Matthew H. Patton
Reviewed by: Charles B. Williams
Deuteronomy: A 12-Week Study, by Matthew H. Patton. Crossway, 2017. Paperback, 96 pages, $8.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Charles B. Williams.
When it comes to Bible reading plans, everyone does well until they reach the wilderness of Deuteronomy. The foreign places and names; the seemingly irrelevant dietary restrictions and civic law codes; the “un-kosher” laws regarding women, slaves, and homosexuals—all tend to leave the lay reader wandering about in the desert, at a loss for what to make of the book. Above all, many walk away asking, where is the good news in all this? It might come as a surprise, then, that next to the Psalms and Isaiah, Deuteronomy is the most referenced Old Testament book in the New Testament. Not only does our Lord quote Deuteronomy to the devil in his wilderness temptation, but Paul applies Deuteronomy to matters of church governance and discipline (1 Cor. 5:9–13; 1 Tim. 5:17–19). Indeed, the greatest commandment is a summary of the whole of Deuteronomy (Mark 12:30; Rom. 13:8–10).
Few books, then, are both more neglected and necessary to be understood than Deuteronomy. For this reason, Matthew Patton’s Deuteronomy: A 12-Week Study is a welcome resource. Patton’s book is part of Crossway’s Knowing the Bible study series, intended for use in private or small groups. The study organizes Deuteronomy into twelve week-long segments. Each unit follows the same basic structure: ”The Place of the Passage” situates that week’s readings within the context of the rest of Deuteronomy; ”The Big Picture” summarizes the major theme of the passage; ”Reflection and Discussion” provides guided questions; ”Gospel Glimpses” directs the reader to seeing the gospel in Deuteronomy; ”Whole Bible Connections” situates the week’s readings within the context of the whole scope of redemptive history; “Theological Soundings” introduces the reader to Christian doctrines either illustrated or taught by the text; and ”Personal Implications” provides space for reflection on the significance of the text’s meaning for daily living.
Too many Bible studies treat the text superficially, all too eager to jump straight to personal application. The result is often saccharine reflections that fail to work toward lasting change. Patton’s book is quite the exception. It is robustly redemptive-historical, points unabashedly to Christ, yet does not shy away from the abiding validity of the law’s third use in the life of the new covenant believer. This study requires time and energy, but the fruit is well worth the labor.
Though Patton’s book is an excellent primer, a seasoned saint using it might still feel overwhelmed by the size and density of Deuteronomy—and how much more might a new believer! For many, this study will be better appropriated in a small-group rather than private setting. This is not a fault on Patton’s part, but only highlights the riches to be mined in Deuteronomy, an undervalued book in the library of the Spirit.
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