Book Reviews

Review of Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach by John H. Sailhamer
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 19, 2018

Sailhamer, John H. Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995, pp. 327,  $21.99, paperback. John H. Sailhamer (1946-2017) taught Old Testament at Biola University, Bethel Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Western Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. In 2000, he was elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and made major contributions to Evangelical Old Testament scholarship through his writing. Sailhamer recently passed away and a review of one of his significant contributions is merited as it has retained its value for over 20 years. He published over fifteen books, many articles and contributions to edited volumes, and left a legacy for appreciating the Old Testament that can inspire and continue to guide Biblical Studies students today. Sailhamer’s classic work, Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach, is designed to provide a “student-oriented, comprehensive overview of the discipline” (p. 5). Additionally, Sailhamer sought to offer a fresh contribution to Evangelical Old Testament scholarship through his own canonical approach. His book has three parts: an introduction, historical and methodological overview, and a concluding section containing Sailhamer’s own methodological proposal for a biblical theology of the Old Testament. The appendices after…

Review of Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day, Volume 1 by Jonathan G. Kline
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 16, 2018

Kline, Jonathan G. Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day, Volume 1. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA. 2017, 370pp. $39.95. In Hendrickson’s 2 Minutes a Day Biblical Language Series, Jonathan Kline has compiled and edited one year’s worth of readings in the original biblical languages.  Kline received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and is the author of several key Hebrew resources, including his contribution to Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition, and Allusive Soundplay in the Hebrew Bible.  Kline is currently the academic editor for Hendrickson Publishers in Peabody, MA. In this volume, Kline provides biblical Hebrew verses “to help you build on your previous study of Hebrew by reading a small amount of the Hebrew Bible in its original language every day in an easy, manageable, and spiritually enriching way” (p. vii).  To that end, Kline has produced a resource that many will find most helpful as a guide for short daily readings in the Hebrew Bible. The book begins with a preface describing the goal of the book as well as how best to use it.  In this preface, one finds the pertinent information for making the most of this work. …

Review of Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life by Jana Marguerite Bennett

Bennett, Jana Marguerite. Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. 272, $29.95, hardback. In this fresh reflection on singleness, theological ethicist, Jana M. Bennett, provides both a strong critique and hopeful corrective of American relationship culture. She writes as a Catholic scholar yet engages the American Protestant context just as insightfully—identifying the ways the church has often mirrored negative cultural narratives about singleness. The overall goal of this book is to magnify relational experiences often overlooked by the modern Christian community, specifically those in impermanent single states, and to acknowledge the ways these persons may uniquely witness to Christ and the church. Simultaneously, she encourages ways the church can be more of a witness to this community. To begin, she proposes that one of the main problems facing current conceptions of singleness is the tacit assumption that to be single is to be lonely. She calls upon the Christian tradition which affirms both marriage and singleness for what it means to be the church, and that being lonely is neither specific nor necessary to singleness. Here, she also sets up the structure of the remainder of the book, which will…

Review of The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel by Tremper Longman
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 5, 2018

Longman, Tremper, III. The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. 311 pgs. $32.99. There has long been a need for a focused, comprehensive treatment of the biblical theology of wisdom from an evangelical perspective.  Tremper Longman III’s recent volume, The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel, fills this void.  The book focuses on the theological dimensions of the concept of wisdom as it appears throughout the Christian Bible and the Second Temple literature.  The approach of the book is synchronic—it examines wisdom as a concept in the final form of the texts that we have, rather than tracing the diachronic development of the theme through Israel’s history. The book is divided into five parts.  Part one examines the corpus of books traditionally understood as biblical wisdom literature—namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job, with Longman devoting a chapter to each.  Longman surveys the literary contours of each of these books and unpacks their distinctive theological messages.  These chapters provide a lucid summary of the wisdom books and lay out Longman’s approach to some of their interpretive challenges.  Anyone familiar with Longman’s commentaries on…

Review of Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants by Gentry and Wellum

Gentry, Peter J. and Stephen J. Wellum. Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2012, pp. 848, $45.00, hardback. Peter J. Gentry serves as Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as Director of the Hexapla Institute. Stephen J. Wellum serves as Professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as Editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. In Kingdom Through Covenant, Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum establish a biblical and systematic theology designed to “show how central the concept of ‘covenant’ is to the narrative plot structure of the Bible, and secondly, how a number of crucial theological differences within Christian theology, and the resolution of those differences, are directly tied to one’s understanding of how the biblical covenants unfold and relate to each other” (p.21). In effect, they contend that to know the covenants rightly is to know the Scriptures rightly (pp. 139, 603, 611). As such, they examine each OT covenant so as “to speak on its own terms” (p. 113) by aligning interpretation to 1) its immediate textual context, especially emphasizing a historical-grammatical hermeneutic of a covenantal…

Review of Maximal God: A New Defence of Perfect Being Theism by Yujin Nagasawa
Book Reviews , Theology / June 28, 2018

Nagasawa, Yujin. Maximal God: A New Defence of Perfect Being Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 256, $60. Yujin Nagasawa is a professor of philosophy at the University of Birmingham, and the co-director of the John Hick Centre for the Philosophy of Religion. He has published books on phenomenal consciousness, miracles, and the existence of God. In Maximal God, Nagasawa examines the claim that God is a perfect being, and the role this plays in developing the ontological argument for the existence of God. Maximal God is comprised of 7 chapters. Chapter 1 considers the conceptual, historical, and cognitive roots of perfect being theism. According to Nagasawa, perfect being theism affirms that God is the greatest metaphysically possible being. This entails that God is value commensurate with all other possible beings. In other words, the greatness of God can be compared with the greatness of all other possible beings such as humans, aardvarks, and escalators. As Nagasawa notes, most philosophers and theologians assume that perfect being theism entails The Omni God Thesis. The Omni God Thesis says that God is an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being. Throughout Maximal God, it is Nagasawa’s contention that perfect being theism does not need…

Review of Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation by Scott A. Davison

Davison, Scott A. Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 189, $75.00, hardback. Scott Davison is Professor of Philosophy at Morehead State University. His other writings on petitionary prayer appear in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology, and The European Journal for Philosophy of Religion. This monograph is his first full-length treatment of the subject. Petitionary prayer is a practice which is central to Christian piety, yet, few Christians stop to ask, does prayer make a difference to God? One almost assumes that it does, or else prayer seems to be redundant. Scott Davison, in Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation, poses this type of question as follows: “Assuming that the God of traditional theism exists, is it reasonable to think that God answers specific petitionary prayers? Or are those prayers pointless in the sense that they do not influence God’s action?” (p. 8). In attempting to answer this question, Davison refrains from interjecting his own religious beliefs and seeks instead to “write as a philosopher trying to be responsible for what we know from reason about metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory” (p. 4). He explains that he will defend…

Review of A Reader’s Guide to the Bible by John Goldingay

Goldingay, John. A Reader’s Guide to the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017, pp. 192, $18.00, paperback. John Goldingay is the David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament at the Fuller Theological Seminary School of Theology and is a prolific author in Old Testament theology, as well as in Isaiah and Psalms studies. In A Reader’s Guide to the Bible, Goldingay aims to provide his readers with an introduction to the main events, people, places, themes, and structure of the Bible. Assuming that his readers know little to nothing about the Bible, the author highlights the Bible’s key events (chapter one) and describes the geographical features of the lands of the Bible, primarily that of Palestine (ch. 2). He then breaks down most of the rest of the book into two helpful categories: “God’s story” (Part II, five chapters long) and “God’s word” (Part III, five chapters long) (p. 2). Since most of the Bible consists of the Old Testament, Goldingay focuses on discussing the story of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. However, for Goldingay, the story of God’s relationship with his people culminates with the coming of Jesus Christ, his cross work, and the birth of…

Review of Evolution and the Fall edited by William T. Cavanaugh and James K. A. Smith

Cavanaugh, William T. and James K. A. Smith, eds. Evolution and the Fall. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017, pp. 261, $26, paperback. A wide spectrum of twentieth century theology was marked by a revision of the doctrine of the origins of sin. In most cases, concern about evolutionary science, and especially the science of human origins, was a powerful motivation. The origins of sin were recast in various forms—either as mythopoetic, metaphysically inevitable, or the consequence of a certain sort of freedom—in a way that led the doctrine away from the problems posed by evolution, but also led it away from important traditional claims, for example, that all humans became sinners by the voluntary act of the first two human beings. Because of these novelties, or because of their perceived consequences, many evangelicals and other traditionally-minded theologians declined to follow many of the great twentieth century thinkers down this path. Yet the problems that prompted the revision of the doctrine have, if anything, grown in recent decades. There is thus a renewed urgency, but also a renewed spirit of openness from traditionally-minded thinkers for reconsidering if, and if so, how, to think of the Fall in light of evolution. As…

Review of Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care by C. John Collins

Collins, C. John. Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011, pp. 192, $16.99, paperback. John Collins is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. In Did Adam and Eve Really Exist, Collins uses his skills in Hebrew linguistics and biblical theology to discuss an issue that finds itself at the intersection of science and faith. Collins has also published Faith and Science and a commentary discussing his linguistic and theological analysis of Genesis 1–4. The traditional view of Adam and Eve throughout most of church history has been that they were actual people through whom all other human beings descended and through whom sin entered into the human experience. Modern scientific claims, however, have caused much skepticism concerning this traditional view and have led many Western Christians to abandon belief in a historical Adam and Eve. In Did Adam and Eve Really Exist, Collins argues that the traditional view (or some variation of it) does the best job accounting for the biblical materials and our everyday experiences as human beings. In doing so, his goal is to establish what he refers to as “mere historical-Adam-and-Eve-ism” (alluding…