For slightly over a year, James Montgomery Boice preached through the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy. Four major books, often overlooked by the majority of us because of their complexity and removal from today’s society, Boice reorients a person towards them again. He does this by examining one simple premise that flows throughout: the life of Moses.
Never before published, the materials for this book come from a Sunday night series that Boice taught throughout 1993 (and into February 1994). The book is lengthy – 432 pages – and certainly a book of this magnitude must have been a major undertaking (because of their nature, the materials first have to be transcribed from audio recordings before going through the editing required to take a speech and turn it into print, and all this before going through the publishing process). The result is an exceptional book that takes readers on a journey through the Pentateuch (excluding Genesis).
Different than other teachings or writings by Boice, this is not a verse by verse exposition. However, the teachings still follow the order of Scripture and he still manages to teach deeply as he works his way through each passage. The book is organized into five parts:
Parts 1 & 2: The life of Moses through Exodus
Part 3: Israel’s worship while wandering in the wilderness as seen in Leviticus
Part 4: Wanderings through the desert as presented in Numbers.
Part 5: Deuteronomy and a look at the covenant relationship with God
As a result, Boice’s teachings are easy to follow, especially with a Bible open.
Admittedly, the writing can often seem very ‘stiff’ to read. This is likely because they were originally given as spoken teachings and not meant to be read. Adding to that stiffness is the way in which the application is simply appended to the end as though they are mere addendum or afterthoughts.
While each chapter definitely has the feel as though one is reading a sermon, that does not discount the profitable teaching to be found within the binding. While not expositional, Boice is able to major on key points and has finesse in knowing which areas to focus much detail and what areas to simply give a casual nod to. This is an important ability to have when covering large passages of biblical text, often covering several chapters (the most extreme chapter covers 26 chapters of Deuteronomy) and Boice maneuvers with finesse so as to teach what is needed while not being bogged down by too many details.
His ability to maneuver in such a way does not mean that the author avoids any theological teachings. The book is very heavy on doctrine, but with the goal of explaining its application. Readers will not be surprised by major theological deficiencies or erroneous teachings. Certainly, there may be some minor disagreements, but often times Boice does well at not just declaring his own stance but briefly offering insight into the line of thinking the others may follow (for example, at one point he explains the different views taken on the application of Old Testament law for today).
Personally, I found myself enjoying this book immensely and it will be one I return to again. The Old Testament is often overlooked except when utilized as examples (i.e. to show a faithful person like Abraham, or as an examination of remorse over sin like David) and so the teachings are important. Even more, Boice is thorough, bring out aspects that most people will overlook or reminding them of things they may have forgotten. Therefore, shelf space used for The Life of Moses
by James Montgomery Boice would be effectively utilized.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the publisher or any other person associated with this book. It is the result of my own reading.