Book Reviews

Review of Old Testament Theology and the Rest of God by Nicholas Haydock
Book Reviews , Old Testament / October 28, 2019

Haydock, Nicholas. Old Testament Theology and the Rest of God. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016, 87 pp., $16, paperback. Nicholas Haydock with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students provides a short study of 86 pages on “rest.”  He notes how the field of Old Testament theology has devoted scant attention to the concept of “rest” with two noteworthy exceptions.  Gerhard von Rad supposes there were competing understandings and applications of the concept of “rest,” while Walter Kaiser, Jr. considers both Testaments to present a unified view.  Haydock intends to trace how the theology of “rest” developed and progressed through ancient Israel’s history and to show how its essence remained the same.  He defines “rest” as “having a holistic state of being, freely given by God in accordance to his word” (p. x).  It is never achieved by human effort but always a gift from God.  Haydock seeks to demonstrate the thesis that ancient Israel held one coherent theology of “rest” that was central in Old Testament theology and distinct in the context of the Ancient Near East. He begins with “rest” in the creation narrative and Genesis 2:1-3 where God “rested” on the seventh day.  Haydock notes that God’s…

Review of Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application by Roy E. Gane
Book Reviews , Old Testament / October 4, 2019

Gane, Roy E. Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017, 464 pp, $35.00, paperback. Second Timothy 3:15–17 stands as a pillar text of biblical inspiration. Bible school students embrace it, pastors proclaim it, faithful Christians memorize it and recite it from a young age. Yet for all the attention this text receives, too many neglect one of its central claims: “all Scripture is . . . profitable.” The dearth of sermons, bible studies, devotional writings, and blog posts expounding the “profit” of Leviticus for Christians today suffices for evidence. Roy Gane, professor of Hebrew Bible and ANE languages at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, comments on the current situation, “A rich source of wisdom regarding values is contained in OT laws. However, Christians have generally neglected these laws, to our loss, because we have not regarded them as relevant to our lives” (p. xiii). So, in order to help Christians profit from “all Scripture,” Gane presents this guide to appropriating Old Testament law in every age of God’s people. While Gane surveys numerous approaches to applying God’s law as God’s new covenant people, he advocates for an approach he calls…

Review of Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar by Fuller and Choi
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 30, 2019

Fuller, Russell T.  and Choi, Kyoungwon. Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar. Kregel: Grand Rapids, 2017, pp. 528, $64.99, hardback. Fuller and Choi’s Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (IBHS) is a thorough discussion of biblical Hebrew syntax from a traditional Semitic approach. The book serves as a companion to their elementary Hebrew textbook: Invitation to Biblical Hebrew. Whereas the elementary grammar focused on morphology, the intermediate grammar focuses on syntax. Fuller is an expert of Hebrew morphology and syntax and was trained at Hebrew Union University in Cincinnati, OH. Choi too is an expert in Hebrew studies. He received his training under Fuller from SBTS. The widespread use of the author’s elementary grammar to train thousands of students in biblical Hebrew leads to great expectation; IBHS exceeds expectations. The book is divided into three main sections: The first section is a discussion of biblical Hebrew syntax proper (pp. 21–237). Although these discussions occupy the bulk of other Hebrew syntax books, this section comprises around half of IBHS. This section of the book is arranged in outline form and by section number. Moreover, grammatical terms are represented in all caps. Concise definitions of these terms are found in the…

Review of The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions by Mark J. Boda
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 25, 2019

Mark J. Boda. The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. 220 pp. $24, paper. Mark Boda is professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College. Boda has made many scholarly contributions to the study of the Old Testament. His most recent works include a commentary on the book of Zechariah in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series and ‘Return to Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance in the IVP New Studies in Biblical Theology series. The volume under review is part of the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology series. In The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology Boda sums up the theology of the OT in “three creedal expressions.” These expressions are explained through a metaphor related to the heart. He says, “I invite you to don your theological stethoscope and listen for the heartbeat that represents the very core of the theology of the OT” (pp. 1-2). With stethoscope in hand, then, the reader is invited to listen in to “three basic rhythms that compose the heartbeat of the OT, identified with three basic creeds that can be discerned throughout the OT: narrative, character, and relational creeds” (pp. 7-8)….

Review of Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation by Craig D. Allert
Book Reviews , Church History , Old Testament / September 4, 2019

Allert, Craig D. Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018, 338pp. $36.00, paperback. Craig D. Allert received his Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham and is associate professor of religious studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He is also the author of A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon and Revelation, Truth, Canon, and Interpretation. The book begins with a helpful introduction and reminder to see the Church Fathers through their viewpoint and not our own. Allert’s overarching aim is to give “a responsible appropriation of our Christian past” (p. 6) by both letting the original author speak and not imposing our worldview and hermeneutic too quickly. This theme and aim runs throughout the entire book. Following the introduction, Allert frames his work into two primary sections: (1) Understanding the Context; and (2) Reading the Fathers. The end of each chapter has a brief recommended reading section. This provides a great starting point for those wanting further research and study. Part I focuses on preliminary matters such as why we should care about the Fathers as…

Review of The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits of God in Light of the Cross by Gregory Boyd
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / August 23, 2019

Boyd, Gregory A. The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits of God in Light of the Cross. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017, pp. 1,492, $59.00, paperback. Christians are largely united in the affirmation that Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God’s character given to humans, whose person and works fulfill the highest aspirations of the Old Testament (OT). Christ reveals a God who teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and shows us how to love by dying an undeserved criminal’s death not only for those who return his love but also for his enemies. However, this picture of a perfectly loving God appears to be incompatible with the brutally violent images of Yahweh found in the OT. Among other things, the OT command to kill every man, woman, and child in a given region plainly seems to contradict Jesus’ teaching to love all persons, even one’s enemies, as oneself. The 1,500 page tome, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Violent Old Testament Portraits in Light of the Cross, from pastor-theologian Gregory Boyd aims to reconcile, or at least refocus, these opposing visions of God. In short, the proposal is that,…

Review of Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar by Russell T. Full and Kyoungwon Choi
Book Reviews , Old Testament / August 6, 2019

Fuller, Russell T., Kyoungwon Choi. Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2017, pp. 528, $64.99, hardback. Building upon the foundation laid in Invitation to Biblical Hebrew: A Beginning Grammar, Russell Fuller and Kyoungwon Choi present an intermediate grammar which leads students of Biblical Hebrew (BH) towards internalization and mastery. The text is unique among similar intermediate grammars in its use of traditional Arabic/Semitic linguistic categories and pedagogy, while ignoring modern linguistic jargon.  Most directly stated, this means analysis presented from linguistic scholars like Elizabeth Robar, Jan Joosten, T. Muraoka, Cynthia Miller-Naudé, and others is not incorporated in favor of traditional Semitic analysis.  This makes the text accessible to most intermediate students, yet confusing for those who have been exposed to the more modern syntactical terminology. Invitation to Biblical Hebrew Syntax: An Intermediate Grammar is divided into three sections, each working together using the pedagogical method put forward in the introduction.  The first main section is titled “Syntax” and consists of grammatical explanations and categories with examples throughout.  Each chapter ends with extensive exercise questions to reinforce the concepts, as well as drills for identifying grammatical categories and constructions from the Hebrew Bible. A detailed…

Review of Interpreting the Old Testament Theologically: Essays in Honor of Willem A. VenGemeren edited by Andrew T. Abernathy
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 30, 2019

Abernathy, Andrew, T, ed. Interpreting the Old Testament Theologically: Essays in Honor of Willem A. VanGemeren. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018, $33.99, hardback. The present volume is a Festschrift in honor of Willem A. VanGemeren, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. To honor his legacy, as indicated by the title, the focus of the essays is the theological interpretation of the Old Testament, a task over which VanGemeren has labored for decades. The movement known as Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) has garnered more widespread support in recent years. VanGemeren is, in many ways, a forerunner of this movement—a point noted by several contributors. Following an introduction by the editor (pp. 17–21), this volume’s 21 essay contributions are divided into three sections: 1) Theological Witness Gleaned Through Interpretive Practices, 2) Theological Witness in Specific Old Testament Books, and 3) Theological Witness Amidst Community. Both a Scripture and an author index follow the essays. The group of contributors is composed primarily of Old Testament scholars, but also includes one New Testament scholar, one systematic theologian, and one former seminary president who now occupies a pastoral position. Each contributor was asked to allow the following Christological…

Review of Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament by John D. Currid
Book Reviews , Old Testament / July 18, 2019

Currid, John D., Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton, Il: Crossway, 2013, pp. 153, paperback. John D. Currid (PH,D., University of Chicago, is the Carl McMurray Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.  He lectures worldwide on biblical and archaeological topics. He serves as Pastor of Teaching and Preaching at Sovereign Grace Church (PCA) in Charlotte. He has authored many books and journal articles. The title of the book Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament (AG) is an accurate statement of the contents.  In the prologue, he acknowledges that the main content of the book was presented at a conference at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte in 2007.  He states that: “the book is about the relationship between the writings of the Old Testament and other Ancient Near Eastern literature.”  “And so, the question for modern minds in this regard is, what precisely is the relationship of the Old Testament to Near Eastern Literature?” The book is divided into 11 chapters: A Brief History of Ancient Near Eastern Studies. The Nature of Polemical Thought and Writing. Genesis 1 and Other Ancient Near Eastern Creation Accounts. Ancient Near Eastern Flood…

Review of Das Alte Testament als deutsche Kolonie. Die Neuerfindung des Alten Testaments um 1800 by Simon Wiesgickl
Book Reviews , Old Testament / June 7, 2019

Wiesgickl, Simon. Das Alte Testament als deutsche Kolonie. Die Neuerfindung des Alten Testaments um 1800. Beiträge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament (BWANT), Band 214. Netherlands, 2018, pp.262, €75,00. The main point of this book is that both Orientalism and colonizing in practice were driven by German biblical scholarship of the OT. There is a need for a critical history of commentary, which this book seeks to meet. Roland Boer has pinpointed Martin Noth but the problem goes further back; German scholarship has not been self-aware (cf. E. Stegemann).  We see it already well documented in recent histories of philosophy, e.g. Hegel’s Master-Slave derived from discussion of slave trade in Haiti. When Schiller observed that less developed peoples remind us of childlike love, this is part of the same ‘primitivism’ to which the likes of Herder and the Humboldts subscribed. Despite being a fascinating account there are times when the book ‘jumps’ or even doubles back on itself, repeating or expanding points already half made elsewhere. Secondary literature is rather dealt with as it goes along, like more flavouring thrown into the soup as it simmers,  and usually added uncritically. In Search of the Hebrew People. Bible and Nation in…