When the word ‘exposition’ or any variation thereof is used, immediately people tend to shut down expecting that the topic is both complicated and reserved for pastors alone. It’s understandable considering that the words exposition and expositor are thrown around without proper definitions. That carelessness creates two extremes. One that defines nothing as exposition and the other that defines everything as exposition. With this in mind, author Greg Harris has set out to create expositors of all people through The Expositor’s Bible Handbook: Old Testament.
Dr. Harris uses this opportunity not to create preachers out of every person, but rather to create students out of everyone. Exposition seeks to explain a biblical text in light of its context both within the letter of which it is placed and in the light of the entire revelation of Scripture and with that in mind, the goal of the book is to “establish some biblical boundaries based upon several divine, and immovable, truths for understanding and expositing God’s Word.” Thus, this is a book about how to study the word of God, specifically the Old Testament.
Currently released only in ebook format, this is the first of two parts. The second upcoming volume will, of course, be the New Testament. Upon the completion of the New Testament volume, they will be combined and then published in a hard copy edition. As a professor of Bible exposition and various Bible classes over the last 30 years (currently at The Master’s Seminary and The Master’s University) and as pastor of various churches, Dr. Greg Harris is well-qualified to write this book.
As a former student of Dr. Harris, one of the things I appreciate about him is that he has been through a variety of difficult circumstances in life that gave him no option but to rely upon the Lord. Those circumstances have created a genuine humility that comes across in both his teaching and in who he is as a person. It is with this humility that he writes this book, not merely as one who is seeking to teach because he has the knowledge, but as one who desires to equip believers for the glory of the Lord.
Thus, in 15 chapters he walks readers to major sections of the Old Testament teaching them insights into Scripture and principles of how to study Scripture. Chapter one begins at the most basic level (with a focus on God) and the following chapters each build off of the previous in order to develop a set of principles that readers can use to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures. Each section follows a similar format by laying out a principle, looking at a specific Scripture passage (or passages), followed by some summary remarks and discussion questions. This simple format also follows the author’s simple explanations that make it easy for readers to learn principles and watch how they are applied in regular Scripture reading. Thus it becomes a book a that is easily applicable to the lives of every reader.
As Dr. Harris takes readers through examples of every genre there are two major aspects of the teaching to appreciate. First, Jesus Christ is the main person. With a heavy emphasis on God, Dr. Harris shows us how Jesus Christ is at the heart of God’s plan and teaching throughout the Old Testament. Second, the Bible is the main tool. While not wanting to minimize the valuable tools and resources that Bible students have at their disposal today, the author puts the focus back on using Scripture as the primary tool for interpretation.
As you read through the Bible Expositor’s Handbook: Old Testament you will find a man not only employing a literal-grammatical hermeneutic but also explaining why it matters both in content and consistency. As such he spends a lot of time explaining the various covenants advocating for a distinction between the church and Israel (against the movement of replacement theology). Furthermore, this employment of the literal-grammatical hermeneutic will cause many readers alarm when they find out so many of the Old Testament passages taught to them were done so wrongly (i.e. the fall of Jericho, David & Goliath, and the Lord’s plans in Jeremiah 29:11). However, his explanations are right and biblical, and therefore worthy of attention.
The Bible Expositor’s Handbook’s usefulness goes well beyond pastors and extends to lay leaders, teachers, and all Christians for its application in the study of Scripture. I would highly recommend the book for all those who desire to not just understand Scripture better but desire how to learn to interpret it themselves using right principles. Some quick advice when reading the book though: (1) read it with your Bible open, (2) read it with your pen in hand, and (3) read it with note-taking paper at your side. You would do well to not only read the book but to do so while learning and writing out what you learn.
To purchase a copy of the Bible Expositor’s Handbook: Old Testament, click here.
Dr. Harris is also the founder of Glory Books Ministries, which you can find at glorybooks.org. It is a website full of spectacular resources. The name comes from the Glory Books that he has authored, which are also worthy of your attention. To view and/or purchase any of those books (and its accompanying study guide in parentheses) click the following links:
- The Cup and the Glory (Study Guide)
- The Stone and the Glory (Study Guide)
- The Darkness and the Glory (Study Guide)
- The Stone and the Glory of Israel
One of the things about Dr. Harris’ writings is that these aren’t books he sells in hopes of generating a retirement income, but instead he donates the proceeds to various ministries. So at a very reasonable price, not only do you get edifying and encouraging resources for yourself, but you help fund ministries around the world.
Disclaimer: Dr. Harris was a former professor of mine at The Master’s University for his Worship & Wisdom class (see chapter 12 of the book). I also received this copy from one of his representatives for the purposes of review. However, neither of these aspects affected my review, which is a response of my own reading of the book.