I have wanted to write about Steve Moyise’s latest book Jesus and Scripture for some time. Why? Well, besides being a book that discusses an utterly fascinating topic, it is an academic book that appeals to anyone who loves the Bible and its endless intricacy.
Specifically, Moyise’s book aims to look at the various ways Jesus used Scripture (i.e. the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings) in his teachings whether through direct quotes and intentional allusions, or what I like to call ‘soft’ allusions. Still, while an entire study could easily be made of such references, Moyise’s aim is to orient readers to some of the more significant usages of Scripture by Jesus, briefly examine them, and then note how theories presented by modern scholarship about the Gospels, like Q, affect and are affected by appearances of Hebrew Scripture in Jesus’ teachings. And yes, Moyise accomplishes all of this in less than 150 pages.
Moyise examines occurrences of Old Testament passages in Jesus’ speeches from each of the four canonical Gospels, and examines at least one passage from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings as they occur in each Gospel account. Additionally, and in keeping with the introductory tone of the book, he surveys the entire phenomena of quotations in each evangelist (see chapters 1-4).
Thus, the scope of Moyise’s work is both broad (survey) and specific (at least one passage from each section of the Hebrew Bible for each Gospel). Following his look at the Gospels, Moyise recounts the various scholarly approaches to Jesus’ use of the Hebrew Bible classifying them as ‘minimalist’, ‘moderate’, and ‘maximialist’ respectively (chapters 5-7). Each classification name pertains to the degree of reliability scholars do or do not believe the biblical documents to contain. Each position is critiqued, and Moyise states and briefly argues for his own (see Conclusion).
Moyise’s writing is crisp, clear, and moves at a quick but not overwhelming pace. His organization is precise, and his scholarship cutting-edge. Indeed, though the book is very accessible, and the writing clear, its content remains dense and commends itself to a thoughtful and deliberate read.
The appeal of this book–good scholarship, short duration, compelling topic, good writing–is easy to see and its topic is endlessly interesting for everyone who loves to study Scripture. There is no question that Jesus and Scripture is intended for students as an introductory text to the sub-discipline of the Old Testament in the New Testament. However, it is equally clear to me that a text such as this is immensely beneficial for enriching knowledge of the Bible among laity (especially experienced Bible readers and informal students) and will help open eyes to just how richly complex and wonderful the Bible can be–all while still communicating the simple message of the Gospel.
Finally, in 2010 Steve Moyise published Paul and Scripture, a book which follows a very similar format, serves the exact same purposes, and, of course, reflects the same quality scholarship and writing as Jesus and Scripture.