Touching the Altar: The Old Testament for Christian Worship
Carol M. Bechtel (editor)
Eerdmans. Series: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series. 2008
What does it mean to be in the presence of God’s holiness? How can it affect us whether we seek it out or stumble upon it? Can it truly change our very reality to encounter it?
The essayists in this volume explore these questions at the heart of Christian worship, considering the oft-neglected Old Testament as essential to understand our purpose in worship. Following the structure of the Hebrew canon — beginning with the Pentateuch, moving through to the Psalms, then wisdom literature — each chapter considers a separate aspect of worship, from theater to the Sabbath to sacred space, offering new inspiration. In the final essay Carol Bechtel “rereads the book of Job through the lens of our human limitations (as opposed to the usual theme of theodicy),” with compelling applications for both life and worship.
Each of these essays concludes with two appropriately themed hymns and a “For Further Reading” list. Five of the seven contain sidebars that illustrate and enrich key points. Evocative woodcut artwork by Margaret Adams Parker provides a striking backdrop to the text. Taken together, these essays testify powerfully to the belief that the Old Testament is not only valuable but also essential to “whole” and fully foundational preaching and worship.
Written primarily by Old Testament professors, Touching the Altar will make an engaging supplemental text for introductory or elective Old Testament courses and will also go far toward providing deeper worship for any Christian.