Book Reviews

Review of Paul: A Biography by N. T. Wright
Book Reviews , Featured , 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 , Featured , 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…

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 Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography by Douglas A. Campbell
Book Reviews , New Testament / March 21, 2018

Campbell, Douglas A. Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. xxii + 468, $39, paperback. Douglas Campbell has achieved prominence through two monographs, The Quest for Paul’s Gospel (2005) and The Deliverance of God (2009), which place him broadly within the “apocalyptic” perspective on the apostle Paul, over against “Lutheran,” salvation-historical, or New Perspective views. He holds the position of Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. He is also the resident provocateur in the field of Pauline studies, and this his third tome, Framing Paul, proposes a fresh chronology of Paul’s life and letters that differs in significant respects from the current consensus. In his first chapter, “An Extended Methodological Introduction” (pp. 1–36), Campbell sets out a methodology to “frame” the apostle’s letters — that is, to give an at least provisional account of the contingent circumstances of all the books bearing Paul’s name (see esp. pp. 11–18) — that avoids the “vicious circularity” (p. 13) often present in such a project. Campbell criticizes the common practice of suggesting a particular doctrine (e.g., justification) as Paul’s “coherence” (utilizing J. C. Beker’s terminology) that is drawn particularly from a subset of his letters (in this case,…

Review of Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas R. Schreiner
Book Reviews , New Testament , Old Testament / February 27, 2018

Schreiner, Thomas R. Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, pp. 136, $14.99, paperback. Thomas Schreiner is the James Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a Pauline scholar and has written numerous books and articles. This most recent book is in Crossway’s series, “Short Studies in Biblical Theology.” It is the fourth book in the series. The series is focused on giving a reading of the Bible that is unified and sees Jesus Christ as the culmination of the biblical story. Schreiner begins his book carefully noting that his intent is not to argue that covenant is the “center” of biblical theology (p. 11). While covenant is an important notion in Scripture, Schreiner wants to avoid the language of center or heart when discussing biblical theology. While, for Schreiner, covenant is not the central theme of the Bible, he does go on to say, “we can’t grasp how the Scriptures fit together if we lack clarity about the covenants God made with his people” (p. 12). Thus, before the study can go too far Schreiner proposes a definition of covenant: “a covenant is a chosen relationship in which…

Review of Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study
Book Reviews , New Testament / January 11, 2018

Griffiths, Jonathan I. Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017, pp. 153, $22, paperback. Jonathan Griffiths serves as the Lead Pastor of Metropolitan Bible Church and is on the council of The Gospel Coalition Canada. He has published a number of books, including Hebrews and Divine Speech in 2014. His latest contribution, Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study, examines the nature of preaching in the New Testament and asks whether preaching should function as a distinct word ministry in the post-apostolic church. At the outset of the book, Griffiths states that his interest does not lie in discussing homiletics or dissecting New Testament sermons to inform contemporary sermon formation. The primary goal of the book is to determine if the New Testament mandates “preaching” as a distinct ministry of the word, and, if so, what might characterize and distinguish preaching from other word ministries. After a brief introduction, Griffiths divides his work into three parts. The first section addresses two objections. It asserts a biblical theology of God’s word, and it surveys the three key terms used to describe the concept of preaching in the New Testament….

Review of Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ by Cynthia Long Westfall
Book Reviews , New Testament / December 19, 2017

Westfall, Cynthia Long. Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, pp. 348, paperback, $32.99. Of all authors who write books and articles on the topic of Paul and gender, Cynthia Long Westfall is well-qualified to do so. She has published on this topic before in her article e.g., “The Meaning of αύθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2.12,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, 10 (2014): 138-73. She has taught courses within Pauline studies at McMaster Divinity College since 2005. She has also served in the context of the local church; this matters especially as she comments on this part of Paul’s discussion of ministry in the local church as it pertains to gender roles in the church. In this book, Westfall seeks to “explain the Pauline passages that concern gender and to move toward a canon-based Pauline theology of gender” (p. ix). Several scholars have published books on this topic, especially as it concerns gender roles in the church (e.g., Piper and Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Pierce and Groothuis, Discovering Biblical Equality). Her primary contribution is her methodology. The method of her study, as she claims,…