The Old Testament Use of the Old Testament (A Brief Review)

Old Testament Use of Old Testament: A Book-By-Book Guide - Schnittjer, Gary Edward - 9780310571100

Last fall I had my eye on this resource: The Old Testament Use of the Old Testament by Gary Schnittjer. I finally broke down and purchased it a month ago. Since then I’ve had time to read parts of it and look through it in some detail – all 1000+ pages. Below are my brief thoughts on this helpful OT resource.

First of all, this book basically is a deep study of how the OT references itself. For example, the Psalms often echo, cite, or allude to the creation story of Genesis 1-2. Or some of the prophets mention Abraham and David. In other words, sometimes the OT quotes, cites, or alludes to other passages in the OT. This book evaluates those passages and explains them in a commentary-like way. I really appreciate one of Schnittjer’s main interpretive points: “The New Testament uses [OT] Scripture in many of the same ways that Israel’s Scriptures use Scripture” (p. xvii). If you’re interested in how the NT utilizes the OT, you’ll be interested in this similar topic of how the OT utilizes the OT. I should also mention that Schnittjer understands the progressive aspect of OT revelation – that’s a helpful aspect to remember in a book like this!

Second, the book is for advanced readers. You don’t necessarily need to know Hebrew or Greek to understand and read the book (although knowing the original languages does help in reading this book). But you do need to be a more advanced reader to dig into The OT Use of the OT. It’s pretty thick and detailed! You’ll run across terms like locution, paradigmatic shaping, diachronic, Tanak, and Septuagint. There is a helpful glossary which defines these terms. But it’s still work to read! I had to read parts of the introduction several times to really get it.

(The intro to Ezekiel)

Third, The OT Use of the OT is a very good resource! Schnittjer spent years working on this book before it was finally published last year. It’s well written, well edited, and well laid out. The OT Use of the OT has a chapter devoted to every OT book from Genesis to Chronicles (following the order of the Tanak). Each chapter goes through the specific OT book and points out references to other OT passages in that book. For example, if you’re reading Schnittjer’s chapter on Exodus, after an intro, you’ll find comments on these passages: Ex 16:30, 20:8-11, 31:12-17, 34:6-7, 34:11-16, 34:18-20, 34:22-24, 35:2-3, and 40:33. Those passages in Exodus reference other OT passages, so Schnittjer examines them and discusses the OT cross references.

Finally, I do appreciate Schnittjer’s tables and figures in the book. It’s hard to describe them well here, but there are many tables that compare two very similar OT texts. There are line charts that draw lines from several OT texts to other OT texts to show relationships. And at the beginning of every chapter there is a table that very briefly gives every OT reference in the OT specific OT book. For example, if you turn to Chronicles, there’s a chart of every OT text found in Chronicles (the image above is from Ezekiel). To be sure, the allusions/echos/citations aren’t always 100% clear, so Schnittjer gives a probability level as well (A, B, C).

At the time of this review The OT Use of the OT is around $55 at various online bookstores. It’s just under $48 – digital copy – at Logos Bible Software. It would be awesome to have all the Scripture references in the book hyperlinked as a Logos resource, but I still prefer a book like this in print. Yes, it’s a little costly, but it’s one of those resources you’ll use for a long time. Consider it a great investment to help you learn the OT better!

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015