The Kregel Academic team recently had the opportunity to catch up with series editors, Andy Le Peau and Seth Ehorn, all about the Through Old Testament Eyes series. Le Peau and Ehorn speak about their collective vision and goal for the series, as we anticipate the newest volume on Matthew, authored by David B. Capes and set to release on March 26, 2024.
Tell us about your vision for this series.
Andy: For many Christians, the Old Testament is, sadly, an undiscovered country. It is a foreign land where people often speak a strange language—even when translated into English! Yes, we love the Psalms and may know Genesis and Exodus, but much else seems tedious or just downright peculiar.
What has surprised many that I teach, however, is that the Old Testament often offers a key to understanding the New. Why does Mark tell us that John the Baptist wore clothing made of camel hair? What does it mean when Revelation says that there will be no sea in the New Heaven and New Earth? Or looking more broadly, why does Paul write about baptism in Romans 6, then the law in Romans 7, and next being led by the Spirit in Romans 8?
The answers to all these questions are found in the Old Testament. Even though we think the New Testament is easier to understand than the Old, it is the Old Testament that often unlocks the significance of the New.
Seth: Israel’s Scriptures are foundational for understanding the New Testament. This is true beyond the level of merely counting quotations or allusions. Indeed, the stories of Israel helped shape the scriptural imagination of these authors. My vision for this series is that these commentaries will help readers not only to grasp some of the profound ways that Israel’s Scriptures inform the New Testament but also to cultivate and shape our own imaginations and motivate our faithful response.
What needs do you see this series meeting for the academy and church?
Seth: For me, the most important audience for this series is the church, including pastors, lay leaders, and parishioners. Some Christians readers (perhaps without even knowing or saying it) can express a preference for the New Testament over the Old Testament. This may be reflected in attitudes to the Old Testament or even in reading habits (how much time does one spend reading the Old Testament?). My hope is that Christians will be challenged to read both testaments more fully and be inspired by the rich connections they uncover as they read these commentaries.
Andy: While these commentaries are informed by the best scholarship, they are not written in an academic style. The target audience is those who teach and preach in the church. We want to give them the tools they need to explain how all of Scripture works together. The books also suggest how the text can apply to us and the church in the “Going Deeper” sidebars.
The series is also for churchgoers who want to go deeper into the text on their own, as well as for professors who appreciate the approach and want to recommend it to their students.
How do you see this series differing from other commentary series on the market?
Andy: While many commentaries do reference the Old Testament, the Through Old Testament Eyes series is committed to giving full play to the Bible that Jesus and the New Testament writers knew and loved—that is, the Old Testament itself—in an accessible format.
Seth: Studies on intertextuality or the use of the Old Testament in the New are popular right now. Yet, to my knowledge, there exists no commentary series that focuses exclusively on how Israel’s Scriptures inform and shape a given New Testament book. To be sure, there is a small cottage industry of scholarship on intertextuality, but it is usually published in expensive monographs and is often highly technical and limited in scope. (I confess I’m guilty of publishing expensive and highly technical studies myself!) TOTE is unique in focusing its commentary on how Israel’s Scriptures contribute to the sense and meaning of an entire New Testament book. Hopefully readers will find it accessible, affordable, and rewarding to read the New Testament “through Old Testament eyes.”
Do either of you have a favorite quote from one of the volumes?
Andy: I especially like the following comment from Karen Jobes’ John Through Old Testament Eyes which is not only insightful but illustrates so well the value of reading the New Testament through an Old Testament lens.
Jesus’ command to “follow me” [in Jn 1:43]is clearly a command to start walking. From the Old Testament we know that walking was a metaphor for living, for how one conducts one’s life. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord in Eden (Ge 3:8), implying they enjoyed fellowship with God. Both Noah and Enoch were said to have walked with God (Ge 5:22, 24; 6:9). God commanded Abraham to walk blamelessly before him (Ge 17:1). Psalm 1:1 blesses “the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”
Seth: One example that shows the rich allusions that inform a gospel story comes from Mark 6:47–52, narrating Jesus walking on the water. In Andy’s own Mark Through Old Testament Eyes, he draws attention to three possible backdrops that might help explain Mark’s unusual statement that Jesus “intended to pass them by.”
Mark’s language of passing by recalls the image in these Old Testament passages (i.e. Exodus 33; 1 Kings 19; Job 9). In summary, this episode compares Jesus who passes by the disciples to God who (1) passes by Moses to reveal his true character and being, (2) passes by Elijah to give comfort and strength, (3) in Job stamps down chaos while nonetheless not really being seen.
Seth recently joined the editorial team. How did that come about?
Andy: I am so glad Seth has agreed to join the team as coeditor of the series. He has excellent academic credentials, a winsome personality, a great network of contacts in the academy and the church, as well as a well-respected record of publishing that will serve all our authors well. When Kregel told me they wanted to continue to expand the series, my mind went right to Seth. I had asked him to consult with me on previous projects, and knew he understood the purpose and value of the series, making him an excellent fit.
Seth: I was happy to join Andy in co-editing this worthwhile series. He brings the skill and wisdom of a career-long editor and this works well with my own skill set. We share a vision that this series should be informed by excellent scholarship, written accessibly, and pastorally sensitive. In addition to helping bring excellent contributors into the fold, I am excited about pressing authors to bring scholarship to bear for the good of the church.