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Fall 2000 · Vol. 29 No. 2 · pp. 197–98 

Book Review

Old Testament Theology

Elmer A. Martens. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1997. 138 pages.

Reviewed by Douglas B. Miller

The IBR Bibliographies series is designed to provide current bibliographic information concerning the (Protestant) biblical canon for “the minister, rabbi, student, or interested layperson.” This work by Elmer Martens, emeritus Professor of Old Testament at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California, is a welcome tool which fits well into the purpose of this series.

Martens is known in Mennonite Brethren circles as a Bible teacher and churchman, but is also a major player in the scholarly world, both as an Old Testament (OT) scholar and in the complex field of biblical theology. His book, God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology, is now in its third edition, and he continues to publish in academic journals and collections of scholarly essays. It is no vanity on Martens’ part, then, that the present volume lists his own name eight times in the index.

The quality of this volume suggests good things for the rest of the IBR series. An excellent introduction to and overview of the field of OT {198} theology may be accomplished by reading Martens’ pithy paragraphs of orientation sprinkled beneath the book’s chapter headings and elsewhere. It is clear that he is well-versed in the discipline of OT theology.

The table of contents lays out the structure of the work. There are nine major categories: Reference Works, Serial Literature, History of the Discipline/State of the Discipline, Issues in the Discipline, Perspectives on Old Testament Theology, Old Testament Theologies, Theologies of Corpora (sections of the OT canon), Theologies: Book by Book, and Monographs on Selected Biblical Themes. Within each category, and a total of fifty-five subcategories, the works are organized by date. Because of the numerous subcategories, there is inevitable overlap so that a few works, or essays within collections, are listed more than once. There is also an author index.

From articles to collections of essays to one-volume theologies and theological reference sets, over five hundred works are listed, with a few extras tucked inside those which are numbered. Each entry is helpfully annotated, some with cross-references to other works. Several annotations point the reader to additional bibliographies. Consistent with series guidelines, Martens goes lightly on German and other foreign editions, although German authors have been especially prominent in this field. Conveniently many of the most important pieces are in English translation. The last two sections, Book by Book and Biblical Themes, are necessarily a bit more selective and representative than the others but are still very useful.

With its breadth, organization, and annotations, this is an extremely helpful tool. It is highly recommended for pastors, instructors, laypeople, and scholars alike.

Douglas B. Miller
Assoc. Prof. of Biblical and Religious Studies
Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas

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