Book Reviews

Review of Paul’s Theology in Context: Creation, Incarnation, Covenant, and Kingdom by James P. Ware
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / May 16, 2022

Ware, James P. Paul’s Theology in Context: Creation, Incarnation, Covenant, and Kingdom. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019, xiv + 270 pp., $30, paperback. It would be an exaggeration to say that every scholar of Paul harbors an ambition to write a Pauline theology — but not too great of an exaggeration. The basic continuity among Paul’s letters, yet with important contingencies particular to each of them, beckons for synthesis. With Paul’s Theology in Context, James P. Ware (Ph.D., Yale University), professor of religion at the University of Evansville, tries his hand at this most common of endeavors. Ware succeeds in writing an accessible, engaging theology of Paul for pastors and pastors-in-training, which might also benefit scholars and informed laypersons. He even manages to frame the apostle in some fresh ways. The Introduction (1–4) briefly sets out the preliminaries. First, Ware writes Theology in Context “for clergy, students, and laypeople who wish to enrich their understanding of the letters of Paul,” providing “a basic ‘map’ or guide to Paul’s theology that will illumine and enliven the study, preaching, and teaching of all his letters,” though he then adds, “I hope this book will also be of interest to my fellow biblical…

Review of Say It!: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition edited by Eric C. Redmond

Redmond, Eric C. ed. Say It!: Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition. Chicago: Moody, 2020, 240 pages, $14.99, paperback. What does the Great Migration have to do with exposition? Much! The Black Church in the United States has a beautiful yet painful history. The African American preaching tradition arose in this context, producing notable preachers including John Jasper, Richard Allen, Francis J. Grimké, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gardner C. Taylor, James Earl Massey, and E. K. Bailey. Historically, African American preaching has been underresearched and underpublished. However, times are changing, and homiletical treasures are being unearthed and offered to Christ’s people. Eric C. Redmond (Ph.D., Capital Seminary and Graduate School) has assembled a top-notch lineup of African American homileticians in Say It! to “demonstrate the power of exposition in the cradle of the black pulpit” (back cover). Redmond is a Professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute and an Associate Pastor of Preaching, Teaching, and Care at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL. He has published several books and articles, including Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men’s Questions About the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008) and Christ-Centered Exposition: Jonah (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2016)….

Review of The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God by David S. Schrock

Schrock, David S. The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Edited by Dane C. Ortlund and Miles V. Van Pelt. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022, pp. 199, $14.99, paperback. David Schrock is the Pastor of Preaching and Theology at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dr. Schrock earned both his MDiv and PhD in systematic theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation is titled, “A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ’s Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement.” He is an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Indianapolis Theological Seminary, Boyce College, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and, formerly, Crossroads Bible College. Dr. Schrock is also an Associate Fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God by David S. Schrock is a modest monograph about how the glory of God is fully revealed in the royal priesthood of Christ. This abbreviated work of biblical theology focuses on the biblical theme of priesthood to demonstrate how God’s glory is revealed in Christ’s righteousness expressed through the biblical concept of the priesthood. In an introduction, six chapters, and an…

Review of God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood by Andrew S. Malone

Andrew S. Malone. God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2017, pp. 230, $25.00, paperback. Andrew S. Malone serves as Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Dean of Ridley Online at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. In God’s Mediators, Malone develops an expositional and synthetic biblical theology of the theme of priesthood, studying both individual and corporate priestly identities and work across the canon so as to “augment and refine our existing knowledge, reinforce or reshape our theological framework, and make us better expositors of the texts and their consequences for God’s holy people” (p. 10). He contends, specifically, that Christians struggle to define priests and priesthood in a manner following the patterns of the biblical witness (pp. 8–9; 186–187). Malone descriptively surveys, therefore, the biblical landscape for individual priests, starting with Aaron’s and his sons’ mediation at Sinai with an important focus on “the kingdom of priests” found in Exodus 19:5–6 as a royal priesthood (pp. 16–17, 126). His survey of the Aaronic priesthood, ultimately, establishes a baseline to consider implications for 1) Israel’s corporate priesthood, 2) Jesus’ priesthood, and 3) the nature of the church’s corporate priesthood. He labels the Aaronic priesthood by its status of…

Review of Dating Acts in its Jewish and Greco-Roman Contexts by Karl L. Armstrong
Book Reviews , New Testament / April 26, 2022

Armstrong, Karl L. Dating Acts in its Jewish and Greco-Roman Contexts. LNTS 637. London: T&T Clark, 2021, pp. 229, $115.00, hardback. The emergent consensus that Acts was written post-70 CE but pre-90 CE is not much more than “political compromise” says Karl L. Armstrong in Dating Acts (p. 3): fraught with methodological and interpretive problems; Armstrong received his PhD (Christian Theology) from McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, and Dating Acts is a revised form of his PhD dissertation there under Dr. Stanley E. Porter.  According to Armstrong, the re-asserters of a late (post-100 CE) date for Acts—a growing minority—fare no better than the current consensus, given as they seem to be to ideological literary theories which, while commendably creative, have not come to grips with the powerful traditional arguments for an early date of Acts made in days gone by. In Dating Acts, Armstrong demonstrates these assertions and completely re-founds a case for the early date of Acts (à la Rackham) in light of contemporary historiography and linguistics. Summary: Following his introduction (summarized above), Armstrong offers a chapter on historiographical method (chapter 2) and advances a series of principles which define the procedure of the study: for selecting…

Review of Calvin, the Bible, and History: Exegesis and Historical Reflection in the Era of Reform by Barbara Pitkin

Pitkin, Barbara. Calvin, the Bible, and History: Exegesis and Historical Reflection in the Era of Reform. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. xii + 250, £64.00, hardback. Barbara Pitkin is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Stanford University, where she teaches on the history of Christian thought, including the sixteenth-century reformations and the history of biblical interpretation. She is the author of What Pure Eyes Could See: Calvin’s Doctrine of Faith in its Exegetical Context (OUP, 1999), editor of Semper Reformanda: Calvin, Worship, and Reformed Traditions (V&R, 2018), and co-editor with Wim Janse of The Formation of Clerical and Confessional Identities in Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2006). Pitkin also serves as an editor for the Sixteenth Century Journal and is a former president of the Calvin Studies Society.  In Calvin, the Bible, and History, Pitkin investigates Calvin’s biblical exegesis through a series of case studies and seeks to show how he was consistently historically attuned. Though Pitkin argues that Calvin was not a historian per se, she demonstrates that Calvin was an astute exponent of the Bible as history. Chapter 1 functions as the book’s introduction, which summarises, in broad terms, how Calvin’s biblical interpretation was influenced by…

Review of Inscriptions from the World of the Bible: A Reader and Introduction to Old Northwest Semitic by Peter Bekins
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 14, 2022

Bekins, Peter. Inscriptions from the World of the Bible: A Reader and Introduction to Old Northwest Semitic. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Academic, 2020, pp 300, $79.95, hardback. If you know Biblical Hebrew, then you essentially know ancient Edomite, Moabite, Ammonite, and Phoenician. You can add those to your résumé. They are all basically the same language. The differences among them are rather minor. For example, the direct object marker in Hebrew and Moabite is ’t (aleph-tau), whereas in Phoenician (and Aramaic) it is ’yt (aleph-yodh-tau). A modern analogy might be English spoken in London, New York, Minnesota, and Georgia. Moreover, if you know Biblical Hebrew, then you are well on your way to a knowledge of Aramaic. We should not think of Biblical Hebrew as a completely unique language all alone, as if it were per se a holy language. It was part of the common language spoken throughout the area of ancient Syria and Palestine. It was, you might say, part of the lingua franca of that area, much like the Koine Greek of the New Testament in the Greco-Roman world. There is a theological message here. The Creator chose to communicate with his human creatures in an everyday language,…

Review of The Story of Sacrifice: Ritual and Narrative in the Priestly Source by Liane M. Feldman
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 14, 2022

Feldman, Liane M. The Story of Sacrifice: Ritual and Narrative in the Priestly Source. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020, pp. 245. 104€, hardback. Liane Feldman is Assistant Professor at New York University in the Skirball department of Hebrew and Judaic studies. Feldman earned her PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School in Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East. In The Story of Sacrifice Professor Liane Feldman explores the “literary function” of the priestly ritual materials. Feldman is clear in the introduction that she intends to read and explain these ritual materials “as part of the story”, in conjunction with, not separated from their narrative setting (11-18). Her inquiry is simple: what happens when one assumes that the ritual and narrative texts in the Priestly source were intentionally placed together, and one chooses to read them as literature? Feldman divides the book into six chapters: Introduction, Moses’s Private Audience: The Construction of Space in the Story World (Exod 40–Lev 7), Yahweh’s Public Performance: The Creation of a Cult (Lev 8:1–10:7), Inside and Outside: Yahweh’s Delineation of Boundaries (Lev 10:8–15:33; Num 7:1–8:4), The Possibility of Decontamination (Lev 16–17), and Conclusion. This review will summarize the book’s contents, follow with a critique,…

Review of The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring by Bobby Jamieson

Jamieson, Bobby. The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021, 185, $17.99, paperback. Bobby Jamieson is an Associate Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Formerly, Jamieson was an assistant editor for 9Marks. He did his doctoral work at the University of Cambridge and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written on all areas of pastoral ministry, including Guarding One Another: Church Discipline, Leading One Another: Church Leadership, and Hearing God’s Word: Expositional Preaching. The Path to Being a Pastor is a brief discussion about the necessary conversations that need to be had before one goes from participant to pastor. When one becomes a pastor, they join an elite group that God has used to do mighty works. Jamieson maintains that some have made this leap without realizing what they are getting involved in. As a result, the churches have suffered, and pastors have experienced burnout. Although Jamieson admits to not having been a pastor himself, he has helped many on the journey. This book is the fruit of that labor. The first third of the book sets up the dialogue about whether or not someone should…

Review of Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age by Felicia Wu Song

Song, Felicia Wu. Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2021. pp. 216. How do we understand personal identity in a time where we do not simply go online, but we live online? Song’s work in Restless Devices examines the question of personal identity in a digital age through the lens of an unapologetic Christian theological anthropology. It takes a supple voice and keen mind to navigate the complexities of digital media to an overwhelmingly uninformed audience about the ethical issues behind technology used every day. The expertise and tenure of Song’s work here shine in the landscape of the contents of Restless Devices. Anyone studying the ethics of technology understands the complexity of the relationship between the device as a mere instrument and the device as an implement of power. For example, Part 1 (“Being at Altitude; The Terms of Agreement; and The Industrialization of You and Me”) examines how “smart” technologies shape the user through the values laden by the producers of said technology (cf. Jürgen Habermas’ economic thesis). Tech companies use and exploit behavioral psychology and insights from neuroscience to make addictive products without much concern for the ethical…