Book Reviews

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…

Review of From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research by Michael Kibbe
Book Reviews , Theology / January 3, 2017

Kibbe, Michael. From Topic to Thesis: A Guide to Theological Research. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 152, $12, paperback. As I have taught classes at both the undergraduate and graduate/seminary level one of the things that I have noticed that students struggle with most is academic writing. The struggle in writing is nearly universal among students. Kibbe’s From Topic to Thesis is a very helpful tool that will help students through the beginning stages of the writing process, stages that are often ignored by students and under taught by faculty. Kibbe starts his guide for students with an introduction. He starts the introduction with a discussion of process by noting that students should move from topic to thesis and not from topic to paper, which students often do. Kibbe also briefly outlines the history of theological research and gives a discussion of how theological research is similar and distinct from other areas of research. He ends the introduction with a discussion of key terms and a discussion of bibliography. Chapter one is focused on finding direction. In this chapter Kibbe brings out a number of important points when writing. Kibbe starts this chapter with a discussion of four…

Review of Fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Porter, Reed and O’Donnell
Book Reviews , New Testament / December 27, 2016

Stanley E. Porter, Jeffrey T. Reed, and Matthew Brook O ’Donnell. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. pp. 466, $40, Hardcover. When one considers the quantity of elementary and advanced Greek grammars that have been published in the last hundred years, it is no surprise that the teaching of Greek has become such a refined art. No matter where someone goes to learn Biblical Greek, odds are they learned it through a similar methodology. What Porter, Reed, and O’Donnell set out to do in Fundamentals of New Testament Greek is continue to refine the advances made over the past hundred years. The very nature of Porter’s grammar is pedagogical. In his introduction he states that: All beginning grammar books are incomplete in their coverage of the language they introduce. In fact, grammar books often present half-truths (even lies!) about the language that we have seen needed correcting in second-year classes. We trust that this text contains fewer such statements than others. In an effort to minimize incompleteness, we have included fuller and more comprehensive discussions, definitions, and presentation of material than are usually found in other beginning grammars. (p. xii) Porter then lists the goals he sets…

Review of Interpreting Prophetic Literature by James D. Nogalski
Book Reviews , Old Testament / December 21, 2016

Nogalski, James D. Interpreting Prophetic Literature: Historical and Exegetical Tools for Reading the Prophets. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, pp. xi + 125, $25, paperback. James Nogalski (Dr. Theol., University of Zürich) is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Nogalski has written extensively on prophetic literature with works such as his two volume commentary The Book of the Twelve (Smyth and Helwys, 2011) and Literary Precursors to the Book of the Twelve (De Gruyter, 1993). Moreover, Nogalski has translated four books into English from German which include Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology (Scholars Press, 1998) and The Theological Witness of Prophetic Books (Chalice Press, 2000). In Interpreting Prophetic Literature Nogalski sets out to write a primer on prophetic literature which is accessible to a novice student. Nogalski’s introduction is unique in that he shifts his focus away from historical backgrounds, which is normally the locus of the prophetic section in introductions, and instead pivots his book in order, “to [supplement] such introductions by focusing upon the art of reading prophetic literature” (p. 2). Nogalski accomplishes this by examining the different formulae of oracles, defining the key places…

Review of A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper
Book Reviews , Theology / December 6, 2016

Piper, John. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 304, $24.99, hardcover. John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) served for 33 years as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. He is the founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. Over the years, Piper has written over 50 books, each dedicated to connecting man’s joy and satisfaction with the glory of God. A Peculiar Glory is no exception. In this most recent book, Piper connects certainty of mind in the truthfulness of the word of God with the direct revelation of God’s glory through the Christian scriptures. His argument is that the truthfulness of the Word of God is self-attesting as God’s glory shines through with a peculiar light, enlightening the mind and satisfying the soul. In summary, Piper’s argument is a defense of verbal-plenary inerrancy. He argues for the complete truthfulness of the Old and New Testaments in all they claim. However, the distinctiveness of Piper’s project is to provide a warrant for the believer’s certainty and trust in this claim. How can one come to know (with certainty) the truthfulness of the Word of God?…

Review of Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective by Mark Cortez
Book Reviews , Theology / November 29, 2016

Cortez, Mark. Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 272, $27.99, paperback. Marc Cortez is currently associate professor of theology at Wheaton College. His prior works include Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark, 2010) and Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies: An Exercise in Christological Anthropology and Its Significance for the Mind/Body Debate (T&T Clark, 2008). As the title of these previous monographs indicate, Cortez has an interest in theological anthropology. The recently published Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology represents his third full length contribution to this field. What makes us human? This is a question upon which much ink has been spilled. Most studies attempting to answer this question have tended focus on one of several topics: 1) human origins, 2) ethics, and 3) the imago dei. What Cortez brings to this already oversaturated field is a rethinking of the methodology upon which so many of these studies are founded. Cortez’s approach to theological anthropology is strictly Christological. Although this book is not primarily a constructive proposal but a study of historical Christological anthropologies, Cortez reveals his constructive method which…

Review of The Message of the Twelve by Fuhr and Yates
Book Reviews , Old Testament / November 22, 2016

Fuhr Jr., Richard Alan and Gary E Yates. The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016, pp. 378, $25, paperback. The Message of the Twelve is a careful and thorough introduction to the Minor Prophets and their possible relationship to one another. Authors Richard Fuhr (PhD, Southeastern), program director of Biblical Studies and assistant professor of religion at Liberty University in Virginia, and Gary Yates (PhD, Dallas), professor of Old Testament at Liberty University, collaborate to present the historical, geographical, and theological core of the Minor Prophets. The Message of the Twelve is an excellent introductory work that will offer students a trove of information on Minor Prophets studies. Fuhr and Yates’ wrote The Message of the Twelve as an overview for “students, pastors, and all who seek to understand this neglected segment of God’s Word” (p. xiv). The first four chapters seek to explain the historical background of the Twelve, the prophetic role of the Twelve, the literary elements of the Twelve, and then the canonical unity of the Twelve. The remainder of the work is a book by book commentary on each the prophets. These chapters feature an introduction…

Review of A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / November 8, 2016

Frame, John. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2015, pp.xi + 875, $59.99, hardback. John Frame holds the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Frame’s A History of Western Philosophy and Theology is just one book among many that he has authored—books that span a wide range of subjects, including theology, apologetics, ethics, worship, and philosophy. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology is a culmination of sorts of Frame’s labor in expounding upon Reformed Christianity’s doctrines and applications. Frame’s latest work is a helpful account of not only the history of Western philosophy, but also of the sometimes contentious, sometimes harmonious, relationship between theology and philosophy. Frame seeks to tell a “philosophical” story in his History—one in which he attempts to “analyze and evaluate” the history of Western philosophy “from a Christian point of view” (p. xxvi). In a day when histories of philosophy have ignored theology’s contribution to philosophical thought (or, at the very least, relegated such contribution as irrelevant to the scope of philosophy), Frame sees little difference between the two disciplines (p. xxv). More importantly, the Bible speaks to…