This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).
It took me a little while to decide how I felt about John Goldingay’s book Pslams for Everyone: Part 1 due in part to the kinds of commentaries that I usually use to study. What I have become accustom to over the years is a verse-by-verse exposition on the individual psalms. If that is what you’re looking for, this isn’t the book for you. Goldingay, as the title suggests, has not written this book for a biblical scholar or an experienced pastor but the average person. One morning while I was having my coffee however I had an epiphany. I realized that this would be a great book for a morning devotional or a small group study for new believers. If that is what you’re looking for, keep reading, this might just be the book for you.
Goldingay is fond of using personal anecdotes to put a particular passage into context. He picks something from his, or someone close to his, life and touches on one of the predominate principles shared in the psalm. This is clearly done to make the passage accessible to the average reader. The poetic style of a psalm can make it seem unapproachable to a Western reader. It seems Goldingay is attempting to break through this wall in order to introduce his readers to the psalm.
Another common element is for Goldingay to choose a contemporary topic, issue, or trend and relate that same key idea to it. This has the added effect of taking an example from his life and applying it more broadly. It seems likely that through this he will make the topic being discussed seem more relevant to the reader. While the topic he chooses to focus on may or may not be at the heart of a given psalm, Goldingay undoubtedly puts his readers at ease and helps them understand that these Old Testament poems/songs relate to them in their daily lives.
Lastly, Goldingay picks some key words or phrases to explore in each psalm. Some of these are meant to introduce the reader to biblical terminology. Others are used to show the connotation or denotation of a particular word. On occasion, the word or phrase he chooses helps the reader understand the context of what is being said. All of these ideas are simple, brief, and straight-forward. Clearly, his point here is to simply introduce the book rather to dig in deep.
The book ends up being a very casual, largely narrative, examination of Psalms that will prove useful to those trying to understand it for the first time. It will likely prove useful in encouraging readers to study the book further getting a deeper and relevant understanding of the book as they grow in their biblical understanding.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Westminster John Knox Press through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.