An exhaustive exegesis of the Book of Jonah...
Arnold breaks his own study into two sections. First, he provides readers with a long, detailed introduction to the Jonah story and its critical reaction over the centuries, and then he offers a “commentary” section in which he reads Christian and Jewish significance into the book...
The author’s prolonged introduction to those 48 verses is a brilliant, thrilling work of textual scholarship that stresses not only Jonah’s similarities to other major Old Testament figures, such as Elijah, but also teases out the character’s “messianic typology” as he’s taken out of the world for three days and returns with a redemptive message. While examining the moment that God commands Jonah to prophesy to a foreign people, Arnold writes, “Jonah’s mission is unique in the Bible.” That one-of-a-kind story gets a first-rate critical appreciation in these pages.
A comprehensive, intensely readable analysis of the broader significances of a well-known biblical tale.
(Pour la recension complète sur Jonas voir le site de KIRKUS REVIEW)
A thorough, textually grounded study of the Old Testament prophet Elisha and the ways he foreshadowed Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
Arnold’s (Elijah Between Judgment and Grace, 2015, etc.) latest book—originally published in French as Elisée précurseur de Jésus-Christ. Commentaire de 2 Rois 2-9 (2002) and here translated by Ludwig—is a meticulously detailed study of the prophet Elisha in the second book of Kings, with the specific thesis that he was an identifiable precursor to Jesus Christ. At first glance, this seems like a tall order, since, among other things, Elisha is portrayed as not merely a prophet but also a publicly esteemed councilor to kings and armies—a worker of miracles, yes, but very much an accepted figure of the establishment rather than a renegade rabbi preaching in the hinterlands of Nazareth before being put to an ignominious death by the Roman authorities. Yet Arnold argues for their similarities. “To read the ministry of this prophet [Elisha] in the light of the gospel is a source of great blessing,” Arnold writes. “Once you have started, you can hardly stop.” True to his word, Arnold proceeds to enumerate the many affinities between the two men: both worked many miracles, both seemed in possession of supernatural amounts of knowledge, each was anointed in his ministry by a fellow charismatic prophet figure (Elijah in the case of Elisha; John the Baptist in the case of Jesus), each appeared to need no step-by-step instruction from God, etc. But the greatest strength of Arnold’s book is his lively and accessible verse-by-verse analysis of Elisha’s ministry itself. Arnold’s commentary on 2 Kings is superb, drawing on an array of exegetical writing and sparkling with his own insights. Students of biblical studies will find this utterly fascinating reading.
Stimulating study of the career and ministry of the prophet Elisha in parallel to Jesus Christ
(Source: KIRKUS REVIEW)
A review of historical, literary, and spiritual understandings of the biblical prophet Elijah.
Arnold uses the same multifaceted perspective that he brought to Esther: Surviving in a Hostile World (2015) to offer a detailed analysis of Elijah, “one of only two men who never had to die.” He begins with the idea that the prophet both “astounds and confounds” readers, building on two predominant perspectives among biblical scholars; one school of thought regards Elijah as “humble, courageous and obedient,” while the other views him as “proud, fearful, depressive and full of doubts.” Arnold synthesizes his vast amount of research on these competing notions into a larger discussion of Elijah’s strengths and weaknesses: “Elijah seems to struggle in the domain of grace, whereas he excels in the domain of judgement,” he writes, investigating these two biblical themes thoroughly and using them to help explain the prophet’s perplexing nature. The author writes extensively of the literary merits of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, which contain Elijah’s story, addressing its literary devices and providing fascinating interpretations of Elijah’s treatment by God and by the biblical author: “the writer acts exactly like the LORD, who hands over Israel and her king to judgement, but pampers his prophet.” Arnold works to extend traditional literary studies, which are usually limited to specific chapters of Kings, by studying the entirety of the biblical book. His comparisons of Elijah and Moses, as well as his detailed historical context of the times in which Elijah lived, will be of interest to biblical scholars. Overall, the book offers a dense study of a contentious figure that may overwhelm readers who don’t already have a significant interest in Elijah. But those who do will appreciate Arnold’s succinct, engaging ideas.
An exhaustive look at an intriguing Old Testament figure
A Bible commentary embraces literature, history, and theology to better understand the book of Esther.
“The book of Esther is… full of questions that preoccupy modern man: sexism, feminism, racism, genocide,” Arnold writes. “Is it a model for feminists and oppressed minorities….Is Esther an example to follow?” To pursue this question, he conducts extensive analyses of the book of Esther as a literary work, a historical document, a biblical text, and, most important for his primary arguments, as a “hidden message” about the nature of God’s intervention in the lives of believers. Being different in structure, tone, and subject than any other book of the Bible, Esther lends itself well to this thorough study and allows Arnold (Elisha: Forerunner of Jesus Christ, 2015, etc.) to investigate biblical translations, the origin of Purim, and Esther’s place in the historical record. His introduction sets out to show how Esther is affected by drama, intrigue, irony, and especially rhythm—Arnold makes particularly fascinating points about the book’s structure, likening it to varying heartbeats that follow “a crescendo, then a decrease,” in both chapter length and the temporality of the story. In his view, while the book of Esther opens itself to feminist or even post-colonial readings, these elements merely strengthen the text’s messages for believers. “The other questions are peripheral and are only of interest insofar as they convey the author’s message,” he writes, leaving many of those ideas in the footnotes and perhaps missing opportunities to engage with secular interpretations. But for Christian scholars and teachers of the Bible, Arnold acknowledges the inherent difficulties of Esther, namely that it is too long a narrative to easily use in a sermon and that God is never directly mentioned. For that reason, Arnold’s persistent emphasis on tying each piece of analysis to a Christian understanding of the work may become quite useful, especially in his extensive commentary, which breaks down the book of Esther verse by verse, calling on previous research and other biblical texts to further dissect the story for believers.
An impressive and comprehensive study of the book of Esther for Christian scholars.