Book Reviews

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…

Review of Rethinking the Concept of a Personal God: Personal Theism, and Alternative Concepts of God edited by Schärtl and Wegener
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / December 26, 2017

Thomas Schärtl, Christian Tapp, and Veronika Wegener, eds. Rethinking the Concept of a Personal God: Classical Theism, Personal Theism, and Alternative Concepts of God. Münster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2016, pp. 249, $76.00. In this collection of essays, a set of German and English speaking theologians and philosophers come together to discuss competing conceptions of God. To be honest, this collection of essays was a bit of a struggle for me. There are several reasons for this that are worth noting. In several of the essays, it was not clear that the authors were using demarcations that I would use to distinguish between competing conceptions of God. To be sure, this is not necessarily a strike against the book. It just shows a particular disconnect that I felt with the authors. For example, in Oliver Wiertz’s essay, “Classical Theism,” Wiertz takes the reader through a carefully nuanced account of perfect being theology for the purposes of defending classical theism. This is a well-written and rigorously argued paper. However, Wiertz makes it clear that the classical theism that he is defending is the God of open theism. On open theism, God is temporal, passible, mutable in certain respects, and lacks exhaustive foreknowledge of…

Review of God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views edited by Meister and Dew

Meister, Chad and James K. Dew Jr, eds. God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017, pp. 196, $25.00. The Spectrum Multiview book series by InterVaristy Press considers a topic, and allows experts on the topic to present their views and interact with one another. In this volume, the question of the nature and existence of God is debated in light of the existence and nature of evil. Each author is given the chance to set out their own view. Then at the end of the book, each author has an opportunity to engage, criticize, and develop their thoughts on the views of the other authors. Personally, I find this format very useful for going deeper into theological and philosophical issues. Chad Meister and James Dew have done an excellent job at finding authors that have well-developed views that are quite distinct from one another. Further, they have selected authors who have made interesting, and significant contributions to this issue. Readers who are fairly new to the problem of evil will be well-served by starting with this volume, and then following up by reading other works by each contributor. The experts in this volume are…

Review of Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ by Cynthia Long Westfall
Book Reviews , New Testament / December 19, 2017

Westfall, Cynthia Long. Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, pp. 348, paperback, $32.99. Of all authors who write books and articles on the topic of Paul and gender, Cynthia Long Westfall is well-qualified to do so. She has published on this topic before in her article e.g., “The Meaning of αύθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2.12,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, 10 (2014): 138-73. She has taught courses within Pauline studies at McMaster Divinity College since 2005. She has also served in the context of the local church; this matters especially as she comments on this part of Paul’s discussion of ministry in the local church as it pertains to gender roles in the church. In this book, Westfall seeks to “explain the Pauline passages that concern gender and to move toward a canon-based Pauline theology of gender” (p. ix). Several scholars have published books on this topic, especially as it concerns gender roles in the church (e.g., Piper and Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Pierce and Groothuis, Discovering Biblical Equality). Her primary contribution is her methodology. The method of her study, as she claims,…