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The Faith of Israel, 2nd Edition

A Theological Survey of the Old Testament

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"Dumbrell's grasp of both the theological issues and scholarly debate is remarkable. . . . An excellent first port of call for anyone wishing to think seriously about the meaning and significance of any OT book."--Jamie Grant, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

For years, William Dumbrell's comprehensive survey, The Faith of Israel, has introduced students and pastors to the theological emphases of the Old Testament. Revised throughout with substantial new material, this new edition updates the book for today's students.

Dumbrell traces the theological movement of each Old Testament book through the Hebrew canonical sequence of Law, Prophets, and Writings, "the manner in which Israel presented her faith." He not only brings forth insightful points and themes within each book, but he also makes original and refreshing connections to themes in other Old Testament books. This in turn leads to a discussion of the theology of the entire Old Testament canon.

"The authors of the biblical material had defined objectives in mind," writes Dumbrell. "The present work seeks to come to terms with such objectives and to present the theology underlying them." This book, then, shows how the Old Testament is not merely about ancient Israel or heroic individuals with exemplary morals. It is a book about God-his character, nature, and work in history. There are many ways to look at the Old Testament-survey the content, examine the historical movement, discuss critical issues-but this text discerns what the Old Testament says about God.

The Faith of Israel offers students and seminarians a comprehensive overview of the Old Testament that serves as a helpful complement to traditional survey texts. It is well-organized and divided into manageable sections, unified by an underlying theology that "God will not withdraw from his commitment to the world, a commitment given at creation and then affirmed through the call of Israel."


"The Faith of Israel is the best survey of the Old Testament, bar none. Professor Dumbrell not only describes the contents and literary structure of the text clearly and concisely, but does so on the basis of a biblical theology in which the historical progress of revelation, the covenants as key to the narrative plot structure, and the final shape of the Hebrew canon govern the interpretation and presentation. Here is an introduction in which the larger story of Scripture is the sole theological framework and worldview for understanding all its parts. Ideal for layman or pastor or college/seminary student."-Peter J. Gentry, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Dumbrell is a well-trained and highly seasoned scholar whose historical, exegetical, and theological skills are evident throughout this erudite volume. Every page has clear, careful explanations for those looking at the issues for the first time as well as cogent, well-documented arguments useful to the professional scholar. Dumbrell packs an enormous amount of theological acumen into the survey, paying constant attention to the great overall theological themes of Scripture, the individual theological details that give each passage and book their special value, and the historical-literary data. This is the very best sort of Old Testament survey--one that not only teaches facts about the Bible but also shows the purpose and meaning of what you are reading."-Douglas Stuart, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"There is no shortage of good books that provide an introduction to the historical story of Israel in the Hebrew Bible. Creative treatments of the theology of that canon, however, are in shorter supply. Dumbrell's volume helps to address that need. Students are well advised to consult this text, and to read it carefully with an open Bible at hand."-Victor P. Hamilton, Asbury University

"A solid book by a seasoned author for those who are in danger of missing the forest for the trees. Dumbrell marches through each Old Testament book with phrases such as 'the point of the book,' 'the key themes of the book,' and 'the thrust of the section,' pausing now and again to savor some fascinating detail. Helpful to both novice and scholar, especially for the textual and theological interconnections to which he points."-Elmer A. Martens, professor emeritus of Old Testament, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

"All who care for high-grade canonical biblical theology should welcome Dumbrell's magnum opus. Clear and well-informed, thoroughly abreast of current scholarship, and full of good matter economically expressed, this is equally a textbook for students, a reference book for expositors and a guidebook for thoughtful laypeople who want to take the measure of the book of God. Dumbrell does the church masterful service in these close-packed, nutritious pages."-J. I. Packer, Regent College

The Author

  1. William J. Dumbrell

    William J. Dumbrell

    William J. Dumbrell (Th.D., Harvard University) has taught at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, Regent College in Vancouver, and Trinity Theological College in Singapore. He is the author of Covenant and Creation, The End of the Beginning, and The...

    Continue reading about William J. Dumbrell


"[This] second edition has been eagerly anticipated. The long wait is over, and we are not disappointed! . . . With amazing clarity, Dumbrell explores the web of connections that make up the Old Testament (e.g. the Adam-Israel typology). . . . This splendid volume makes an ideal companion and resource for the student in college courses that survey the Old Testament, and many seminaries are likely to give The Faith of Israel a prominent place in textbook lists. This reviewer would make a plea to the publisher to keep this volume in print for many years. Dumbrell has bequeathed to all students of the Bible an enduring legacy."--Greg Goswell, Reformed Theological Review

"Dumbrell's fine work is all that it claims to be: a survey of the main theological themes of each book of the Old Testament. Which, when one thinks about it, is a mammoth task which, it must be said, Dumbrell undertakes extremely well. . . . Dumbrell's book is an immensely helpful summary of and introduction to the theology of OT Israel. His analyses make sense of texts which are often difficult to understand as a whole without some background knowledge of the setting, history, and culture. He goes beyond the purely descriptive to answer the 'So what?' questions. Dumbrell's discussion of the theology of each OT book brings a real sense of significance to his consideration of the content of each book. . . . Dumbrell has written an excellent and very helpful introduction to the theology of the Old Testament-it is especially a book from which undergraduate theology students and Christians who are interested in doing more reading in the OT will benefit immensely. Dumbrell's grasp of both the theological issues and scholarly debate is remarkable and The Faith of Israel is an excellent first port of call for anyone wishing to think seriously about the meaning and significance of any OT book."-Jamie Grant, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

"Thoroughly revised and incorporating insights from recent scholarship, this survey proceeds through each of the OT books according to the Hebrew canonical order. . . . It is difficult to imagine that any student of theology would not benefit from studying with this [book] in one hand and a Bible in the other."--Nathan MacDonald, Themelios

"The overarching contribution of The Faith of Israel is its unified, canonical approach to the Old Testament. The reader is constantly reminded of the wider literary context of the Old Testament as well as links with the New Testament writings. Dumbrell has amassed a lifetime of learning into a relatively slim volume. For this, readers are in his debt. . . . A good introduction to the essential content and narrative flow of the Old Testament with an emphasis on the interconnectedness of its constituent parts and its anticipation of further developments."--Brian D. Russell, Review of Biblical Literature

"A theological survey of the Old Testament written by a reputable Old Testament biblical scholar and theologian. It reflects unquestionably the thoughts of a seasoned professor and is therefore able to provide helpful assistance to both the specialist and the novice to aid them in understanding the faith of Israel. With its theological themes, the expositor will appreciate what Dumbrell has done to draw out important motifs, while the beginner will be grateful for the simple and lucid presentation of the content of each OT book. . . . The author is to be applauded for his wide knowledge of Ancient Near Eastern cultures and its relevant issues in relation to Old Testament texts. . . . The author is to be commended for linking some Old Testament texts with New Testament themes into his presentation. . . . This book is well worth the cost for the reader who is looking for a good theological survey of the Old Testament."--Joseph Too Shao, Evangelical Review of Theology

"A useful introductory survey for those from a conservative background wanting to discover more about the structure and content of the OT."--P. Jenson, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

"Dr. Peter Gentry . . . regards this volume by William S. Dumbrell, the well-respected Old Testament scholar, as 'the best survey of the Old Testament, bar none' (back cover blurb). And it is easy to see why. With scholarly expertise and panache Dumbrell deftly summarizes the contents of each of the Old Testament books, elucidating their central themes and structures. . . . There is an enormous amount of wisdom packed into these pages. Pastors preaching through an Old Testament book would do well to have this work as a constant source of reference."--Michael A. G. Haykin, Gospel Witness

"A basic strength of this volume is that it approaches the theological content of the OT holistically. . . . This volume goes beyond normal introductions to the OT by treating with greater depth and breadth the theology of each book. Dumbrell's conservative treatment of the material on the whole is a welcome change from most volumes of this sort which tend toward a liberal, theological bias."--Donald Shackelford, Stone-Campbell Journal

"The reader, upon noting the title, should not be deceived into thinking that this is a simplistic collection of handbook-entry-summaries. Dumbrell does provide summary details, but his readings are often thought-provoking and stimulating. . . . Extremely useful. Teachers should recommend this book to their students; pastors should use this work and get it into the hands of their members."--David M. Phillips, Ashland Theological Journal

"Fortified by new research and fresh insights into the purpose and function of canon, the author has expanded upon and updated his initial treatment of the subject (early 1980s) in this second edition. Adhering closely to the title of the book, the author proceeds, in a very systematic yet concise fashion, to elucidate the chief theological ideas, themes, and goals of every book in the Hebrew canon. . . . An excellent resource for college/seminary students and all clergy who desire to gain a solid grasp of the theology of the first testament."--Kevin Mellish, Religious Studies Review

"Perhaps the greatest contribution of Dumbrell lies in his exposition of the biblical covenants and his clarification of the intricacies of covenant terminology. . . . His incisive analysis of the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic covenants and the 'new covenant' of Jeremiah 31 shows their essential interconnection and compatibility, and all this becomes groundwork for developing a convincing biblical theology. . . . His own acumen as a biblical theologian reveals itself again and again in this illuminating work. . . . The author shows a remarkable facility for elucidating the literary and theological cohesion of the canonical books."--Greg Goswell, New Life