Book Reviews

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 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 Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey by Garwood P. Anderson
Book Reviews , New Testament / May 10, 2017

Anderson, Garwood P. Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Academic, 2016, pp. 439, $45, hardback. Garwood Anderson, professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, makes a strong case for what other scholars have suspected—namely, that Paul’s own perspective on salvation expanded as evidenced by differences between his earlier and later letters. This is why the so-called “new perspective on Paul,” championed by E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright, makes good sense of Galatians, but the old Lutheran reading still has explanatory power for Romans and Philippians (pp. 12-13). “The argument of this book insists that both ‘camps’ are right, but not all the time” (p. 5). The clever title, Paul’s New Perspective, refers to the so-called old perspective on Paul that comes late in his writing. But Anderson suggests that the motif and mystery of union with Christ is large enough to encompass the development. The argument moves in three stages. Chapters 1—3 contextualize the debate for the reader. Anderson acknowledges not being a “Pauline specialist,” (VIV), but he engages a large swath of the secondary literature. He also focuses on three passages that do not…

Review of The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users by Mark L. Strauss
Book Reviews , New Testament / March 22, 2017

Strauss, Mark L. The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 112, $18.99, paperback. Mark Strauss (PhD, Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary (San Diego). He has written extensively in New Testament studies, translation, hermeneutics, and application. His books include The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts; Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels; How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today, and Mark in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. His Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users is a useful resource created to help pastors, teachers, and students engage the original languages. Bible software programs have revolutionized the way students of the Bible access, study, and engage the Scriptures. They have also revolutionized the way schools are teaching the biblical languages. Many schools have modified language tracks, teaching the biblical languages while assuming the assistance of such programs. These courses or tracks do not expect memorization and mastery of forms and vocabulary because the information is readily available with a click through programs such as Logos, BibleWorks, and Accordance. It is for this new context that Strauss makes this…

Review of Fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Porter, Reed and O’Donnell
Book Reviews , New Testament / December 27, 2016

Stanley E. Porter, Jeffrey T. Reed, and Matthew Brook O ’Donnell. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. pp. 466, $40, Hardcover. When one considers the quantity of elementary and advanced Greek grammars that have been published in the last hundred years, it is no surprise that the teaching of Greek has become such a refined art. No matter where someone goes to learn Biblical Greek, odds are they learned it through a similar methodology. What Porter, Reed, and O’Donnell set out to do in Fundamentals of New Testament Greek is continue to refine the advances made over the past hundred years. The very nature of Porter’s grammar is pedagogical. In his introduction he states that: All beginning grammar books are incomplete in their coverage of the language they introduce. In fact, grammar books often present half-truths (even lies!) about the language that we have seen needed correcting in second-year classes. We trust that this text contains fewer such statements than others. In an effort to minimize incompleteness, we have included fuller and more comprehensive discussions, definitions, and presentation of material than are usually found in other beginning grammars. (p. xii) Porter then lists the goals he sets…

Review of Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought by Sanders
Book Reviews , New Testament / June 24, 2016

Sanders, E. P. Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015, pp. 777, $39, paperback. E.P. Sanders is one of the most well-known New Testament scholars in the world today due to the tremendous influence of his 1977 book Paul and Palestinian Judaism. His commanding explanation of the “pattern of religion” found in rabbinic and Second Temple Jewish sources turned Pauline scholarship away from previous caricatures of Judaism to a fresh interaction with the primary sources. It also laid the foundation for the “new perspective” on Paul. But although we are familiar with Sanders the scholar, in this book we meet Sanders the teacher. Paul is a book written by the retired Duke professor for undergraduate students. It is a complete exposition of the apostle’s undisputed letters, and, while Sanders has written several books on Paul, this is the first one in which he addresses all of Paul’s thought in one place. This book gives us another side of Sanders—here we get a peek inside of his lecture hall where Sanders quotes Shakespeare, Milton, Kipling, and Poe; explains how he teaches his Greek students to bring out the force of Paul’s phrase me genoito (“Hell, no!”); tells us…

Review of Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism by Porter and Pitts
Book Reviews , New Testament / April 4, 2016

Porter, Stanley E. and Andrew W. Pitts. Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015, pp. xvi + 202, $22, paperback. Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitts have written a new introduction to the subject of New Testament textual criticism that aims to be a “distinctly midlevel textbook” for people who have at least a basic working knowledge of New Testament Greek. The authors note the current lack of such an intermediate work on the subject. Metzger’s classic work The Text of New Testament (Oxford, 2005) provides a scholarly treatment of textual criticism some of which is too detailed to be useful to seminary students. On the other hand, introductory works, such as Greenlee’s Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (Baker, 1993), while they are suitable for college and first-year seminary students, do not cover some subjects or do not provide the kind of detail that students with more than one year of Koine Greek will find useful for applying text critical principles to the New Testament. In large part, the authors have succeeded in meeting their goal of an intermediate textbook. The book’s aim of being useful to seminary students is enhanced by its covering subjects not…