Book Reviews

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 Idealism and Christianity, 2 volumes, edited by Farris, Hamilton, Cowan, and Spiegel
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / April 11, 2017

Joshua R. Farris and S. Mark Hamilton (eds.). Idealism and Christian Theology. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, pp. 256, $100, hardback. Steven Cowan and James Spiegel (eds.). Idealism and Christian Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, pp. 224, $100, hardback. What does idealism have to do with Christianity? In Bloomsbury’s two-volume series, editors Joshua Farris, Mark Hamilton, Steven Cowan, and James Spiegel set out to answer this question. Reflection upon Edwardsean and Berkeleyan idealism has lead them to advocate for a reevaluation of idealism’s compatibility with Christian theology. Together they have assembled a wide array of scholars whose personal commitment to idealism varies, but nevertheless each endorses a particular virtue of idealism. Since space forbids a detailed interaction with each chapter of this series, I have instead opted for a thematic summary and a meta-criticism concerning the enterprise of Christian idealism. The summary might also serve as a recommended reading plan of the two volumes, reorganized according to what I take to be the major contribution from each author. Many of these chapters do a refreshingly excellent job of writing historically informed analytic theology or philosophy, which was a chief aim of the editors of volume one. Consequently, my classification of prolegomena,…

Review of Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism by Anderson and Dryness

Anderson, Jonathan A., and William A. Dyrness. Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 374, $24, paperback. An Associate Professor of Art at Biola University, Jonathan A. Anderson is himself an artist and art critic. He has also afforded his artistic sensibilities to theological conversations, having coauthored the book Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity (Baylor University Press, 2014). William A. Dyrness is a respected scholar in the field of theology and the arts and has authored several books, including Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Baker Academic, 2001), Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life (Eerdmans, 2011). Additionally, he is Fuller Theological Seminary’s Professor of Theology and Culture. In Modern Art and the Life of a Culture, Anderson and Dyrness have combined their expertise to provide a treatment of modern art that is historically accurate, aesthetically conscientious, and theologically grounded. Anderson and Dyrness wrote Modern Art and the Life of a Culture as a response to Hans Rookmaaker’s influential book Modern Art and…

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”…

JBTS 2.1 Book Reviews
Book Reviews / March 30, 2017

Book Reviews Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair B. Ferguson (Reviewed by Steven J. Duby) Theology as Discipleship by Keith L. Johnson (Reviewed by Justin McLendon) God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits by Malcolm B. Yarnell III (Reviewed by R. Keith Loftin). How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J. H. Wright (Reviewed by Ryan C. Hanley) From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research by Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (Reviewed by Andy McClurg) Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology by Mark Cortez (Reviewed by Christopher Woznicki) A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame (Reviewed by J. Daniel McDonald) Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived by J. Daniel Day (Reviewed by Brian Turnbow) The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr Jr. and Gary E. Yates (Reviewed by Brian Koning) A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper (Reviewed by Brett A. Berger) A Time to Keep: Theology, Mortality, and the Shape of Human Life by Ephraim…

Review of The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users by Mark L. Strauss
Book Reviews , New Testament / March 22, 2017

Strauss, Mark L. The Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 112, $18.99, paperback. Mark Strauss (PhD, Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary (San Diego). He has written extensively in New Testament studies, translation, hermeneutics, and application. His books include The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts; Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels; How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today, and Mark in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. His Biblical Greek Companion for Bible Software Users is a useful resource created to help pastors, teachers, and students engage the original languages. Bible software programs have revolutionized the way students of the Bible access, study, and engage the Scriptures. They have also revolutionized the way schools are teaching the biblical languages. Many schools have modified language tracks, teaching the biblical languages while assuming the assistance of such programs. These courses or tracks do not expect memorization and mastery of forms and vocabulary because the information is readily available with a click through programs such as Logos, BibleWorks, and Accordance. It is for this new context that Strauss makes this…

Review of Public Faith in Action by Volf and McAnnally-Linz

Volf, Miroslav and Ryan McAnnally-Linz. Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016, pp. 256, $21.99, hardcover. Due to the presidential election of 2016, Christian publishers offered numerous resources which focused on pertinent issues related to faith and culture. Among the vast array of books published on public theology in 2016, this book was regarded to be one of the best. In fact, Publishers Weekly, the international trade journal of book publishing, selected Public Faith in Action as one of the “Best Books of 2016.” After reading this book, I agree that such praise is warranted. Interestingly, this book arose out of Facebook posts the authors used in an effort to help Christians through the issues surrounding the 2012 US presidential election. Regardless of which election year is in view, Christians must contend with the cultural responsibilities and applications of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Miroslav Volf (Dr. Theol., University of Tübingen) is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture in New Haven, Connecticut. He has written more than fifteen books, including A Public…

Review of Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney

Whitney, Donald S. Family Worship. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016, pp. 80, $7.99, paperback. Recent publications indicate a growing interest in the spiritual discipline of family worship. Families and Christian leaders are realizing that outsourcing the Christian discipleship of their children is neither effective nor a fulfillment of God’s plan. Don Whitney (DMin, Trinity; PhD, University of the Free State) is well qualified to contribute his voice to this important topic. He serves as associate dean and professor of biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also founded and currently serves as the president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality. He served in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years and has written numerous books on spirituality and spiritual disciplines. Family Worship provides a brief introduction to the practice of family worship. With the first two chapters, the author builds the case for why families should regularly practice family worship. Chapter one surveys the Biblical record for examples of and instruction in family worship from Abraham to Peter. Chapter two calls on the saints throughout church history to give their teachings and testimonies concerning family worship. The next two chapters provide practical instruction on how to implement family worship. Chapter three…

Review of The Myth of the Moral Brain: The Limits of Moral Enhancement by Harris Wiseman
Book Reviews , Philosophy / February 21, 2017

Wiseman, Harris. The Myth of the Moral Brain: The Limits of Moral Enhancement. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016, pp. 337, $38, hardback. Are the choices that human beings make and the lives they live determined merely by the chemistry of their brains?  For the modern man, has “the Devil made me do it” given way to “my brain made me do it”? Is the solution for the problem of evil found in neuroscience, in the anatomy and chemistry of “the Moral Brain” (p. 4)? In responding to these kinds of questions, Harris Wiseman, PhD from the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Education in the University College London, seeks to balance legitimate biological accounts of moral functioning with considerations gleaned from philosophy, science, theology, and the field of mental health (pp. 16-19). Wiseman contends for a “practical-realities first approach” (p. 13). The target of his measured criticism is neither technology itself nor the contention that human biochemistry and neuroanatomy profoundly influence moral judgment and behavior (p. 110). The problems are found in the dehumanizing and deterministic claims being made about biomedical moral enhancement, the radical ambiguity of current empirical studies,…