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.