Book Reviews

Review of The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis by Steven E. Runge
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / October 14, 2019

Runge, Steven E. and Christopher J. Fresch, eds. The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016. 688 pp. $34.99. The topic of verbal aspect has been highly contested since the publication of Stanley Porter and Buist Fanning’s dissertations over twenty-five years ago. Despite the copious amount of literature written on the issue, there appeared to be no way forward in the debate. That is, the paradigms set forth by Stanley Porter, Buist Fanning, and those who followed did not create a paradigm by which solutions could be found. However, with the publication of Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch’s The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis, the apparent stalemate in this quarter-of-a-century debate shows tremendous promise for new ways forward. For that matter, the impact of Runge and Fresch’s new monograph upon the topic of verbal aspect within the Greek verbal system can be summarized in the remarks of Constantine Campbell, who states that this volume “deserves careful consideration” since it will “no doubt occupy a significant position within modern discussions of the Greek verbal system” (endorsements page). In The Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis,…

Review of A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians by Don Garlington
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / October 8, 2019

Garlington, Don. A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2016, pp. 473, paperback. It has been said that “of the writing of commentaries there is no end.” Even though this reality could lend itself to a stale treatment of texts already analyzed, A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians is a welcome resource to Greek students and pastors alike. In distinction from other kinds of commentaries, this commentary by Pauline scholar Don Garlington has as its target audience “students of the Greek New Testament” and thus functions as “a kind of ‘halfway house’ between the likes of Murray Harris and Margaret Thrall, on the one side, and Philip Hughes and Mark Seifrid, on the other” (p. xi). The result of this endeavor is a commentary that focuses on analysis of the Greek grammar and syntax of 2 Corinthians. Even though Garlington occasionally mentions the historical-cultural background of a passage, the focus is more on exegetical insights deriving from grammatical and syntactical analysis. The introduction, therefore, is understandably minimalistic, with a brief section on the purpose of the letter (to prepare the Corinthians for Paul’s upcoming visit), the contents of the letter (the opponents…

Review of Paul and the Gift by John M. G. Barclay
Book Reviews , New Testament / July 15, 2019

Barclay, John M. G. Paul and the Gift. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015, xvi + 656 pp., $70, hardback.  In one sense, Paul and the Gift is a book about many things. It includes anthropology and the history of interpretation. It is a comparison of Paul and Second Temple Jewish authors. It is part Pauline theology, part commentary on Galatians and Romans. In another sense, though, Barclay’s monograph is a book about one thing: grace. While its methodology traverses a wide array of disciplines relevant to biblical studies, its content never strays far from the concept of beneficence. Barclay, who a decade and a half ago succeeded James D. G. Dunn as Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University, has proved himself a fitting heir to that professorship. Prior to Paul and the Gift, Barclay was perhaps best known for Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora (1996), an overview of Jewish reactions to the wider culture, as well as many well regarded articles, chapters, and edited volumes on Paul and Hellenistic Jews. But it is Paul and the Gift that secures his legacy. With it, he presents Paul’s theology of grace from a genuinely new perspective — no small feat! —…

Review of Christ is King: Paul’s Royal Ideology by Joshua W. Jipp
Book Reviews , New Testament / April 1, 2019

Jipp, Joshua W. Christ is King: Paul’s Royal Ideology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015, pp. viii + 380, $44, paperback. Joshua W. Jipp received his PhD in New Testament from Emory University in 2012. He is currently an associate professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Early in Jipp’s post-graduate studies he became intrigued by “the incredible amount of attention devoted to reflections upon the good king in Greek and Roman writings” (p. vii). In 2013, Jipp began to formally explore the relevance of this ancient kingship discourse (hereafter “AKD”) to NT interpretation. Jipp’s paper (a pre-publication of Chapter 2) won him the SBL Paul J. Achtemeier Award for New Testament Scholarship (p. viii). Jipp’s thesis is that Paul’s teachings about Christ are best understood within the framework of AKD (p. 42). Jipp relies upon abductive reasoning (finding the simplest and most likely explanation), evaluating his claims on the basis of their historical plausibility (pp. 135–137). With his focus squarely on the historical Paul, Jipp is not interested in drawing distinctions between the “Messiah” and the “king” in the LXX (pp. 29–30), or between “biblical” and “extra-biblical” language (p. 79n11), or between “Jewish” and “Greco-Roman” concepts (p. 17);…

Review of The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology by Matthew Y. Emerson

Emerson, Matthew Y. The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2017, $19.99, hardcover. Matthew Emerson (Ph.D. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of religion and holds the Dickinson Chair of Religion at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Emerson’s work in this volume is a part of the Hobbs College Library Collection at Oklahoma Baptist University which promises to offer additional volumes in the areas of Bible, theology, and Christian ministry. In under one hundred pages, Emerson captures the essence of biblical theology for those training for Christian ministry. Consisting of six succinct chapters, the book begins with a helpful introduction to the discipline of biblical theology in its historical and academic background. Anyone new to this field will appreciate Emerson’s overview and clarity. Following an evaluation of Johannes Gabler’s contribution to the discipline, Emerson explains three primary schools or approaches: the Dallas School which focuses attention on the Israel/Church relationship; the Chicago School which seeks to understand how any given text fits within the overall biblical narrative; the Philadelphia School which asks similar questions of the previous approaches, but also investigates aspects of literary context. Emerson then moves beyond these helpful categories…

Review of Paul: A Biography by N. T. Wright
Book Reviews , New Testament / December 4, 2018

Wright, N.T.  Paul: A Biography. San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2018, pp 464, $29.99, Hardcover. N.T. Wright is widely known as one of the most prominent Pauline scholars of today and a retired Anglican bishop.  He has gained much attention in the academic field for his view on the new perspective on Paul, which has stirred up much debate among Pauline scholars.  One of his most recent works that addresses this issue is Paul and the Faithfulness of God, which was published by Fortress Press in 2013. Currently, the author holds the position of Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In this book, Wright takes a biographical approach in dealing with Paul’s life and theology.  He begins with Paul’s upbringing as a young Jew living in Tarsus, and takes the readers through Paul’s entire life until the final years before his death.  In order to help the reader better understand the shaping and substance of Paul’s theology, Wright traces through known aspects of Paul’s missionary journeys while filling in gaps of knowledge with his thoughtful speculations.  The author divides his work into three parts: the beginning of Paul’s…

Review of The Crosses of Pompeii: Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town by Bruce W. Longenecker
Book Reviews , New Testament / November 29, 2018

Longenecker, Bruce W. The Crosses of Pompeii: Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016, pp. 366, $39,00, paperback. Bruce Longenecker undertakes a historical study in this book that inquires into the evidence for Jesus-devotion in the Roman city of Pompeii prior to its destruction when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. He finds the answer by looking at cross-shaped symbols in the city’s archeological record. Having previously taught in the UK, Longenecker is the W. W. Melton Chair of Religion at Baylor University. Among his previous publications, Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World (Eerdmans, 2010) and The Cross before Constantine (Fortress, 2015) are particularly pertinent to the volume currently under review. The book begins with an account of its origins. Longenecker began to study the Vesuvian region in order to understand better the concrete realities of first-century life in which early Christianity developed. After noting that certain traditional elements in Vesuvian scholarship are being reevaluated in fresh ways, he locates his book as part of this scholarly movement. The book “will demonstrate that first-century Jesus-devotion did, in fact, have a Vesuvian foothold in the town of Pompeii” (p. 8). For readers accustomed to studying early Christian…

Review of Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World by Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo

Moo, Douglas J., and Jonathan A. Moo. 2018. Creation Care : A Biblical Theology of the Natural World. Biblical Theology for Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan., pp. 250, $18.46, paperback. Douglas J. Moo holds a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews and teaches New Testament at Wheaton College. He is a respected New Testament scholar with over a dozen commentaries and works, mostly in the epistles.  Jonathan Moo holds his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, teaches New Testament and environmental studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, holds a graduate degree in wildlife ecology, and has published extensively on Christianity’s understanding of nature. The book is aptly titled as it pursues a theology of creation that considers humankind’s relationship and duty to it. This is the fifth installment in the reputable Biblical Theology for Life series. This volume is divided into three major sections: “Queuing the Questions,” “Arriving At Answers,” and “Reflecting on Relevance.” Chapters 1-2 begin by positing the question, “What role does non-human creation play in God’s plan?” (p. 23). The authors set out to prove that creation plays a significant role in God’s eternal plans. They thus eschew the labels “nature” and “environmentalism” in favor of…

Review of The Voices of the New Testament: Invitation to a Biblical Roundtable by Derek Tidball
Book Reviews , New Testament / October 8, 2018

Tidball, Derek. The Voices of the New Testament: Invitation to a Biblical Roundtable. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016, pp. 277, $24.00, paperback. Derek Tidball is a British evangelical scholar. He previously served as the principal of the London School of Theology and is currently visiting scholar at Spurgeon’s College in London. The Voices of the New Testament is a New Testament [NT] theology aimed at “those who will never pick up the heavier” NT theologies (p. viii). Hence, it is quite brief (as NT theologies go) and intentionally light on footnotes and secondary sources. It seeks to draw together the major theological foci of the NT authors in a way that both distinguishes their unique emphases and preserves the unity between them. In a word, the book attempts to discern the unity and diversity of the message of the NT, such that at the end of his study, Tidball’s conclusion is that “[t]he New Testament writers are like instruments in an orchestra playing one glorious and harmonious melody. Each instrument contributes to that one tune” (p. 257). As an attempt to defend the need for another NT theology amidst a growing number today, Tidball contends that his approach or method…

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…