Book Reviews

Review of Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation, 2nd Edition by Joshua R. Jacobson
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / November 6, 2018

Jacobson, Joshua R. Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2017, pp. xxx + 844, $90.00, hardback or eBook (PDF). “Don’t be attracted to any interpretation that conflicts with the punctuation of the te‘amim; don’t even listen to it!” (Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, p. 23). Whether or not you agree with Ibn Ezra’s claim, the sad reality must be faced: most students of biblical Hebrew cannot even read the te‘amim [accents] so as to discern their meaning. Joshua Jacobson presents a monumental work to remedy this situation. Now expanded into a second edition, Chanting the Hebrew Bible introduces readers to the Masoretic accent system and guides them all the way up to “the art of cantillation.” Jacobson (D.M.), professor of music and director of choral activities at Northeastern University, teaches and conducts around the world. He had published hundreds of compositions, arrangements, and articles. His background in Jewish literature, musical performance, and experience as a cantor instructor allows him to produce such an encyclopedic guide. Chanting the Hebrew Bible provides readers with a tool to learn interpreting, reading, and singing the Hebrew Bible according to the Masoretic tradition. Jacobson divides this massive volume…

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 Myth and Reality in the Old Testament by Brevard S. Childs
Book Reviews , Old Testament / October 11, 2018

Childs, Brevard S. Myth and Reality in the Old Testament. Studies in Biblical Theology, no. 27. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009. 112 pp. $13.00. What is the nature and meaning of “myth” in the Old Testament? In Child’s work, Myth and Reality, it is this very question, which remained unanswered by Gunkel and others, that he sought to address. Childs’ thesis is simply, “that myth and the Old Testament have as their ultimate concern an understanding of reality” (p. 7). He notes the tension between the understandings of myth and reality and how reconciliation is found in the “redemptive activity of God.” What qualifies Childs to answer such a phenomenological question? Beyond the fact that he served as the Sterling Professor of Yale Divinity School, he was also the author of numerous works that dealt with the problems of historical-critical methodology. Some of his more prevalent works Biblical Theology in Crisis, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context, and his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments displayed his rigor and expertise to engage the issue of myth with a careful eye. In five chapters this little monograph works to frame and engage with the problem of defining myth…

Review of How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: 12 Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Jason DeRouchie
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 26, 2018

DeRouchie, Jason. How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: 12 Steps from Exegesis to Theology. Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017. pp. 640. $39.00, hardcover. Jason DeRouchie, author of this volume, having taught at Gordon-Conwell, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and University of Northwestern-St. Paul, currently serves as professor of Old Testament & biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary. In addition to How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament, he has also co-authored A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (B&H, 2009), What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible (Kregel, 2013), and other books and articles. His location in and care for both the church world and academic world is apparent throughout this work. As one might gather from the title, DeRouchie has organized his book around twelve steps that a student of the Old Testament might take in order to properly exegete the Scripture and apply its meaning. Its textbook format will feel refreshing to those who share its goals, yet it might disappoint one who had wanted more historical or critical exploration. This, however, is not to say that it is light or devotional—in fact, it is quite the opposite! Rather, to say…

Review of Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies by Boyd Seevers
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 23, 2018

Seevers, Boyd. Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2013. Warfare in the Old Testament by Boyd Seevers documents the reality of warfare in the history of the six most prominent nations of the Old Testament, specifically: Israel, Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon and Persia. Each nation is examined through the events, duties, weapons, and battles from a historical background of known conflicts. The discussion of military organization, weapons, strategy and tactics allow Seevers to guide the reader by providing details of these armies through stories, historical information, military artifacts, drawings, sketches and maps. Through the eyes of a civilian, Seevers tells the story of a native Israeli who comments in an interview, “I can’t imagine life without the army” (p. 19). Warfare affected the lives of the people. The idea of people desiring, “that we may be like all nations, and that our king my judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20) is brought into context, “in the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle” (2 Samuel 11:1). Seevers’ writing engages the reader to consider…

Review of Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach by John H. Sailhamer
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 19, 2018

Sailhamer, John H. Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995, pp. 327,  $21.99, paperback. John H. Sailhamer (1946-2017) taught Old Testament at Biola University, Bethel Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Western Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. In 2000, he was elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and made major contributions to Evangelical Old Testament scholarship through his writing. Sailhamer recently passed away and a review of one of his significant contributions is merited as it has retained its value for over 20 years. He published over fifteen books, many articles and contributions to edited volumes, and left a legacy for appreciating the Old Testament that can inspire and continue to guide Biblical Studies students today. Sailhamer’s classic work, Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach, is designed to provide a “student-oriented, comprehensive overview of the discipline” (p. 5). Additionally, Sailhamer sought to offer a fresh contribution to Evangelical Old Testament scholarship through his own canonical approach. His book has three parts: an introduction, historical and methodological overview, and a concluding section containing Sailhamer’s own methodological proposal for a biblical theology of the Old Testament. The appendices after…

Review of Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day, Volume 1 by Jonathan G. Kline
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 16, 2018

Kline, Jonathan G. Keep Up Your Biblical Hebrew in Two Minutes a Day, Volume 1. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA. 2017, 370pp. $39.95. In Hendrickson’s 2 Minutes a Day Biblical Language Series, Jonathan Kline has compiled and edited one year’s worth of readings in the original biblical languages.  Kline received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and is the author of several key Hebrew resources, including his contribution to Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook and Allusive Soundplay in the Hebrew Bible.  Kline is currently the academic editor for Hendrickson Publishers in Peabody, MA. In this volume, Kline provides biblical Hebrew verses “to help you build on your previous study of Hebrew by reading a small amount of the Hebrew Bible in its original language every day in an easy, manageable, and spiritually enriching way” (p. vii).  To that end, Kline has produced a resource that many will find most helpful as a guide for short daily readings in the Hebrew Bible. The book begins with a preface describing the goal of the book as well as how best to use it.  In this preface, one finds the pertinent information for making the most of this work.  Kline discusses first the format of each…

Review of The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel by Tremper Longman
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 5, 2018

Longman, Tremper, III. The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. 311 pgs. $32.99. There has long been a need for a focused, comprehensive treatment of the biblical theology of wisdom from an evangelical perspective.  Tremper Longman III’s recent volume, The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel, fills this void.  The book focuses on the theological dimensions of the concept of wisdom as it appears throughout the Christian Bible and the Second Temple literature.  The approach of the book is synchronic—it examines wisdom as a concept in the final form of the texts that we have, rather than tracing the diachronic development of the theme through Israel’s history. The book is divided into five parts.  Part one examines the corpus of books traditionally understood as biblical wisdom literature—namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job, with Longman devoting a chapter to each.  Longman surveys the literary contours of each of these books and unpacks their distinctive theological messages.  These chapters provide a lucid summary of the wisdom books and lay out Longman’s approach to some of their interpretive challenges.  Anyone familiar with Longman’s commentaries on…

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…