Book Reviews

Review of Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew by Gary A. Long
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / November 19, 2020

Long, Gary A. Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Hebrew (2nd Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013, pp. 213, paperback. Gary A. Long (PhD) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University and the author of Grammatical Concepts 101 for Biblical Greek. Long provides an explanation of the strategy of the book by writing: “Designed to complement standard teaching grammars, this book assists the entry-level Biblical Hebrew student in learning basic grammatical concepts no single teaching grammar treats adequately and no reference grammar explains plainly enough for many beginning students (p. xvii).   The book is not designed to be read through at one time but rather fills the need for a simple reference to Hebrew grammar with many cross-references to major works on Biblical Hebrew. He divides the book into three parts. Part 1: Foundations reviews the basics of language with an emphasis on building a bridge between English grammar and Hebrew grammar.  The chapter may be overwhelming to the beginner as the explanation of linguistic hierarchies is complicated due to the complexities of the discussion. Part 2: Building Blocks develops grammatical concepts that are common to most all languages.  Some of the building blocks are gender, number, article,…

Review of Divine Action and the Human Mind by Sarah Lane Ritchie
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / November 17, 2020

Ritchie, Sarah Lane. Divine Action and the Human Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. $120.00. 384 pages. Like most works in the Cambridge theology series, the present volume serves two purposes. First, each monograph offers the student a survey of the issues on the subject at hand. In other words, it is a kind of state of the art treatment on the subject. Second, each monograph advances the discussion in some way. In Sarah Lane Ritchie’s well-written and well-researched monograph, she accomplishes both. As with all good works of philosophy, theology, and science, Ritchie’s Divine Action and the Human Mind works from a set of intuitions. Ritchie’s work is no different in this respect. What is different is her courageous attempt not to water down her commitment to what appears to be a form of methodological naturalism (although she would not cast it in quite those terms, as she expands the notion of “naturalism” quite considerably beyond the boundaries of most definitions in the literature) as the starting point to understanding the mind. While a virtue in the sense that she is unwilling to take a muddy middle way to discovering the nature of agency, my concern is that the intuitions…

Review of Hosea (Apollos Old Testament Commentary) by Joshua N. Moon
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / November 13, 2020

Moon, Joshua N. Hosea. Apollos Old Testament Commentary, 21. London, England: IVP Academic. 2018, pp. 253 Available in hard copy.  Joshua N. Moon (PhD) is Fellows Tutor at Anselm House, on the campus of the University of Minnesota, St Paul. Joshua Moon’s commentary on Hosea is another excellent addition to the Apollos Old Testament Commentary Series.  He “sets the prophecies of Hosea in the context of the eighth century BC. The concern of his commentary is the importance of reading Hosea as Christian Scripture, in which we are meant to hear God’s own voice as he calls his people to himself.  Moon demonstrates the continuing importance of hearing God’s words through Hosea, situating the reading of each section within the larger biblical and theological concerns.” (Cover statement) The commentary is divided into two major sections: 1. Introduction and 2. Text and Commentary.  The Introduction deals with the historical backdrop; Hosea among the prophets; and development, text, and structure of Hosea.  There is one excursus on Hosea 6:2 and the resurrection of Jesus. The indices of bibliography, scripture references, authors and subjects are extensive and beneficial. The Text and Commentary chapters are divided into five sections: 1. Translation, 2. Notes of…

Review of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems by Baldwin and McNabb
Book Reviews , Featured , Philosophy / November 12, 2020

Baldwin, Erik and Tyler Dalton McNabb. Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems. London, UK: Lexington Books, 2019, pp. 315, $95, hardback. Baldwin and McNabb’s Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions is the first in-depth assessment of the prospects of extending Alvin Plantinga’s strategy for defending the epistemic rationality of Christian belief to other religious contexts. To this end, the authors engage representative positions in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, and Islam for determining which, if any, are able to sustain something at least analogous to the Plantingian religious epistemological model. This project is important in light of the well-known Pandora’s Box objection to Plantinga’s religious epistemology: some are weary of Plantinga’s theory if just any proponent of any major world religion can employ it to congratulate themselves for having epistemically rational religious beliefs. The book is structured in four parts. The first introduces and defends the main outlines of Plantinga’s religious epistemology; the second evaluates select eastern religions in their capacity for integrating that epistemology; the third evaluates Judaism and Islam with respect to the same question; and the fourth engages the aforementioned Pandora’s Box problem. Ultimately the authors conclude that, while the Abrahamic religions have resources for…

Review of Jesus in Jerusalem: The Last Days by Eckhard J. Schnabel
Book Reviews , Featured , New Testament / November 5, 2020

Schnabel, Eckhard J. Jesus in Jerusalem: The Last Days. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018, pp. xxiv + 680, $60.00, hardcover. In Jesus in Jerusalem, Eckhard Schnabel, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, analyzes the historical events of the last week of Jesus’ life leading up to his death, burial, and resurrection. In five total chapters, he analyzes these events by exhaustively surveying what we know about the seventy-two people in the Gospel accounts (Chapter 1), the sixteen places mentioned in or around Jerusalem in those accounts (Chapter 2), the timeline for each of the events (Chapter 3), and, beginning with the anointing at Bethany, the twenty-four events that appear in one or more Gospel account (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 summarizes five theological conclusions from the study: Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus and the temple, Jesus’ death, Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus’ mission and that of his followers. Of the five chapters, it is natural that Chapter 4 is by far the longest (over two hundred pages). It may prove helpful to provide a sample of Schnabel’s decisions on the major issues in Gospels scholarship. Schnabel contends that the Last Supper was a Passover meal, and that the chronological discrepancy…

Review of Preaching God’s Grand Drama by Ahmi Lee

Lee, Ahmi. Preaching God’s Grand Drama. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. 175, $22.99, paperback. An experienced pastor and worldwide preacher, Ahmi Lee is Assistant Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Her first book, Preaching God’s Grand Drama, is a timely, theologically rich contribution to the field of homiletics. While other works, such as Eric Brian Watkins’ The Drama of Preaching, have explored the dramatic dimensions of preaching in relationship to the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture, Lee builds on the work of Kevin Vanhoozer and others to present a theodramatic homiletic in conversation with prevailing models of preaching. Specifically, the book reflects Lee’s experience of feeling “caught” between two competing paradigms of preaching: “the text centered, so-called traditional preaching” model and “the reader-centered, conversational mode of preaching” (pp. 1-2). Preaching God’s Grand Drama is her attempt to draw upon the best of these two models to articulate a third way: theodramatic preaching, an integrative model of preaching that invites the Church to participate in God’s past, present, and future action in the world. The book is arranged into six chapters. The first chapter articulates and assesses the traditional homiletic. For Lee, the traditional homiletic is…

Review of Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry by Siang-Yan Tan

Tan, Siang-Yan. Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019, 263 pages, $22.99, paperback. Originally from Singapore, Siang-Yang Tan (PhD, McGill University) serves as professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and senior pastor of the First Evangelical Church in Glendale, California. Tan has authored fourteen books and serves in editorial roles for several academic journals. If only a single word were used to describe this volume, one might settle on “comprehensive.” Indeed, this is how John Ortberg describes the book in his preface. A quick perusal of the table of contents, and a thorough reading of its content reinforces the comprehensive nature of this overall project. From the beginning of the book, readers sense Tan’s commitment to plunge into the deep waters of pastoral ministry. Guided by an expert with more than thirty-five years of experience under his belt, this volume comprehensively covers the critical aspects of a faithful shepherding ministry. Divided into two overall sections, part one consists of the first four chapters. Here Tan introduces readers to select fundamentals of pastoral ministry: a biblical perspective on ministry, the essential role of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual life of a pastor, and…

Review of Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today edited by Gibson and Kim

Gibson, Scott M. and Matthew D. Kim, editors. Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, 192 pages, $21.99, paperback. What is the influence of hermeneutics to the task of preaching? Scott M. Gibson, the David E. Garland Chair of Preaching and director of the PhD program in preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, and Matthew D. Kim, the associate professor of preaching and ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, have collected four leaders in the field of preaching to weigh in on this important discussion: Bryan Chapell, former president and chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary; Abraham Kuruvilla, senior researcher professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary; Kenneth Langley, adjunct professor of preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; and Paul Scott Wilson, professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto. As established authors in the field of homiletics and former presidents of the Evangelical Homiletical Society, editors Gibson and Kim were excellent choices to facilitate a discussion about the interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics among these able evangelical scholars of preaching, and voice their own perspectives at the conclusion. Gibson and Kim set the table for the conversation…

Review of Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief by John H. Walton
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 24, 2020

Walton, John H. Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017, pp. 302, $35, hardback. John Walton is one of the most well-known and prolific scholars of the Old Testament today, having published several Old Testament introductions, works on the conceptual and contextual world of the Hebrew Bible, and various individual monographs such as the Lost World series. He currently serves as a Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School.  An offering concerning the theology of the Old Testament from an author with his pedigree is therefore of significant interest. Walton’s approach in this volume is to try to discern the contextual world of the Old Testament authors and then to try to build a bridge from that thought world towards a Christian understanding of these concepts, or what Walton terms as “enduring theology.” This methodology has several advantages, with perhaps one of the strongest contributions being the safeguarding against reading New Testament passages and their theological concepts back into the Old Testament, which may not teach those same principles. This is not to say that Walton holds that the Old Testament and New Testament are contradictory to…

Review of Understanding Bible Translation: Bringing God’s Word into New Contexts by William D. Barrick

Barrick, William D. Understanding Bible Translation: Bringing God’s Word into New Contexts. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2019, 248 pp, $21.99, paperback. All eyes were transfixed on the speaker who ascended the lectern. As he opened the sacred book, the hushed crowd rose together as if on cue. After a blessing the standing throng uniformly put their faces in the dust. The Word of God was about to be read! But the reading sounded strange, most struggled to understand the foreign words. Expectant hearts began to grow disillusioned until another man stepped forward to translate the text into the common tongue (Neh 8:1–8). Thus began the history of Bible translation, from Mosaic Hebrew to the Aramaic of the exiles. Bill Barrick offers readers a window into this history as well as the intricacies and importance of translating God’s Word into the common languages of the world. Barrick’s resume makes him an excellent guide for such a journey: 15 years as a Bible translator in Bangladesh, 50 years of teaching Hebrew and Old Testament, and a contributor to multiple English Bible translations (ESV, NET, LEB). Having taught for many years at The Master’s Seminary, he currently serves as the OT editor for…