Book Review – The Message of Genesis 12-50 (Joyce Baldwin)

This volume of the Bible Speaks Today series picks up where David Atkinson’s one left off, although it actually was published earlier. Baldwin starts off with an introduction that recaps the story of creation, and deals with some of the modern scepticism concerning the historicity of the patriarchs. She clearly has an interest in archaelogical finds, and often fills in historical details throughout the commentary. She does not however seem particularly interested in engaging with questions like “how come the patriarchs got to have more than one wife?”.

It covers the latter 39 chapters of Genesis, and includes most of the Biblical text, only leaving out a few lists of names. This takes up a significant amount of the available space, meaning that each chapter only has room for 3 or 4 pages of comments. The space is mainly used to recap on the story and supply any additional historical information required to understand it. Points of practical application can be found in most sections, although they are usually fairly brief comments, and the book does not take on the sermon-like style of some others in the BST series. Often parallels are hinted at between the types of difficulties the patriarchs and their families faced and the ones we do.

The book is broken into four main sections covering the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. God’s purpose in bringing blessing and salvation to the world through small beginnings is traced throughout. Links with the work of Jesus are made in the obvious places, as ultimately Baldwin sees Genesis as “an epitome of the gospel”. The book closes with a brief recap of the main themes.

This volume is well suited as a companion guide to use as you read through Genesis, as it helps you to appreciate things you might otherwise have missed. However, it is not really a reference book, neither is it particularly aimed at providing a structured outline for Bible study of each chapter. As with all BST volumes, it takes the text seriously as the Word of God, believing it to be relevant for us today.

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  1. Pingback: Commentary Series Review – Bible Speaks Today « wordandspirit

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