Book Reviews

Review of Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature Edited by Firth and Lindsay
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / October 18, 2017

Firth, David and Wilson, Lindsay. Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature. IVP: Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2017, pp. 232, $30, Paperback. David G. Firth is Old Testament Tutor and Academic Dean at Trinity College, Bristol.  He is the author of 1 & 2 Samuel (AOTC), The Message of Esther and The Message of Joshua (IVP, 2009, 2010, 2015), and co-editor of Interpreting the Psalms, Interpreting Isaiah, Interpreting Deuteronomy, Words and the Word and Presence, Power, and Promise (all Apollos, 2009, 2009, 2012, 2008, 2011).  Lindsay Wilson is Academic Dean and Senior lecturer in Old Testament at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia.  He is the author of Job (THOTC, Eerdmans, 2015). Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature presents a collection of essays on wisdom books and wisdom ideas.  The essays interact with Old Testament wisdom literature and offer up-to-date evaluations on the current issues.  Craig Bartholomew provides an introduction with a survey of the landscape of Old Testament wisdom literature.  Section two covers the issues within the wisdom books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.  The inclusion of Song of Songs and some Psalms as wisdom texts are considered.  Section three subsequently covers major ideas within Old Testament wisdom literature. These essays present a…

Review of An Anomalous Jew: Paul Among Jews, Greeks, and Romans by Michael F. Bird
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / October 3, 2017

Bird, Michael F. An Anomalous Jew: Paul among Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016, pp. 322, $28.00, paperback. Contemporary Pauline studies generally heeds the adage that Paul was Jewish, although much argument remains about exactly what this statement means. Such declarations follow Paul himself, who identifies as an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, and a Benjaminite (Rom 11:1). Michael Bird, Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College, attempts to specify some of the ways that Paul must be viewed within Judaism as well as how Paul became such a controversial figure within first-century Judaism. The introduction maps how others have identified Paul’s relationship to Judaism around the coordinates of “former,” “transformed,” “faithful,” “radical,” and “anomalous” Jew. Bird sees the last qualifier as most apt but notes that much of what was unusual about Paul’s thought did not necessitate the particularly unaccommodating relationship between Paul and Jewish authorities. He understands Paul’s anomaly to be the revelation of Jesus Christ, “which discloses how faith in Christ without Torah was the instrument that brings Jews and Gentiles into reconciliation with God and into the renewal of all things” (p. 28). Other chapters test this hypothesis with regard to particular issues. Chapter…

Review of The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter by Michael K. Snearly
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / September 29, 2017

Snearly, Michael K. The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter. London: T&T Clark, 2016, pp. 236, $112, hardback. Michael K. Snearly’s revised doctoral dissertation, The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter, is one of the most recent and substantive contributions to the “canonical” or editorial-critical study of the Psalter. Snearly’s work focuses particularly on Book V (Pss 107–150) and argues the following thesis: “I contend that there is a purposeful arrangement of psalm groups in Book V and that this arrangement should be interpreted as signaling a renewed hope in the royal/Davidic promises” (p. 3). Snearly begins with methodological issues. His thorough interaction with and rebuttal to the method’s skeptics (pp. 10–17) provides a great service to its practitioners, as the method currently faces a “crisis of credibility.” Also noteworthy are the pitfalls he highlights that must be avoided if the method is to remain credible (pp. 18–19). The greatest contribution of these chapters, however, is Snearly’s own development of the method. He provides it with a more solid linguistic foundation by finding in text-linguistics and poetics support for the oft contended notion that the Psalter can be…

Review of Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / September 21, 2017

Kaiser, Walter C., Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2015, pp.176, $16.99, paperback. Walter C., Kaiser Jr. (PhD, MA Brandeis University, BD Wheaton Graduate School of Theology, AB. Wheaton College) is Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  He is author of numerous books and scholarly articles. The title of the book, “Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament,” is an accurate summarization of the contents. The book contains ten chapters that deal with ten problems that some people have with the Old Testament.  In the introduction, Kaiser provides a brief history of issues regarding the Old Testament.  He states that the rise of New Atheism and attacks by Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) demand an apologetic response which is based on an exegetical explanation of Old Testament Theology (pp. 9-16). This book appears to be a summarization and update of similar issues that he discussed in previous publications (Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, 1986 and More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament 1992,…

Review of The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption by Vern S. Poythress
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / September 13, 2017

Poythress, Vern S. The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 271, $19.99, paperback. In The Miracles of Jesus, Vern S. Poythress, a long-tenured professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, provides an interpretive grid that sees Jesus’ miracles as “signs of redemption.” The Miracles of Jesus is structured in four parts: Part 1 introduces the topic of Jesus’ miracles; Part 2 analyzes and illustrates some of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel of John; Part 3 provides a comprehensive examination of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel of Matthew; and Part 4 concludes with an examination of the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and its application to individuals. Parts 2 and 3 comprise the main section of the book, as the division of chapters attests (3-8 and 9-36, respectively). The focus on the Gospels of John and Matthew is intended to complement the work of Richard Phillips (Mighty to Save: Discovering God’s Grace in the Miracles of Jesus), who in a 2001 volume published by P&R similarly analyzed Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel of Luke (p. 30). Even though the analysis of Jesus’ miracles in Matthew comprises…

Review of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition edited by Vance, Athas, and Avrahami
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 5, 2017

Vance, Donald R., George Athas, and Yael Avrahami, eds. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2014, pp. xxxv + 1765, $59.95, hardback. Donald Vance (Ph.D., Denver University-Illiff School of Theology) is Associate Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. George Athas (Ph.D., University of Sydney) is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Old Testament, Hebrew, and Church History at Moore Theological College in Newtown, Australia. Yael Avrahami (Ph.D., University of Haifa) is Chair of the Biblical Studies Department at Oranim College of Education in Tiv’on, Israel. In addition to the present volume, Vance, Athas, and Avrahami collaborated with Jonathan Kline (Ph.D., Harvard University) to create another reader which focuses on the Aramaic portions of the Hebrew Bible, which is entitled Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2017). By modifying the footnotes of the traditional Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, Vance, Athas, and Avrahami have attempted to provide a resource that hurdles the barriers which many new readers of the Hebrew Bible (HB) face. These issues include the daunting vocabulary of the HB, difficulty in parsing certain verbs (like ones with weak roots), and the necessity to have multiple…

Review of The Soul of Theological Anthropology: A Cartesian Exploration by Joshua R. Farris
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 31, 2017

Joshua R. Farris. The Soul of Theological Anthropology: A Cartesian Exploration. London, UK: Routledge, 2017. pp. 198. $119.96, hardback. $38.47, ebook. Joshua R. Farris (Ph.D., University of Bristol) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, School of Humanities, The Academy and The Honors College, in Houston, TX. He is also a member of the Department of Theology and is Director over Trinity School of Theology. Nearly 30 years ago, John W. Cooper wrote and published his widely read theological defense of substance dualism and the doctrine of the intermediate state: Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting. To this day, when one researches Christian accounts of the afterlife and attendant accounts of the human person, Cooper’s work is ubiquitous. Indeed, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting has been something of the “gold standard” by which all defenses of the doctrine of the intermediate state and a theological defense of substance dualism have been measured. By my lights, that reign ends with the publication of Joshua Farris’s book, The Soul of Theological Anthropology. Farris is clear that his theological account of the human person “is motivated and influenced by John Cooper’s . . . work” and that he intends to “take some…

Review of Contemporary Philosophical Theology by Taliaferro and Meister
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 29, 2017

Taliaferro, Charles and Chad Meister. Contemporary Philosophical Theology. New York, NY: Routledge, 2016, pp. 242, $44.95, paperback. The authors are both well-established experts in the fields of philosophy and philosophical theology. Charles Taliaferro, Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College, is the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books. Recent books include The Golden Cord: A Short Book on the Sacred and the Secular (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012) and The Image in Mind (Bloomsbury, 2013, co-authored with Jil Evans). He is the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Theism (Routledge, 2012, with Victoria S. Harrison and Stewart Goetz) and The Ashgate Companion to Theological Anthropology (Ashgate, 2016, with Joshua R. Farris). Chad Meister is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Bethel College. He, too, is the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books. Recent books include Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction, second edition (Routledge, 2016, with J. B. Stump) and Introducing Philosophy of Religion (Routledge, 2019). He is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil (Cambridge University Press, 2017, with Paul Moser) and God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views (IVP Academic, 2017, with James K. Dew, Jr.). Together, in Contemporary Philosophical…

Review of How I Changed my Mind about Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science edited by Applegate and Stump
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 24, 2017

Applegate, Kathryn and J. B. Stump, eds. How I Changed my Mind about Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016, pp. 196, $10, paperback. Kathryn Applegate and J. B. Stump are the Resources Editor and Senior Editor, respectively, at BioLogos—a Christian organization whose mission is to advocate a view of “harmony between science and biblical faith” rooted in “an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation” (http://biologos.org/about-us). Applegate holds a PhD in computational cell biology from The Scripps Research Institute. Stump, who recently authored Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), holds a PhD in philosophy from Boston University. How I Changed my Mind about Evolution is a collection of autobiographical essays from evangelical Christians who believe the theory of evolution is compatible with the truth and authority of the Bible. Among its twenty-five contributing authors are pastors, Bible scholars, theologians, philosophers, and scientists. Some are distinguished scholars with doctoral degrees from Oxford, Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, or MIT. Eight have doctorates in the biological sciences, and two of these biologists—Denis Lamoureux and Jeff Hardin—have additional graduate degrees in theology. Two other contributors hold prestigious positions in the scientific community: Jennifer Wiseman is a…

Review of A Little Book for New Scientists by Reeves and Donaldson
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 22, 2017

Reeves, Josh A. and Steve Donaldson, A Little Book for New Scientists. Downers Grove, IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 141, $12.00, paperback. A book title by an evangelical publisher purporting to provide help for scientists immediately raises questions in today’s overheated world of Christianity in relation to science. But this is precisely the purpose of this truly little blue book (7 x 4 x ½ inches). And for such a small work, the authors do a remarkably good job of at least pointing out to us the right questions. The authors teach that the scientist can expect felicitous surprises (e.g., opportunities for mission and ministry) as well as trials for their Christian faith (e.g., science-religion conflicts). The latter can lead to intellectual crisis for Christians. So the authors state: “The primary purpose of this book, then, is to help Christians studying and practicing in the sciences to connect their vocation with their Christian faith” (p. 13). The authors, who teach at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, are well-qualified to write such a book. Reeves serves as a project administrator in the university’s Center for Science and Religion (CSR), managing the New Directions in Science and Religion project. Donaldson, who co-founded the…