Book Reviews

Review of When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II by John W. O’Malley
Book Reviews , Church History , Featured , Theology / April 15, 2020

O’Malley, John W. When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap, 2019, pp. 240, $24.95, hardback.  John W. O’Malley, professor of theology at Georgetown University, has established himself as one of the most learned and thoughtful historians of the great councils of post-Luther Roman Catholicism. Having previously published separate monographs on the Council of Trent and on the First and Second Vatican Councils, this slim volume represents a capstone to his work in this area, offering a reflection upon how modern Catholicism has developed since the Reformation with particular focus on its conciliar actions. The book is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, with each chapter comparing the Councils in terms of a particular topic. Part One raises three basic questions: What do Councils do? Does Church teaching change? Finally, who is in charge? Part Two looks at the categories of people involved: popes and their curia, theologians, laity, and The Other—meaning non-Roman bodies, Orthodox, Protestant, and non-Christian. Part Three then asks what difference the Councils made and whether there will be another one. Protestant readers will find much that is of interest here. O’Malley is adept at explaining the different dynamics of the…

Review of Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection by Darian R. Lockett
Book Reviews , New Testament / April 14, 2020

Lockett, Darian R. Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017, pp. xviii + 255, $33.00, paperback.  Darian R. Lockett (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews) is Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.  He has previously authored An Introduction to the Catholic Epistles (2011) and Understanding Biblical Theology (2012), and these works reflect two of his main areas of research: Biblical Theology and the Catholic Epistles.  The present volume, Letters from the Pillar Apostles, offers an intersection of the above two research fields (p. ix). Lockett’s present volume emerges from a recognition of the lack of studies related to the hermeneutical importance of the Catholic Epistles as a discrete unit or collection within the New Testament canon (p. xiii).  The main intention of the book is to argue that “it is both historically and hermeneutically plausible to receive and read the Catholic Epistles as a canonically significant collection” (xvii). Commencing his work with a critical survey of previous hermeneutical approaches that have attempted to read the Catholic Epistles as a collection with some degree of coherence in canonical context, Lockett wishes…

Review of The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son by Glenn D. Butner Jr.
Book Reviews , Theology / April 7, 2020

Butner, Jr., Glenn D. The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2018, pp. 224, $28, softcover. Glenn D. Butner is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry at Sterling College, KS. Prior to The Son who Learned Obedience (subsequently, SLO), he authored articles on the Trinity including, “For and Against de Régnon: Trinitarianism East and West,” (International Journal of Systematic Theology 17.4) 2015, 399-412, and “Eternal Functional Subordination and the Problem of the Divine Will” (Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society 58.1) 2015, 131-49. His article, “Against Eternal Submission: Changing the Doctrine of the Trinity Endangers Salvation and Women,” (Priscilla Papers 31.3) 2017, 15-21, was published in the academic journal of Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization devoted to equipping people for egalitarian ministry. SLO only touches on socio-cultural issues briefly. It contends that eternal relational authority and submission (hereafter, ERAS), a perspective on Trinitarian relations, undermines the Trinity and salvation. Butner begins by describing his method and key argument. He understands theology to be second-order, so he primarily addresses indirect doctrinal principles, ending with direct exegetical data (pp. 5-9). The question of ERAS is not one of exegetical facts but of the “best way to…

Review of The HTML of Cruciform Love: Toward a Theology of the Internet edited by John Frederick and Eric Lewellen

Frederick, John and Eric Lewellen, eds. The HTML of Cruciform Love: Toward a Theology of the Internet. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2019, pp. 208, $26, paperback. This edited volume saw the beginning of its formation at the second “Ecclesia and Ethics” conference in 2014 on the topic of gospel community and virtual existence. The conference was a webinar style conference that was sponsored by Corban University and the University of St. Andrews. Six further articles were also written to supplement the papers chosen from the original conference leading to the present volume published by Pickwick. Co-editor John Fredrick is a lecturer in New Testament at Trinity College Queensland. His other works focus on the way of the cross and cruciform love including Worship in the Way of the Cross and The Ethics of the Enactment and Reception of Cruciform Love. The second co-editor, Eric Lewellen, is an account manager at Vercross LLC, an online education systems technology company. Both editors participated in the second Ecclesia and Ethics conference and collaborated to edit this volume. The articles contained in this volume focus on a theology of the internet from a variety of perspectives. Some take a primarily biblical approach such as…

Review of Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind by Owen Strachan

Strachan, Owen. Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind. Ross-shire: Mentor Publishers, 2019. 432 pages. $39.99. There is significant interest in the questions concerning humankind. The uptick in philosophical, scientific, and theological literature both of a popular sort and an academic sort is evidence of this fact. Owen Strachan in his Reenchanting Humanity contributes to the body of literature on theological anthropology. In it, Owen Strachan raises questions, both historical and contemporary, on the anthropos and offers some answers to them. While it appears to be an academic textbook, it is more of a trade book. Reenchanting Humanity is a lot like a commercial boat with some features of a ship. However, this would fail to take into account the less obvious ships, like a submarine that can move underwater, or a ship that can fly in the air above water. In many ways, Owen Strachan’s Reenchanting Humanity is like one ship, but it falters in accounting for the different kinds of ships. Reenchanting Humanity takes its inspiration from Charles Taylor’s ‘enchantment’ in his The Secular Age. While Strachan does not offer a definition of Taylor’s term, the reader might work this out if they already have a basic understanding of Taylor’s…

Review of Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living by Thomas Lynch

Lynch, Thomas. Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2019, pp. 248, $18, paperback. Thomas Lynch is a funeral director, critically acclaimed poet, essayist, and the author of five collections of poems and four books of essays. His notable work titled, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade (1997), won the Heartland Prize for non-fiction, the American Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Widely considered one of the most skilled writers and thinkers on death and the meaning of living, Lynch’s work has appeared in several internationally influential publications, including the New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, and the Paris Review, among others. Lynch is also a frequent guest poetry reader, keynote speaker on the topics of the last things, the life of faith, and medical ethics, in venues all over the English-speaking world, as well as a guest lecturer in universities, churches, institutes, and libraries. In the preface to Whence and Whither, Lynch presents the overall premise of the book, which also stands as the common human predicament—“every human whoever was or is or will be will wrestle with these mysteries: the beauty of our being and…

Review of Maurice Blondel: Transforming Catholic Tradition by Robert Koerpel

Koerpel, Robert. Maurice Blondel: Transforming Catholic Tradition. South Bend, IN: Notre Dame Press, 2018, pp.278, $55.00, hardback.  In the introduction to his book, Robert Koerpel insightfully observes that it is a “paradox of history that Blondel has become one of the most influential, least well-known, and consistently misunderstood figures in Catholicism” (p. 2). Indeed, Blondel’s philosophy of action, which led to accusations of immanentism as well as naturalism, nevertheless infiltrated French theology to such an extent that twentieth-century French debates over the relationship between nature and the supernatural are inconceivable apart from his philosophy. Koerpel’s focus, however, is to revisit a different area of Blondel’s influence—his idea of tradition, which Blondel developed at the height of the Modernist Controversy. During this time Blondel’s orthodoxy was questioned within circles of ecclesial influence. Blondel’s essay, History and Dogma (1904), emerged out of the controversy, and yet took hold in the French theological imaginary in a way that extended far beyond that particular debate with Alfred Loisy. As Koerpel notes, key Catholic figures such as Jean Daniélou, Yves Congar, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner, and Henri de Lubac all sought to recover a deeper sense of the meaning of tradition, and to…

Review of The Tyndale Greek New Testament edited by Jongkind and Williams
Book Reviews , New Testament / February 27, 2020

Jongkind, Dirk and Peter J. Williams, eds. The Greek New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, pp. 526, $39.99, hardback. Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, England, and edited by Dirk Jongkind and Peter Williams, The Greek New Testament (TGNT) is a new critical edition of the Greek NT. Based on the critical edition by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875), it utilizes a documentary approach that “aims to present the New Testament books in the earliest form in which they are well attested” (p. vii). The focus of the work, therefore, is on “directly verified antiquity” (p. 507) as seen in the text and the features of the earliest Greek manuscripts. In terms of its structure, the edition is simple and straightforward: a two-page preface is followed by the Greek text of the NT, which is in turn followed by a twenty-page introduction to the edition that explains some of its features. Since the focus of the edition is on the “directly verified antiquity” of the text and features of the earliest manuscripts, it is distinct in several ways from the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies Greek New Testament editions (NA28 and UBS GNT5, respectively). First, the text of the critical edition is…

Review of 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me by Hansen and Robinson

Hansen, Collin and Robinson, Jeff.  15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018, pp. 155 , $17.99, Paperback. 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me is a multi-author work.  Each of the authors, however, demonstrate that at least a portion of their vocational ministry consists of time serving pastorally over a local congregation of believers.  This equips each of the authors to be able to speak extensively and practically to the arena about which they wrote, giving the reader both confidence in their ability to assess and explain the situations involved but also the practical guidance for how to maneuver difficult situations that arise within the context of local church ministry. In this work the various authors seek to establish, encourage, and root the reader in the practical realities that accompany life in the local church.  Each individual seeks to address a  different topic someone might encounter in vocational ministry that was potentially not covered during a stint of studying at a seminary.  The first chapter argues that simply because an individual has education it does not make them competent for ministry, giving practical guidance in what to focus on and how to love people more than the knowledge…

Review of How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Andrew Naselli
Book Reviews , New Testament / February 19, 2020

Naselli, Andrew David. How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017, pp. 432, $30, hardback. Andrew David Naselli is Associate Professor of New Testament at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also a pastor at the North Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Moundsview, Minnesota. Before coming to Minnesota in 2015, Dr. Naselli was D.A. Carson’s personal research assistant. In addition to his teaching and pastoral responsibilities, he writes regularly at Andynaselli.com and has written many scholarly and lay-level journal articles and books. In fact, he is currently one of the editors of a massive dictionary project: G. K. Beale, D. A. Carson, Benjamin L. Gladd, and Andrew David Naselli, eds. Dictionary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming [~2022]). Dr. Naselli’s How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (HUANT) is his only book on New Testament hermeneutics. HUANT is the companion volume to Jason S. DeRouchie’s How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017). The sheer volume and diversity of…