The Old Testament for a Complex World

How the Bible’s Dynamic Testimony Points to New Life for the Church

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What if the Bible, which has come to us through a complex process, is just the resource we need to speak to the challenges of living as Christians in a complex world?

In today's era of significant cultural upheaval, studying the Old Testament can seem impractical or irrelevant. Cameron Howard identifies ways the biblical authors adapted popular culture, rethought theological assumptions, and developed new literary genres in order to testify to the faithfulness of God amid ancient political, cultural, and religious turmoil. By showcasing the Bible's creativity, Howard reminds readers that hope for the future can be found even in the most ancient corners of our tradition.

This book reclaims the Old Testament as a vital resource for today's church, showing how critical study of these texts helps us understand the Bible as a dynamic testimony for our changing future. It will appeal to professors and students of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, as well as to pastors.

1. The Bible's Dynamic Witness
2. Adapting Popular Culture
3. Rethinking Theological Assumptions
4. Developing a New Genre
5. Biblical Foundations for Creative Change


"The problems that beset church and society are profound and ever more evident in the tattering of our daily lives. Yet one resource of enormous profundity sits right before us, largely unopened, unread. In this inspiring book, Cameron Howard unleashes the Old Testament's power to address what ails us and to point us toward a more flourishing world for all."

Jacqueline Lapsley, dean, vice president of academic affairs, and professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

"The Old Testament is at once one of the most interesting and most misunderstood bodies of literature in the world. The church, which ought to be among its most appreciative audiences, is instead often at a loss for what to say about it and how to hear it in our own times. This book emerged from deep interactions between the church and scholarship. It offers the reader both new foundations and concrete ways forward to reintegrate this majority portion of the Bible back into the life of the church at a time when we most need it. And I can think of no better guide than Cameron B. R. Howard."

Christopher B. Hays, D. Wilson Moore Professor of Old Testament and ANE Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Cameron Howard describes interpretation as something akin to an atomic particle collision between reader, biblical text, and the energizing wind of the Spirit. The result of this impact? The possibility of 'new molecules of interpretation, releasing energy as light and beauty.' Howard then arranges just such a collision in this illuminating and beautifully written book, showing us, in the process, how the 'iconically old' Old Testament from bygone 'Bible times' nevertheless reflects a truly dynamic ethos. In three helpful case studies, we are shown how Scripture captures and canonizes 'required innovation.' The result of this book? Provocations of possibility and hope for the church--and a world--that finds itself in difficult days. Here is a volume that can change and help the church, those who belong to it, and those who serve it."

Brent A. Strawn, professor of Old Testament and professor of law, Duke University

"Dr. Howard effectively connects the world of critical biblical scholarship to today's Christian communities. She rightly rejects the diminished relevance of the Old Testament and instead contends that the church must reclaim the entirety of Scripture as a generative and faithful source for the thriving of God's people. Readers will discover the ways that seemingly arcane topics such as the genre of apocalypse can inspire new approaches to church leadership."

Roger S. Nam, professor of Hebrew Bible, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"Cameron Howard presents a bold, new approach to a persistent, old challenge--the relevance and authority of the Old Testament to the life of faith. She grapples with the dynamic complexity of the Old Testament head-on and offers a convincing case that this complexity is itself a gift."

Rolf Jacobson, professor of Old Testament and director of the MDivX Pilot Project, Luther Seminary

The Author

  1. Cameron B. R. Howard

    Cameron B. R. Howard

    Cameron B. R. Howard (PhD, Emory University) is associate professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has also taught at the Interdenominational Theological Center and the School of Theology at Sewanee. Howard has...

    Continue reading about Cameron B. R. Howard


"In this sweeping debut, Howard . . . argues that critical biblical scholarship on the Old Testament offers an expansive, nuanced interpretation of scripture that can aid Christians in addressing contemporary challenges. . . . Howard posits that awareness of diversity of authorship and conflict within scripture could lead the church beyond static understanding of specific texts to an acceptance that early Christians also wrestled with ambiguity and uncertainty. . . . Howard asserts that faithful biblical interpretation acknowledges the Old Testament as a dynamic text, and thus requires readers to be willing to be guided by a 'dynamic Spirit.' This impressive analysis will resonate with any Christian interested in the evolution of biblical criticism."

Publishers Weekly