Book Reviews

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…

Review of Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus by Michael L. Morales
Book Reviews , Old Testament / November 16, 2017

Morales, L. Michael. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, New Studies in Biblical Theology 37 (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic 2015). $27.00. Dr. L. Michael Morales is professor of biblical studies at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a teaching elder in the PCA. He is also the author of a new book in the NSBT series edited by D.A. Carson, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus. The book of Leviticus is often referred to as the place where Bible reading plans go to die. That is because the content of the book is so unfamiliar that most Bible readers are stumped when they begin working through its content. Even biblical scholars find themselves in unfamiliar territory, looking instead to the NT interpretation of the Levitical legislation and sacrifices rather than working through the material in its original context. But Morales intends to bring clarity to the confusion by offering a new biblical theology of the book of Leviticus. His main task is to answer the question posed in Psalm 24:3: “Who may ascend the mountain of YHWH?” Morales calls this question the “gate…

Review of Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature Edited by Firth and Lindsay
Book Reviews , Old Testament / October 18, 2017

Firth, David and Wilson, Lindsay. Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature. IVP: Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2017, pp. 232, $30, Paperback. David G. Firth is Old Testament Tutor and Academic Dean at Trinity College, Bristol.  He is the author of 1 & 2 Samuel (AOTC), The Message of Esther and The Message of Joshua (IVP, 2009, 2010, 2015), and co-editor of Interpreting the Psalms, Interpreting Isaiah, Interpreting Deuteronomy, Words and the Word and Presence, Power, and Promise (all Apollos, 2009, 2009, 2012, 2008, 2011).  Lindsay Wilson is Academic Dean and Senior lecturer in Old Testament at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia.  He is the author of Job (THOTC, Eerdmans, 2015). Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature presents a collection of essays on wisdom books and wisdom ideas.  The essays interact with Old Testament wisdom literature and offer up-to-date evaluations on the current issues.  Craig Bartholomew provides an introduction with a survey of the landscape of Old Testament wisdom literature.  Section two covers the issues within the wisdom books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.  The inclusion of Song of Songs and some Psalms as wisdom texts are considered.  Section three subsequently covers major ideas within Old Testament wisdom literature. These essays present a…

Review of The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter by Michael K. Snearly
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 29, 2017

Snearly, Michael K. The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter. London: T&T Clark, 2016, pp. 236, $112, hardback. Michael K. Snearly’s revised doctoral dissertation, The Return of the King: Messianic Expectation in Book V of the Psalter, is one of the most recent and substantive contributions to the “canonical” or editorial-critical study of the Psalter. Snearly’s work focuses particularly on Book V (Pss 107–150) and argues the following thesis: “I contend that there is a purposeful arrangement of psalm groups in Book V and that this arrangement should be interpreted as signaling a renewed hope in the royal/Davidic promises” (p. 3). Snearly begins with methodological issues. His thorough interaction with and rebuttal to the method’s skeptics (pp. 10–17) provides a great service to its practitioners, as the method currently faces a “crisis of credibility.” Also noteworthy are the pitfalls he highlights that must be avoided if the method is to remain credible (pp. 18–19). The greatest contribution of these chapters, however, is Snearly’s own development of the method. He provides it with a more solid linguistic foundation by finding in text-linguistics and poetics support for the oft contended notion that the Psalter can be…

Review of Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 21, 2017

Kaiser, Walter C., Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2015, pp.176, $16.99, paperback. Walter C., Kaiser Jr. (PhD, MA Brandeis University, BD Wheaton Graduate School of Theology, AB. Wheaton College) is Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  He is author of numerous books and scholarly articles. The title of the book, “Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament,” is an accurate summarization of the contents. The book contains ten chapters that deal with ten problems that some people have with the Old Testament.  In the introduction, Kaiser provides a brief history of issues regarding the Old Testament.  He states that the rise of New Atheism and attacks by Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) demand an apologetic response which is based on an exegetical explanation of Old Testament Theology (pp. 9-16). This book appears to be a summarization and update of similar issues that he discussed in previous publications (Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, 1986 and More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament 1992,…

Review of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition edited by Vance, Athas, and Avrahami
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 5, 2017

Vance, Donald R., George Athas, and Yael Avrahami, eds. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2014, pp. xxxv + 1765, $59.95, hardback. Donald Vance (Ph.D., Denver University-Illiff School of Theology) is Associate Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. George Athas (Ph.D., University of Sydney) is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Old Testament, Hebrew, and Church History at Moore Theological College in Newtown, Australia. Yael Avrahami (Ph.D., University of Haifa) is Chair of the Biblical Studies Department at Oranim College of Education in Tiv’on, Israel. In addition to the present volume, Vance, Athas, and Avrahami collaborated with Jonathan Kline (Ph.D., Harvard University) to create another reader which focuses on the Aramaic portions of the Hebrew Bible, which is entitled Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2017). By modifying the footnotes of the traditional Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, Vance, Athas, and Avrahami have attempted to provide a resource that hurdles the barriers which many new readers of the Hebrew Bible (HB) face. These issues include the daunting vocabulary of the HB, difficulty in parsing certain verbs (like ones with weak roots), and the necessity to have multiple…

Review of Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History by Francis A. Schaeffer
Book Reviews , 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 , 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,…