Book Reviews

Review of The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark’s Gospel by Helen Bond
Book Reviews , New Testament / March 12, 2021

Bond, Helen. The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark’s Gospel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020, 336 pp., $42.99, hardcover. Helen Bond is the head of the divinity school at the University of Edinburgh and has served as professor of New Testament since 2000. She has published extensively on topics related to Jesus, the Gospels, and their first-century environment, and her work in these areas is evident in this thought-provoking and well-researched volume. Bond operates on the assumption that establishing a text’s genre is key to interpretation, and since Mark is the earliest Gospel written, this is especially important in understanding Jesus and the particular ways in which the evangelists portrayed him. Along with much of recent scholarship, Bond argues that Mark’s work belongs to the category of ancient bioi, exhibiting many of the literary conventions of this genre. From the introduction she labors to show that genre is far more than a stylistic device, but profoundly influences how the author depicts his subject as well as how the author understands the world. Seeing Mark as a biographer, she contends, is essential for understanding what he wanted to communicate about Jesus, and how he shaped, reappropriated and reconfigured…

Review of Biblical Theology of the New Testament by Peter Stuhlmacher

Stuhlmacher, Peter. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Translated and edited by Daniel P. Bailey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018, pp. xxxiv + 935, $95.00, hardcover. The magnum opus of Peter Stuhlmacher, professor emeritus of New Testament studies at the University of Tübingen, has at long last been made available to the English-speaking world through the translation efforts of Daniel Bailey in collaboration with Jostein Ådna. A two-volume work initially published in German and passing through multiple editions (Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments), Biblical Theology of the New Testament [BTNT]—now appearing in one volume—introduces the English-speaking world to the state of biblical and New Testament theology in German scholarship. The introductory bibliography and survey of New Testament theologies in Chapter 1 go a long way to this effect. BTNT is divided in two “books”: Book 1, spanning some 750 pages, examines the message of the New Testament in six parts according to the chronology of its “proclamation”; and Book 2, less than 100 pages, examines questions regarding the formation of the biblical canon and how a text should be interpreted in light of its inclusion within the canon (“canonical exegesis”). In honor of Stuhlmacher’s seminal essay on the subject, Daniel Bailey…

Review of Jesus in Jerusalem: The Last Days by Eckhard J. Schnabel
Book Reviews , 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 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…

Review of The Letter of Jude and the Second Letter of Peter: A Theological Commentary by Jörg Frey
Book Reviews , New Testament / September 7, 2020

Frey, Jörg. The Letter of Jude and the Second Letter of Peter: A Theological Commentary. Translated by Kathleen Ess. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2018, pp. 560, $69.95, hardback. At 560 total pages, approximately 430 of which are devoted to detailed study of the introductory and exegetical questions that confront interpreters of the slim epistles of Jude and 2 Peter, this commentary on two of the smallest texts included in the New Testament is a mammoth, thoughtful, provocative, and thoroughly welcome contribution to the growing body of scholarship on these letters. Jörg Frey is Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Zurich. This book was originally published in German in 2015 (Der Brief des Judas und der zweite Brief des Petrus [Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament 15.2; Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2015]), and it is likely to be regarded as the most important commentary on Jude and 2 Peter since Richard Bauckham’s 1983 volume on the letters (Jude, 2 Peter [Word Biblical Commentary 50; Waco: Word, 1983]). Although Frey differs from Bauckham on a number of important points, not least the date of 2 Peter and its relationship to the second-century Apocalypse of Peter, the careful historical study of the…

Review of Revelation (Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament) by Sigve Tonstad
Book Reviews , New Testament / September 3, 2020

Tonstad, Sigve. Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, 398 pp, $65 hardcover, $29.72, paperback. Sigve Tonstad is a well-established scholar whose work in biblical studies explores issues of theodicy, hope, and ecological hermeneutics. In addition to the volume under review, his English works include The Scandals of the Bible (Pittsburg: PA, Autumn House Pub. 1996); Saving God’s Reputation (New York: NY, T&T Clark, 2006); The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day (Berrien Springs: MI, Andrews University Press, 2009); The Letter to the Romans: Paul Among the Ecologists (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Press, 2017); God of Sense and Traditions of Non-Sense (Eugene: Oregon, Wipf & Stock, 2016), and numerous articles. Tonstad is a research professor at Loma Linda University. His background as a physician has made his study of Revelation as a book of healing (Rev. 22.3) a personal interest. Revelation is a new addition to the Paideia commentary series by BakerAcademic. As with most commentaries on this challenging book, Tonstad includes the requisite introduction to Revelation. He discusses topics which give the reader a foundation on which to build an interpretation of the book. Among these are: questions of authorship, the relationship between Ancient Roman and Revelation’s visions, interpretative stances…

Review of The Mind of the Spirit: Paul’s Approach to Transformed Thinking by Craig S. Keener
Book Reviews , New Testament , Theology / August 31, 2020

Keener, Craig S. The Mind of the Spirit: Paul’s Approach to Transformed Thinking. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, pp. 448, $29.99, paperback. Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University), F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, is one of the most widely read and respected New Testament scholars today.  He has continually published a number of important commentaries, books and essays, particularly concerning the study of the Holy Spirit – these include Gift and Giver (Baker Academic, 2001), Miracles (Baker Academic, 2011), Spirit Hermeneutics (Eerdmans, 2016), Between History and Spirit (Wipf and Stock, 2020) and, not least, his magnum opus four-volume exegetical commentary on Acts (Baker Academic, 2012-2015).  Keener’s The Mind of the Spirit is another academic accomplishment pertaining to the study of the Holy Spirit, with special reference to Paul’s understanding of the transformed human mind.  The main aim of the book is to use the concept of mind – in particular, the mind transformed by and in Christ – found in the Pauline passages to explicate how believers’ righteousness (in terms of one’s status or relationship with God) and/or moral transformation actually take place in the life of believers (pp. xv-xvi). Chapter…

Review of the Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross by Patrick Schreiner

Schreiner, Patrick. The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018, pp. 159, $14.99, paperback. Patrick Schreiner is assistant professor of New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. In addition to The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross, Schreiner has published The Body of Jesus and other articles and essays. The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross is part of Crossway Publisher’s Short Studies in Biblical Theology series. According to the series editors, “The purpose of Short Studies in Biblical Theology is to connect the resurgence of biblical theology at the academic level with everyday believers” (p. 11). Each volume is written with readers who have no theological training in mind. Schreiner defines the kingdom of God as “the King’s power over the King’s people in the King’s place,” a definition similar to those put forth by other evangelical scholars. While recognizing all three elements are essential, Schreiner expresses concern that evangelicals often focus on the King’s power or rule (p. 15). The neglect of people and place has often led to the abstraction of the kingdom out of its narrative framework. While…

Review of A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman by Holly Beers

Beers, Holly. A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp. 172, $17.00, paperback. Dr. Holly Beers is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College, having previously taught at Bethel Seminary and North Central University. Beers is a Luke-Acts scholar, and earned her PhD in New Testament from the London School of Theology. Adding to her list of publications is the current book under review, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman. This book is part of InterVarsity’s “A Week in the Life” historical-fiction series, which aims to illuminate the world of the New Testament. Other works in this series examine the week in the life of Corinth, the fall of Jerusalem, Rome, Ephesus, a slave, and a centurion. Beers’ volume follows the daily life of a woman, Anthia, throughout one week of her life, with each of the seven chapters being told from the perspective of one day of the week. This creative work of historical-fiction reads like a captivating novel, as characters develop, interact with one another, and are exposed to Paul’s teaching about Jesus—who presents a challenge to the cultural worship of Artemis. Readers gain insights on…

Review of Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection by Darian R. Lockett
Book Reviews , New Testament / April 14, 2020

Lockett, Darian R. Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017, pp. xviii + 255, $33.00, paperback.  Darian R. Lockett (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews) is Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.  He has previously authored An Introduction to the Catholic Epistles (2011) and Understanding Biblical Theology (2012), and these works reflect two of his main areas of research: Biblical Theology and the Catholic Epistles.  The present volume, Letters from the Pillar Apostles, offers an intersection of the above two research fields (p. ix). Lockett’s present volume emerges from a recognition of the lack of studies related to the hermeneutical importance of the Catholic Epistles as a discrete unit or collection within the New Testament canon (p. xiii).  The main intention of the book is to argue that “it is both historically and hermeneutically plausible to receive and read the Catholic Epistles as a canonically significant collection” (xvii). Commencing his work with a critical survey of previous hermeneutical approaches that have attempted to read the Catholic Epistles as a collection with some degree of coherence in canonical context, Lockett wishes…