Book Reviews

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,…

Review of Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels by Richard B. Hays
Book Reviews , New Testament / November 14, 2017

Hays, Richard B.  Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016, xix + 504 pp., $49.95.  Richard Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, is well known to scholars and students alike as one of the world’s foremost experts on the use of the Old Testament in the New (as well as on Paul, NT ethics, and hermeneutics more generally).  This book was completed after Hays received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, with special research assistance and with Baylor’s fast-tracking publication of the manuscript.  Mercifully, as of this writing, that cancer is still in remission. Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels mirrors the name of the author’s classic Echoes of Scripture in Paul, published in 1989.  Then Hays was eager to go beyond the obvious quotations and even allusions to the OT in Paul’s letters to the significant clauses, phrases, and even key words that seemed likely to show Paul’s deliberate use of OT phraseology.  In this work on the Gospels, Hays still identifies some echoes not regularly discussed elsewhere but is keener to survey the major quotations and allusions as well, especially when attention to their larger OT contexts discloses additional…

Review of An Anomalous Jew: Paul Among Jews, Greeks, and Romans by Michael F. Bird
Book Reviews , 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 , 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…