Book Reviews

Review of How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Jason DeRouchie
Book Reviews , Old Testament / June 12, 2018

DeRouchie, Jason. How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017, pp. 640, $39.99, hardback. While there are many introductory books on the Old Testament (OT), there are few which walk both beginning and advanced students together through each step of the exegetical process leading into theology and application.  Jason DeRouchie does just that in How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology. The book lays out a step-by-step guide to OT Exegesis intended to be accessible, yet complete. DeRouchie currently serves as an elder of Bethlehem Baptist Church, is Professor of OT and biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary and received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. DeRouchie has published and contributed to other books on the OT including What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible. He has also recently published an elementary Hebrew Grammar with Duane Garrett titled A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew. The stated goal of the book is to provide a twelve-step guide to interpreting the OT, with a focus on textual analysis, synthesis, and significance. DeRouchie guides his readers…

Review of Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God by William Hasker
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / May 24, 2018

William Hasker, Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 269, £25.00, paperback. In this impressive study William Hasker, the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Huntington University, takes on the task of analysing the trinitarian three-in-one problem. That is, how we should understand the theological statement that “God is three persons in one being.” Hasker seeks to establish, first, the foundations of the doctrine of the Trinity and, second, articulate and defend social trinitarianism (ST). Previous philosophical interactions with central Christian doctrines have often been accused of lacking historical and contextual awareness. It is Hasker’s goal to show that this picture is mistaken, and to demonstrate how the emerging field of analytic theology is not only philosophically rigorous, but that it carefully considers the witness of Scripture and the importance of Church history. The book is structured into three sections. The first section outlines the presuppositions for Hasker’s analytical endeavour. As Hasker remarks, it is difficult to attribute the label “social trinitarianism” to any ancient thinker, given that the ontological model for ST grew out of modern categories – especially with regards to philosophy, psychology, and sociology (p. 24). Nevertheless, Hasker—equipped with Plantinga’s definition of Persons as…

Review of Thomas Aquinas (Great Thinkers) by K. Scott Oliphint
Book Reviews , Church History / May 22, 2018

Oliphint, K. Scott. Thomas Aquinas (Great Thinkers). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017, pp. 145, $14.99, paperback. Scott Oliphint serves as professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. He studied directly under Cornelius Van Til, the father of present-day presuppositional apologetics. Oliphint champions Van Til’s view in the twenty-first century through his publications, such as, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith; Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics; as well as the editor for numerous books on Cornelius Van Til, including: The Defense of the Faith; Christian Theistic Evidences, and Common Grace and The Gospel. His latest contribution, Thomas Aquinas, is one book in a series of publications reviewing “Great Thinkers,” which seek to understand and evaluate influential theologians and philosophers throughout church history. At the outset of the book, Oliphint states his interest in this book is to argue that Reformed Thomism cannot be reconciled with historic Reformed theology. “Whatever ‘Reformed Thomism’ might be,” says Oliphint, “or might mean, in our current context, it cannot be a synthesis of biblically foreign Thomistic teachings and a consistent, biblical theology” (p. 3). He believes Reformed theologians either cannot incorporate Aquinas’s views into their…

Review of Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography by Douglas A. Campbell
Book Reviews , New Testament / March 21, 2018

Campbell, Douglas A. Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. xxii + 468, $39, paperback. Douglas Campbell has achieved prominence through two monographs, The Quest for Paul’s Gospel (2005) and The Deliverance of God (2009), which place him broadly within the “apocalyptic” perspective on the apostle Paul, over against “Lutheran,” salvation-historical, or New Perspective views. He holds the position of Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. He is also the resident provocateur in the field of Pauline studies, and this his third tome, Framing Paul, proposes a fresh chronology of Paul’s life and letters that differs in significant respects from the current consensus. In his first chapter, “An Extended Methodological Introduction” (pp. 1–36), Campbell sets out a methodology to “frame” the apostle’s letters — that is, to give an at least provisional account of the contingent circumstances of all the books bearing Paul’s name (see esp. pp. 11–18) — that avoids the “vicious circularity” (p. 13) often present in such a project. Campbell criticizes the common practice of suggesting a particular doctrine (e.g., justification) as Paul’s “coherence” (utilizing J. C. Beker’s terminology) that is drawn particularly from a subset of his letters (in this case,…

Review of How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter J. Gentry
Book Reviews , Old Testament / March 15, 2018

Gentry, Peter J. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, pp. 141, $18, paperback. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets is a student oriented look at the unique hermeneutical issues at hand when interpreting the prophets of the Old Testament. Author Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is the Donald L. Williams professor of Old Testament Interpretation at South Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute. His other academic works include Kingdom Through Covenant (Crossway, 2012). His expertise is clearly at the fore as he seeks here to make the prophets, major books of the Old Testament, approachable to the Christian student. How to Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets achieves in every way its titled purpose, and is an introductory work of the highest order. Gentry sets out with a clear goal through How to Read. His stated purpose is to define seven central characteristics of prophetic literature that are vital for understanding. By understanding these prophetic literature characteristics, Gentry hopes that they “will help Christians comprehend these texts for themselves, perhaps for the first time with real understanding” (p. 14). Each of the characteristics of prophetic literature that…

Review of Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas R. Schreiner
Book Reviews , New Testament , Old Testament / February 27, 2018

Schreiner, Thomas R. Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, pp. 136, $14.99, paperback. Thomas Schreiner is the James Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a Pauline scholar and has written numerous books and articles. This most recent book is in Crossway’s series, “Short Studies in Biblical Theology.” It is the fourth book in the series. The series is focused on giving a reading of the Bible that is unified and sees Jesus Christ as the culmination of the biblical story. Schreiner begins his book carefully noting that his intent is not to argue that covenant is the “center” of biblical theology (p. 11). While covenant is an important notion in Scripture, Schreiner wants to avoid the language of center or heart when discussing biblical theology. While, for Schreiner, covenant is not the central theme of the Bible, he does go on to say, “we can’t grasp how the Scriptures fit together if we lack clarity about the covenants God made with his people” (p. 12). Thus, before the study can go too far Schreiner proposes a definition of covenant: “a covenant is a chosen relationship in which…

Review of My Servants the Prophets by Edward J. Young
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 21, 2018

Young, Edward J. My Servants the Prophets. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978, pp. 231, $23.50, paperback. The late Edward J. Young originally published My Servants the Prophets in 1952. He served as Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary and was esteemed as a very able conservative scholar. Young’s works exhibit his high view of Scripture and his adherence to the view of the inspiration of Scripture as reflected in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Young’s other influential works include Thy Word is Truth (Eerdmans, 1957), The Prophecy of Daniel (Eerdmans, 1949), and a three volume commentary on the book of Isaiah (Eerdmans, 1965, 1969, 1972). In his preface, Young states that the purpose of My Servants the Prophets is to defend “in a modest way” the claim that the prophets of the Old Testament received and delivered messages from God—a claim that the prophets made concerning themselves. Young notes from the outset that his defense of the prophets’ claim “flies in the face” of scholarship in vogue at that time. In each chapter of his book, Young concentrates on a particular issue regarding the prophetic institution in the Old Testament. In chapters 1 through 3, Young addresses the divine…

Review of The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Second Edition) edited by Rainey and Notley
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 15, 2018

Rainey, Anson F., and R. Steven Notley. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Second Emended and Enhanced Edition). Jerusalem: Carta, 2014, pp. 448, $120, hardback. Anson F. Rainey was Emeritus Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and Adjunct Professor of Historical Geography at Bar Llan University and American Institute for Holy Land Studies. Rainey was a student of Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, authors of The Macmillan Bible Atlas, and he co-authored the updated atlas, reissued as The Carta Bible Atlas. Rainey also worked extensively with the Amarna tablets, offering new readings and corrections to previous scholarship. R. Steven Notley is Professor of Biblical Studies, Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, and the Director of Graduate Programs in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins at Nyack College, New York City. Notley has published extensively on the Jewish background to the New Testament and with Carta on various atlas projects, including In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land. The Sacred Bridge is a self-described “historical geography of the Levant” emphasizing original research on the ancient written sources (p. 7). Though much of the volume pertains to biblical scholarship,…

Review of All that is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism by James E. Dolezal
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / February 8, 2018

James E. Dolezal, All That Is In God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017, pp162, $18. James E. Dolezal is an assistant professor at Cairn University’s school of divinity. He has previously published on the doctrine of divine simplicity. In his new book, All That Is In God (ATIIG), Dolezal offers a concise defense of classical theism. On classical Christian theism, the triune God is a necessarily existent being who is simple, immutable, impassible, and timeless. ATIIG contains seven chapters that take the reader through these classical attributes and the doctrine of the Trinity. ATIIG also offers a critique of contemporary evangelical attempts to modify or reject the classical understanding of God. Various contemporary evangelical theologians and philosophers have rejected this understanding of God in favor of a God who enters into a genuine give-and-take relationship with creation. Dolezal labels such thinkers “theistic mutualists.” Dolezal notes that theistic mutualism comes in a variety of forms such as process theism and open theism, but his main target in ATIIG tends to be Calvinists and social trinitarians. It is worth noting that the term “theistic mutualism” is a neologism of Dolezal’s own making….

Review of Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Testament Laws for the New Covenant Community by James M. Todd III

Todd III, James M. Sinai and the Saints: Reading Old Covenant Laws for the New Covenant Community. IVP: Downers Grove, IL, 2017. The relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and specifically the Mosaic covenant and the New Covenant, remains a perennial question in biblical and theological studies. James Todd has written Sinai and the Saints to bring clarity to this question. While he successfully describes the positions in the debate, his own position fails to convince. Todd writes Sinai and the Saints because it is difficult to understand the Bible without understanding how the laws fit in (p. 8). He limits his discussion to the laws of Sinai (pp. 21–22). He notes that law and covenant exist together both in the Bible and in the surrounding culture (p. 15). After setting the stage, Todd reviews the different approaches to the relationship between the laws of Sinai and the New Covenant, acknowledging that there is much common ground between the positions (p. 31). He lists three different positions: 1) moral law Christians affirm the authority of some Old Covenant laws, 2) Ten Commandments Christians affirm the continuing validity of the Ten Commandments, and 3) No-Old-Law Christians deny any continuing validity…