Book Reviews

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,…

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 , 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…