Book Reviews

Review of Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History by Francis A. Schaeffer
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / June 13, 2017

Schaeffer, Francis. Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History. Wheaton, lllinois: Crossway, 2004, pp. 223, $19.99, paperback. Francis Schaeffer was the founder and director of the L’Abri community in Switzerland. He became famous for his hospitality and intellectual discussions centering on the place of the historic truths of the Christian faith in the midst of a changing European worldview. He authored more than 20 books before his passing in 1984, including Joshua and the Art of Biblical History, reprinted in 2004. Schaeffer’s work is an attempt to discuss the major events and characters in the book of Joshua within the context of the larger biblical narrative. As a result, he begins his study with Joshua’s place within the Pentateuch and the lessons he received at the feet of Moses (pp. 15-36). Then, he discusses some “changeless” factors of leadership that influenced Joshua’s life (pp. 40-48). This pattern, consisting of highlighting passages from Joshua, making connections from Joshua into other biblical narratives (including, especially, New Testament ones) and discussion ethical or moral lessons learned from the story of Joshua continues, whether it be the idea of eating before the divine and its relationship to Communion (p. 10), the circumcision of the…

Review of Joel (The International Theological Commentary) by Christopher R. Seitz
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / June 6, 2017

Seitz, Christopher R. Joel. The International Theological Commentary. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016, xii + 239 pp., $94.00, hardback. Joel is the third publication in T&T Clark’s new International Theological Commentary series. The series evidences the concerns and hermeneutical methods of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture “movement” (pp. ix–x). Christopher Seitz has written extensively on the topic of theological hermeneutics and the Old Testament prophets, most relatedly, his Prophecy and Hermeneutics. This commentary on Joel affords him the opportunity to apply his methodology to an entire biblical book. Seitz is a senior research professor at Wycliffe College, Toronto and currently serves as the editor of Studies in Theological Interpretation, Baker Academic. Joel is comprised of two equal-length parts. The first contains several chapters discussing introductory issues. With newer redaction theories of the minor prophets in view, Seitz argues for the literary integrity of the final form of Joel (p. 6, see p. 62 for arguments against the older redaction theories of Duhm). He favors a canonical reading of Joel which spots intertextuality throughout the book of the Twelve, that is, how Joel has been influenced and how Joel influences a reading of the other minor prophets (p. 23). Seitz,…

Review of Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology by J. Gordon McConville
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 30, 2017

Gordon McConville. Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993, pp. 176, $18.99, paperback. Gordon McConville serves as Professor of Old Testament Theology at the University of Gloucestershire and as external examiner for Queen’s University, Belfast, where he earned his PhD. In Grace in the End, McConville seeks to “characterize Deuteronomic theology on the basis of secure literary, historical and theological criteria” (p. 11) by closely examining the limitations of recent historical-critical approaches to the message of Deuteronomy and its relationship to the rest of the OT canon, especially the Deuteronomistic History (DtH). He contends, specifically, that these scholars failed to capture the nuance of Deuteronomic thought because they polarized aspects of its message, such as separating law and grace, into “rival views vying to be heard” (p. 123) without accommodating its desire to unite them into its “distinctive concept” (p. 123). This concept becomes, for McConville, the OT’s “true formative influence” (p. 11). because it holds together “a theology of God and Israel on the plan of the nation’s entire history” (p. 123). In this work, McConville provides a thorough testing of his historical-critical predecessors and their various models and conclusions by examining…

Review of Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle by Rachelle Gilmour
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / May 23, 2017

Gilmour, Rachelle. Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle. LBHOTS 594. New York/London: Bloomsbury, 2015, pp. 250, $110, cloth ($26, e-book). Rachelle Gilmour is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the Broken Bay Institute in Sydney. She earned her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from the University of Sydney and spent time at both the Hebrew University and University of Edinburgh as a postdoctoral fellow. During her time at the Hebrew University, she wrote the monograph Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle. Gilmour has written broadly regarding literary analysis in the Former Prophets, with most of her work focused specifically in Samuel and Kings. Gilmour contends that a gaping hole exists in Old Testament literary critical studies around what she considers to be an essential tool of the writers of the Hebrew Bible, namely, juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is the deliberate, redactional selection and arrangement of scenes, episodes, and even whole narratives, next to other units with the intent to guide the reader to a different interpretation than one would discover if a unit was read independently. To correct this problem, Gilmour provides in this monograph a theoretical framework for interpreters of the Hebrew Bible to understand juxtaposition of narratives as a critical part of the hermeneutical task….

Review of The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction by Richard S. Hess
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 4, 2017

Hess, Richard S., The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Jan. 2017, pp. 816, $49.99, hardback. Richard S. Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College, MDiv and ThM, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a BA from Wheaton College.) is Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and editor of the Denver Journal. Dr. Hess has authored 9 books, edited or co-edited 33 books, and published more than 100 scholarly articles in collected essays and journals.   The title of the book “The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological and Critical Introduction” is a precise summarization of the contents.  In the preface, Hess writes that “This book is designed to meet the needs of the broad variety of students who come to study the Old Testament at a seminary or at a graduate level. It does not presume a deep knowledge of the Scriptures, although I wrote it with the intent to inform any serious reader.” (viii).  Hess brings together an articulate synthesis of the Old Testament based on his years of academic research and publications about manuscripts, translations, textual criticism, archaeology, theology and exegesis. He states in the introduction…

Review of The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology by O. Palmer Robertson
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 26, 2017

Robertson, O. Palmer, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015. O. Palmer Robertson is the director and principal of African Bible University in Uganda. He previously taught at Reformed, Westminster, Knox, and Covenant seminaries. He has authored such works as The Christ of the Covenants and The Christ of the Prophets. The Psalms appear to be a haphazard collection of prayers and praises. Robertson argues, however, that the Psalms showcase a deliberate structure at the hands of their final redactor. Because the Psalms developed over a long period of time, the final redactor selected certain psalms for certain locations (p. 7). By discerning this structure, one may see how the Psalms connect with each other and gain insight into each Psalm (p. 3). He notes the Psalter divides into five books, each of which ends with a doxology (p. 8). He identifies already extant Psalm collections (p. 10). Next, he observes how the redactor distributed different authors throughout the Psalter. For example, Davidic Psalms dominate Books I and II, but their number diminishes in Books III–V. The redactor also positioned significant Psalms at the literary seams: Psalm 72 by Solomon concludes Book II, and…

Review of A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised, edited by Miles V. Van Pelt
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 18, 2017

Van Pelt, Miles V., ed. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 601, $50.00, hardback. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament and its New Testament counterpart are projects undertaken by the faculty, both current and past, of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The project was dedicated in honor of the seminary’s fiftieth anniversary. Miles Van Pelt edited the Old Testament volume and wrote both the introduction and the chapter on the Song of Songs. Whereas most introductions to the Old Testament discuss the historical-critical issues of each book, these issues have only a minor role in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Instead, the book offers an introduction to the theological themes contained within each book of the Old Testament. After an initial section discussion on the structure and message of the Old Testament, the book dedicates a chapter to each of the books in the Old Testament as they appear in the Hebrew Bible. Each chapter is divided into sections labeled “Background Issues,” “Structure and Outline,” “Message and Theology,” and “Approaching the New Testament.” The “Message and Theology” sections make up the bulk of each chapter. The book’s main strength…

Review of Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth by Peter H. Lau and Gregory Goswell
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 4, 2017

Lau, Peter H. W. and Gregory Goswell. Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. New Studies in Biblical Theolgoy 41. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016, pp. 212, $24.00 paperback. Peter H. W. Lau and Gregory Goswell collaborate in a recent addition to the series New Studies in Biblical Theology, Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. Peter H. W. Lau is Lecturer in Old Testament at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia and is an honorary research associate at the University of Sydney. Gregory Goswell is the Academic Dean and Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Christ College, Sydney. In writing Unceasing Kindness Lau and Goswell do not intend to compete with commentaries, nor to “render them superfluous” (p. 157). Rather, the authors seek to build on “close studies of the text” provided by commentaries in order to explore “its biblical-theological parameters” in the context of the whole of Scripture (p. 157). Lau and Goswell begin by reading Ruth alongside various texts in the Old Testament, drawing out themes found when Ruth is read in conjunction with other books of the Old Testament. The authors first read Ruth alongside Ezra-Nehemiah, seeking to understand how Ruth informed the readers of the “early restoration period”…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J. H. Wright
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 14, 2017

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, softcover. Christopher J. H. Wright serves as the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership, an organization dedicated to the international advancement of the Gospel. He has also taught the Old Testament in various countries and has authored several books dealing with the Old Testament, ethics, and mission. The structure of the table of contents for How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth shows that it deals with points of theory and practice. The first five chapters answer the question, “Why should we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Here Wright connects the major contours of the Old Testament to the theme of redemption revealed throughout Scripture. Thus, the author begins his work with a focus on theory. The final ten chapters respond to the question, “How can we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Wright here covers practical concerns when preaching from the different genres in the Old Testament. The book then concludes with two appendices and a bibliography which supply summary details for…

Review of A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene Merrill
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 7, 2017

Merrill, Eugene. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2015, pp. 637, $39.99, hardcover. Eugene Merrill is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored a number of works including major commentaries on Deuteronomy (New American Commentary, B&H, 1994) and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, 1994, Moody; reprinted by CreateSpace, 2014). Merrill is a preeminent evangelical scholar and has provided pastors, students, and scholars alike a commentary that will be their go-to resource on the books of Chronicles. 1 & 2 Chronicles is the fifth volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library, but is the sixth volume available at the time of this review. Merrill begins his commentary with a discussion of introductory issues including material on historical and cultural setting, historiography, and theology of the book, as well as other major issues introductory issues. Merrill holds to commonly held views on issues of setting and authorship within the book while highlighting important aspects of setting like political re-establishment and social reform. He also has a discussion of religious reform that is quite thorough. One of Merrill’s concerns is also how Chronicles relates to Ezra-Nehemiah. Within his…