The Faith of Israel, Introduction

I’m starting to read William Dumbrell’s book: The Faith of Israel. I found the book at a used book store for $6 and passed on it and forgot about it, until I later found it again at the same store on the $1 shelf. I’ll put a few notes on the blog as I read through it.

OT Progression

According to Dumbrell, the Old Testament is an unfolding progression in revelation around the following primary ideas:

Creation Siniatic CovenantPromise of a New CovenantNew Creation

This progression is not all-encompassing, of course.  It leaves out Abraham and David.  I’ll have to read more to see how Dr. Dumbrell fleshes out his proposal.


The book follows the Canonical order of the Hebrew Bible (since this is the order in which Israel presented her faith – and the book is a study of Israel’s faith) and is broken down into 4 parts:

  1. The Law
  2. The Former Prophets
  3. The Later Prophets
  4. The Writings

Central Theme

Does the Old Testament have one primary central theme. This is an interesting topic to me since most recent Evangelical Old Testament theologies try to develop a single primary theme around which all the texts are centered. Dr. Dumbrell states:

Much attention has been given in recent years to the question of a center for Old Testament theology. In view of the canonical (and I would argue, the historical) unfolding of Israel’s faith, such a search for a center becomes illusory and unnecessary.

I’m not sure whether I’ll agree or disagree with this statement when I finish the book. I like some of the simple centers that have been proposed like “God’s People in God’s Place under God’s Rule“. Then again, some authors struggle to make every key passage of the Old Testament to be a development or unfolding of what they perceive to be the singular focus of the whole.

In my opinion, Christ is the center of all of Scripture, but Christ is not a theme, he is the incarnate Son of God.

Higher Criticism

Regarding higher and form criticism, Dr. Dumbrell states,

…To be rejected also, in view of this final canonical redaction, is the idea of inconsistent, differing theologies, often claimed for different Old Testament traditions (e.g. J vs P). …it cannot be emphasized too strongly that we must interpret what we have. The identification of sources becomes a very subjective process and is always subject to dispute. …modern disciplines ..have tended to diminish the importance ascribed twenty years ago to form criticism.

This is not exactly a strong fundamentalist statement (no mention of inerrancy…yet), but it does show that Dumbrell intends to deal with the Old Testament Scriptures only in the form in which it has been given to us.


This doesn’t exactly appear to be heart-warming material, but I’m hoping it is an educational and interesting read, none-the-less.


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