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Israel and the Nations: A Mission Theology of the Old Testament.

Israel and the Nations: A Mission Theology of the Old Testament. By James Chukwuma Okoye. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2006. Pp. 224. Paperback $28.

Text and Task: Scripture and Mission. Edited by Michael Parsons. Milton Keynes, Eng.: Paternoster Press, 2005. Pp. 232. Paperback 19.99 [pounds sterling].

When investigating a biblical text, confessedly Christian Old Testament scholars like myself can never be satisfied with having parsed Hebrew verbs, grasped the literary beauty of the narrative, felt the pathos of the psalmist, or appreciated the rhetoric of the prophets. An important aspect of our calling is to reflect on the contribution the immediate text makes to the overall message of Scripture and its implications for the life and mission of the church. These two volumes not only offer a needful reminder of this obligation but also point their readers in directions they need to consider. The first is written by a single individual; the second consists of a collection of fifteen essays.

James Chukwuma Okoye is a Nigerian by birth and an Old Testament scholar by training (Oxford). He currently serves as associate professor of biblical studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois. In Israel and the Nations Okoye performs a wonderful service for us all in exploring the missiological message of the Old Testament. Among the many helpful insights he offers is a recognition that, as was the case with Israel, God invites us to the privileged role of being engaged in God's own mission of mercy to a fallen world. While he writes as a Catholic and his hermeneutic is based on traditional higher critical models, it is refreshing to see how seriously he takes the work of evangelical Protestant scholars.

If there is anything in the book that disappoints, it is the surprisingly scant evidence of distinctly Afrocentric reflections. A short paragraph at the end of chapter 2 creates anticipation for new Two-Thirds World perspectives on Israel's mission to the nations. However, although Professor Okoye has excellent command of the Old Testament, and although he has written and spoken often on the subject, there is little in the remainder of the book that could not have been written by a North American scholar with European roots.

The second volume is a collection of essays published in honor of John Olley, an Australian who devoted his life to Old Testament scholarship, theological teaching, and missionary practice. Most of the contributors are Australian, and many of the essays speak directly to the Australian context. The topics range widely, from the discussion of specific Old Testament texts related to the theme of mission, to later (New Testament, Reformation, Barthian) use of such texts, and the application of a biblical theology of mission to the contemporary situation. Within the latter we should include the opening essay on the loss of ancestral religion in ancient Israel and modern Australia, and the concluding essays on the recovery of the Gospel in the Australian church and the role of preaching in the recovery of the church's mission. While all the essays are solid, provocative, and relevant for the North American scene, the essay by Christopher Wright, "Reading All Scripture Missiologically," is alone worth the price of the book.

These two volumes will take their places among an increasing number of works that seek to integrate serious biblical study with the life of the ongoing mission and life of the church.

Daniel I. Block is Professor of Old Testament and Ph.D. Program Coordinator, Biblical Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois.
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Title Annotation:Text and Task: Scripture and Mission
Author:Block, Daniel I.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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