Allan R. Bevere. The Character of Our Discontent. (Gonzales, FL: Energion Publications, 2010)
Thanks to Energion Publishers for the advance copy!
Allan R. Bevere is the pastor of First UMC in Cambridge, Ohio. His academic training is in theological ethics and New Testament, and he recently has spent time studying constructive theology, philosophy, and the relationship between theology and science. He is also the author of a wonderful little volume, The Character of Our Discontent. The book is a transcription of 19 sermons that he preached based on people in the Old Testament. He wrote the book for two reasons: he believes that the Old Testament is relevant for Christians today and he in convinced that Christian pastors do not preach frequently enough from the Old Testament. So the book is meant to be character forming for Christians and an example to pastors for using the Old Testament in their teaching and preaching ministries. Dr. Bevere is uniquely qualified to write such a book because his academic training is outside the field of New Testament and he is a busy pastor, so it would be easier for him to just preach what he knows best, New Testament.
The book is small, it took a total of thirty minutes to read. And each character in the Old Testament is given a brief sermonic treatment in a way that stays in touch with the text of Scripture being used as well as with New Testament revelation. This is important theologically and practically for Christians. We typically believe that the Old Testament is something the church kept to remind us of the God revealed in Jesus Christ, not to simply give us cute moral lessons, political agendas, or a really long book to read. The best chapters are the one on Ezekiel (19) and the two on Abraham (1 and 2). The book is a pleasure to read and would make a great example for preachers who fear preaching from the Old Testament or those who just are not good at it but try anyway[me]. The short chapters would also make great devotional reading for a high school student of beginning college student.
There are two negatives about the book, kind of. First, the table of contents does not include the name of the Old Testament character featured in the chapter. Second, one might have wished for more direct exposition of the sermon text, but that is my personal sermon style and verse by verse exposition is neither the only or necessarily the best way to bring light to the truth of God's word, so the two negatives are really not very negative at all. I heartily recommend this book to teachers and preachers and to folks looking to get young people interested in the Old Testament.