At times I did not know where this project was leading me; however, the deeper I drilled, the more I realized that there was no one book that was trying to “tie it all together.” I had found many disparate and disjointed studies about the motif, but realized that no-one, to the best of my knowledge, had tried to present a unified approach to the topic across the scripture, both Old and New Testaments. Moreover, no-one, to the best of my knowledge, had tied this “motif” or “theme” together with the goal of helping people understand the grand narrative of redemptive history demonstrated by tracing this beautiful motif.
I am very grateful to the editors of Credo for inviting me to explain a little bit about the history of the development of my new book and some of the main ideas of my recently published book, Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif. Frankly, at the beginning of the book, I quote the famous southern writer, Flannery O’Conner, who described writing a book as “giving birth to a sideways piano.” To be candid, I thought my publisher would never let that quote fly, but they did. That quote pretty much sums up the process. Working on this project was painstaking. However, let me give a little more history to the development of the book and the ideas contained therein and maybe you will even be intrigued to read it. The book developed out of an elective class I gave at the Seminary when I first started teaching.
The Birth of a Book
When I was first appointed to my present position at the Seminary teaching biblical literature and languages, I was asked to develop the class. Inspired by my friend, Tremper Longman, I saw that he had offered an elective class on this subject at other educational institutions. Furthermore, I noticed he had written a book on the subject with Dan Reid, who would become my future editor. I was fumbling along, merely tracing biblical passages (in both the OT and the NT) making reference or teaching on the exodus. Then, I also began thinking seriously about motifs in literature and in the Bible in particular. Providentially, I was fishing commercially in Alaska for a man who was working on a second Ph.D. under Shemaryahu Talmon and Emanuel Tov in Israel at the Hebrew University. In addition to working on the Dead Sea Scrolls, he was working on and writing about biblical motifs under these scholars. He and his wife made me aware of Shemaryahu Talmon’s work on “motifs” in Hebrew Bible studies. I was mesmerized and fascinated. I am grateful to all of them. I continued thinking about the issue.
As I began to mine, dig, explore, and research, I traced a “vein of gold” that led me to this full length book.