Book Reviews

Review of Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle by Rachelle Gilmour
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 23, 2017

Gilmour, Rachelle. Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle. LBHOTS 594. New York/London: Bloomsbury, 2015, pp. 250, $110, cloth ($26, e-book). Rachelle Gilmour is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the Broken Bay Institute in Sydney. She earned her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from the University of Sydney and spent time at both the Hebrew University and University of Edinburgh as a postdoctoral fellow. During her time at the Hebrew University, she wrote the monograph Juxtaposition and the Elisha Cycle. Gilmour has written broadly regarding literary analysis in the Former Prophets, with most of her work focused specifically in Samuel and Kings. Gilmour contends that a gaping hole exists in Old Testament literary critical studies around what she considers to be an essential tool of the writers of the Hebrew Bible, namely, juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is the deliberate, redactional selection and arrangement of scenes, episodes, and even whole narratives, next to other units with the intent to guide the reader to a different interpretation than one would discover if a unit was read independently. To correct this problem, Gilmour provides in this monograph a theoretical framework for interpreters of the Hebrew Bible to understand juxtaposition of narratives as a critical part of the hermeneutical task….

Review of The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction by Richard S. Hess
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 4, 2017

Hess, Richard S., The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Jan. 2017, pp. 816, $49.99, hardback. Richard S. Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College, MDiv and ThM, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a BA from Wheaton College.) is Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and editor of the Denver Journal. Dr. Hess has authored 9 books, edited or co-edited 33 books, and published more than 100 scholarly articles in collected essays and journals.   The title of the book “The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological and Critical Introduction” is a precise summarization of the contents.  In the preface, Hess writes that “This book is designed to meet the needs of the broad variety of students who come to study the Old Testament at a seminary or at a graduate level. It does not presume a deep knowledge of the Scriptures, although I wrote it with the intent to inform any serious reader.” (viii).  Hess brings together an articulate synthesis of the Old Testament based on his years of academic research and publications about manuscripts, translations, textual criticism, archaeology, theology and exegesis. He states in the introduction…

Review of The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology by O. Palmer Robertson
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 26, 2017

Robertson, O. Palmer, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015. O. Palmer Robertson is the director and principal of African Bible University in Uganda. He previously taught at Reformed, Westminster, Knox, and Covenant seminaries. He has authored such works as The Christ of the Covenants and The Christ of the Prophets. The Psalms appear to be a haphazard collection of prayers and praises. Robertson argues, however, that the Psalms showcase a deliberate structure at the hands of their final redactor. Because the Psalms developed over a long period of time, the final redactor selected certain psalms for certain locations (p. 7). By discerning this structure, one may see how the Psalms connect with each other and gain insight into each Psalm (p. 3). He notes the Psalter divides into five books, each of which ends with a doxology (p. 8). He identifies already extant Psalm collections (p. 10). Next, he observes how the redactor distributed different authors throughout the Psalter. For example, Davidic Psalms dominate Books I and II, but their number diminishes in Books III–V. The redactor also positioned significant Psalms at the literary seams: Psalm 72 by Solomon concludes Book II, and…

Review of A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised, edited by Miles V. Van Pelt
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 18, 2017

Van Pelt, Miles V., ed. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, pp. 601, $50.00, hardback. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament and its New Testament counterpart are projects undertaken by the faculty, both current and past, of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The project was dedicated in honor of the seminary’s fiftieth anniversary. Miles Van Pelt edited the Old Testament volume and wrote both the introduction and the chapter on the Song of Songs. Whereas most introductions to the Old Testament discuss the historical-critical issues of each book, these issues have only a minor role in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Instead, the book offers an introduction to the theological themes contained within each book of the Old Testament. After an initial section discussion on the structure and message of the Old Testament, the book dedicates a chapter to each of the books in the Old Testament as they appear in the Hebrew Bible. Each chapter is divided into sections labeled “Background Issues,” “Structure and Outline,” “Message and Theology,” and “Approaching the New Testament.” The “Message and Theology” sections make up the bulk of each chapter. The book’s main strength…

Review of Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth by Peter H. Lau and Gregory Goswell
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 4, 2017

Lau, Peter H. W. and Gregory Goswell. Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. New Studies in Biblical Theolgoy 41. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016, pp. 212, $24.00 paperback. Peter H. W. Lau and Gregory Goswell collaborate in a recent addition to the series New Studies in Biblical Theology, Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth. Peter H. W. Lau is Lecturer in Old Testament at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia and is an honorary research associate at the University of Sydney. Gregory Goswell is the Academic Dean and Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Christ College, Sydney. In writing Unceasing Kindness Lau and Goswell do not intend to compete with commentaries, nor to “render them superfluous” (p. 157). Rather, the authors seek to build on “close studies of the text” provided by commentaries in order to explore “its biblical-theological parameters” in the context of the whole of Scripture (p. 157). Lau and Goswell begin by reading Ruth alongside various texts in the Old Testament, drawing out themes found when Ruth is read in conjunction with other books of the Old Testament. The authors first read Ruth alongside Ezra-Nehemiah, seeking to understand how Ruth informed the readers of the “early restoration period”…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J. H. Wright
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 14, 2017

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, softcover. Christopher J. H. Wright serves as the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership, an organization dedicated to the international advancement of the Gospel. He has also taught the Old Testament in various countries and has authored several books dealing with the Old Testament, ethics, and mission. The structure of the table of contents for How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth shows that it deals with points of theory and practice. The first five chapters answer the question, “Why should we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Here Wright connects the major contours of the Old Testament to the theme of redemption revealed throughout Scripture. Thus, the author begins his work with a focus on theory. The final ten chapters respond to the question, “How can we preach and teach from the Old Testament?” (p. 9). Wright here covers practical concerns when preaching from the different genres in the Old Testament. The book then concludes with two appendices and a bibliography which supply summary details for…

Review of A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene Merrill
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 7, 2017

Merrill, Eugene. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2015, pp. 637, $39.99, hardcover. Eugene Merrill is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored a number of works including major commentaries on Deuteronomy (New American Commentary, B&H, 1994) and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, 1994, Moody; reprinted by CreateSpace, 2014). Merrill is a preeminent evangelical scholar and has provided pastors, students, and scholars alike a commentary that will be their go-to resource on the books of Chronicles. 1 & 2 Chronicles is the fifth volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library, but is the sixth volume available at the time of this review. Merrill begins his commentary with a discussion of introductory issues including material on historical and cultural setting, historiography, and theology of the book, as well as other major issues introductory issues. Merrill holds to commonly held views on issues of setting and authorship within the book while highlighting important aspects of setting like political re-establishment and social reform. He also has a discussion of religious reform that is quite thorough. One of Merrill’s concerns is also how Chronicles relates to Ezra-Nehemiah. Within his…

Review of Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text by Robert D. Holmstedt
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 17, 2017

Holmstedt, Robert D. Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text. Baylor University Press: Waco, TX, 2010, pp. 180, $29.99, paperback. Ruth: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text is an excellent volume in the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible Series, providing students and professors with a detailed grammatical discussion of the Hebrew text of the book of Ruth.  Robert D. Holmstedt is the Professor of Ancient Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Languages at the University of Toronto.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Hebrew and Semitic Studies.  Holmstedt has published and introductory Hebrew grammar entitled Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader (Baker, 2013) in addition to many other publications related to Hebrew grammar and especially the relative clause in ancient Hebrew. Holmstedt wrote this handbook “with both the intermediate student and the advanced researcher in mind” (p. 2).  That being the case, Holmstedt provides a rich and engaging treatment of the Hebrew grammar of Ruth that is accessible to students still mastering basic Hebrew morphology and syntax. After a brief introduction, Holmstedt spends three sections [corresponding to chapters] discussing his approach to Hebrew grammar, the role of linguistic features in dating the book, and the…

Review of How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Wright

Wright, Christopher J. H. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 288, $18.99, paperback. Christopher J. H. Wright is the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership and was also chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group which presented The Cape Town Commitment to the Third Lausanne Congress in 2010. He has written numerous books including Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, The Mission of God, and Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, among others. He attends All Souls Church, Langham Place in London where he preaches occasionally. Written as part of Zondervan’s All Its Worth series, Wright focuses on the Old Testament in this volume, working beyond interpretation to aid preachers and teachers as they study and prepare the material for proclamation. Wright divides his book into two main sections, focusing on why one should preach and teach from the Old Testament in the first section and how one does so in the second. Every chapter ends with questions and exercises to help the reader digest the material, and the “How” section includes preparation checklists and sermon outline examples for each major Old Testament genre. As…

Review of Interpreting Prophetic Literature by James D. Nogalski
Book Reviews , Old Testament / December 21, 2016

Nogalski, James D. Interpreting Prophetic Literature: Historical and Exegetical Tools for Reading the Prophets. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, pp. xi + 125, $25, paperback. James Nogalski (Dr. Theol., University of Zürich) is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Nogalski has written extensively on prophetic literature with works such as his two volume commentary The Book of the Twelve (Smyth and Helwys, 2011) and Literary Precursors to the Book of the Twelve (De Gruyter, 1993). Moreover, Nogalski has translated four books into English from German which include Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology (Scholars Press, 1998) and The Theological Witness of Prophetic Books (Chalice Press, 2000). In Interpreting Prophetic Literature Nogalski sets out to write a primer on prophetic literature which is accessible to a novice student. Nogalski’s introduction is unique in that he shifts his focus away from historical backgrounds, which is normally the locus of the prophetic section in introductions, and instead pivots his book in order, “to [supplement] such introductions by focusing upon the art of reading prophetic literature” (p. 2). Nogalski accomplishes this by examining the different formulae of oracles, defining the key places…