Laniak, Shepherds After My Own Heart


Timothy Laniak, Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Tradition and Leadership in the Bible. New Studies in Biblical Theology, Volume 20. IVP Academic, 2006.

Companion volume (less academic version): While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Rediscovering Biblical Leadership  

Referenced in: Summary

These are two separate texts, one that is highly academic and the other that is more practical and devotional, but both reflecting the author’s research. It is a “pastoral” theology.

Shepherds After My Own Heart is an extensive scholarly treatment of the biblical metaphor of the shepherd-leader. Laniak begins with the sociological background behind the metaphor, and discusses shepherds and shepherd rulers in the ancient world (including related appendices on Mesopotamian deities and kings with shepherd titles). From there he looks at the biblical prototypes of shepherd leaders in Moses in David. Next, he traces the Old Testament reflection of the shepherd image concerning Yahweh, the promised Messiah and second exodus in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. This is followed by a discussion of the theme of the shepherd Messiah in the four Gospels. The last section expounds on the image of following and serving the shepherd-lamb in 1 Peter and Revelation.

While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks does not assume one has read the first volume. It stands alone as a collection of forty daily reflections on biblical leadership according to the shepherd metaphor. Not only is it well-written, but also beautifully illustrated throughout. Laniak draws richly from his extensive travels to the Middle East and first-hand relationships with shepherds to paint a portrait for leaders that is both inspiring and convicting. What Shepherds After My Own Heart does for the mind, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks does for the heart.

From the Publisher on Shepherds After My Own Heart

Scripture says, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15).

Most of Israel’s pastoral imagery is grounded in two traditions: Moses as God’s under-shepherd and David as shepherd-king. These traditions, explains author Timothy S. Laniak, provided prototypes for leaders that followed, and formed the background for the ministry of Jesus, the good shepherd.

The pastoral role was central to the ongoing life of local churches in the Christian movement, and today’s pastors are still called to be shepherds after God’s own heart, to lead his people, living on the margins of settled society, to their eternal home.

In this excellent study, Laniak draws on a wide range of Old and New Testament texts to develop the biblical theology of “shepherd” imagery, and concludes with some principles and implications for contemporary pastoral ministry.

A wonderful resource for pastors, teachers and seminary students, as well as readers interested in the study of biblical imagery.

Features and Benefits:

  • Offers insight into the biblical understanding of the metaphor of the shepherd/pastor
  • Presents an antidote to unbiblical notions of this metaphor and its pastoral implications
  • Highlights the key elements involved in the development of this metaphor in the Bible
  • Features a wealth of interaction with ancient Near Eastern culture and history
  • Provides a definitive resource for exploration of this important issue
  • Serves pastors and lay leaders who desire assistance in understanding this topic

From the Publisher on While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks

The realities and rewards of leadership are brought to life through this illuminating and insightful look at the ancient image of shepherds. Experience this wondrous opportunity to think biblically about your calling to serve Jesus Christ and the expectations that come with being a shepherd leader, the compassionate and courageous commitment to provide for, protect, and guide those under your care. Take this forty day journey and experience a life changing encounter with the Divine Shepherd. Become a shepherd after God’s own heart by rediscovering true biblical leadership.

About the Author

Timothy Laniak is associate professor of Old Testament and coordinator of the Urban Ministry Certificate Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina. He made his first trip to the Middle East in 1977. He is author of Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther (Scholars Press, 1998) and “Esther” in Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther (NIBC, 2003).

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