Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook by Richard A. Taylor

Book Review: Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook

by Richard A. Taylor


The book is part of the “Handbook for Old Testament Exegesis” series published by Kregel. I have elsewhere given my take on a couple others from the series. At first glance I’d venture to say that Richard Taylor takes on the most difficult hermeneutical handbook of the whole series, dealing with the not-so-easily-definable genre of apocalyptic literature.
            The section on comprehending figurative language was useful as it cited interesting examples. The bibliographies that appear interspersed throughout the book are also welcome additions and point to further research sources.
            The grandiose statements of any author attempting to teach something usually sound so good that they may just be too good to be true; that’s when one appreciates an author that is willing to test his own principles and show others plainly what he does with a text and how he goes about the exegetical task. In short, how he puts into practice his own principles. Reading his results we can assess whether he promised more than he could deliver and whether or not his exegetical advice works in the way one expects it to. Of course, the author gets to choose his exemplars, and there’s nothing the reader can do about it. It could be that the author is just choosing a passage he is most familiar with. Nevertheless, if we can show me through his process that his methodology renders sound exegetical conclusions, then, I just might be willing to bite.
            I chose to evaluate Taylor’s work on the basis of his exegetical treatment of Joel 2:28–34. I wanted to see how well he applies his own advice, and what sorts of results he gets from it. No unexpected insights there, the text and its interpretation were pretty much standard. Perhaps the author should have chosen a more complicated pericope in order to demonstrate what his methodology can accomplish.
            The book is useful, and no one should venture to interpret apocalyptic literature without its assistance.

3/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review: Preaching Old Testament Narratives by Benjamin H. Walton


Book Review: Preaching Old Testament Narratives

by Benjamin H. Walton


I was excited to learn Kregel was publishing this book. Belonging to a tradition that usually misuses Old Testament narratives in preaching, I was excited to learn how to do better from now on. With page after page of endorsements by some well-known names in the preaching and theological communities (really, twenty-one of them!) the book promised to be a definitive guide on the subject.
            The book is a step-by-step guide that begins, wonderfully enough, with the topic of Biblical hermeneutics. Skipping this step is what makes most other books on homiletics much less useful. Also quite helpful is the author’s emphasis on choosing a complete unit of thought in order to preach it. So many just choose one verse here or there and forget that the Holy Spirit that inspired the text had a message to convey. Faithfulness to the Word and the Spirit that birthed it demand that we heed this step.
            I also quite enjoyed and agreed with “Write a Manuscript, Then Ditch It.” Reading a sermon in the twenty-first century is a no-no in so many ways, and it quickly alienates Millenials. Talk to people like people. They are not automatons, neither should you be one. Connect. Look them in the eye and preach the Word to them.
            However, the addition of general preaching tips, though useful in the example above, made the book longer than it needed to be. I picked up the book to learn how to preach Old Testament narratives. Nothing more. I already know how to preach, just teach me this one thing, do in concisely, briefly, clearly and then let’s part ways. I have a long list of other things I must learn, and I have many books waiting for my attention.
            Oh, before I forget. One or two acronyms are cute and maybe useful; use too many and you lost me. And the author did.

3/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Book Review: The Spirituality of Paul by Leslie T. Hardin


Book Review: The Spirituality of Paul

by Leslie T. Hardin


The idea behind The Spirituality of Paul is a great one. The chapter titles draw the reader into the book. Who doesn’t want to understand “Paul the man,” aside from Paul’s theology? Even reading a little bit of “Paul the theologian” seems like a nice break from all the New Perspective/Old Perspective debates on his theology of law versus grace. One of the first titles that caught my eye was on “Paul’s Devotion to Scripture”; next was the chapter on spiritual gifts. I confess I did not find every chapter as compelling.
            What I didn’t like about the book was the way the author concludes the chapters, going beyond what the biblical explorations warrant to give too much of his own convictions, feelings, and theology. I read the book to learn about Paul’s spirituality, not the author’s. Whether you agree that gifts of the Spirit like tongues are in operation in today’s church or not. I was very uncomfortable with the author’s pontificating about it at the end of that chapter. Though pretending not to take sides and advocating a “let’s not judge each other” line, the author clearly does have a position and makes it clear while pretending to be neutral.
            Yes, that ruined the book for me and would not recommend it. I prefer to read an author who is upfront about his convictions and argues for them by exegesis, citation of other scholars, and logical argumentation.

2/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Book Review: A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament by Charles Irons


Book Review: A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament
by Charles Irons



Similar cover and format to Philip Wesley Comfort’s A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament, you will get added benefit if you keep both volumes handy as you study the Greek New Testament. In fact, I would have loved to have both volumes combined into one somehow.  This is intermediate Greek and it may not be helpful for the beginning student of Koiné Greek; however, I would not have it too far away when preparing a sermon based on a New Testament text. There’s much to like in the volume, although many times I wished the author would go into greater detail. I wonder if the publishers limited him a little too much, in order to match the size and layout of the aforementioned volume (and probably Comfort also got limited to the standards of this series). Yes, the aim is to help the intermediate student read through the New Testament “with minimal interruptions”, but let’s face it, we still have to have our Greek New Testament open and this volume (along with Comfort’s), so the interruptions are present no matter what; given that, I’d love a little more detail.

The book needs to update its Bibliography to current NT Greek linguistic discussions/intermediate grammars to be more accurate and, therefore, useful to the Seminary student; otherwise, they may get blindsided by more current research not present in this brief tome.

The resource is recommended, though perhaps the best place for the information would be as footnotes (along with Comfort’s book) in a Reader’s Greek New Testament. THEN, the interruptions to the reader would be truly minimal.

3/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader

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Book Review: Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader edited by Karen H. Jobes

            As far as Hebrew Bible is concerned (the Christian “Old Testament”) Karen H. Jobes is a big player and a respected scholar. The book is designed to help students read the Greek of the Septuagint or LXX, that is, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek done about three centuries before the time of Christ. However, anyone interested in learning Biblical Greek should look for help elsewhere; this material is for someone with a good year of Koiné Greek under their belt and interested in progressing in their reading skills.
            The student will find help with the wider Greek vocabulary of the Septuagint (as compared to the more limited vocabulary of the New Testament). There will also be help with the peculiar Hebrew-influenced syntax of the LXX Greek, as it will be challenging for the person used to the Greek constructions in the New Testament.
            There are chapters with readings from Genesis, Exodus (the Ten Commandments!), Ruth, some Psalms, Hosea, Jonah, Malachi, and my favorite, Isaiah, including, of course, Isaiah 53, the most famous Messianic chapter in the Hebrew Bible.
            The notes explicate terms, syntax, and contextual issues; there are also notes on textual issues both in the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint manuscripts, and even the Dead Sea Scrolls. I think I would have liked more detailed notes on exegetical issues (or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Daniel Wallace’s intermediate Greek syntax). Jobe’s book also has a brief Glossary of Technical Terms.

4/5 stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Book Review: What Happened in the Garden, edited by Abner Chou


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Book Review: What Happened in the Garden edited by Abner Chou

Written by the faculty of the Master’s College, the book takes a Bible-believing, conservative stand. What is at stake in the issue at hand is the reality of Adam and Eve as real people directly created by God, and their actual fall into sin that left humanity in need of a Messiah that would atone for all sin and restore creation back to its original state. The story of redemption from that time, through the Patriarchs and Israel to Jesus and the New Covenant community, and the awaited eschaton are explained by that need, unless the story of Adam and Eve is just a metaphor and not an actual event in history. Well, some Christian scholars are precisely asserting the latter and the Master’s College faculty take the task of defending the traditional view in a no less scholarly way.
            With chapters on Hermeneutics and History, Genetics of Adam, A Map of Misreadings, Genesis 3 and Original Sin, Thermodynamics and the Fall, etc. there’s something for everyone. Nicely footnoted (and the footnotes are at the bottom of each page! Yay!), the authors are in conversation with liberal and conservative scholars on their respective topics.
            A good resource to have on a foundational issue. Get this book, read it and share it with your church.

4/5 stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

­Book Review: Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches edited by D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider

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Book Review: Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches edited by D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider


The book is edited by two Dallas Theological Seminary graduates so the overall perspective will be from that Seminary’s ideological point of view; though the writers come from different universities, including three former professors of mine at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is refreshing that the ideology behind this study is one of Biblical trustworthiness; one will not have to worry about whether the authors think Paul was mistaken in his prophetic views (as some liberal Christians assert).

Part 1 introduces the foundations for a doctrine of the future, including a good chapter by Charles C. Ryrie himself. Part 2 is a Biblical theology of the future, examining what the Bible itself has to say on the topic, division by division (Historical books, the Prophets, the Synoptic Gospels, etc.). I was surprised to find myself enjoying the historical part of the book, and the analyses on part 3 will be helpful to anyone wanting a primer on, say, Augustine’s view of the future, or that of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or Jürgen Moltmann. Overall, the authors made an excellent effort in laying out the basics of each view. Part 4 brings in the praxis of a doctrine of the future to contemporary situations.

Of course, as other books, my personal theological stance on prophecy is not represented since I am not a traditional or progressive Dispensationalist, but no one expected the authors to be perfect. :-)

Finally, I applaud Kregel for printing the footnotes at the bottom of the page (as opposed to endnotes that one has to hunt down to make sense of), making it more useful to students and scholars; the book is much, much better because of this.

A solid 4/5 stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Review: 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus by C. Marvin Pate



Book Review: 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus by C. Marvin Pate

Kregel is publishing some exciting books; I am a fan of this series (did I say that before? It’s still true). If you’ve had questions on all the talk about “the historical Jesus”, this is a good book to begin your quest for understanding.


Pate is a first-rate scholar, highly respected, and sometimes he is even correct in his stances. He is well-read and is able to write in a non-academic way, which sometimes is lacking on other scholars. ;-) Furthermore, this is not a skeptic voice, but a believing one. Pate is a conservative, but that does not mean he is not a careful scholar (isn’t it sad I have to make sure to point this out? Liberal propaganda certainly colors the way people see Bible-believers). You will find some good answers for those that assert the Gospel stories cannot be taken as historical truth.

Again, this is a good primer on the topic and I think you could do much worse than this series by Kregel.

4/5 Stars


 Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Review: Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament




Book Review: Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament
By Walter C. Kaiser Jr.

Written by one of the biggest names in Hebrew Bible studies, the book is a much needed, scholarly study of troubling themes in the Old Testament. I appreciated how Kaiser did not sugar coat nor dumb down the issues. He tackled questions at their hardest to explain. Issues like Evolution or Creation (How could there be light before the sun and moon were created?), Grace or Law, Monogamy or Polygamy (Didn’t heroes of faith like Abraham and David have many wives?), Peace or Genocide (Didn’t God command the extermination of entire peoples?), etc. are confronted head on. Yet, Kaiser approaches the topics as one who believes the Bible to be the Word of God. This in itself is refreshing in this day and age. Trust me. Not many like him left in academic circles.

If some of God’s actions in the Old Testament have seemed troublesome to you in the past, this is a book you will thoroughly enjoy. Though, let me warn you that part of Kaiser’s honesty will cause him to leave some issues unresolved to your satisfaction. Again, he is handling the Word the best way he can, while still allowing for mystery in the will and actions of God; as it should be, I guess. Personally, I like clear-cut answers, and black or white points of view, but I understand that they are not always possible.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book: A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament

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Book Review: A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament by Philip Wesley Comfort


 Needless to say, this is not a book for the average believer. But it is a book pastors and Bible teachers that care about every word in the Bible should read. With Bart Ehrman and other skeptics attacking the trustworthiness of the New Testament, the time has come for Christian leaders to become well informed and conversant with issues of text criticism. This book, while not answering Ehrman’s twisted logic, does help us understand the different types of manuscripts the scholars work from. It would also help those that revere the KJV to understand why other translations, while not being liberal (ESV, NET, for instance), have some verses that read differently. The book helps clear up the “missing verses” misunderstanding so common in popular Bible translation wars.

The book includes information on the Early Manuscripts, and a helpful Annotated List of the Manuscripts of the New Testament. The book also has a very helpful and informative Appendix on The Significance of the Nomina Sacra (Sacred Name) and the way it (in its various incarnations) appears in New Testament Greek manuscripts.

Highly recommended resource.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review - 40 Questions on Baptism and the Lord's Supper


40 Questions on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper 

By John S. Hammett

This particular series has proven very helpful as it addresses topics of importance to any believer in the 21st century. The present tome is no exception. It has a wealth of information on the Christian practices of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (others call the latter, Communion or The Eucharist). The author’s point of view is theologically conservative, accepting the Bible as the Word of God; which is refreshing, given the current academic trend of disbelief. The author got his Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and therefore, the reader should not be surprised to learn he favors Baptist doctrinal stances.
            Hammett does address what others believe about baptism and the Lord’s Supper and he does it in a respectful tone and endeavoring to be fair. This is also refreshing, given the polemic nature of Christian disagreements on these and other doctrinal topics. He does not simply knock down straw men; although, I’m sure proponents of alternative views will be able to point out where Hammett has misunderstood or unintentionally misrepresented their doctrine.
            My own perspective differs from the author’s, but I can appreciate the work he put into his research. I love the format of the series and trust we will get more quality work in other areas of theology and Christian doctrine

4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: The book was received for free from Kregel Ministry books in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

Book Review - For the Love of God's Word

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For the Love of God’s word: An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation


By Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson

Köstenberger was academically influenced by Grant Osborne and D.A. Carson, two heavy-weights in the interpretation department; that fact alone makes one expect a quality book. But Köstenberger is a scholar of the first rank on his own merit and this book ably demonstrates that fact (I apologize for not knowing enough about the co-author Richard Patterson). Written to be used as a simple textbook on Biblical interpretation, the book contains not only the essentials, but the fundamentals on the art and science of interpretation.
            The book is an abridged version of their more academic Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, but if you have never read the bigger tome, you will not think anything is missing from the abridgment. The authors have carefully distilled the fundamental content and made it more accessible. This is good news for readers that do not have much time but do need to hone in their hermeneutical skills.
            Throughout the book there are shaded boxes with a synthesis of the chapters contents and these are very helpful. They will give you outlines of steps, definitions, arguments, procedures, etc. that you can refer back to when you are done reading the book. They will serve as an excellent refresher for years to come. They also will test you on whether you understood and learned what the authors intended for each chapter in question. The examples given throughout the book are very useful and capably illustrate the hermeneutical principles being studied. There is a useful glossary at the end of the book for the technical/academic jargon used in case one is not familiar enough with it.
            For my taste, the layout of  Scott and Hays’ Grasping God’s Word is more inviting for first time students; but I would recommend the present text as a handy reference to further explore certain types of hermeneutics or if in need of exegetical examples of proper interpretation processes.

4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: The book was received for free from Kregel Ministry books in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook by Gary V. Smith



The idea behind the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series is an outstanding one. Short, to the point, yet scholarly and well documented. Gary V. Smith is a well-known scholar of the prophetic writings and is informed enough to write a useful handbook; and that he did. He covers the fundamentals, rather than just the essentials (see below). That is, Smith not only tells us how to interpret, but what to do with that information. Most commentaries/exegetical handbooks stop at interpretation.

PROS
• There are chapters on “Proclaiming Prophetic Texts” and “From Text to Application,” which are extremely useful in our day and age. Very few of us know how to preach from these texts without over spiritualizing them. Rather than giving God’s message, we usually end up giving our own (with the best of intentions, mind you).
• FOOTNOTES. Oh, yeah!  I love having footnotes rather than endnotes. This is a major plus for any academic work.

CONS
• The type is set in a small font; specially the Hebrew font. I had trouble reading some of the vowel markings. Not good. I understand the need to make the size of the book manageable, but please remember that 40-year-old and above also want to read scholarly books and continue studying.
• Some charts had too dark a background, which made reading the text more difficult.
• Maybe the content was a little too brief. Again, I understand the purpose behind the brevity, but at many points I was left wanting just a little more information. I would definitely love the book at double its current size.
• A little too critical of the text itself at some points. Since I believe the Bible to be completely inspired of God. Some of the current critical views do not settle well with me.

With that said. I would pick this book up first when beginning a study of the prophetic material, and work from there. It should not be the only source of information by any means, but it is a useful one.

3/5 Stars


Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: Preaching with Accuracy

Book Review:

Preaching with Accuracy: Finding Christ-Centered Big Ideas for Biblical Preaching

By Randal E. Pelton


An essential primer on Biblical preaching

I am a reader, so amassing huge amounts of research on a given subject is not as difficult for me; but as many others can attest to, it is one thing to have the information, and another knowing how to preach it so that the congregation would benefit from it.

Pelton comes to our aid with a brief, very practical book that immediately immerses one in the task of “finding Christ-centered big ideas for biblical preaching.” In an age when sermons are constructed more to impress than to inspire, to get a physical and verbal reaction rather than a soul transforming action, this book is badly needed. Sadly, it is possible that the people that need it the most, are unaware of their own need, and that is today’s preachers. Borrowing a quote from the book,

“[B]y our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance.” (Os Guinness)

The biggest value of the book might just be the corrective of preaching what the Bible actually says, instead of the ideas of the preacher, sprinkled with a few barely related verses here and there.

If you are in any way entrusted, every week or once a year, to serve the Bread of the Word to a congregation, get this book. Work through it at your own pace. It is short and sweet. It is not the answer to every sermonic ailment, but it is a good start.

Disclaimer: The book was received for free from Kregel Ministry books in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

4/5 Stars

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution

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For those not afraid to hear real answers


 

Book Review: 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution by Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker


Today’s academic setting is dismissive of those that would question evolution as an established scientific fact. This is very unfortunate. If they could but give the other side a hearing, they would find beneficial information.

Most of the time the problem has been with authors that have a need to communicate on this topic to the masses that may not understand the scientific or biblical concepts behind the debate. Evolutionists dismiss anyone with a similar point of view.

I hope they give this book a chance. It is written at a more scholarly level, it contains hundreds of footnotes and it is respectful of opposing views. They engage the issues critically, biblically, and scientifically. The book has review questions at the end of each chapter, which should help the reader focus what they got out of the book in order to share with others (maybe in a series of church lectures?).

Some topics would have benefitted from illustrations to make the concepts clear; other than that, this is a much needed voice for today’s apologetic endeavors.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Review: Shepherding God’s Flock

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Book Review: Shepherding God’s Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and Beyond edited by Benjamin L. Merkle and Thomas R. Schreiner

With names like Andreas Köstenberger, Bruce Ware, and Thomas Schreiner writing some of the chapters, one does not have to agree with everything they write to benefit from the meticulous research we have come to expect from their writings.

The obvious strength of the book is that they go to the Bible and attempt to extract what the New Testament has to say about leadership; and specifically to those who have made the care for souls their primary life mission.

While contemporary examples and analysis of different church bodies’ practices may be seen as helpful by some; being on the outside of such movements made the information somewhat foreign to me. While the development of the papacy may be an important historical question, I personally did not see it as a helpful chapter; the same goes for the other ecclesiastical bodies surveyed.

I was expecting more of a biblical work, but it seems that the and beyond part of the subtitle won out. Not really what I think ideal.

2/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: The People, The Land, and The Future of Israel


The People, The Land, and The Future of Israel: Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God.


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Book Review: The People, The Land, and The Future of Israel: Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, Editors.

Replacement Theology (the doctrine that the Church has forever replaced Israel) has been described by some as a cancer in Christian theology; this book is a scholarly attempt to bring a biblical perspective on that an other very important issues that have to do with Israel’s past, present, and future in the plan of God.

I could not recommend this book highly enough. Get it, read it, live it! It is time for the church of Christ to come to a balanced and biblical view of Israel. Too much speculation and false ideas, along with a lack of biblical understanding have twisted our Israelology and turned it into a caricature.

Will you agree with everything in the book? No. I know I didn’t. Also, as usual in a book of this type, some chapters are better written than others. Truly, though, some are gems and have done an outstanding job in the allotted space for their subject. The questions at the end of each chapter are excellent and help one benefit from the content a whole lot more than usual. Plus, the video links help one come into “conversation” with the authors. The book is worth (almost) every penny.

The one negative for me is the unfortunate use of endnotes instead of footnotes. The book is an academic treatment of the subjects; academics love FOOTNOTES (yes, that information should be at the bottom of the page, ready and immediately accessible). We have to see where they got their information, we want to read what other related information is available. We DO NOT like to hunt for that information pages later, and it is a pain having two different places in the book open at all times. PUBLISHERS: If you intend the book to be academic, please do not use endnotes. Thank you very much.

4/5
Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Blessed are the Balanced: A Seminarian’s Guide to Following Jesus in the Academy

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Book Review: Blessed are the Balanced: A Seminarian’s Guide to Following Jesus in the Academy
By Paul E. Pettit and R. Todd Mangum

Many students seeking an academic degree in theology are not blessed, like me, with a wife that constantly and lovingly reminds him that there should be a daily time when the books are put on hold in order to have some family time (or you have dismissed the importance of her gentle nagging). This book will fill that need in your life. Not only does it remind us of the need to give our minds some rest, and our hearts some nurturing in the presence of our beloved families; but most importantly, it helps us bring to mind the whole reason we are pursuing academic excellence: to glorify Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Keeping our personal relationship with God aflame with passion, as we seek to know His Word better through academic learning, is something that should not be forgotten; otherwise, we will doom our very souls.

The book engages your attention, by appealing to your keen mind (especially if you’ve already learned some Greek and Hebrew); it also gives real-life illustrations to drive a point home. The authors do not forget to remind us of the beauty of humility, and the value of having a servant’s heart.

I know you are busy, but trust me: you want to read this book. It is brief, pulls no punches, and goes directly to the point. Take it with you to a park early on Saturday, read it, and come home with a fresh perspective on your calling to the higher learning endeavor.


4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Apostle of the Last Days: The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul by C. Marvin Pate

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­Apostle of the Last Days: The Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul by C. Marvin Pate
Book Review:

C. Marvin Pate is a well-known name in New Testament Theology, particularly in eschatology; having written and edited other books on the subject, this time he focuses his attention on Paul’s eschatology.

Pate rejects the New Perspective on Paul being advocated of late by some important Pauline theologians (e.g. N.T. Wright, Jamed D.G. Dunn) and opts for the traditional view. Because that view is highly controversial and is making big waves in contemporary Paul studies, a more detailed refutation of their basic convictions would have enriched Pate’s book.

Having in mind that Paul lived in a time where Greco-Roman culture and Jewish Theology were the “locations” where Christianity was born, Pate seeks to find a place of reconciliation between the vacuity of “realized eschatology” (a la Preterism) and the politically invested “consistent eschatology” (totally futuristic). The Bible seems to favor an “already/not yet” eschatology, especially in light of the reality of a first and second coming of Jesus. The term used to describe it is “inaugurated eschatology;” a middle-of-the-road view that takes into account both sets of Scriptures used selectively by the other two positions.

The many tables present to elucidate Pate’s views are a testament to the amount of work invested in preparing the book, although the inclusion of an annotated bibliography would have made the book immensely more valuable for Pauline research. Others will also miss an index of topics covered in the book.

A word of caution: It is somewhat problematic to use eschatology as the hermeneutical lens through which one reads Paul’s theology, and it may lead to selective use of evidence rather than an all-encompassing theological exploration of Paul’s convictions. Pate does his best to avoid this pitfall but readers may disagree on the level of his success/failure to do so.

The book packs a punch and is recommended as a decent theological primer to Pauline eschatology.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic & Ministry book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only a truthful one.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About

Book Review: What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible 

Edited by Jason S. DeRouchie 

 

As most hard covers published by Kregel the book is laid out beautifully and in full color; although some shaded boxes used a font that was much too thin and small making them difficult to read.

The Preface seemed to promise a canonical approach to the text with an emphasis on Christological fulfillment; however, the expected links between the writings in the order of the Hebrew canon are missing from the analysis. Now, it may be that the editor understands “canonical” in a different way than, say, Sailhamer. The Christological work is OK, but could have been more thorough.

As Survey’s go, the book is not bad. I don’t think there’s anything ground-breaking in the volume and some authors do a better job than others. I would recommend this survey to those that are still using popular or entry-level materials like Henrietta Mears’ What the Bible is All About; I assure you, you won’t go back to it once you read this tome. For those that want something more in-depth, a good Introduction would be much more beneficial.

3/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Kregel Academic book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem

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Book Review: Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem

By Glynn Harrison

The culture of self-esteem has taken over America, and it is as popular as it is ineffective, according to psychiatrist Glynn Harrison. My guess would be that this book will not be a favorite of most of today’s Christian counselors who, for the most part, have swallowed the self-esteem ideology hook, line and sinker. But dismissing the book out of hand would be a huge mistake, especially for those whose calling in life is helping those that are emotionally suffering.

The author is right that the struggle for significance and self-worth in our lives is what has given the theory of self-esteem a lot of steam (no pun intended) in modern society. From the secular world to the church we are immersed in the ideology that what people need more than anything else is to feel good about themselves.

The complex research that looked for hard evidence that the gospel of self-esteem delivered on its many promises came up empty and Harrison shares the findings; among them that what the culture of self-esteem has actually increased has been selfishness and narcissism.

What our modern society needs (and, yes, our churches too) is a return to sanity in the pursuit of self-realization by giving of themselves selfishly for the good of others. For those that have read the Gospels, that sounds a lot like the message of the Carpenter from Nazareth. Could it be that the solutions that Psychologists and Psychiatrists have been looking for was in the Word of God all along?

Read Harrison’s book with an open mind (and with an open Bible); you will be blessed, and may be able to bless someone else that’s still looking for the right answers in the wrong place.

5/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Net Galley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an unbiased one.

Book Review: Raising a Lady in Waiting

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Book Review: Raising a Lady in Waiting: Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Daughter Avoid a Bozo
By Jackie Kendall

Based on principles the author finds in the Book of Ruth, she helps mothers navigate the difficult waters on raising a virtuous young lady in a world filled with “Bozos.” She wants to make sure no young lady will sell herself short or be entangled with someone not deserving of her qualities.

Among the unforgettable lessons taught is the one about the “Ideal Mom—Former Prostitute” Rahab, who raised her son to be a godly example for many generations to come: Boaz. The same man who would eventually be in the genealogy of the Messiah of Israel.

The book is based on Kendall’s previous book, “Lady in Waiting” where she shares the principles she followed to find herself a “Boaz” (the virtuous “hero” in the Book of Ruth) instead of ending up with a “Bozo” for a husband.
Our young girls need this book. Youth workers need this book. Every mother needs this book. I even think every father should read this book and teach its principles to every boy.

Unfortunately, the book is written for mothers about daughters only. Also, the book could be better edited (how many times does the reader need to see the play on words, “Boaz” vs. “Bozo”? We got the point in the Preface, thank you), but the advice is timely and the strategies priceless. I recommend the book to any parent of a girl.


4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Net Galley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

DVD Set Review: The Tabernacle — Rose Publishing

DVD Review: The Tabernacle

By Shawn Barnard, MDiv

Important Note: This review is for the 6-Session DVD and printable Leader Guide edition only. Therefore, other items in the Complete Kit For The Tabernacle DVD-based Bible Study were not available for review.

Rose Publishing is currently a leader in publishing study books that are attractive, well laid out, and very useful; most of them are truly eye-candy. It is no different with The Tabernacle 6-Session DVD.

I teach Tabernacle typology at a local Bible school; therefore, my expectations of Barnard’s teaching may be a little higher than most. Barnard is a good communicator and the multimedia features added to the lectures are very helpful in aiding further understanding. Unfortunately, the audio in the lectures is uneven (the right channel is very low and unclear); still, the images used are beautiful; I just wish they had used more of the relevant images throughout the presentations. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about some of the camera work; looking at the back of people’s heads may seem interesting to some while unnerving others.

Of course, most of the teaching was familiar to me; however, I did find one or two nuggets of gold in Barnard’s teaching. As is common with any typological teaching, I think that sometimes Shawn went beyond the Biblical evidence in some applications (e.g. the Trinity in the Tabernacle?), but overall he tries to stay grounded in Scripture. Further, I could not agree with his statement that, “Everything in Scripture points to and finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.” Most current scholars of Hermeneutics would not agree with that position. I think most of us can think of Old Testament passages that cannot point to Jesus in a typological fashion (descriptions of geographical locations, numbers, genealogies, descriptions of sinful behavior, etc.). That is not to say that Jesus is not present in the Old Testament; He certainly is present in every division of the Hebrew Bible! (See John 5:39: Luke 24:27, 44–45.)

All the video sessions come in one DVD; the second DVD contains marketing materials for the class and also a 96 page Leader’s Guide that is very nicely done and could be useful in teaching a class on the subject at your local church as it contains suggestions on group activities. Of course, the student’s would have to avail themselves of the Student’s Notes with fill-in-the-blanks elsewhere since they are not included in this package (see the Complete Kit for the Tabernacle from Rose Publishing that does include those).

Viewing all sessions takes about three hours; hardly enough time to give an adequate overview of the richness of the typology found in the descriptions of the Tabernacle plan and function. This need not be seen as a negative comment; I just wish Barnard took his time explaining each lesson in more detail; he seems to have more to share than he had time to. Maybe Rose Publishing will produce a more complete course on the subject (one also has to keep in mind that Rose has a book and other materials on the subject that can complement the DVD series). Having said that, I think the DVD study is an excellent primer on Tabernacle typology for the average church member. Get this resource. You won’t be disappointed.

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The DVD set was received for free from the Rose Publishing book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.