Book Reviews

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,…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J. H. Wright
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 14, 2017

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, softcover. Christopher J. H. Wright serves as the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership, an organization dedicated to the international advancement of the Gospel. He has also taught the Old Testament in various countries and has authored several books dealing with the Old Testament, ethics, and mission. The structure of the table of contents for How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth shows that it deals with points of theory and practice. The first five chapters answer the question, “Why should we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Here Wright connects the major contours of the Old Testament to the theme of redemption revealed throughout Scripture. Thus, the author begins his work with a focus on theory. The final ten chapters respond to the question, “How can we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Wright here covers practical concerns when preaching from the different genres in the Old Testament. The book then concludes with two appendices and a bibliography which supply summary details for…

Review of A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene Merrill
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 7, 2017

Merrill, Eugene. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2015, pp. 637, $39.99, hardcover. Eugene Merrill is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored a number of works including major commentaries on Deuteronomy (New American Commentary, B&H, 1994) and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, 1994, Moody; reprinted by CreateSpace, 2014). Merrill is a preeminent evangelical scholar and has provided pastors, students, and scholars alike a commentary that will be their go-to resource on the books of Chronicles. 1 & 2 Chronicles is the fifth volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library, but is the sixth volume available at the time of this review. Merrill begins his commentary with a discussion of introductory issues including material on historical and cultural setting, historiography, and theology of the book, as well as other major issues introductory issues. Merrill holds to commonly held views on issues of setting and authorship within the book while highlighting important aspects of setting like political re-establishment and social reform. He also has a discussion of religious reform that is quite thorough. One of Merrill’s concerns is also how Chronicles relates to Ezra-Nehemiah. Within his…

Review of Representing Christ: A Vision for the Priesthood of All Believers by Anizor and Voss
Book Reviews , Theology / January 31, 2017

Anizor, Uche and Hank Voss, Representing Christ: A Vision for the Priesthood of All Believers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 208, $20, paperback. Uche Anizor (PhD, Wheaton College) and Hank Voss (PhD, Wheaton College) come eminently qualified to speak about the priesthood of believers, a term popularized by Martin Luther but a biblical concept rarely understood and practiced over the centuries. Anizor is an associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and author of a book on a related topic: Kings and Priests: Scripture’s Theological Account of Its Readers (Pickwick, 2014).  Hank Voss, on the other hand, is a theological practitioner as national church planting direct at World Impact and senior national staff with The Urban Ministry Institute of Los Angeles.  Both have a passion for the topic and a vested interest in seeing the body of Christ put into practice the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Their desire is to develop a “theological vision” (p. 21) of the doctrine of the people of God as priests in God’s kingdom as part of their “identity in Jesus Christ” (p. 21). They describe their thesis for this “well-rounded…

Review of Freewill and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns edited by Timpe and Speak
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / January 24, 2017

Timpe, Kevin and Daniel Speak, eds. Free Will and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 316, $85. In this collection of essays, readers will encounter an interesting array of topics related to free will and philosophical theology. For example, essays cover issues related to divine providence, the doctrine of hell, the problem of evil, the doctrine of divine conservation or divine sustaining of the universe, and the compatibility of God’s freedom with His essential perfection. Even though these essays cover different topics, there is one major question that runs throughout the entire book: does something about theism entail libertarian or compatibilist accounts of freedom? One of the most impressive features of this volume for me is the editing of the essays. The contributors are not directly debating one another. It is not the case that one contributor writes an essay, and then another contributor responds to the original essay. However, the reader will often feel like she is reading a debate between dialogue partners. The editors have selected the contributors carefully in this regard. In many of the essays, a contributor has written up a nice summary of arguments that he or she has…

Review of Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text by Robert D. Holmstedt
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 17, 2017

Holmstedt, Robert D. Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text. Baylor University Press: Waco, TX, 2010, pp. 180, $29.99, paperback. Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text is an excellent volume in the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible Series, providing students and professors with a detailed grammatical discussion of the Hebrew text of the book of Ruth.  Robert D. Holmstedt is the Professor of Ancient Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Languages at the University of Toronto.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Hebrew and Semitic Studies.  Holmstedt has published and introductory Hebrew grammar entitled Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader (Baker, 2013) in addition to many other publications related to Hebrew grammar and especially the relative clause in ancient Hebrew. Holmstedt wrote this handbook “with both the intermediate student and the advanced researcher in mind” (p. 2).  That being the case, Holmstedt provides a rich and engaging treatment of the Hebrew grammar of Ruth that is accessible to students still mastering basic Hebrew morphology and syntax. After a brief introduction, Holmstedt spends three sections [corresponding to chapters] discussing his approach to Hebrew grammar, the role of linguistic features in dating the book, and the…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Wright

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, paperback. Christopher J. H. Wright is the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership and was also chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group which presented The Cape Town Commitment to the Third Lausanne Congress in 2010. He has written numerous books including Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, The Mission of God, and Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, among others. He attends All Souls Church, Langham Place in London where he preaches occasionally. Written as part of Zondervan’s All Its Worth series, Wright focuses on the Old Testament in this volume, working beyond interpretation to aid preachers and teachers as they study and prepare the material for proclamation. Wright divides his book into two main sections, focusing on why one should preach and teach from the Old Testament in the first section and how one does so in the second. Every chapter ends with questions and exercises to help the reader digest the material, and the “How” section includes preparation checklists and sermon outline examples for each major Old Testament genre. As…