Book Reviews

Review of Called to Attraction: An Introduction to the Theology of Beauty by Brendan Thomas Sammon
Book Reviews , Theology / October 11, 2019

Sammon, Brendan Thomas. Called to Attraction: An Introduction to the Theology of Beauty. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017, pp. 160, $22, Paperback. Brendan Sammon is an Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He teaches courses on both The Beauty of God and Beauty and Consciousness at the Movies. In his first book, The God Who is Beauty: Beauty as a Divine Name in Thomas Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013), Sammon examines the Medieval thoughts binding theology and beauty together. In Called to Attraction: An Introduction to the Theology of Beauty, he  broadly explores how beauty and theology have interacted from ancient origins to the twentieth century. Sammon moves through time periods for each of the seven chapters of his book. A helpful introduction sets up the book with three introductory arguments to set  the boundaries for what he intends to accomplish in his short volume. First, he argues his theology of beauty is derived from a divine name approach. Consequently, all of his conclusions flow from the idea that beauty is an attribute of God. He writes, “These divine names could be called God’s public identity, or the appearance…

Review of A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians by Don Garlington
Book Reviews , New Testament / October 8, 2019

Garlington, Don. A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2016, pp. 473, paperback. It has been said that “of the writing of commentaries there is no end.” Even though this reality could lend itself to a stale treatment of texts already analyzed, A Commentary on the Greek Text of Second Corinthians is a welcome resource to Greek students and pastors alike. In distinction from other kinds of commentaries, this commentary by Pauline scholar Don Garlington has as its target audience “students of the Greek New Testament” and thus functions as “a kind of ‘halfway house’ between the likes of Murray Harris and Margaret Thrall, on the one side, and Philip Hughes and Mark Seifrid, on the other” (p. xi). The result of this endeavor is a commentary that focuses on analysis of the Greek grammar and syntax of 2 Corinthians. Even though Garlington occasionally mentions the historical-cultural background of a passage, the focus is more on exegetical insights deriving from grammatical and syntactical analysis. The introduction, therefore, is understandably minimalistic, with a brief section on the purpose of the letter (to prepare the Corinthians for Paul’s upcoming visit), the contents of the letter (the opponents…

Review of Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application by Roy E. Gane
Book Reviews , Old Testament / October 4, 2019

Gane, Roy E. Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017, 464 pp, $35.00, paperback. Second Timothy 3:15–17 stands as a pillar text of biblical inspiration. Bible school students embrace it, pastors proclaim it, faithful Christians memorize it and recite it from a young age. Yet for all the attention this text receives, too many neglect one of its central claims: “all Scripture is . . . profitable.” The dearth of sermons, bible studies, devotional writings, and blog posts expounding the “profit” of Leviticus for Christians today suffices for evidence. Roy Gane, professor of Hebrew Bible and ANE languages at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, comments on the current situation, “A rich source of wisdom regarding values is contained in OT laws. However, Christians have generally neglected these laws, to our loss, because we have not regarded them as relevant to our lives” (p. xiii). So, in order to help Christians profit from “all Scripture,” Gane presents this guide to appropriating Old Testament law in every age of God’s people. While Gane surveys numerous approaches to applying God’s law as God’s new covenant people, he advocates for an approach he calls…

Review of Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar by Fuller and Choi
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 30, 2019

Fuller, Russell T.  and Choi, Kyoungwon. Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar. Kregel: Grand Rapids, 2017, pp. 528, $64.99, hardback. Fuller and Choi’s Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (IBHS) is a thorough discussion of biblical Hebrew syntax from a traditional Semitic approach. The book serves as a companion to their elementary Hebrew textbook: Invitation to Biblical Hebrew. Whereas the elementary grammar focused on morphology, the intermediate grammar focuses on syntax. Fuller is an expert of Hebrew morphology and syntax and was trained at Hebrew Union University in Cincinnati, OH. Choi too is an expert in Hebrew studies. He received his training under Fuller from SBTS. The widespread use of the author’s elementary grammar to train thousands of students in biblical Hebrew leads to great expectation; IBHS exceeds expectations. The book is divided into three main sections: The first section is a discussion of biblical Hebrew syntax proper (pp. 21–237). Although these discussions occupy the bulk of other Hebrew syntax books, this section comprises around half of IBHS. This section of the book is arranged in outline form and by section number. Moreover, grammatical terms are represented in all caps. Concise definitions of these terms are found in the…

Review of The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions by Mark J. Boda
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 25, 2019

Mark J. Boda. The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. 220 pp. $24, paper. Mark Boda is professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College. Boda has made many scholarly contributions to the study of the Old Testament. His most recent works include a commentary on the book of Zechariah in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series and ‘Return to Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance in the IVP New Studies in Biblical Theology series. The volume under review is part of the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology series. In The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology Boda sums up the theology of the OT in “three creedal expressions.” These expressions are explained through a metaphor related to the heart. He says, “I invite you to don your theological stethoscope and listen for the heartbeat that represents the very core of the theology of the OT” (pp. 1-2). With stethoscope in hand, then, the reader is invited to listen in to “three basic rhythms that compose the heartbeat of the OT, identified with three basic creeds that can be discerned throughout the OT: narrative, character, and relational creeds” (pp. 7-8)….

Review of Come, Let Us Eat Together: Sacraments and Christian Unity edited by George Kalantizis and Marc Cortez

Kalantizis, George and Marc Cortez, eds. Come, Let Us Eat Together: Sacraments and Christian Unity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018, pp. 238, $26, paperback. This edited volume is the proceedings of the 2017 Wheaton Theology Conference jointly sponsored by the Wheaton College Department of Biblical and Theological Studies (with which both editors are affiliated) and the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies. It brings together scholars from diversely ecumenical backgrounds to investigate theologically the role the sacraments play in bringing about, promoting, or inhibiting unity between Christians. Although such sacraments (or sacramental rites or ordinances) as baptism and holy orders receive some attention, as the title might indicate, the essays in this volume focus primarily on the sacrament/ordinance of the Eucharist. As such, this volume contributes to the renaissance, of sorts, of theological engagement with the doctrine of the Eucharist. This recent renaissance comes in the wake of George Hunsinger’s The Eucharist and Ecumenism (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and has been followed by David Grumett’s Material Eucharist (Oxford University Press, 2016), James Arcadi’s An Incarnational Model of the Eucharist (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and J. Todd Billings’ Remembrance, Communion, and Hope (Eerdmans, 2018). I here offer some comments on…

Review of Remembrance, Communion, and Hope: Rediscovering the Gospel at the Lord’s Table by J. Todd Billings

Billings, J. Todd. Remembrance, Communion, and Hope: Rediscovering the Gospel at the Lord’s Table. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018, pp. 217, $25, paperback. J. Todd Billings is the Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, USA. He has written extensively on systematic and historical theology in the Reformed tradition. In addition to his academic work, Billings is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. The balance of academic rigor and pastoral sensitivity that is part of Billings’ own persona permeates his theological approach to the Lord’s Supper in this text. This book is a theology of the Eucharist in the Reformed tradition. Billings unabashedly theologizes from within a broad Reformed mode that takes seriously—and with relative authority—the confessional tradition of this theological and ecclesial family. Billings begins, however, with surfacing the need for a book of this nature in the contemporary Protestant scene. He helpfully diagnoses the functional theologies that often undergird the Sunday morning experience in North American churches today. In many churches, a conjunction of an overly individualistic and judicial understanding of the gospel and an overly cognitive engagement with the Eucharist, result in an anemic worship experience….

Review of Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation by Craig D. Allert
Book Reviews , Church History , Old Testament / September 4, 2019

Allert, Craig D. Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018, 338pp. $36.00, paperback. Craig D. Allert received his Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham and is associate professor of religious studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He is also the author of A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon and Revelation, Truth, Canon, and Interpretation. The book begins with a helpful introduction and reminder to see the Church Fathers through their viewpoint and not our own. Allert’s overarching aim is to give “a responsible appropriation of our Christian past” (p. 6) by both letting the original author speak and not imposing our worldview and hermeneutic too quickly. This theme and aim runs throughout the entire book. Following the introduction, Allert frames his work into two primary sections: (1) Understanding the Context; and (2) Reading the Fathers. The end of each chapter has a brief recommended reading section. This provides a great starting point for those wanting further research and study. Part I focuses on preliminary matters such as why we should care about the Fathers as…

Review of Science and Secularism-Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology by J. P. Moreland

Moreland, J. P. Science and Secularism – Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2018, pp. 222, $16.99, paperback. J. P. Moreland is a household name within contemporary Christian philosophy of religion, and has been one of the most important apologists for the last thirty years, particularly in terms of supporting Christianity’s compatibility with reason and natural science. This task has by necessity opposed Moreland to scientism, yet this present work is his first explicit, critical engagement with the position, building upon three decades of philosophical practice. Moreland’s Scientism and Secularism is a well-timed work which purports to dissect and criticize scientism as an ideology central to the contemporary secular West. In providing a thorough critique of scientism as an epistemological position, it also provides us with an accessible summary of the basic project of Christian apologetics as it has taken form within the framework of modern analytical philosophy, as well as an important defence of first philosophy, particularly of the epistemic primacy of philosophy in relation to the empirical sciences. The book is intended to be accessible to the interested layman, yet without unduly watering down the case being made. The work’s approachability lies both in the…

Review of The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits of God in Light of the Cross by Gregory Boyd
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / August 23, 2019

Boyd, Gregory A. The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits of God in Light of the Cross. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017, pp. 1,492, $59.00, paperback. Christians are largely united in the affirmation that Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God’s character given to humans, whose person and works fulfill the highest aspirations of the Old Testament (OT). Christ reveals a God who teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and shows us how to love by dying an undeserved criminal’s death not only for those who return his love but also for his enemies. However, this picture of a perfectly loving God appears to be incompatible with the brutally violent images of Yahweh found in the OT. Among other things, the OT command to kill every man, woman, and child in a given region plainly seems to contradict Jesus’ teaching to love all persons, even one’s enemies, as oneself. The 1,500 page tome, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits in Light of the Cross, from pastor-theologian Gregory Boyd aims to reconcile, or at least refocus, these opposing visions of God. In short, the proposal is that,…