Book Reviews

Review of How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter J. Gentry
Book Reviews , Old Testament / March 15, 2018

Gentry, Peter J. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, pp. 141, $18, paperback. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets is a student oriented look at the unique hermeneutical issues at hand when interpreting the prophets of the Old Testament. Author Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is the Donald L. Williams professor of Old Testament Interpretation at South Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute. His other academic works include Kingdom Through Covenant (Crossway, 2012). His expertise is clearly at the fore as he seeks here to make the prophets, major books of the Old Testament, approachable to the Christian student. How to Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets achieves in every way its titled purpose, and is an introductory work of the highest order. Gentry sets out with a clear goal through How to Read. His stated purpose is to define seven central characteristics of prophetic literature that are vital for understanding. By understanding these prophetic literature characteristics, Gentry hopes that they “will help Christians comprehend these texts for themselves, perhaps for the first time with real understanding” (p. 14). Each of the characteristics of prophetic literature that…

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 My Servants the Prophets by Edward J. Young
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 21, 2018

Young, Edward J. My Servants the Prophets. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978, pp. 231, $23.50, paperback. The late Edward J. Young originally published My Servants the Prophets in 1952. He served as Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary and was esteemed as a very able conservative scholar. Young’s works exhibit his high view of Scripture and his adherence to the view of the inspiration of Scripture as reflected in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Young’s other influential works include Thy Word is Truth (Eerdmans, 1957), The Prophecy of Daniel (Eerdmans, 1949), and a three volume commentary on the book of Isaiah (Eerdmans, 1965, 1969, 1972). In his preface, Young states that the purpose of My Servants the Prophets is to defend “in a modest way” the claim that the prophets of the Old Testament received and delivered messages from God—a claim that the prophets made concerning themselves. Young notes from the outset that his defense of the prophets’ claim “flies in the face” of scholarship in vogue at that time. In each chapter of his book, Young concentrates on a particular issue regarding the prophetic institution in the Old Testament. In chapters 1 through 3, Young addresses the divine…

Review of The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Second Edition) edited by Rainey and Notley
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 15, 2018

Rainey, Anson F., and R. Steven Notley. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Second Emended and Enhanced Edition). Jerusalem: Carta, 2014, pp. 448, $120, hardback. Anson F. Rainey was Emeritus Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and Adjunct Professor of Historical Geography at Bar Llan University and American Institute for Holy Land Studies. Rainey was a student of Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, authors of The Macmillan Bible Atlas, and he co-authored the updated atlas, reissued as The Carta Bible Atlas. Rainey also worked extensively with the Amarna tablets, offering new readings and corrections to previous scholarship. R. Steven Notley is Professor of Biblical Studies, Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, and the Director of Graduate Programs in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins at Nyack College, New York City. Notley has published extensively on the Jewish background to the New Testament and with Carta on various atlas projects, including In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land. The Sacred Bridge is a self-described “historical geography of the Levant” emphasizing original research on the ancient written sources (p. 7). Though much of the volume pertains to biblical scholarship,…

Review of Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Testament Laws for the New Covenant Community by James M. Todd III

Todd III, James M. Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Covenant Laws for the New Covenant Community. IVP: Downers Grove, IL, 2017. The relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and specifically the Mosaic covenant and the New Covenant, remains a perennial question in biblical and theological studies. James Todd has written Sinai and the Saints to bring clarity to this question. While he successfully describes the positions in the debate, his own position fails to convince. Todd writes Sinai and the Saints because it is difficult to understand the Bible without understanding how the laws fit in (p. 8). He limits his discussion to the laws of Sinai (pp. 21–22). He notes that law and covenant exist together both in the Bible and in the surrounding culture (p. 15). After setting the stage, Todd reviews the different approaches to the relationship between the laws of Sinai and the New Covenant, acknowledging that there is much common ground between the positions (p. 31). He lists three different positions: 1) moral law Christians affirm the authority of some Old Covenant laws, 2) Ten Commandments Christians affirm the continuing validity of the Ten Commandments, and 3) No-Old-Law Christians deny any continuing validity…

Review of Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth about Man’s Origin edited by Terry Mortenson
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / January 30, 2018

Mortenson, Terry. ed. Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth about Man’s Origin. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2016, 524 pp, $24.99, paperback. The debate over evolutionary theory and biblical history still stirs significant controversy in the American Church. Related topics like the age of the earth and the special creation of mankind factor into an ever-growing body of literature on the subject. But many readers struggle to understand why this debate matters and why Christians can’t just “agree to disagree.” The urgency of the “so what” question drives this new volume. Terry Mortenson (Ph.D., history of geology) has assembled a collection of fresh essays to address one issue: the significance of belief in a recent, special creation of Adam and Eve. His contributors hail from a wide variety of fields, from Bible, theology, and hermeneutics to biology, genetics, anthropology, and archaeology. Mortenson and his team seek to clear up misconceptions about the young-earth creationist perspective while offering a scientifically informed and fundamentally biblical apologetic for the supernatural origin of Adam. This book launches a two-pronged advance of the young-earth understanding of the origin of mankind. First, chapters one through seven offer a biblical and theological presentation rooted in a…

Review of Recovering the Unity of the Bible: One Continuous Story, Plan, and Purpose by Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 24, 2018

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Recovering the Unity of the Bible: One Continuous Story, Plan and Purpose. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009, pp. 252, $19.86, paperback. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. serves as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. In Recovering the Unity of the Bible, Kaiser explores the connected questions of Scripture’s unity and argues that “the case for the unity of the Bible … rests on two main theses: (1) the self-claims of the Bible and (2) the message of Scripture” (p. 24). He contends for a unity to the canon that also recognizes genuine diversity as the canon grows from one part to the next with a common plan, purpose, and story in an organic progression (p. 218) that emphasizes a link between the promises of the OT and their fulfillment in the NT. As such, he leads his reader through a surprisingly detailed analysis of apologetic and interpretive issues related to the canon’s continuity and diversity that rejects imposing the NT upon the OT or adopting the common notion of sensus plenior (pp. 216–7). Kaiser seeks, instead, to thread an interpretive needle by keeping the meaning of…

Review of The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions by Mark J. Boda
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 9, 2018

Boda, Mark J. The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2017, pp. 220, $22.99, paperback. Mark Boda holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Boda is the author of numerous articles and books, including reputable commentaries on Judges, 1-2 Chronicles, Haggai and Zechariah, and several independent volumes on Zechariah. He has also published “Return To Me”: A Biblical Theology of Repentance (2015) in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series edited by D.A. Carson. In addition to his duties at McMaster, Dr. Boda is a seasoned evangelical minister and itinerant preacher who has served in various pastoral, missionary, and consulting positions. Chapter one argues that an over focus on the diversity of the Old Testament (OT) in late twentieth-century scholarship has led to a loss of the OT’s essential unity (p. 6). Boda submits that the core of OT theology is located within three rhythms of the OT: the narrative, character, and relational rhythms. According to chapter one, the narrative rhythm of the OT is found in the multiple historical summaries (Deut 6:21-23; 26:5-9; 24:2-13; Ps 78; Neh…

Review of How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter Gentry
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 4, 2018

Gentry, Peter. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, 141 pp., $17.99, paperback. The prophetic books of the Old Testament are often neglected or misinterpreted by the typical Christian due to the difficulty to understand them. Peter Gentry has written this short primer—How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets—to equip the average Christian with a better understanding of how Hebrew prophetic literature works and, thus, how the biblical prophets ought to be read and interpreted. Gentry is professor of Old Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the coauthor of Kingdom through Covenant, author of many articles, and the director of the Hexapla Institute. Through seven chapters, Gentry explains various aspects of the prophetic genre illustrated throughout with examples from the biblical prophets. In the first chapter, Gentry argues that the bulk of the content of the prophets has little to do with predicting the future but, rather, is concerned with calling the people of God back to the covenant of God—primarily using the language of the book of Deuteronomy (p. 30). Chapter two, then, surveys the genuine predictive statements of the prophets. Gentry shows that even these predictions of coming judgement and future…

Review of Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook by Athas, Avrahami, and Kline
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 2, 2018

Vance, Donald R., George Athas, Yael Avrahami, and Jonathan G. Kline. Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2016, pp. 233, $29.95, hardcover. Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook is an excellent addition to the academic resources on Biblical Aramaic.  As the authors relay, Biblical Aramaic is often neglected in seminary language studies due to the small percentage of the Old Testament written in Aramaic (ix).  However, to fully understand and apply “the biblical languages,” one must surely include Aramaic in his/her studies.  The authors include Donald Vance, Associate Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature at Oral Roberts University. Vance studied Northwest Semitic Philology at The Oriental Institute, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology.  Second, George Athas is a lecturer in Old Testament Studies, Hebrew, and Church History at Moore College in Sydney, Australia.  Third, Yael Avrahami received his Ph.D. from the University of Haifa and is the chair of the Department of Biblical Studies at Oranim Academic College in Haifa, Israel.  Finally, Jonathan Kline received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and currently serves as the academic editor at Hendrickson Publishers.  Kline’s contribution to the work includes the helpful vocabulary…