Book Reviews

Review of Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology
Book Reviews , Featured , Philosophy , Theology / August 1, 2022

Gallaher, Brandon. Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp.318, £98, hardback. Brandon Gallaher is senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, specializing in twentieth century Orthodox theology and modern theology more broadly. The breadth of Gallaher’s interests are on display in this fine monograph. Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology dialogues with three generative modern theologians each representing a distinct tradition: Sergei Bulgakov, Karl Barth, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. The book is organized round a set of questions related to the form of modality applicable to God’s immanent and transitive acts, but these particular issues offer an entryway into some of the most pressing debates in contemporary theology related to divine aseity, divine freedom, the reliability of our knowledge of God, and the relation between God in Godself and God’s acts in the world. Gallaher begins outlining three sorts of freedom and three corresponding forms of necessity. These versions of freedom and necessity provide an interpretive grid according to which his three dialogue partners are interpreted and then critically assessed and evaluated. In view of space constraints, I will move directly to summarize the dogmatic conclusions for which Gallaher advocates throughout the…

Review of Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton

Cortez, Marc, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton, eds. Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation. London: SCM, 2018, pp. 361, $56, paperback. Being Saved is a collection of essays circling around the twin topics of “theological anthropology and soteriology” (p. xiii). The essays explore classic systematic theological categories while also engaging with other disciplines of enquiry about the human condition. The editors acknowledge that this creates a wide variety in the essays, but they seek to avoid “a homogenous approach to this multi-levelled discussion” (p. xv). This approach makes clear several different modes of theological enquiry for Christian theology. By juxtaposing them in one volume, it serves as a sourcebook for contemporary questions about soteriology and about the interaction between soteriology and philosophy. Although a four-part division provides structure to the book, some essays fall more neatly into the given categories than others. The first section, “Sin, Evil and Salvation,” centers on cosmic issues, or those outside the individual person. After initial forays into God and time (“Identity through Time,” R. T. Mullins) and idealism (“Divine Hiddenness,” Trickett and Taber), there are three essays on sin and atonement. Jonathan Rutledge rejects “Retributivism”, defined as the claim that “the punishment…

Review of Old Testament Use of Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Guide by Gary Edward Schnittjer
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / July 19, 2022

Schnittjer, Gary Edward. Old Testament Use of Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Guide. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2021, 1098 pages, $58.00, hardcover. Gary Edward Schnittjer is the Distinguished Professor of Old Testament for Cairn University’s School of Divinity. Schnittjer received his doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary and has completed post-graduate studies in both Hebrew and Aramaic from the University of Pennsylvania and Westminster Theological Seminary, respectively. He has published numerous articles in various aspects of Old Testament Biblical studies as well as another monograph, The Torah Story. Old Testament Use of Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Guide represents the culmination of two decades of research into the intertextual and linguistic connections within the Tanakh by Schnittjer. The book is a cataloging, book-by-book, of exegetical allusions between the books of the Old Testament, rated according to their strength (read: confidence level). Material for the work was compiled from manual research and material generated from an originality program, iThenticate (xlvii). In its introduction, Schnittjer provides the basic definitions used in the field of intertextuality and his work, such as revelation, allusion, and exegesis (xviii-xix). Surveying the work and methodologies from scholars like Hays, Kugel, von Rad and Fishbane, Schnittjer lays out his criteria…

Review of Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? by Jack Cottrell

Cottrell, Jack. Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? Mason, OH: The Christian Restoration Association, 2022, 163pp, $14.99, paperback. Jack Cottrell, arguably the most prolific writer and influential theologian of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, tackles the topic of baptism in yet another accessible book, Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? This text incorporates Cottrell’s primary insights on how the Protestant Reformer Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) changed the course of church history by creating a new view of the meaning of baptism from salvific to merely symbolic. Although this concise book contains previously published material by Cottrell, it is good to have an overview and summary of Cottrell’s critique of Zwingli’s view of baptism in one small volume. It is certainly handy for the student as well as the scholar and teacher. Cottrell divides this work into three parts: (1) a review of his Princeton dissertation on Zwingli, (2) his personal views on “Zwinglianism,” and (3) a reproduction of “Connection of Baptism with Remission of Sins.” (Part Three is the work of the nineteenth century Christian Church theologian J. W. McGarvey which was originally included in his New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles [1892] but omitted from later editions.) Part One is divided…

Review of The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative (2nd Edition) by Steven D. Mathewson

Mathewson, Steven D. The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021, 252 pages, $22.99, paperback. Steven Mathewson is both a pastor and a scholar. He serves as the senior pastor in Libertyville, IL, and he is also the director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Mathewson’s background as a practitioner and scholar in the field of homiletics enhances his book, The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative, by allowing him to provide practical counsel and helpful instruction to readers. The author develops his work around three parts. In Part One, Mathewson addresses some challenges with preaching from Old Testament narratives, and he surveys “The Christ-Centered Preaching Debate” (pp. 15-26). In relation to the subject of Christ-centered preaching, the author notes that “I did not deal with this sufficiently (in fact, hardly at all) in his first edition” (xviii). Mathewson’s rationale for adding this discussion is as follows: “Your conclusions [about preaching Christ in the Old Testament] will shape the way that you study and preach an Old Testament narrative text” (p.15). In Part Two, Mathewson presents his methodology for studying biblical narratives for preaching in six chapters….

Review of 1 Clement: A Reader’s Edition by Theodore A. Bergren
Book Reviews , Church History / May 27, 2022

Bergren, Theodore A. 1 Clement: A Reader’s Edition. Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2020, pp. 205, $22.95, paperback. The letter now known as 1 Clement is an important early Christian text that has the potential to shed light on Jesus followers in the areas of Rome and Corinth, to enable readers to see more clearly what created division in early Christian communities, to observe how one author or group of authors attempts to bring about unity, and to illustrate both the variety of ways in which early Christians could interpret scriptural texts and the variant forms in which scripture could be quoted. Yet it is a long letter that can be challenging for the uninitiated to read in its entirety. This may be true even when 1 Clement is translated into a modern reader’s first language, never mind the original Greek. Theodore Bergren’s 1 Clement: A Reader’s Edition offers a chance for intermediate Greek readers who likewise know English to read 1 Clement without needing to look up every unknown word in a lexicon. Bergren is an emeritus professor in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Richmond, who has conducted significant research on the Latin…

Review of Paul’s Theology in Context: Creation, Incarnation, Covenant, and Kingdom by James P. Ware
Book Reviews , 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…