Confronting Old Testament Controversies by Tremper Longman III: A Book Review
I was unfamiliar with the work of Tremper Longman III until receiving this book to review. He is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. He previously taught at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for eighteen years. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books as well as several commentaries.
In Confronting Old Testament Controversies, Longman examines four highly debated subjects that are found in the Old Testament—namely evolution, homosexuality, history, and violence. I agree with most of Longman’s conclusions, but disagree with him in regards to evolution. Longman seems to want to harmonize evolution and the Bible arguing for a figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-3 rather than literal. He goes as far as to say, “In my opinion, to argue against evolution is not a defense of the Bible but rather brings embarrassment to the gospel (in the sense that Augustine describes those who to try to argue that the Bible differs from the conclusions derived from the honest research of even non-Christian thinkers)” (76). Embarrassment is certainly a strong word and while I think Longman strives to engage these topics with humility, he falls very short here this statement comes off very arrogantly.
Longman doesn’t deal with arguments from scientists (such as those at Answers in Genesis) who have reasonable explanations and arguments for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and ignores the global flood that could’ve wreaked havoc on fossilization. He speaks of evolution as fact and not theory. While most times he claims that the Bible should be our priority in authoritativeness, he does not seem to be willing to do so with science.
I do appreciate Longman’s charitable tone throughout the majority of the book and I do think he’s very intelligent. Like I said, I agree with all of his other conclusions, but when it comes to evolution, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Thankfully, as Longman himself asserts, our salvation doesn’t depend on it.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.