Book Reviews

Review of Reading Kierkegaard I: Fear and Trembling by Paul Martens
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / June 22, 2017

Martens, Paul. Reading Kierkegaard I: Fear and Trembling. Cascade Companions. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017, pp. 103, $18, paperback. Paul Martens is associate professor in the department of religion at Baylor University, which, along with Martens, also employs C. Stephen Evans (department of philosophy) and Jan Evans (department of Spanish), making Baylor home to Kierkegaard scholars in three different departments and a recent hub of Kierkegaard scholarship, especially as Kierkegaards pertains to Christian Ethics. Martens has two other introductory books on Kierkegaard forthcoming, one on Works of Love in the same Cascade Companions series as Reading Kierkegaard I (hereafter, RKI), and another, presumably more general introduction to Kierkegaard in Eerdmans’ Intervention series. RKI, as its subtitle suggests, and as per the mission statement of the Cascade Companions series within which it is found, is an introduction to the writing of Kierkegaard for the non-specialist. It differs from other books in the series, however, by working as an introduction to one non-biblical book as opposed to the corpus of a Christian thinker. As such, it works like a short commentary on Fear and Trembling (hereafter F/T) with a brief introduction and conclusion that offer some ideas as to how understanding F/T…

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 Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller

Keller, Tim. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. New York: Viking, 2016. 254 pages. $17.70. Tim Keller has served as the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan for nearly thirty years and has spent much of his ministry engaging skeptics of Christianity with both winsome humility and intellectual dexterity. Making Sense of God, which serves as an apologetic prequel to his previous book, The Reason for God, exudes the same charitable tone and rhetorical skill that those familiar with Keller’s work and ministry have come to expect. The book is a prequel in that Keller aims to present Christianity as desirable first, whereas in The Reason for God, he aims to present Christianity as rational. His basic supposition is that before a person will consider seriously whether Christianity is true, she must first want it to be true. Keller essentially argues for two broad theses. He argues in the first section of the book that “every person embraces his or her worldview for a variety of rational, emotional, cultural, and social factors” (pp. 4-5). And, he argues in the final two sections of the book that Christianity makes the most emotional, cultural, and rational sense…

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 Church: Presbyterian Perspectives by Donald K. McKim

McKim, Donald K. The Church: Presbyterian Perspectives. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017, pp. 108, $15.43, softcover. Donald K. McKim (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He served for some years as Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Memphis Theological Seminary, and in recent years has devoted much of his time to writing. Dr. McKim has written many books relating to Reformed theology and Presbyterian ecclesiology, including books on Martin Luther and John Calvin, and the well-received Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, now in its second edition. This current short volume, The Church, is a collection of six messages (thus six chapters) given to various assemblies of clergy and laity. As stated in the preface, these comprise a “theological reflection on the nature of the church” (p. ix). Though this is admittedly an introduction on such matters, Dr. McKim covers some of the more fundamental topics with reflections that span from devotional to theological. His writing style is very lucid. Immediately noticeable is his extensive use of quotes from some of the great theologians of the past, including Barth, Bonhoeffer, and well over 50 quotes from Calvin. Such weaving of words from these…

Review of Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Geiger and Peck

Geiger, Eric and Kevin Peck; Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016, pp. 234, $22.99, hardback.  Eric Geiger is a vice president of the Resources Division at LifeWay and a pastor of a local church in Tennessee. He has a doctorate in leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has authored or coauthored several books including the best-selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Kevin Peck, also with a doctorate in leadership from Southern Seminary, is the lead pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church in Texas. Peck also serves as the Director for Emerging Regions for the Acts 29 Network. The authors open Designed to Lead by engaging this question: “Where is the leadership locus in your community?” and they seek to show that the local church ought to be a primary leadership locus in every community (p. 1). Their conviction is that the church is particularly commissioned and equipped to call and develop leaders in all spheres of life. The way that churches can systematically see that leaders are developed is by establishing constructs in the context of a leadership culture that grows out of a strong conviction that all people are called to leadership. It is along those lines that the book is divided into three sections: conviction, culture, and constructs. Part one lays the foundation for a biblical and theological conviction for leadership…

Review of Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey by Garwood P. Anderson
Book Reviews , New Testament / May 10, 2017

Anderson, Garwood P. Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Academic, 2016, pp. 439, $45, hardback. Garwood Anderson, professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, makes a strong case for what other scholars have suspected—namely, that Paul’s own perspective on salvation expanded as evidenced by differences between his earlier and later letters. This is why the so-called “new perspective on Paul,” championed by E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright, makes good sense of Galatians, but the old Lutheran reading still has explanatory power for Romans and Philippians (pp. 12-13). “The argument of this book insists that both ‘camps’ are right, but not all the time” (p. 5). The clever title, Paul’s New Perspective, refers to the so-called old perspective on Paul that comes late in his writing. But Anderson suggests that the motif and mystery of union with Christ is large enough to encompass the development. The argument moves in three stages. Chapters 1—3 contextualize the debate for the reader. Anderson acknowledges not being a “Pauline specialist,” (VIV), but he engages a large swath of the secondary literature. He also focuses on three passages that do not…

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…