Book Reviews

Review of How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: 12 Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Jason DeRouchie
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 26, 2018

DeRouchie, Jason. How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: 12 Steps from Exegesis to Theology. Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017. pp. 640. $39.00, hardcover. Jason DeRouchie, author of this volume, having taught at Gordon-Conwell, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and University of Northwestern-St. Paul, currently serves as professor of Old Testament & biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary. In addition to How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament, he has also co-authored A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (B&H, 2009), What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible (Kregel, 2013), and other books and articles. His location in and care for both the church world and academic world is apparent throughout this work. As one might gather from the title, DeRouchie has organized his book around twelve steps that a student of the Old Testament might take in order to properly exegete the Scripture and apply its meaning. Its textbook format will feel refreshing to those who share its goals, yet it might disappoint one who had wanted more historical or critical exploration. This, however, is not to say that it is light or devotional—in fact, it is quite the opposite! Rather, to say…

Review of Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies by Boyd Seevers
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 23, 2018

Seevers, Boyd. Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2013. Warfare in the Old Testament by Boyd Seevers documents the reality of warfare in the history of the six most prominent nations of the Old Testament, specifically: Israel, Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon and Persia. Each nation is examined through the events, duties, weapons, and battles from a historical background of known conflicts. The discussion of military organization, weapons, strategy and tactics allow Seevers to guide the reader by providing details of these armies through stories, historical information, military artifacts, drawings, sketches and maps. Through the eyes of a civilian, Seevers tells the story of a native Israeli who comments in an interview, “I can’t imagine life without the army” (p. 19). Warfare affected the lives of the people. The idea of people desiring, “that we may be like all nations, and that our king my judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20) is brought into context, “in the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle” (2 Samuel 11:1). Seevers’ writing engages the reader to consider…

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 New Models of Religious Understanding edited by Fiona Ellis
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / July 9, 2018

Ellis, Fiona, ed. New Models of Religious Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 256, £55, hardback. Emerging out of research conducted by the Centre for the Philosophy of Religion in Heythrop College, London, New Models of Religious Understanding (ed. Fiona Ellis) offers reflections on a refreshing new approach to the philosophy of religion. Attempting to build bridges between the analytic and continental traditions, the contributors to this volume present a method of doing philosophy of religion which moves away from ontological and metaphysical questions about the existence and nature of God. This new approach is concerned with religious practice more than belief, the kinds of knowledge and understanding that are valuable in religious discourse, and the ways in which religious or spiritual realities might become accessible only to those who enquire after them in the right way. Religious understanding is not a matter of what we know, but of what we do, how we do it, and how what we do opens up new facets or aspects of reality to us. Despite containing contributions from eleven different authors, the book has a remarkable consistency of approach throughout; Fiona Ellis identifies two key themes in her introduction. First, the contributors…

Review of The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel by Tremper Longman
Book Reviews , 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…