Biblical Theology

Review of From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation by Sidney Greidanus

Greidanus, Sidney. From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018. pp. 213. $15.99. Paperback. Sidney Greidanus (ThD, Free University of Amsterdam) is a retired professor of Calvin College, the King’s College, and Calvin Theological Seminary. He retired from full-time teaching in 2004, and has since then been mainly writing commentaries for preachers. His recent book From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation is one volume in a series entitled Short Studies in Biblical Theology edited by Dane C. Ortlund and Miles V. Van Pelt. The purpose of this series “is to connect the resurgence of biblical theology at the academic level with everyday believers” (p. 13). Each volume in the series is also written in a simple manner so that those who may not have had any theological training can easily interact with the text of the author. Greidanus’s book traces the dual theme of chaos–cosmos from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 (p. 15). Greidanus’s purpose for the book is to deepen” one’s “understanding of the original creation and the coming new creation,” which “helps us see not only the unity of the Scriptures but also the centrality of Christ…

Review of A Pastoral Rule for Today: Reviving an Ancient Practice by Burgess, Andrews, and Small

Burgess, John P., Jerry Andrews, and Joseph D. Small. A Pastoral Rule for Today: Reviving an Ancient Practice. Pp. x, 190. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. $20.00. John P. Burgess is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia (2017), and Encounters with Orthodoxy: How Protestant Churches Can Reform Themselves Again (2013). Jerry Andrews is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in San Diego California. Joseph D. Small is retired director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Theology and Worship, and author of To Be Reformed: Living the Tradition (2010), and Proclaiming the Great Ends of the Church (2010). A Pastoral Rule for Today “emerged out of an initiative of the Office of Theology and Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA) called Re-Forming Ministry” (p. ix). The book is the culmination of denominational dissatisfaction with the current state of pastoral ministry and a successful attempt by three significant figures to “analyze the current situation of the church and to propose ways to strengthen the theological foundations of pastoral ministry” (p. ix). “While other members of the initiative pursued different areas of concern,” Burgess, Andrews, and Small committed…

Review of From Adam and Israel to The Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God by Benjamin L. Gladd

Gladd, Benjamin L. From Adam and Israel to The Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God. Essential Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, 182 pp. $22, paperback. Benjamin Gladd is Associate Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS. His published works include similar topics such as this volume under review, particularly his collaborative work with G. K. Beale. Readers interested in these topics should consult G. K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd. Hidden But Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Divine Mystery. Downers Grove: IVP, 2014. In this new volume, Gladd states that From Adam and Israel to The Church examines the figure of Adam, Israel, Christ and the Church through the lens of the image of God (p. 4). He asserts that the image of God should be understood in the offices of king, priest, and prophet, and then he demonstrates how Adam and Eve fill these offices (pgs. 12-19). Like his previous work, on this point his analysis depends largely upon Eden as temple. Chapter two examines how the fall of humanity led to the abuse of the authority that comes from the image of God. In response, he introduces…

Review of A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman by Holly Beers

Beers, Holly. A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp. 172, $17.00, paperback. Dr. Holly Beers is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College, having previously taught at Bethel Seminary and North Central University. Beers is a Luke-Acts scholar, and earned her PhD in New Testament from the London School of Theology. Adding to her list of publications is the current book under review, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman. This book is part of InterVarsity’s “A Week in the Life” historical-fiction series, which aims to illuminate the world of the New Testament. Other works in this series examine the week in the life of Corinth, the fall of Jerusalem, Rome, Ephesus, a slave, and a centurion. Beers’ volume follows the daily life of a woman, Anthia, throughout one week of her life, with each of the seven chapters being told from the perspective of one day of the week. This creative work of historical-fiction reads like a captivating novel, as characters develop, interact with one another, and are exposed to Paul’s teaching about Jesus—who presents a challenge to the cultural worship of Artemis. Readers gain insights on…

Review of The Ten Commandments: What they Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung, Kevin. The Ten Commandments: What they Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them. Wheaton: Crossway, 2018, 203 pages, $17.99, Hardback. At the time of printing, and according to the back cover of the book, Kevin DeYoung serves as a pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and also as an assistant professor of systematic theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. DeYoung completed his PhD at the University of Leicester. His book begins with a quick tour of secular feelings about the Ten Commandments. This tour becomes the impetus for posing and answering two questions in the introduction: “Why should we study the ten commandments?” and “Why should we obey the Ten Commandments?” The answers to those questions lead to the following ten chapters, each presenting one commandment. These chapters focus on Christian understanding and application, starting with the first commandment in a chapter he titles “God and God Alone.” “God and God Alone” begins with an appeal to true faith in the true God, then focuses on how the commandments underpin modern society and moral law (p. 30). From there, he works through the first commandment, examines the Heidelberg Catechism to understand…

Review of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologians for a Post-Christian World by Wolf Krötke

Krötke, Wolf. Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologians for a Post-Christian World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, 272 pp., $48, hardcover. Wolf Krötke (b. 1938) is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Humboldt University in Berlin, where he began teaching in 1991 and retired in 2004. A student of Eberhard Jüngel (one of Karl Barth’s most distinguished pupils), Krötke was the recipient of the international Karl Barth Prize in 1990, and he is one of the few theologians today who have done detailed work on both Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. However, as John Burgess notes in his translator’s preface, “while Professor Krötke is regarded in Germany as a major theological voice and a superb interpreter of Barth and Bonhoeffer, little of his work has been translated into English” (ix). This book serves to remedy this issue. Although the title suggests otherwise, this book is not about Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Instead, it is a collection of seventeen translated essays about Barth or Bonhoeffer, all previously published in German, from across Krötke’s career (the earliest in 1981, the latest in 2013). The first eight essays are about Barth, and the final nine are about Bonhoeffer. In lieu of…

Review of Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew: A Refreshing Guide to Grammar and Interpretation by H. H. Hardy II
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 21, 2020

Hardy II, H. H. Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew: A Refreshing Guide to Grammar and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. 224, $19.99, paperback. H. H. Hardy is associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he has served since 2014 (back cover). Dr. Hardy earned his PhD at the University of Chicago. Alongside teaching, Dr. Hardy is the author of numerous academic publications. Hardy wrote Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew to college and seminary students and former students of Hebrew (xiv-xv). The concept of the book developed in response to students questioning the value of learning Biblical Hebrew (xiii). As a resource to college students, the design of the book follows popular Hebrew grammar structures: nouns, adjectives, verbs, particles, and clause structure (xiv). Hardy suggests that Hebrew instructors use this volume as a weekly supplement alongside a Hebrew grammar to motivate student’s desires to learn Hebrew (xv). The thirty chapters are roughly organized the same. Each chapter receives an introduction, overview, interpretation, and recommendations for further reading. The numerous chapters make listing each chapter cumbersome, but students of Hebrew will have a rough layout in mind from previous studies. The book’s…

Review of Divine Action and Divine Agency: Systematic Theology Volume III by William J. Abraham
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / July 14, 2020

Abraham, William J. Divine Action and Divine Agency Volume III Systematic Theology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp.284, £75.00, hardback.   The third in a projected tetralogy, this volume sketches an entire systematics that follows a traditional credal structure. Abraham’s goal is to rescue Christian theology from the Procrustean constraints of an epistemological preoccupation with the problem of divine action. Recent projects, he claims, have worked with a “closed concept” which narrows the scope of God’s work attested in Scripture and tradition. This generates an impoverishment of theology with deleterious consequences for church practice. Prioritising the notion of God as “Agent” as opposed to “Being” or “Process”, Abraham seeks to offer an account of the range of divine activity (understood as an “open” concept) from creation to eschatology. His intent is to defend and develop the canonical traditions of the church as these emerged in the patristic period. Hence his account is resolutely Nicene and Chalcedonian in its approach, and largely impatient with modern projects such as that of Schleiermacher who is charged (perhaps mistakenly) with losing the doctrine of the Trinity (p. 10). For Abraham, systematic theology is a self-critical appropriation of the canonical teachings of the church…

Review of Dysteleology: A Philosophical Assessment of Suboptimal Design in Biology by Michael Berhow
Book Reviews , Featured , Philosophy / July 8, 2020

Berhow, Michael. Dysteleology: A Philosophical Assessment of Suboptimal Design in Biology. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2019. 148 pages, $21, paperback. “Dysteleology” is a term invented by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) to describe the apparent suboptimal design and lack of function of biological order. Colloquially known as the “problem of bad design”, dysteleology has long been a central counterargument to the argument that biology was intentionally created by an omnipotent and perfectly good Creator. In the book, Dysteleology, philosopher Michael Berhow approaches the problem by contrasting theistic evolutionist Francisco J. Ayala’s dysteleological argument with Intelligent Design (ID) proponent William A. Dembski’s thought. The primary goal of the book is to show that dysteleology, as formulated by Ayala, fails as a counterargument against Intelligent Design. A secondary goal is to show that the project of theodicy requires a teleological worldview, and that Intelligent Design provides better support for such a worldview than Ayala’s brand of theistic evolutionism. Thus, Berhow concludes ambitiously that “If philosophers and theologians hope to develop a coherent evolutionary theodicy . . . they must appreciate the insights offered by ID advocates like Dembski” (p. 139). Berhow’s critique of Ayala’s theodicy follows familiar lines of argument from the literature….

Review of The Spirit of Methodism: From the Wesleys to Global Communion by Jeffrey W. Barbeau
Book Reviews , Church History , Featured / July 6, 2020

Jeffrey W. Barbeau, The Spirit of Methodism: From the Wesleys to Global Communion. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp. 224, $20, paperback. Jeffrey W. Barbeau, professor of theology at Wheaton College, has written a history of Methodism at a moment of crisis within the United Methodist Church. As this review is being written, the specter of conflict threatens to divide that denomination. The debates over sexuality that drive this conflict have been going on for several decades, but seem to be coming to a head. Many United Methodists feel anything but united. Barbeau writes with the hope that a coherent history of Methodism will help readers gain some perspective: “If the future of the movement seems uncertain to many American Methodists today,” he writes, “at least part of the problem is a persistent myopia” (p. 101). To address that myopia, Barbeau has produced a short, easily-read survey of the history of Methodism, or more accurately, “Methodisms.” The Spirit of Methodism rightfully covers not just Methodism in Great Britain and the United States, but in south Asia, east Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Barbeau also reminds readers that Methodism is not just the United Methodist Church, but also other Methodist,…