in my Genesis studies who want to do followup reading, and to Christians looking to understand the OT better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James (JD) Dittes

    Eden is not only the ideal place, Richter writes in this excellent guide to the Old Testament for Christians, it also represents the ideal covenant. The rest of the OT, from Genesis 5 onward, is the story of God's efforts to redeem covenant relationship through a family (Abraham), a confederation (Moses) a nation (David) and all of humanity (Jesus). In order to connect the modern Christian with the original audience for the Old Testament, Richter provides insights into the "household" and the lo Eden is not only the ideal place, Richter writes in this excellent guide to the Old Testament for Christians, it also represents the ideal covenant. The rest of the OT, from Genesis 5 onward, is the story of God's efforts to redeem covenant relationship through a family (Abraham), a confederation (Moses) a nation (David) and all of humanity (Jesus). In order to connect the modern Christian with the original audience for the Old Testament, Richter provides insights into the "household" and the loyalties that shaped cultures in the middle Bronze Age. Along with solid biblical and linguistic scholarship, she draws upon archaeology and topography to provide a unique sojourn "between the lines" of the great books of the Old Testament. I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to gain more insight from Bible study. I'm not a student, just a lay member who really cares about biblical history and literature. I can see this helping out in many future sermons and/or Sunday school lessons.

  3. 5 out of 5

    A.C. Thompson

    In The Epic of Eden, Sandra Richter does a great job of pulling back the curtain on the Old Testament and explaining how it all fits together in an amazingly understandable style. I've been reading the Bible on an almost regular basis for almost two decades, and this book explained how and why things are laid out in the Old Testament in a way that I've never seen before. The author does an exquisite job of defining the where, when, and why of the main events and people of the Old Testament and wh In The Epic of Eden, Sandra Richter does a great job of pulling back the curtain on the Old Testament and explaining how it all fits together in an amazingly understandable style. I've been reading the Bible on an almost regular basis for almost two decades, and this book explained how and why things are laid out in the Old Testament in a way that I've never seen before. The author does an exquisite job of defining the where, when, and why of the main events and people of the Old Testament and what they mean to us as New Testament Christians. The blurb on the back cover of the book claims that "This book will not only expand your knowledge, it will deepen your spiritual life," and it accomplishes this in an epic fashion. My wife and I like reading books like this one together and discussing what we've read and learned as we go along. What I enjoyed most about The Epic of Eden is how clearly I now understand the culture, history, and geography contained in the Old Testament. The books contained there are not archaic or removed from my faith as a Christian. They are the very foundations on which my entire worldview rests. The relationships God establishes within its pages reveal His love, heart, character, and aspirations for the entire human race. I have a deeper understanding now of the character of Christ Himself, and the true proportions of what His sacrifice and love for me truly entail. Whether you consider yourself to be a Biblical scholar or not, I strongly encourage you to read this book. It will reveal the Old Testament to you in ways you never before have seen. It explains the history of mankind and our relationship with Almighty God within the cultural context of the people with whom He originally established covenant relationship. This, in turn, explains the relationship He desires to have with you and me today. If this book sounds interesting to you, you can find it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fOxFOY Until next time, stay safe, and above all, be true to yourself. That Aaron Guy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is a really good book. I have a much deeper appreciation for the use of the OT by the NT after this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    “This was God’s perfect plan: the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God.” I have been slowly reading this book for 4 months. It has become so important to me and I hate to finish it really. The quote above is repeated often throughout the book. This plan was achieved in Eden until it wasn’t and God has been working ever since to redeem creation according to this plan. As a lifelong Christian and church goer and a pastors wife for 16 years, you would think I would know “This was God’s perfect plan: the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God.” I have been slowly reading this book for 4 months. It has become so important to me and I hate to finish it really. The quote above is repeated often throughout the book. This plan was achieved in Eden until it wasn’t and God has been working ever since to redeem creation according to this plan. As a lifelong Christian and church goer and a pastors wife for 16 years, you would think I would know this stuff backwards and forwards. But the truth is, truly understanding the Old Testament is hard and goes way beyond Sunday School. Most devotion books and bible studies don’t dig deep enough to see how the history of the OT is so important to our faith. I ended up in tears as I finished thinking of those who don’t know the rest of the story. I highly recommend as a book of study. It filled in many gaps for me and I plan to keep studying and use this as a reference for years to come.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Ng

    Richter coins a term "dysfunctional closet syndrome" suggesting that many people's understanding of the Old Testament is jumbled up in different stories and unrelated themes. In this book she attempts to deal a blow to this by drawing readers to particular themes that are helpful in understanding the Old Testaments as a whole and how it contributes to the overall redemptive purposes of God through focusing on the Covenants, and how they work to restore the people of God into the presence of God Richter coins a term "dysfunctional closet syndrome" suggesting that many people's understanding of the Old Testament is jumbled up in different stories and unrelated themes. In this book she attempts to deal a blow to this by drawing readers to particular themes that are helpful in understanding the Old Testaments as a whole and how it contributes to the overall redemptive purposes of God through focusing on the Covenants, and how they work to restore the people of God into the presence of God and in the place of God. I would highly recommend this book, as it is helpful for the average reader. Once I picked up the book, it was difficult for me to put it back down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    A fantastic overview of the OT, giving a helpful framework for how it holds together, and some brilliant insights into about the culture(s) of the OT people of God. The sections on covenant making were particularly helpful. It was neither too academic for me to recommend widely, nor too light for me to feel challenged and stretched by. This will be my go to recommendation on the Old Testament now.

  8. 4 out of 5

    T.M.

    Enjoyable and educational I was reading this book for a ministry course I am enrolled in. I enjoyed the educational aspects of this book, giving me more background on the covenant nature of the Old Testament. Although I have had plenty of background knowledge, this helped fill in the gaps I might not have already been aware of. Highly recommended for both students and for those just wanting to learn more about the subject.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tommy-Lee Sexton

    There are a number of non-fiction books that I have read that I would describe as insightful and informative, but there are very few that I would also describe as a pleasure to read. This book is all three of those things. It is a fantastic introduction to the cultural background of the Old Testament, and a stellar survey showing how the Old Testament is essential for Christians today. If you struggle to understand the Old Testament, get this book! It is very accessible for both novice and schol There are a number of non-fiction books that I have read that I would describe as insightful and informative, but there are very few that I would also describe as a pleasure to read. This book is all three of those things. It is a fantastic introduction to the cultural background of the Old Testament, and a stellar survey showing how the Old Testament is essential for Christians today. If you struggle to understand the Old Testament, get this book! It is very accessible for both novice and scholar. Dr. Richter brilliantly shows how God sets the stage for the arrival of Christ in the New Testament through his actions in the Old Testament.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    As a longtime believer, I was surprised at how many revelations this book held for me! I found it very helpful in untangling some of the more perplexing aspects of the OT, and for providing context. It wasn't as exhaustive as I'd hoped, but as an overview it was enlightening indeed. Whet my appetite to learn more!

  11. 4 out of 5

    First Name Name

    A very good, clear, concise on how to understand the Old Testament. This book is a must for anyone who would like to understand the Old Testament. I highly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Audrey High

    An excellent and incredibly accessible overview of the Old Testament. Illuminating for the new Christian and clarifying for all. Richter has an engaging and inviting writing style. Highly recommend!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    Excellent. I’ve never read a better take on the Old Testament for Christians. Readable and useful for laity, clergy, and scholars alike. Now I want to lead the DVD study.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave TN

    So glad I read this. Five stars all the way.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian Watson

    If I could, I would give this 4.5 stars. It is difficult to read any long and complex book. Such difficulty is multiplied when the book was written in a different time and place. When reading such a book, readers need assistance, so that they do not become lost or discouraged. Sandra Richter aims to assist readers of the Old Testament in The Epic of Eden. Since the Old Testament constitutes most of the Bible, “the inspired Word of God” (15), it is incumbent upon Christians to read and understand If I could, I would give this 4.5 stars. It is difficult to read any long and complex book. Such difficulty is multiplied when the book was written in a different time and place. When reading such a book, readers need assistance, so that they do not become lost or discouraged. Sandra Richter aims to assist readers of the Old Testament in The Epic of Eden. Since the Old Testament constitutes most of the Bible, “the inspired Word of God” (15), it is incumbent upon Christians to read and understand it. And yet, there exists a “great barrier” between modern readers and this precious text: “As the narrative of the Old Testament happened long, long ago and far, far away, it can be very challenging to get past the historical, linguistic, cultural and even geographical barriers that separate us from our ancestors in the faith” (16). Understanding the Old Testament is, for many readers, like finding something in a disorganized closet. Richter’s goal is to bring order to that “dysfunctional closet” by providing an organizing structure. “Until a believer is able to organize what they know about the Old Testament meaningfully, they cannot use it” (19). Richter’s first task in The Epic of Eden is to explain some of the important cultural practices found in the Old Testament. This culture is the “vehicle” through which the story of redemption is communicated (23). Even the concept of redemption, a familiar theological term, is part of the ancient world. To describe that concept, Richter explains that Israel’s culture was patriarchal (the father was the head of the family unit), patrilineal (inheritance was passed down from one patriarch to another), and patrilocal (the family unit, led by the father, resided in one home). With this understanding in place, the reader of the Old Testament can begin to grasp that “the idea of redemption was intrinsically linked to the familial responsibilities of a patriarch to his clan” (40). A patriarch could redeem his kin out of poverty, providing a future for her the way that Boaz redeemed Ruth. He could buy her freedom, the way that Hosea redeemed Gomer. Richter also explains how the Old Testament’s story enfolds through time, beginning in the ancient, indefinite past of Adam to the Babylonian exile and beyond, and in space, particularly in the Fertile Crescent, constituted primarily by Mesopotamia, Israel, and Egypt. An understanding of both the chronology of the Old Testament’s story and its geographical setting helps readers understand this story of redemption. The main organizing structure that helps readers get their “closets” in order is the concept of the covenant. The story of the Old Testament is built around five “covenantal interactions,” when God makes an agreement with a representative figure. These five figures are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David (70). These covenant figures represent people the way a patriarch represents a family. In that way, covenants established a “fictive kinship” (70). Covenants bound these previously disparate parties together. Covenants in the ancient Near East were made between two parties, either between equals or between a suzerain and a vassal. The latter type of agreement was made between a stronger nation and a weaker one, or between a lord and his servants. The suzerain promised protection to the vassal and, in return, the vassal promised tribute to the suzerain. When these parties made a covenant, the covenant was sealed by a sacrifice, symbolizing what would happen to the party (usually the vassal) that broke the treaty. Obedience to the terms of the covenant brought blessings to the vassal, while disobedience brought curses. Richter shows that the elements of the form of a typical ancient Near East treaty are all found in the covenant that Yahweh made through Moses with Israel at Mount Sinai. Richter begins to explain the story of these five covenants by looking at God’s designs for mankind in the garden of Eden. According to her, “in Eden we find Yahweh, the suzerain lord, promising to his vassals, Adam and Eve, the land grant of paradise if they will remain loyal to their agreement. The blessings are many, the stipulations few” (92). The “one edict” that forbade Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “encompasses the singular law of Eden—God is God, we are not” (92). If Adam and Eve obeyed God, they would have remained “the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God” (104). (Richter often uses that phrase to describe God’s covenant people.) If they obeyed, they would have found rest. Alas, they did not, and mankind has been restless and rootless ever since. Before describing the other covenants and their respective figures, Richter shows how the epic that began in Eden finds its conclusion in the renewed, restored, and expanded garden paradise that is the New Jerusalem, the place where God’s people dwell in his presence. Having presented the beginning and the ending of the Bible’s grand story, Richter then proceeds to explain the major features of Israel’s history through the other covenantal interactions that involve Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. The way back to Eden will proceed through one man, his family, the nation that grows out of that family, and the king that will rule over that nation. After concluding her discussion of the Old Testament, Richter writes a chapter on how Jesus, the anticipated Messianic King, establishes the new covenant, thereby fulfilling God’s promises. She also includes a brief chapter addressing two frequently asked questions: how the Old Testament law applies to Christians and what we are to think of modern-day Israel. The strengths of Richter’s book are many. It provides an excellent introduction to the Old Testament’s structure, focusing primarily on the beginning of the story and the covenantal interactions with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. She also shows these covenantal interactions anticipate, and find their fulfillment in, the most significant covenantal head in the Bible, Jesus. Along the way, Richter illustrates how knowledge of the ancient Near East’s culture can help readers of the Old Testament gain a better theological understanding of Scripture. In addition to the previously mentioned details, Richter provides helpful insights on the opening chapters of Genesis, their relation the age of the universe, and the genealogies found in the Bible. By writing clearly, using visual aids such as charts, maps, and illustrations, and relegating many of the more technical discussions to endnotes, Richter has written a book that can be appreciated by motivated lay readers. However, pastors and scholars will likely glean some new information from her book. It is hard to find weaknesses in The Epic of Eden. One might have hoped for a greater explanation of how the opening chapters of Genesis hint that Yahweh created the universe and Eden to be a temple and how he created Adam and Eve to be royal priests. Yet the theme of the temple is addressed later in the book. One might find other authors’ description of God’s covenant people to be slightly better than Richter’s “the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God.” Personally, I find Vaughan Roberts’s definition of the kingdom of God to be superior: “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.” Certainly, themes such as temple, covenant, kingdom of God, and atonement are more thoroughly addressed in other works. Yet the subtitle of The Epic of Eden promises a “Christian Entry into the Old Testament,” and one would be hard pressed to find a better entry than Richter’s.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    This is one of the greatest, popular-level books I've read on the Old Testament. There are many remarkably helpful chapters in this book - including explanations of patriarchal culture, the economics of the ancient world, and even the geography of the Old Testament region. I gained so many wonderful insights from this volume. The way Richter paints ancient near-east culture, defining words like "redemption" and "covenant", breathes incredible life into the narrative. I also LOVED the way she des This is one of the greatest, popular-level books I've read on the Old Testament. There are many remarkably helpful chapters in this book - including explanations of patriarchal culture, the economics of the ancient world, and even the geography of the Old Testament region. I gained so many wonderful insights from this volume. The way Richter paints ancient near-east culture, defining words like "redemption" and "covenant", breathes incredible life into the narrative. I also LOVED the way she describes the steps of the redemptive story in covenant terms. Her explanations of Mosaic law, as well as its relevance for the modern Christian, gives extremely helpful theological insight to the reader. Honestly, I put down this book and felt extremely excited about the Old Testament story, as well as a bit sad regarding how much the church avoids teaching it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough - every Christian, or those exploring Christianity - should read it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carl Jenkins

    Have you ever felt like the Old Testament was too confusing, didn't make much sense, or seemed too different from the New Testament? Richter's book is one that does well to connect these two covenants into the one over-arching story that they are. In looking at the culture, the geography, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and then Jesus, she does well in connecting all the dots. Anyone wanting a better understanding of how the Bible all fits together would do well to read this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dougald

    I read this for the class I am teaching in the fall. Since I assign it, I will read it. This work gives a very good introduction to reading the OT, especially from a Ancient Near Eastern context. I think it is one of the best books out there for communicating some of the deeper academic questions to a lay audience. She has an excellent writing style as well. I recommend this to scholars, new seminarians, and church goers alike.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I really enjoyed this book, I loved the way Richter ties up the theology with the character, it really does make it all neat. If you have a messy brain, like mine, it gives you a way to help remember the stuff when it's useful. I recommend this book to anyone with a real interest in the theology of the Old Testament, no need to be a scholar but some prior knowledge is helpful.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Destin Givens

    This is by far the best book I've read on the Old Testament to date. It is full of biblical truth, and especially shed new light on the covenants God made with His people throughout the Bible. It gave a wonderful view of Salvation History as a whole. I highly recommend it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Granne52

    This is a fascinating and thrilling overview of God's redemptive plan, explaining the foreshadowing of Christ's fulfillment of that plan through the Old Testament covenant and prophecies.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    A great overview of key events and concepts in the old testament!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Sandra Richter’s recent book, Epic of Eden is a great resource for those with a messy brain in regard to the Old Testament. In this book Richter writes primarily to cure what she has coined “the dysfunctional closet syndrome.” Epic of Eden is intended to assist the reader in overcoming linguistic, historical, cultural, and geographical barriers. This is accomplished mostly through chronology and geography. Richter simplify things by listing five names which serve as signposts for different eras Sandra Richter’s recent book, Epic of Eden is a great resource for those with a messy brain in regard to the Old Testament. In this book Richter writes primarily to cure what she has coined “the dysfunctional closet syndrome.” Epic of Eden is intended to assist the reader in overcoming linguistic, historical, cultural, and geographical barriers. This is accomplished mostly through chronology and geography. Richter simplify things by listing five names which serve as signposts for different eras (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David). Further, three places are given in the Ancient Near East to give the biblical narratives a real place (Mesopotamia, Canaan, Egypt). The first of Richter’s key points is the concept of redemption through the lens of Israel’s tribal or patriarchal culture. Then the concept of covenant (berit) is explored. This is laid as framework for the book. With the notion of covenant laid out, Richter writes on God’s original intent in the Garden of Eden and his final intent in the New Jerusalem. Next, the author guides the reader chronologically through the Old Testament by enumerating Yahweh’s covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and finally the New Covenant enacted by the incarnate Jesus. In essence, the covenants expand their limits from one man and one woman (Adam & Eve) to the church and all people (New Covenant, Christ). In this book, Richter is primarily dealing with two things. The first is a disorganized knowledge of the Old Testament. The second is a misunderstanding of the Old Testament’s culture and theology. Through her treatment of covenant, the reader is given an organizational system for the information and a better understanding of the patriarch’s world. Through her explanation of creation, redemption, genealogies, and geography the reader is able to traverse the various barriers of a distant and different culture. Ultimately, Richter is providing the reader with a biblical theological hermeneutic - a lens through which to view the Old Testament. For the Epic of Eden, Yahweh’s covenants with his people, co-opted from Ancient Near Eastern treaties, are the best way to grasp the information given in the Old Testament. With any book, there will be merits and faults of the material. Richter’s primary accomplishments are organization and helping her readers through Old Testament culture shock. She helps us organize, but she also explains Ancient Near Eastern culture in a relatable way. For example, the firstborn received a double portion because of their pivotal role in Israelite society, not an overt favoritism (p. 29). Also, she explains how the covenant in patrilineal societies was a way of making non-family into family (p. 30). Richter fulfills her purpose well by giving the reader a good framework for the Old Testament through the five covenants. Her book is an excellent resource for any layperson. Her style is simple, and not too academic or dense. As the title suggests, Epic of Eden is about understanding all of the Old Testament in light of Genesis chapter one. This work covers introductory material, but it aims at the heart of a great misunderstanding of the Old Testament’s culture and stories. The book successfully cleans up the metaphorical messy closet. Another way that Epic of Eden fulfills its purpose is by its treatment of the word redemption. Admittedly, the word has strong usage among Christians, but the author shows that it is originally rooted in the laws and social mores of Israel’s patriarchal culture. In order to bridge the gap between the Old and New Testaments, understanding the idea of redemption is beneficial, maybe even essential. Richter illustrates how Abraham, Boaz, Hosea, and Jesus all illustrated the idea of being a kinsman-redeemer (go el). Far too many Christians today struggle with the relevance of the Old Testament to their lives. With an understanding of patriarchal culture and the patriarch’s covenant with Yahweh, redemption then becomes one way of illuminating our view of Christ in the New Testament. In other words, knowing the various events of redemption in the Hebrew Bible can enlighten our understanding of truth unveiled by Yahweh in all scripture. As said before, covenant is the organizing theme of Richter’s work. The idea of covenant should help many to be aware of what is happening in the Old Testament in terms of overall themes and motivations. This very concept may expand the book’s ability to be relevant to people who do not understand the Old Testament at present. Richter’s book highlights the importance of grasping the historical ramifications of covenant in the Bible. Furthermore, one point of disagreement with the author is in regards to the issue of genealogies. In her discussion on the impossibility of dating Eden (p. 51), Richter succinctly argues that genealogies do not always detail every descendant. However, in regard to the lifespans of pre-diluvian patriarchs, she ignores a hermeneutic rule of interpretation where the plain sense of scripture is taken as true unless otherwise denoted. Taking into account extra-biblical sources (e.g. Sumerian kings who live thousands of years) is probably not enough to influence one’s understanding of pre-flood patriarchs, especially in light of Genesis 6:3. What are the “other messages” that the genealogies of Genesis 5 are communicating? While the author does effectively organize a biblical hermeneutic for laity, this may be to the detriment of other wonderful stories which fill out the Old Testament. Quite a few stories are starkly absent in her book (e.g. Cain, Esau, Joseph, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel, Esther, Job, Daniel, Jeremiah, Amos, Haggai, and many others). Understandably, space is limited, but it is disappointing that Epic of Eden did not devote any attention to Wisdom Literature or the Minor Prophets.If Richter is aiming to help us organize our thoughts about the Old Testament, it would have been helpful for her to discuss these aspects.Why is there no mention of Wisdom Literature? Where do we put Job and his theology in our covenant closet? In addition to this point, Richter could have expanded her writing by including various peoples who broke covenant with Yahweh and suffered the consequences. Other than God’s original intent in Eden and Israel in exile, there seemed to be little attention to the failure of God’s creation to keep covenant with Yahweh. Similarly, how does the Old Testament point to Christ? A discussion of Christology in the Old Testament would have been helpful. One point of concern is regarding what is termed as “getting Adam back to the garden.” Richter called this God’s final intent (p. 129). Although, this may be a simplistic approach to understanding the Old Testament. Perhaps a better understanding of God’s final intent might not include a return to the garden, but God redeeming his creation into something better, by bringing them into the Heavenly Father’s house (bet ab). For Christians, the New Jerusalem is not a return to the garden, it is God redeeming the fall of humanity into something like Eden, yet so much better. Yes, it is the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God, yet, we are not aiming to go back to Eden, but ultimately to bring heaven to earth (Revelation 21). In summary, while not being an exhaustive treatment of the Old Testament, Richter’s Epic of Eden suitably gives the reader a good framework and foundation for further study of the Hebrew Bible.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher S.

    “The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry Into the Old Testament” by Sandra L. Richter is premised on the belief that most believers under the New Covenant believe that the Old Covenant is an anachronism and, therefore, irrelevant or that the Old Covenant is too confusing. Richter’s solution to these premises is to outline why the Old Covenant is absolutely foundational (and thus relevant) to the New Covenant believer, and she provides a helpful lens through which to view the Old Testament so that th “The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry Into the Old Testament” by Sandra L. Richter is premised on the belief that most believers under the New Covenant believe that the Old Covenant is an anachronism and, therefore, irrelevant or that the Old Covenant is too confusing. Richter’s solution to these premises is to outline why the Old Covenant is absolutely foundational (and thus relevant) to the New Covenant believer, and she provides a helpful lens through which to view the Old Testament so that the message of the Old Testament comes alive to today’s reader. Richter magnificently accomplishes her task in this helpful book. For those who have a hard time understanding the relationship of the Old Testament trees to its forest as it were, this book will provide a helpful foundation. In seminary I specialized. In the Old Testament; therefore, Richter’s book did not provide me with new information. Nonetheless, I found this book to be an exceptional review, expertly conceived and clearly written. What is more, as I pondered the contents of the Old Testament, I paused many times throughout this book to worship my Lord and Savior for His master plan for the ages. One could sense from her writing that Richter was similarly moved as she penned this book. So this book is both academic and devotional in equal measures, thus it is a helpful and enjoyable read indeed. But there are a few cautions here. I found Richter’s view of the creation account confusing at best and less than transparent at worst as she failed to commit to a literal 7 days of creation reading of the Genesis account. I also found her discussion of Law and Gospel and her position on the continuity/discontinuity issue vis a vis Israel to be less than stellar. But these defects in no way detract from the overall value of this book, which I commend to you. I greatly enjoyed this book and I believe you will enjoy it too. Happy reading!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    Richter gives us a solid book taking us through the "first half" of the story of salvation. The historical perspective here adds depth to the spiritual reality of the gospel, a welcome change from efforts to "explain away" the supposed irrationality of Christian belief. Richter, on the whole, takes a solidly "mere Christianity" / little-o orthodox approach here, though some elements of her ideas around atonement veer into a penal substitutionary model rather than an appropriately Patristic model Richter gives us a solid book taking us through the "first half" of the story of salvation. The historical perspective here adds depth to the spiritual reality of the gospel, a welcome change from efforts to "explain away" the supposed irrationality of Christian belief. Richter, on the whole, takes a solidly "mere Christianity" / little-o orthodox approach here, though some elements of her ideas around atonement veer into a penal substitutionary model rather than an appropriately Patristic model. She elucidates the entirety old testament as a series of covenants between God and a cast of particular main characters spanning specific, discrete periods bookended by major historical events. She's clearly an expert on the Hebrew language and the history, geography, and economics of the ANE; thankfully none of that removes the reality of God's presence from her understanding of the unfolding of the events in the Old Testament. I'd consider this book an indispensable tool for "unlocking" the Old Testament for contemporary Christians (in fact, I was assigned this book in an Eastern Orthodox MTh program specifically to that end).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Highly recommend this book. I have read several books on biblical theology and was wondering what this would add but I learned a lot from this book or at least she explains some common themes in new and helpful ways. The beginning of the book covers some basic hermeneutics categories with very fascinating examples; then, she explains the progress of the Bible's story through Covenant/Kingdom. Not new in itself. But what's different is she makes extra Biblical references in parallel to her explan Highly recommend this book. I have read several books on biblical theology and was wondering what this would add but I learned a lot from this book or at least she explains some common themes in new and helpful ways. The beginning of the book covers some basic hermeneutics categories with very fascinating examples; then, she explains the progress of the Bible's story through Covenant/Kingdom. Not new in itself. But what's different is she makes extra Biblical references in parallel to her explanations so I found it really helpful in situating myself in time and place. And while this is by the publisher's academic division, she's highly readable without dumbing anything down. She does assume familiarity with the Bible's most-known stories but a reader who hasn't "organized their closet" yet.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I grew up going to church, Christian schools and camps - the whole nine - and until this book I never really understood the Old Testament or what God was doing there. This book is pivotal - an easy to understand, wonderfully written and deeply insightful look into the God who loves a fallen world and has gone to great lengths to rescue it. This book will help you understand ancient cultures and how they understood what God was doing and saying to them. It's makes perfect sense of how God seems o I grew up going to church, Christian schools and camps - the whole nine - and until this book I never really understood the Old Testament or what God was doing there. This book is pivotal - an easy to understand, wonderfully written and deeply insightful look into the God who loves a fallen world and has gone to great lengths to rescue it. This book will help you understand ancient cultures and how they understood what God was doing and saying to them. It's makes perfect sense of how God seems one way in the Old Testament and totally different when Jesus came around - our understanding has so much to do with how much we understand about ancient civilizations of the Near East. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who wants to finally understand the Bible as a whole!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy Montero

    This was a helpful and enjoyable read. I think I would enjoy taking one of her classes. This book is useful to (1) gain a better grasp of the OT timeline, (2) a deeper understanding of the significance of OT events through extra-biblical texts and to (3) see how the OT covenants and laws were crucial in setting up Christ's work. I'd recommend this to anyone who has read through the OT at least once, neglected reading the OT and is wanting to understand why the OT matters to Christians today. One This was a helpful and enjoyable read. I think I would enjoy taking one of her classes. This book is useful to (1) gain a better grasp of the OT timeline, (2) a deeper understanding of the significance of OT events through extra-biblical texts and to (3) see how the OT covenants and laws were crucial in setting up Christ's work. I'd recommend this to anyone who has read through the OT at least once, neglected reading the OT and is wanting to understand why the OT matters to Christians today. One of the ways she connects the OT to the NT is by defining words Christians see often (redemption, covenant) through the OT, which I thought was a great way to get others thinking about the differences in how we define those words and how the OT informs or corrects those definitions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Connor Longaphie

    Not a fan of this one. The writing style and structure really didn't work for me. I found a lot of the content useless fluff (which some people really enjoy) and some actual content really disagreeable. Not that I rate low for disagreements, but there's not a lot of sufficient explanation on much of anything To be honest. An issue I will seemingly forever have with modern books, "introductions", and yes... Modern introductions. I think though, this would really work well for someone who hasn't r Not a fan of this one. The writing style and structure really didn't work for me. I found a lot of the content useless fluff (which some people really enjoy) and some actual content really disagreeable. Not that I rate low for disagreements, but there's not a lot of sufficient explanation on much of anything To be honest. An issue I will seemingly forever have with modern books, "introductions", and yes... Modern introductions. I think though, this would really work well for someone who hasn't read the Old Testament, which, if I'm correct is the goal; to clear up and organize ones messy and confused understanding of the Old Testament.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    While this book is written in a more academic fashion than probably most of the books that I have read recently, it was very understandable and pointed out connections and parallels between the OT and the NT that I had not previously considered. I appreciated the author’s knowledge and research of historical content as well as Biblical knowledge and content. As I am reading through the Old Testament currently, it was very helpful and eye opening. Overall, very well researched and written - would While this book is written in a more academic fashion than probably most of the books that I have read recently, it was very understandable and pointed out connections and parallels between the OT and the NT that I had not previously considered. I appreciated the author’s knowledge and research of historical content as well as Biblical knowledge and content. As I am reading through the Old Testament currently, it was very helpful and eye opening. Overall, very well researched and written - would definitely recommend.

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