The Bible Jesus Read Participant's Guide: An 8-Session Exploration of the Old Testament


Award-winning author Philip Yancey serves as guide and interpretive leader of ten video study sessions. In a series of in-depth interviews and explanations he covers five crucial segments of the Old Testament: 1. Job: Seeing in the Dark 2. Deuteronomy: A Taste of Bittersweet 3. Psalms: Spirituality in Every Key 4. Ecclesiastes: The End of Wisdom 5. The Prophets: God Talks Back Philip approaches each of these major segments from a different point of view—from the paradoxes of Ecclesiastes to the poetry of the ...

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Award-winning author Philip Yancey serves as guide and interpretive leader of ten video study sessions. In a series of in-depth interviews and explanations he covers five crucial segments of the Old Testament: 1. Job: Seeing in the Dark 2. Deuteronomy: A Taste of Bittersweet 3. Psalms: Spirituality in Every Key 4. Ecclesiastes: The End of Wisdom 5. The Prophets: God Talks Back Philip approaches each of these major segments from a different point of view—from the paradoxes of Ecclesiastes to the poetry of the Psalms—and adds additional interpretive material extending the reach of his best-selling book. He teams again with the Emmy Award-winning production team responsible for video production of the "What's So Amazing About Grace?" Zondervan Groupware. Many Christians tend to ignore the Old Testament or dismiss it as impenetrable and obscure. Philip Yancey's combination of scholarship and insight brings new light to old material and stimulates new discussion, thought, and further study.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"The more we comprehend the Old Testament," writes Philip Yancey, "the more we comprehend Jesus." In that spirit, this award-winning author approaches seven Old Testament books (Job; Deuteronomy; Psalms; Ecclesiastes; and the Prophets) not as ancient chronicles but as God's biography. As always, Yancey's writing is candid and engaging.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yancey is an astute author who challenges Christians' assumptions without alienating them. In The Bible Jesus Read, Yancey encourages readers to consider how Hebrew Scripture--what Christians call the Old Testament--is relevant to their own lives. His premise is that although many Christians tacitly consider the New Testament more important than the Old, the New Testament was written after Jesus' earthly ministry, making the Old Testament "the Bible Jesus read." Hebrew Scripture was the greatest influence on the mind and spirit of the founder of Christianity, a fact that, in the author's estimation, obligates Christians to know it well. Yancey acknowledges the difficulty of transcending the cultural gulf between modern civilization and ancient Israel and seeks to bridge the gap by highlighting sections of the Old Testament that he initially found hard to appreciate. The writings of the Prophets were particularly obscure to Yancey because of the nonnarrative style and assumption of a warrior culture. However, he gradually discovered the passages' deep relevance to, and resonance with, his own experience. He came to love these Old Testament books when he realized that many of their concerns, such as justice for the poor and faithfulness to God, are timeless. Yancey's lucid style and honest handling of difficult ideas ensure that readers who have enjoyed his earlier books will not be disappointed in this one. (Sept.) FYI: Zondervan will simultaneously release an audio version, read by the author (two cassettes, 2 hrs., $16.99 ISBN 0-310-22982-0). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
CT Staff
In his personally candid style, Yancey looks at the Old Testament, arguing that it is as important as the New Testament and essential to understanding Christ.
Christianity Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310241850
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 660,538
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Yancey serves as editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine. He has written thirteen Gold Medallion Award-winning books and won two ECPA Book of the Year awards for What's So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew. Four of his books have sold over one million copies. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado. Website:

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Read an Excerpt

The Bible Jesus Read Participant's Guide

An 8-Session Exploration of the Old Testament
By Philip D. Yancey


Copyright © 2002 Philip D. Yancey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-24185-0

Chapter One


Is the Old Testament Worth the Effort?

Apart from the Old Testament, we will always have an impoverished view of God. God is not a philosophical construct but a Person who acts in history: the one who created Adam, who gave a promise to Noah, who called Abraham and introduced himself by name to Moses, who deigned to live in a wilderness tent in order to live close to his people. From Genesis 1 onward, God has wanted himself to be known, and the Old Testament is our most complete revelation of what God is like. -Philip Yancey

Questions to Think About

1. When you hear the words "Old Testament," what thoughts and feelings come to mind?

2. What personal challenges have you faced when you have tried to read and understand the Old Testament?

3. What have you enjoyed about your ventures into the Old Testament, and what might be some of the benefits of becoming more familiar with it?

Video Presentation: "Is the Old Testament Worth the Effort?"

God wants us to know about him

What Jesusread

Why read the Old Testament?

Discomfort is not bad

Honest feelings

Video Highlights

1. If the New Testament doesn't give a complete picture of what God wants us to know about him, what do you hope to learn from the Old Testament?

Discovering the Old Testament

There is so much of benefit for us to discover in the Old Testament. If only we would read it, we would:

Gain a better understanding of the Old Testament concepts and allusions found in Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, and other New Testament books.

Begin uncovering the layers of richness in the Epistles and Gospels that shed light backward on the Old Testament.

Understand more about what God is really like and how he has worked-and is working-in the lives of his people.

Benefit from the lessons of faith discovered by ancient Old Testament heroes.

Have a richer, deeper understanding of the redemptive love story between God and his people that continues to unfold today.

Begin to grasp the degree to which what we say, how we behave, and even what we think and feel influences God and how much he delights in us.

Learn the lessons of faith-faith that is entirely human, yet rock-solid-that sustained so many Old Testament characters and can sustain us when we face life's challenges.

2. Which thoughts and emotions began to surface as you watched this video? What surprised you or stood out above the rest?

3. Philip Yancey spoke of the relevance and realism of the Old Testament. What hope does the graphic realism of the Old Testament offer you in relationship to your walk with God?

Large Group Exploration: Why Read the Old Testament?

Years ago most people knew at least something about the Old Testament-the story of David and Goliath, some of the Ten Commandments, or the story of Noah. Today, however, knowledge of the Old Testament is fading fast among Christians and has virtually vanished in popular culture. Let's consider some of the challenges to and benefits of reading the Old Testament.


The Old Testament is not, as one theologian suggested, "reading someone else's mail"; it is our mail as well. The people who appear in it were real people learning to get along with the same God that I worship. I need to learn from their experience even as I try to incorporate the marvelous new message brought by Jesus. -Philip Yancey

1. It's easy to think that we ought to read the Old Testament and therefore lump it into the same category as other things we should do-floss our teeth, exercise regularly, eat right, or listen more attentively to a spouse. In what ways have you felt obligated to read the Old Testament? If you have ever attempted to read through the Bible, such as in a "Read the Bible in a Year" program, how did it work out?

2. From the reading or study you have done, describe the ways in which you have found the God featured in the Old Testament to be similar to or different from the God featured in the New Testament.

3. As he walked along the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to two of his grieving disciples "what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). What does this tell us about Jesus' view of the Old Testament Scriptures? What does it reveal about his love for, commitment to, and understanding of the Old Testament?

4. What unique perspectives on our relationship with God-including our doubts, struggles, and pain-might the Old Testament provide?

Jesus Knew His Bible Well

Jesus often referred to the Old Testament writings and pointed out important facts about himself and his mission. The following chart reveals some of the times when Jesus quoted directly from the Old Testament.

Situation What Jesus Said Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:12 Isaiah 6:9-10 Mark 7:6-7 Isaiah 29:13 Mark 7:10 Exodus 20:12; 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 5:16 Mark 9:48 Isaiah 66:24 Mark 11:17 Isaiah 56:7 Luke 4:4 Deuteronomy 8:3 Luke 4:8 Deuteronomy 6:13 Luke 4:10-11 Psalm 91:11-12 Luke 4:12 Deuteronomy 6:16 Luke 4:18-19 Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 7:27 Malachi 3:1 Luke 10:27 Deuteronomy 6:5 Luke 18:20 Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20 Luke 20:17 Psalm 118:22 John 6:31 Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15 John 13:18 Psalm 41:9

Small Group Exploration: Opening the Curtain on a Bigger Picture of God

The Old Testament reveals a rich picture of what God-the personal God who loves us and wants to be in relationship with us-is like. Let's break into groups of three to five and look at a few "snapshots" of what the Old Testament reveals about God and his relationship with us.

1. What imagery did David use to describe God's care for his people? In what ways is this like or unlike the New Testament image of God? (See Psalm 17:8-9; 57:1; 91:1-4.)

2. What does Isaiah 62:2-5 reveal about God's desire and love for his people? To what does he compare his relationship to his people? What is your response to these expressions of honor and delight?

3. What imagery is used in Isaiah 40:9-11 to show God's love for his people?

4. The Old Testament records times when God allowed people to exert an influence on him as well as times when he exerted his influence on them. Discuss what happened in the following situations, particularly in terms of the relationship between God and his people.

a. Genesis 18:22-33

b. 1 Samuel 7:2-10

5. God wanted the ancient Hebrews to continually remind themselves that the world revolved around God, not themselves. Look up the following verses and describe what God commanded the Israelites to do in order to stay focused on him.

a. Exodus 13:1-16

b. Numbers 15:37-41


I've met a lot of Christians who have only read the New Testament. They may have tried the Old Testament here or there, and found it a little off-putting and just gave up. I feel sad for those Christians, frankly, because I don't think we get a full picture of how a life with God works from the New Testament. -Philip Yancey

Group Discussion

1. The Old Testament is a timeless, inspired message given to us by God that tells us what God wants us to know-about him, about life, and about ourselves. In what ways has what we have seen and discussed together today influenced your view of the Old Testament?

2. The Old Testament gives us an advanced course in life with God and, in so doing, expands our concept of God and helps deepen our relationship with him. Take a few minutes to consider your personal relationship with God in light of what you have explored today.

Personal Journey: To Begin Now

No wonder those of us who have grown up with abstract concepts of God find it confusing to try to make logical sense out of the Old Testament! The Old Testament presents laws and history, but it also speaks to us in images of a God and Creator who desires to be in close relationship with us.

Take some time now by yourself to consider what you have discovered in this session and how it applies to your daily life.

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-12.

1. What kind of a relationship does this passage indicate God wants to have with his people?

2. What was God's overarching concern about his relationship with his people? What things did God want his people to do in order to preserve their relationship with him?

3. Jesus considered the command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" to be the essential commandment. What can you incorporate into your daily life that will help you obey this commandment?

Did You Know?

Unlike many Christians today, the New Testament Christians eagerly pursued the Old Testament Scriptures. They found in the Old Testament a wealth of understanding about the kind of relationship God desired to have with them. Paul, for example, constantly referred to the Old Testament in his writings. Note the many Old Testament connections that appear in the third chapter of Galatians alone!

Galatians 3 Old Testament Connections v. 6 Mentions Abraham's belief Genesis 15:6 v. 8 Mentions God's promise Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18 to bless all nations through Abraham v. 10 Quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 the Old Testament Law v. 11 Quotes from Habbakuk 2:4 an Old Testament prophet v. 12 References Leviticus 18:5 the Old Testament Law v. 13 Quotes an Deuteronomy 21:23 Old Testament verse v. 16 Analyzes several Genesis 12:7; 13:15; and 24:7 Old Testament references

Personal Journey: To Do between Sessions

Set aside at least one hour away from distractions to do the following exercise.

1. Take an inventory of what you believe about the Old Testament. List your likes and dislikes, the things that confuse or excite you, your favorite passages, etc. Be sure to include at least two ways in which you might benefit from further exploration of the Old Testament.

2. Write down some ways in which you might be able to use the above "inventory" to chart a new approach toward the Old Testament. For example, if you tend to be bored by all the history in the Bible, you may want to reread portions of it through the lens of a specific perspective. Instead of focusing on the violence or trying to follow the historic sequence, you may want to look for insight into God's character or look for evidence of his desire for relationship.


It may prove dangerous to get involved with the Bible. You approach it with a series of questions, and as you enter it you find the questions turned back upon you. King David got swept up in a story by the prophet Nathan and leaped to his feet indignant-only to learn the barbed story concerned himself. I find something similar at work again and again as I read the Old Testament. I am thrown back on what I truly believe. I am forced to reexamine.... After spending time exploring the Old Testament, I can truthfully say that I come away more astonished, not less. -Philip Yancey

3. Begin reading the Old Testament. Consider how much of an investment you want to make in exploring the Old Testament and set a goal for yourself. If you get bogged down in a difficult area, feel free to take a refreshing break by going to one of your favorite Old Testament passages then approaching the more difficult passage again later, or, choose a new passage.

Two-Week Old Testament Reading Plan

The Student Bible has a two-week Old Testament reading plan that provides an overview of Old Testament highlights. If you are just beginning to study the Old Testament, it's a good way to start.

Day 1: Genesis 1-The story of Creation Day 2: Genesis 3-The origin of sin Day 3: Genesis 22-Abraham and Isaac Day 4: Exodus 3-Moses' encounter with God Day 5: Exodus 20-The gift of the Ten Commandments Day 6: 1 Samuel 13-David and Goliath Day 7: 2 Samuel 11-David and Bathsheba Day 8: 2 Samuel 12-Nathan's rebuke of the king Day 9: 1 Kings 18-Elijah and the prophets of Baal Day 10: Job 38-God's answer to Job Day 11: Psalm 51-A classic confession Day 12: Isaiah 40-Words of comfort from God Day 13: Daniel 6-Daniel and the lions Day 14: Amos 4-A prophet's stern warning


Excerpted from The Bible Jesus Read Participant's Guide by Philip D. Yancey Copyright © 2002 by Philip D. Yancey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Session 1 Is the Old Testament Worth the Effort?....................9
Session 2 Understanding the Old Testament....................23
Session 3 Job: Seeing in the Dark....................41
Session 4 Deuteronomy: A Taste of Bittersweet....................57
Session 5 Psalms: Spirituality in Every Key....................73
Session 6 Ecclesiastes: The End of Wisdom....................87
Session 7 The Prophets: God Talks Back....................103
Session 8 Advance Echoes of a Final Answer....................119
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2002

    Refreshing Perspective

    Yancey doesn't cover every book of the old testament, or even some of the controversial and hard to deal with issues of the old testament. However, he makes it clear that his intention is only to change the way we view the old testament. I think that Yancey's perspective is refreshing because, unlike most old testament studies, he doesn't just approach the books in a historical manner, using the old testament merely as Judaic background for understanding the new testament. Instead, he views the old testament as a living paralell to our personal struggles with God. The old testament changes from a book that is hard to chew and connect with to a book that probes our deepest wounds and areas of conflict. I highly reccomend this book.

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