Book Reviews

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…

Review of Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth about Man’s Origin edited by Terry Mortenson
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / January 30, 2018

Mortenson, Terry. ed. Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth about Man’s Origin. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2016, 524 pp, $24.99, paperback. The debate over evolutionary theory and biblical history still stirs significant controversy in the American Church. Related topics like the age of the earth and the special creation of mankind factor into an ever-growing body of literature on the subject. But many readers struggle to understand why this debate matters and why Christians can’t just “agree to disagree.” The urgency of the “so what” question drives this new volume. Terry Mortenson (Ph.D., history of geology) has assembled a collection of fresh essays to address one issue: the significance of belief in a recent, special creation of Adam and Eve. His contributors hail from a wide variety of fields, from Bible, theology, and hermeneutics to biology, genetics, anthropology, and archaeology. Mortenson and his team seek to clear up misconceptions about the young-earth creationist perspective while offering a scientifically informed and fundamentally biblical apologetic for the supernatural origin of Adam. This book launches a two-pronged advance of the young-earth understanding of the origin of mankind. First, chapters one through seven offer a biblical and theological presentation rooted in a…

Review of Recovering the Unity of the Bible: One Continuous Story, Plan, and Purpose by Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 24, 2018

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Recovering the Unity of the Bible: One Continuous Story, Plan and Purpose. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009, pp. 252, $19.86, paperback. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. serves as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. In Recovering the Unity of the Bible, Kaiser explores the connected questions of Scripture’s unity and argues that “the case for the unity of the Bible … rests on two main theses: (1) the self-claims of the Bible and (2) the message of Scripture” (p. 24). He contends for a unity to the canon that also recognizes genuine diversity as the canon grows from one part to the next with a common plan, purpose, and story in an organic progression (p. 218) that emphasizes a link between the promises of the OT and their fulfillment in the NT. As such, he leads his reader through a surprisingly detailed analysis of apologetic and interpretive issues related to the canon’s continuity and diversity that rejects imposing the NT upon the OT or adopting the common notion of sensus plenior (pp. 216–7). Kaiser seeks, instead, to thread an interpretive needle by keeping the meaning of…

Review of Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study
Book Reviews , New Testament / January 11, 2018

Griffiths, Jonathan I. Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017, pp. 153, $22, paperback. Jonathan Griffiths serves as the Lead Pastor of Metropolitan Bible Church and is on the council of The Gospel Coalition Canada. He has published a number of books, including Hebrews and Divine Speech in 2014. His latest contribution, Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study, examines the nature of preaching in the New Testament and asks whether preaching should function as a distinct word ministry in the post-apostolic church. At the outset of the book, Griffiths states that his interest does not lie in discussing homiletics or dissecting New Testament sermons to inform contemporary sermon formation. The primary goal of the book is to determine if the New Testament mandates “preaching” as a distinct ministry of the word, and, if so, what might characterize and distinguish preaching from other word ministries. After a brief introduction, Griffiths divides his work into three parts. The first section addresses two objections. It asserts a biblical theology of God’s word, and it surveys the three key terms used to describe the concept of preaching in the New Testament….

Review of The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions by Mark J. Boda
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 9, 2018

Boda, Mark J. The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2017, pp. 220, $22.99, paperback. Mark Boda holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Boda is the author of numerous articles and books, including reputable commentaries on Judges, 1-2 Chronicles, Haggai and Zechariah, and several independent volumes on Zechariah. He has also published “Return To Me”: A Biblical Theology of Repentance (2015) in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series edited by D.A. Carson. In addition to his duties at McMaster, Dr. Boda is a seasoned evangelical minister and itinerant preacher who has served in various pastoral, missionary, and consulting positions. Chapter one argues that an over focus on the diversity of the Old Testament (OT) in late twentieth-century scholarship has led to a loss of the OT’s essential unity (p. 6). Boda submits that the core of OT theology is located within three rhythms of the OT: the narrative, character, and relational rhythms. According to chapter one, the narrative rhythm of the OT is found in the multiple historical summaries (Deut 6:21-23; 26:5-9; 24:2-13; Ps 78; Neh…

Review of How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter Gentry
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 4, 2018

Gentry, Peter. How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017, 141 pp., $17.99, paperback. The prophetic books of the Old Testament are often neglected or misinterpreted by the typical Christian due to the difficulty to understand them. Peter Gentry has written this short primer—How to Read & Understand the Biblical Prophets—to equip the average Christian with a better understanding of how Hebrew prophetic literature works and, thus, how the biblical prophets ought to be read and interpreted. Gentry is professor of Old Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the coauthor of Kingdom through Covenant, author of many articles, and the director of the Hexapla Institute. Through seven chapters, Gentry explains various aspects of the prophetic genre illustrated throughout with examples from the biblical prophets. In the first chapter, Gentry argues that the bulk of the content of the prophets has little to do with predicting the future but, rather, is concerned with calling the people of God back to the covenant of God—primarily using the language of the book of Deuteronomy (p. 30). Chapter two, then, surveys the genuine predictive statements of the prophets. Gentry shows that even these predictions of coming judgement and future…

Review of Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook by Athas, Avrahami, and Kline
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 2, 2018

Vance, Donald R., George Athas, Yael Avrahami, and Jonathan G. Kline. Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2016, pp. 233, $29.95, hardcover. Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook is an excellent addition to the academic resources on Biblical Aramaic.  As the authors relay, Biblical Aramaic is often neglected in seminary language studies due to the small percentage of the Old Testament written in Aramaic (ix).  However, to fully understand and apply “the biblical languages,” one must surely include Aramaic in his/her studies.  The authors include Donald Vance, Associate Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature at Oral Roberts University. Vance studied Northwest Semitic Philology at The Oriental Institute, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology.  Second, George Athas is a lecturer in Old Testament Studies, Hebrew, and Church History at Moore College in Sydney, Australia.  Third, Yael Avrahami received his Ph.D. from the University of Haifa and is the chair of the Department of Biblical Studies at Oranim Academic College in Haifa, Israel.  Finally, Jonathan Kline received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and currently serves as the academic editor at Hendrickson Publishers.  Kline’s contribution to the work includes the helpful vocabulary…

Review of Trinitarian Ontology and Israel in Robert W. Jenson’s Theology by Sang Hoon Lee
Book Reviews , Theology / December 28, 2017

Lee, Sang Hoon. Trinitarian Ontology and Israel in Robert W. Jenson’s Theology. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016, pp. 196, $25, paperback. With articles forthcoming in a number of respected journals, Sang Hoon Lee is currently one of the pastors at Raynes Park Korean Church in London, England. The present monograph is a revised version of his doctoral thesis at the University of Aberdeen. In it, Lee clarifies a commonly misunderstood, if not neglected, aspect of Robert Jenson’s (1930-2017) later thought. Namely, the (often implicit) way in which the later Jenson holds onto his “trinitarian (onto-)theology” while developing, as a result of the former, a post-supersessionistic account of Judaism—two inextricable emphases that interpreters of Jenson have found difficulty in properly acknowledging and/or holding together (p. 1; whereas supersessionism is the long-held notion that God’s mosaic covenant with Israel has been superseded by the new covenant associated with the coming of Christ, so that the Christian church effectively supersedes Israel as the people of God, post-supersessionism—synonymous with non-supersessionism—is the belief that God’s original covenant with Israel continues on even in the church age for it was irrevocable). Lee thus writes to “make explicit the crucial links” (p. 1) within the corpus of…