Book Reviews

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 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 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 Exegetical Gems from Biblical Greek: A Refreshing Guide to Grammar and Interpretation by Benjamin L. Merkle
Book Reviews , Hermeneutics , New Testament / March 11, 2022

Merkle, Benjamin L. Exegetical Gems from Biblical Greek: A Refreshing Guide to Grammar and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. 163, $14.19, paperback. Benjamin Merkle currently serves as professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, a position he has held since 2008. He also serves as the editor of the Southeastern Theological Review and series editor of the 40 Questions series.  In the area of biblical Greek, Merkle has co-authored Beginning with New Testament Greek (B&H, 2020), an elementary Greek grammar, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, Revised Edition (B&H, 2020), an intermediate Greek grammar, and Greek for Life (Baker, 2017), a guide for refreshing Greek. In Exegetical Gems, Merkle offers motivation for students learning or re-learning biblical Greek. Covering various debated passages in scripture, he provides thirty-five ‘exegetical gems,’ which are “substantial insights from NT passages gained by a proper knowledge and use of Greek” (vii). This volume also provides a brief review of Greek syntax normally covered in a second semester/year Greek course.  Each chapter covers a different area of Greek syntax and is broken into three sections: (1) an introduction which presents a verse or passage to…

Review of The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer by Andrew David Naselli

Naselli, Andrew David. The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020, pp. 160, $15.99, paperback. Andrew David Naselli (PhD theology, Bob Jones University and PhD New Testament exegesis and theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of systematic theology and New Testament for Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, MN, administrator for the evangelical theological journal Themelios, and one of the pastors of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Naselli’s The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer is an entry in the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series (SSBT) from Crossway Publishers (edited by Dane C. Ortlund and Miles V. Van Pelt). The studies are short because of the series purpose “to connect the resurgence of biblical theology at the academic level with everyday believers” (11). Naselli’s preface begins with a statement of presuppositions consonant with the SSBT purpose and the evangelical confessional stance of the publisher: (1) the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture; (2) the necessity of a “whole-Bible canonical approach” to biblical interpretation; and (3) the conviction that “the whole Bible progresses, integrates, and climaxes in Christ” (13-14). Naselli’s “biblical theology of snakes and dragons” (13) aims to contribute to the goal of the series by…

Review of Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages? by Takamitsu Muraoka

Muraoka, Takamitsu. Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages? Leuven: Peeters, 2020, pp 106, $24.00, Paperback. Takamitsu Muraoka received a PhD from Hebrew University in 1970 and has served as a lecturer on Semitic languages at Manchester University, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Melbourne University, and chair of Hebrew, Israelite Antiquities, and Ugaritic at Leiden University. Since his retirement in 2003 he has continued to publish in Semitic and Septuagint studies as well as teach biblical languages and the Septuagint in Asian countries. In 2017 he received the Burkitt Medal for Hebrew Bible studies from the British Academy. In Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages, Dr. Muraoka seeks to convince readers that when the Bible is read in its original languages “it can be interpreted and analyzed better or differently than when it is read in this or that modern translation” (7).  He introduces the work by sharing his passion for the languages through a brief autobiography. He then outlines two general principles concerning the value of the biblical languages: (a) there are certain aspects of language (such as poetic devices) that can only be seen in the original language, (b) and reading the original language…

Review of Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts by Lucy Peppiatt
Book Reviews , New Testament , Old Testament / October 26, 2021

Peppiatt, Lucy. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp.162, $22, paperback. Lucy Peppiatt is Principal of Westminster Theological Centre, UK. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women is her fourth monograph, building on, expanding, and bringing to a wider audience her previous scholarly work on women in 1 Corinthians 11-14. Winner of the 2019 IVP Academic Reader’s Choice Award, the book provides an accessible and succinct biblical and theological case for the full equality and inclusion of women in the home, church, and ministry. Peppiatt notes that her aim in writing is, as the title of the book suggests, that “those who read it . . . will catch a vision of God’s gracious will to set women free” (p. xiv). Consistent with that aim, the book offers a positive and constructive presentation of the case for the full inclusion of women. It is wholeheartedly and unashamedly “mutualist” (p. 6) (a term Peppiatt prefers to “egalitarian”)—arguing that the “overturning of an entrenched patriarchal order” (p. 2) is not just permitted but is endorsed by scripture. This is not to say that Peppiatt is naïve to the weight of church history, the persistence…

Review of Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism edited by Elijah Hixson and Peter Gurry
Book Reviews , 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…