Book Reviews

Review of Christ the Heart of Creation by Rowan Williams
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / August 2, 2021

Williams, Rowan. Christ the Heart of Creation. London: Bloomsbury, 2018, 279pp, £25, hardback. A former Archbishop of Canterbury and recently retired as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Rowan Williams has long been an influential leader in both church and academy. Christ the Heart of Creation builds upon a lecture series given at Cambridge in 2016, although Williams’s work on Christology—especially on patristic and mediaeval interpretations of Christ—stretches back to the earliest years of his academic career in the 1970s (p. ix). Few others could have produced a book as erudite yet elastic. The reader will quickly recognise Christ the Heart of Creation as the product of nearly five decades’ dedicated scholarly research and ecumenical work, a daring and difficult attempt to trace a specific Christological and metaphysical golden thread running through theological writers diverse as Maximus and Aquinas, Calvin and Bonhoeffer. So, what exactly does Williams want us to know? An early answer comes from the (quietly Johannine) title, that Jesus Christ is the living core of all things under God. The who of Christ can tell us much about the how of the cosmos. Williams’s task is thus: to draw out the mutuality between the doctrines of Christology and…

Review of Invitation to the Septuagint by Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 29, 2021

Jobes, Karen H. and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015, Pp 432, $28.30, Paperback. Septuagintal studies has risen in recent years, but a substantial introduction to the discipline was lacking for students and scholars alike.  The technical nature of the discipline left many students unfamiliar with how to proceed into the fray.  Karen Jobes and Moises Silva initially filled that hole in 2000, but they have updated and expanded to a second edition of their primer to account for changes in the field of the LXX studies.  The second edition responds to a lengthy criticism of the first edition from James Barr whereby the authors supposedly deemed the LXX unhelpful for determining the Hebrew text (xii n.1).  The second addition has been updated the bibliography with references from the last fifteen years. Both authors are world renown scholars for their scholarship in Greek lexicography and the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.  Hereafter, the authors will be referred to as J.S. J.S. begin with answering the readers’ initial question, Why should I study the Septuagint? in a brief introduction. They suggest that the LXX aids the interpreters understanding of…

Review of The Trinity: An Introduction by Scott Swain
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / July 29, 2021

Swain, Scott. The Trinity: An Introduction (Short Studies in Systematic Theology). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020, pp. 154, $15.99, paperback. Scott R. Swain serves as president and James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. In addition to the book being reviewed, he has written The God of the Gospel and edited Retrieving Eternal Generation. Swain is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. In The Trinity: An Introduction, Swain seeks to introduce the doctrine of the Trinity. As part of Crossway’s series Short Studies in Systematic Theology, the goal of the present volume is to give readers a brief but accurate overview and introduction into the area of the Trinity. While it is a challenging assignment, Swain handles the doctrine of the Trinity with precision. While not explicitly divided into sections, The Trinity: An Introduction functionally has three areas. In chapters 1-3, Swain helps readers gain their footing in thinking about issues of the Trinity. Chapters 1 and 2 cover fundamental matters of grammar and text types that discuss the Trinity. Swain focuses on the need to understand God as one existing in three persons, and these first two chapters focus on that unity of…

Review of To Aliens and Exiles: Preaching the New Testament as Minority-Group Rhetoric in a Post-Christendom World by Tim MacBride

MacBride, Tim. To Aliens and Exiles: Preaching the New Testament as Minority-Group Rhetoric in a Post-Christendom World. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2020. pp. 254, $51, hardcover. Tim MacBride (ThD, Australian College of Theology) serves as Head of the Faculty of Bible and Theology at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. At Morling, MacBride teaches New Testament and Homiletics. Prior to joining the faculty, MacBride pastored a church in Sydney’s south suburbs for twelve years. To Aliens and Exiles is MacBride’s third book on preaching New Testament rhetoric. MacBride’s two previous books on preaching include his doctoral thesis, Preaching the New Testament as Rhetoric (Wipf & Stock, 2014), and Catching the Wave: Preaching the New Testament as Rhetoric (InterVaristy Press, 2016), in which he simplified his doctoral thesis for a non-academic audience. MacBride has also written several articles on preaching and a book on patronage in John’s Gospel. In To Aliens and Exiles, MacBride offers Christians a lens to understand how to articulate the faith from a minority group position. Such a minority position was the context in which the New Testament was written. Indeed, MacBride posits, Christians have always been a minority. How to instruct the Church to interact with the…

Review of Pauline Hamartiology: Conceptualisation and Transferences by Steffi Fabricius
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / June 28, 2021

Fabricius, Steffi. Pauline Hamartiology: Conceptualisation and Transferences. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018, pp. 312, €109.00, hardback.   Steffi Fabricius is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Siegen where she also teaches theology. She earned her PhD in Systematic Theology at the Technical University of Dortmund where she has also worked as a research assistant in the English Linguistics department. The book under review is a slightly adapted version of her doctoral dissertation similarly titled Pauline Hamartiology: Conceptualisations and Translationes. Positioning Cognitive Semantic Theory and Method within Theology. Fabricius’ research interests lie at the intersect of theology and cognitive linguistics and the current work is a formidable example of this kind of interdisciplinary work. In the very short introductory chapter, the author presents a brief sketch of what she will be arguing throughout the book. Though not an explicit thesis, Fabricius suggests that in Paul’s undisputed epistles we see six conceptual metaphorical mappings that shape his experience and understanding of ἁμαρτία as an existential powerful state: ἁμαρτία as an action, ἁμαρτία as an event, ἁμαρτία as an object, ἁμαρτία as a state, ἁμαρτία as a power, and ἁμαρτία as a slave master (3). Chapter 2 introduces the state of research on…

Review of Divine Humility: God Morally Perfect Being by Matthew A. Wilcoxen
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / June 28, 2021

Wilcoxen, Matthew A. Divine Humility: God Morally Perfect Being. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2019, pp. 227, $39.95, hardback. Matthew A. Wilcoxen is an Associate Rector at Church of the Resurrection in Washington DC. He earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Charles Sturt University, Australia. In Divine Humility, Matthew A. Wilcoxen asks why humility has not always firmly been considered one of God’s eternal attributes in the Christian tradition. Honouring their theological achievements, this book visits the work of St. Augustine, Karl Barth and Katherine Sonderegger and puts them to work answering some of the tradition’s oldest and newest questions. Chapter 1 introduces the task at hand through the question of how (or if) the metaphysical attributes of the divine being can relate to his divine subjective moral attributes. It begins with a concise critique of Heidegger’s Onto-theology and his influence in certain strains of contemporary theology. Wilcoxen highlights existentialism’s dependence on the very enlightenment principles it tried to rebel against while preparing for itself a “conflict of traditions” (p. 10), which additionally estranged it in part from its “rival tradition of inquiry, Christian Theology” (p. 11). Instead, Wilcoxen takes an analytic approach to be more conducive for returning to…

Review of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins by Peter Enns
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Philosophy / June 28, 2021

Enns, Peter. The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2012. xx+172 pp. $14.99. Is there a conflict between evolutionary theory and the Christian reading of Genesis 1–11? Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University), Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies Eastern University, writes The Evolution of Adam to answer this very question. Enns’ premise in the book not that Adam evolved but that Christian thinking about the historical Adam should evolve because of two key ideas: “(1) scientific evidence supporting evolution and (2) literary evidence from the world of the Bible that helps clarify the kind of literature the Bible is––that is, what it means to read it as it was meant to read” (xiii). The argument for Enns’ perspective of the historical Adam is laid out in two parts. The first part of Enns’ book in “Genesis: An Ancient Story of Israelite Self-Definition” (chapters 1–4) address the story of the history of Israel, and the section part “Understanding Paul’s Adam” (chapters 5–7) examines Paul’s perspective of the historical Adam. Enns’ concludes with “nine theses” pp. (137–148). Chapters 1–4 approach the historical Adam’s issue through a historical-critical perspective, which…

Review of Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered by Rick W. Marrs

Marrs, Rick W. Making Christian Counseling More Christ Centered. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2019, pp.260, $19.95, softcover. “Believe more.” “Pray more.” “Do more.” Law-centered counseling can accidentally burden the counselee with more guilt, shame, and depression. Christ-centered counseling, on the other hand, mitigates tribulation and motivates sanctification by centering the counselee in the forgiveness, love, and grace of Jesus Christ. By presenting a primer in the Christ-centered theology of Martin Luther and suggesting soul-care strategies that flow from that theology, Rick Marrs, Christian counselor, licensed psychologist, and professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, aims to make Christian counseling more Christ-centered. Luther’s Christ-centered theology comes packed in orthodox paradox. In Marrs’s manual, three of Luther’s paradoxes are especially unpacked and employed to help make Christian counseling more Christ-centered: (1) the bane and blessing of Anfechtung, (2) the distinction of Law and Gospel, and (3) the saint and sinner-hood of the Christian. First, Marrs shines a needed light on Anfechtung, the lost locus of Luther. Whether we like it or not, human beings are creatures afflicted with Anfechtung, Luther’s favorite German word for temptation, trial and tribulation, guilt and shame, suffering and sorrow. Against a theology of glory or prosperity gospel, the…

Review of Autism and the Church: Bible, Theology, and Community by Grant Macaskill

Macaskill, Grant. Autism and the Church: Bible, Theology, and Community. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2019, pp. 236, $34.95, hardback. Grant Macaskill is Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis since 2015. Prior to this, he had taught as Senior Lecturer in New Testament at the University of St Andrews. His research engages with the New Testament as a coherent body of theological literature emerging from the diverse contexts of late Second Temple Judaism. His publications have included extensive treatments of theological issues in the New Testament, notably “Union with Christ”. In many ecclesial settings, it goes unnoticed that the church’s autistic members are a gift. In his book, Grant Macaskill has written in a tone of faithful hope about Autism and the Church within an awareness of the sorrow that can accompany being overlooked in such contexts. This book is an example of a biblical theology which dispenses neither of the participatory nature of the church in its reading practices nor the social and scientific research required to write informatively about autism. Macaskill submits the rigour of theological scholarship to its pastoral significance making serious reflection accessible to a larger range of readers than simply those inside the university. The…

Review of Thy Will Be Done: The Ten Commandments and the Christian Life by Gilbert Meilaender

Meilaender, Gilbert. Thy Will Be Done: The Ten Commandments and the Christian Life. Baker Academic, 2020. pp. 125, $21.99, hardcover. Gilbert Meilaender, a Lutheran research professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana, is a leading ethicist. His textbook on bioethics is generally considered a standard. In Thy Will Be Done he follows in a long line of Christian tradition that reflects on the Christian life in terms of the Ten Commandments. On the basis of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, it is difficult exegetically to know how to number the Ten Commandments. Three different numbering systems have developed. The Catholic-Lutheran numbering, which Meilaender follows, treats the prohibition against other gods and graven images as the first, the prohibition against using God’s name in vain as the second, the command to sanctify the Sabbath as the third, the command to honor parents as the fourth, the prohibitions against murder, adultery, and stealing as the fifth, sixth, and seventh, the prohibition against bearing false witness as the eighth, the prohibition against coveting the neighbor’s house as the ninth, and the prohibition against coveting the neighbor’s wife, servants, and possessions as the tenth. The Eastern Orthodox-Reformed numbering treats no other gods and no graven…