Book Reviews

Review of The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic by Michael Rydelnik
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 27, 2019

Rydelnik, Michael. The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic? Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2010, pp. 206, $19.99, hardcover. Born in a traditional Jewish home, Michael Rydelnik became a believer in Jesus after listening to the witness of his mother. Her faith in Christ led Rydelnik’s father to divorce her and as a consequence Rydelnik decided to study “the messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible” in order to prove his mother “wrong in attributing their fulfillment to Jesus of Nazareth” (p. 12). As time went on, Rydelnik also put his “trust in Jesus as Messiah and Lord” and became convinced that it is “essential to understand the Hebrew Bible as messianic.” (p. 12). As such, Rydelnik’s life experiences makes The Messianic Hope all the more compelling for evangelical circles. Given the modern consensus to “reject the idea that the Hebrew Bible has specific predictions of the Messiah” (p. 1), Rydelnik’s purpose in writing The Messianic Hope is to call evangelical scholars to “rethink this trend” since direct messianic prophecy “is the foundational element for identifying Jesus as the true Messiah” (p. 190). Rydelnik begins his first chapter with tracing the trend away from viewing the Hebrew Bible as messianic….

Review of Engaging the Doctrine of Creation: Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator by Matthew Levering
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / February 15, 2019

Levering, Matthew. Engaging the Doctrine of Creation: Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017, 372, $44.99, hardcover. Matthew Levering is one of the most prominent contemporary Roman Catholic systematic theologians, the author or editor of many books on topics ranging from Mary to predestination. Readers of this journal will appreciate his ecumenical posture with evangelicals: he is a member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together and is noted for his constructive engagement with evangelical thought. He currently holds an endowed chair at Mundelein Seminary. This book is the third in Levering’s series on topics in systematic theology (following books on revelation and the Holy Spirit). Levering starts by considering God as the creator with chapters on the divine ideas and on divine simplicity; more on those later. Levering then considers creation itself, arguing that the unnecessary diversity of creation—such as vast numbers of extinct species and regions of empty space—are not evidence against God’s goodness. These are followed by chapters defending a substantivist view of the imago dei, the command to be fruitful and multiply in light of contemporary environmental concerns, a historic Fall, and a broadly retributive atonement theory. In each chapter Levering…

Review of The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, Theology, and the Deluge Debate by Tremper Longman III and John H. Walton
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 12, 2019

Longman, Tremper, III and John H. Walton. The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, Theology, and the Deluge Debate. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2018, pp. 192, $18.00, paperback. Tremper Longman and John Walton have served as professors of Old Testament and separately published books on Old Testament topics as well as commentaries on several biblical books. The Lost World of the Flood is the second book they have published together, having co-authored How to Read Job in 2015 (IVP Academic). This book is the fifth of IVP Academic’s “The Lost World” series, all of which are either authored or co-authored by Walton. The chapters of this work are a series of seventeen propositions, a format which has been consistent throughout the Lost World series. The main benefit of the chapter titles being full-sentence proposition statements is that the reader can gain an understanding of the whole book simply by reading the table of contents. The risk involved in such an approach is that some readers may react to a proposition that they find to be provocative by dismissing the book without letting the authors explain their position. The propositions step through a logical progression, and each chapter builds on…

Perspectives on Israelite Wisdom: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar edited by John Jarick
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 25, 2019

Jarick, John, ed. Perspectives on Israelite Wisdom: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016, pp 520, $128, hardback. Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar focuses on ‘Perspectives on Israelite Wisdom,’ and covers broad issues in the wisdom tradition and corpus.  The volume has no overarching thesis, hermeneutic, or methodology, but provides essays from diverse theological perspectives.  After an introduction by John Jarick, the book divides into three sections.  The first section covers ‘Issues in the Study of Israelite Wisdom.’  Stuart Weeks evaluates the watershed article by W. Zimmerli ‘The Place and Limits of Wisdom’ and finds his conclusions wanting.  John Barton writes on four different issues on ethics in the Old Testament but unfortunately covers each briefly with no conclusion or synthesis.  Jenni Williams employs Samuel and Proverbs to illustrate women’s relationship to wisdom.  Aulikki Nahkola offers a paremiological study of Proverbs to understand the worldview of Israel.  Will Kynes ends the first section with a fundamental critique of wisdom literature. The second section covers ‘The Wisdom Corpus of the Hebrew Bible’ with two essays on Proverbs, two on Job, and three on Ecclesiastes.  In the first essay on…

Review of The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology by Matthew Y. Emerson

Emerson, Matthew Y. The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2017, $19.99, hardcover. Matthew Emerson (Ph.D. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of religion and holds the Dickinson Chair of Religion at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Emerson’s work in this volume is a part of the Hobbs College Library Collection at Oklahoma Baptist University which promises to offer additional volumes in the areas of Bible, theology, and Christian ministry. In under one hundred pages, Emerson captures the essence of biblical theology for those training for Christian ministry. Consisting of six succinct chapters, the book begins with a helpful introduction to the discipline of biblical theology in its historical and academic background. Anyone new to this field will appreciate Emerson’s overview and clarity. Following an evaluation of Johannes Gabler’s contribution to the discipline, Emerson explains three primary schools or approaches: the Dallas School which focuses attention on the Israel/Church relationship; the Chicago School which seeks to understand how any given text fits within the overall biblical narrative; the Philadelphia School which asks similar questions of the previous approaches, but also investigates aspects of literary context. Emerson then moves beyond these helpful categories…

Review of Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation, 2nd Edition by Joshua R. Jacobson
Book Reviews , 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…