Biblical Theology

Review of Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature by Richard P. Belcher

Belcher, Richard P, Jr. Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature. NSBT 46. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018. Paperback. $26.00. 272 pp. Richard Belcher is Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He has written commentaries on Job and Ecclesiastes, as well as several works exploring the Messiah across the biblical literature. This monograph is a recent addition to the New Studies in Biblical Theology series published by InterVarsity Press. The series has over fifty volumes in print, including a few others addressing wisdom. The monograph begins with a brief exploration of the problem of wisdom literature in the modern discussion. Belcher deftly summarizes the place wisdom has had within biblical theology, including the most recent debates about the wisdom tradition in ancient Israel undertaken by Kynes, Sneed, and Longman. After the introductory discussion, each of the main wisdom texts is explored, with each afforded three chapters—Proverbs (57 pgs), Job (58 pgs), and Ecclesiastes (55 pgs). The monograph concludes with a chapter on the relationship between Jesus and wisdom (23 pgs). While the nature of wisdom in the Song of Songs continues to be contentious (see pg….

Review of Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism edited by Elijah Hixson and Peter Gurry
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / October 19, 2021

Hixson, Elijah, and Peter J. Gurry, eds. Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp. 372, $40, softcover.    The editors of this volume are well-known among textual critics. Elijah Hixson is a research associate in New Testament Text and Language at Tyndale House at Cambridge. Peter J. Gurry is assistant professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary. Both have published extensively on text critical issues and contribute to evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com. The book examines overstated claims, dated information, and distorted statistics by well-meaning apologists. Chapter One is an introduction by the editors who provide a brief overview of the contents of the book. They resonate with apologists who desire to defend the New Testament text against critics. However, Bible students must not support the text with well-intentioned but ignorant falsehoods. If believers continue to perpetuate errors then they perform a disservice, not a defense. Chapter Two addresses myths about autographs. Certain evangelicals purport that some original autographs lasted for centuries. Timothy Mitchell, however, tempers such claims. Climate, persecution, wars, and natural disasters are a few factors that undercut this myth. Jacob Peterson takes on math myths in Chapter Three. Those who appeal to quantities of…

Review of The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles

Crowe, Brandon D. The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020.  193 pages $29.99, Paperback. The resurrection of the body was ancient Israel’s hope, not the hope of ancient Greece or Rome. The apostle Paul said he was in chains because of “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20; cf. 23:6; 24:15, 21; 26:6-8). The God of Israel fulfilled this hope by first raising Jesus the Messiah from the dead (Acts 26:22-23). Throughout the Acts of the Apostles we see this emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Brandon D. Crowe has written an excellent study of this emphasis. He is associate professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. Crowe follows the sound method of first examining the biblical texts, each in a holistic way in its written context, and then drawing from them more general conclusions. The three pillars of the resurrection theme in Acts are the speech by the apostle Peter in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2), the speech by the apostle Paul at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13), and his defense before King Agrippa II in Caesarea (Acts 26). Crowe also looks at additional resurrection statements…

Review of God, Evolution, and Animal Suffering: Theodicy without a Fall by Bethany N. Sollereder

Sollereder, Bethany N. God, Evolution, and Animal Suffering: Theodicy without a Fall. New York, NY: Routledge, 2019, pp. 202, $48.95, paperback. Bethany Sollereder (PhD, Exeter) is a systematic theologian and postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford.  She writes on theodicy, animals, interpretations of Genesis, and science and religion. Sollereder’s outstanding book asks how “a good and loving God [can] create through an evolutionary process involving such suffering, death, extinction, and violence” (p. 4).   It is not a defense of Christian theism in light of the violence of evolutionary history, but an exploration of ways to understand the God-world relation in light of what is so baffling about evolution. Taking a line from Christopher Southgate, she explains her project “arise[s] out of protest and end[s] in mystery” (p. 4). Blending an account of love borrowed from Aquinas and an Open Theist take on divine action, Sollereder tells a creative, complex, and at turns, mystifying story. She argues the disvalue of evolutionary suffering is a necessary byproduct of God’s generous gift of being to creatures and refusal to ‘micromanage’ (p. 183) the trajectory of any individual or species’ growth and development.  Furthermore, no disvalue is beyond the…

Review of An Introduction to Theological Anthropology: Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine by Joshua R. Farris
Book Reviews , Featured , Philosophy , Theology / October 12, 2021

Farris, Joshua R. An Introduction to Theological Anthropology: Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020, 336, $29.99, softcover. Joshua R. Farris (PhD, University of Bristol) is Executive Director of Alpine Christian School and former assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. Farris has edited and written numerous works on anthropology, making him ideally suited to pen an introduction to theological anthropology. While questions of anthropology continue to dominate contemporary discussions within and without the church, the academic resources providing both introductions and specialized focus lag. This makes Farris’s Introduction to Theological Anthropology a welcome source. Farris covers all the major areas in theological anthropology, expanding beyond what is typically found in overtly theological material or overtly philosophical material. He writes as a sort of bridge between theology and philosophy, engaging the questions, topics, and ideas from both disciplines in a single volume. There are chapters on human identity and ontology (e.g. materialism vs. substance dualism vs. hylemorphism, etc.), human origins, the imago dei, free will, original sin, Christological anthropology, culture (e.g. race, disability, and work), gender and sexuality, the afterlife, and the telos of humanity. Each chapter attempts to provide a high-level summary, explaining the various…

Review of A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42 by John D. Meade
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / October 7, 2021

Meade, John D. A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2020, pp. 471, $127.96, paperback. John Meade currently serves as Associate Professor of Old Testament at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, AZ. He is also Co-Director of the Text and Canon Institute at the same institution. Moreover, he is a contributor to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog and the Hexapla Institute. John Meade is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he obtained a Ph.D. in OT, under Peter Gentry. The book under review is the fruit of Meade’s dissertation. Meade has established a critical edition of the fragmentary evidence extant for chapters 22 through 42 of the Hexapla of Job. In other words, Meade provides a curated collection of all the readings of Origen’s Hexapla as it pertains to the book of Job. This task has led Meade to examine manuscript evidence from Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Armenian sources. As such, this work gives an updated presentation of hexaplaric readings, improving on the work done by its predecessors. The book is divided into three main chapters. Chapter 1 (pp. 1- 26) does an overview of the textual sources examined.  In this part,…

Review of Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation by Andrew Pettegree
Book Reviews , Church History , Featured / October 5, 2021

Pettegree, Andrew. Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation. New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2016, pp. 400, $18, paperback. Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at the University of St. Andrews and Founder of the university’s esteemed Reformation Studies Institute. His recent monograph, Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation, was warmly welcomed by Reformation scholars and, given its release by a popular rather than academic press, interested lay people across the world in anticipation of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. As its long subtitle suggests, this book tells two complementary stories—Luther’s personal journey and Wittenberg’s journey from relative insignificance to international fame in only a few short decades. These two stories are woven together by the printing press. According to Pettegree, without Luther’s pen Wittenberg would have continued to exist in obscurity during the sixteenth century. Yet without Wittenberg’s assets, Luther’s voice would have been lost in the academic debates of his time.  Pettegree examines how a localized…

Review of Reading with the Grain of Scripture by Richard B. Hays

Hays, Richard B. Reading with the Grain of Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020. 479 pp. $55.00, Hardcover. Richard Hays is Professor Emeritus of New Testament of Duke Divinity School. He is the author of several books, one of the most notable being his 1989 Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. This book is a set of twenty-one essays generally dealing with the subject of hermeneutics, representing something of the capstone of Hays’s career, a highlight reel of both recent writings and others culled from previous decades. They are very much a collection commemorative of an illustrious presence in the field of New Testament studies, with each representing some of Hays’s highest-level writing and strongest argumentation relative to each issue discussed. The book is divided into four parts, proceeding in stepwise fashion as Hays moves from the groundwork of interpretive method into the person of Jesus himself and how he has been understood by scholars, into Pauline theology, and finally into the broader New Testament as a whole and the theology that characterizes it. The essays, as Hays notes (p. 3), follow six recurrent themes, namely narrative analysis, figural coherence between the Old and New Testaments, the centrality of Jesus’s…

Review of Mother of Modern Evangelicalism: The Life & Legacy of Henrietta Mears by Arlin C. Migliazzo
Book Reviews , Church History / September 28, 2021

Migliazzo, Arlin C. Mother of Modern Evangelicalism: The Life & Legacy of Henrietta Mears. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2020. Pp. xviii + 338. $29.99, paperback. A “human dynamo” for the Lord is how the Christian Century described her in 1950 (p. 253). Recounting the most successful church in the Southwest of the time, First Presbyterian of Hollywood, the Century’s reporter spent about as much time detailing the senior pastor, as it did enchanted by a 60 year-old, bespectacled, matronly-appearing single woman who headed its renowned Christian education program and had the L.A. youth hooked on Christianity: Henrietta Mears. In this first scholarly biography of Mears (1890-1963), we get to see clearly why. Through a rich and vivid chronicle of Mears’s life, Migliazzo, Emeritus Professor of History at Whitworth University in Washington State, offers us deep insight into her personality and an enriched understanding of her multifaceted public ministry. The book deftly and sensitively portrays this remarkable–and previously underappreciated–“architect” (p. 263) at the heart of American Evangelicalism’s transformative mid-century moment. If sobriquets are any index of influence, Migliazzo shows us how, from the 1920s to the 1950s, Mears was, quite simply, Evangelical America’s “Teacher.” The book’s journey begins with a thoughtful survey…

Review of Christ the Heart of Creation by Rowan Williams
Book Reviews , 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…