Book Reviews

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…

Review of Basics of Classical Syriac: Complete Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon by Steven C. Hallam
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 3, 2019

Hallam, Steven C. Basics of Classical Syriac: Complete Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 318, $49.99, paperback. Steven C. Hallam is Assistant Professor and Chair of the General Studies department at Alaska Christian College in Soldotna, Alaska. He earned his PhD from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and has taught courses in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac. His Syriac grammar is the most recent addition to Zondervan’s language series of grammars and workbooks, and its stated aim is to get students reading the Syriac Peshitta as quickly as possible (p. 10). The grammar follows a standard layout, with specific sections on the nominal system (chapters 1-6), the G-stem of the verbal system (chapters 7-11), the derived stems of the verbal system (chapters 12-16), and weak verbs (chapters 17-23). Each chapter concludes with a vocabulary list specifically relevant for interpreting the New Testament Peshitta and a set of exercises. Hallam also includes several appendices that recommend resources for further study, provide a summary of all relevant paradigms, and that presents a comparison chart of the three Classical Syriac scripts. Syriac literature, of course, is written in three main scripts: Esṭrangelā, Western, and Eastern. Hallam takes a unique…

Review of Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching: A Guide for Students and Pastors by Paul D. Wegner
Book Reviews , Old Testament / May 1, 2019

Wegner, Paul D. Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching: A Guide for Students and Pastors. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2009, pp. 176, $19.99 paperback. In Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching, Paul D. Wegner provides current and former students of biblical Hebrew with the necessary tools and ample encouragement to maintain and use their knowledge of biblical Hebrew. Wegner currently serves as the Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, CA. He is also the author of other works that may be familiar to many seminary students: The Journey from Texts to Translations and A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible. Wegner writes Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching with a certain audience in mind: seminary students who have taken at least one year of Hebrew and pastors who need encouragement to maintain their Hebrew knowledge (p. 8). Observing the lack of Hebrew resources—compared to the abundance of Greek resources—Wegner provides his readers with practical tools for using biblical Hebrew in sermon preparations (p. 8). In the first chapter, Wegner answers the question of how Hebrew is helpful in ministry. In the second chapter, he provides his readers with the “crucial tools” for…

Review of Life in Kings: Reshaping the Royal Story in the Hebrew Bible by A. Graeme Auld
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 12, 2019

Auld, A. Graeme. Life in Kings: Reshaping the Royal Story in the Hebrew Bible. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017, viii + 321, $39.95, paperback. A. Graeme Auld is Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Bible at Edinburgh University. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including I and II Samuel: A Commentary in the Old Testament Library series (WJK, 2011) and Kings without Privilege: David and Moses in the Story of the Bible’s Kings (T & T Clark, 1994). Life in Kings opens with a statement about the focus of the book, a history of interpretation, and two brief case studies that start the argument of the book. Auld opens by stating Life in Kings “is about writing and rewriting the biblical book of Kings—it is a book about words and their use and their reuse, about meanings and changes in meaning . . . our principal concern is with the words themselves” (p. 1). After this thesis Auld summarizes the works of “the Fathers” who have explored the compositional history of Kings (as well as Samuel and Chronicles). These include de Wette, Wellhausen, and Noth from previous generations and also some more recent scholars. After tracing his own progression…

Review of Moses, David and the High Kingship of Yahweh: A Canonical Study of Book IV of the Psalter by Michael G. McKelvey
Book Reviews , Old Testament / April 9, 2019

McKelvey, Michael G. Moses, David and the High Kingship of Yahweh: A Canonical Study of Book IV of the Psalter. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2014, pp. 358, $50, paperback. Michael G. McKelvey is an assistant professor of Old Testament at the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Mississippi. He received his M.Div from RTS (2005) while receiving his Ph.D from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland (2008). McKelvey is also an ordained Presbyterian minister and has served as a pastor for numerous years in various locations.  As such, almost all of McKelvey’s publications are written in a style that bridges the academic with the ecclesiastical [see, for example, “Ecclesiastes” in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised (2016) and “The Table of the Showbread” in Table Talk (2017)]. Moses, David, and the High Kingship of Yahweh is the publication of McKelvey’s doctoral dissertation. Within this work, McKelvey seeks to evaluate the nature of three literary figures—Moses, David, and King Yahweh—within the context of Book IV of the Psalter (Pss 90–106). This analysis follows a canonical approach to reading the Psalter. In McKelvey’s utilization of this approach, he has been primarily influenced by the work of Gerald Wilson (The Editing…

Review of David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory by Jacob L. Wright
Book Reviews , Old Testament / March 19, 2019

Wright, Jacob L. David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 271, $29.99, paperback. Jacob L. Wright teaches Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies at Emory University. He has also conducted research on war commemoration. Wright proposes a fascinating thesis, namely that a major influence on the evolution of the Hebrew Bible was what he terms ‘war commemoration’. He argues that this phenomenon can be found in many cultures, both ancient and modern, and is used to serve a number of distinct purposes. In particular, the way in which key protagonists in a battle are remembered will shape both the cultural attitude towards those individuals, and the extent to which their descendants are viewed as worthy members of the community. David and Caleb are identified as prime examples of these warriors. Wright subscribes to a form of the supplementary hypothesis (the current form of the biblical text stems from an original base text which was then supplemented by subsequent texts in successive stages), and suggests that at different stages in the development of the Hebrew Bible the authors/editors had differing agendas and used ‘war commemoration’ to serve the contemporary need. This accounts…

Review of Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East by Andrew Knapp
Book Reviews , Old Testament / March 12, 2019

Knapp, Andrew. Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2015, pp. 419, $59.95, paperback. Andrew Knapp’s work Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East, grew out of his 2012 Johns Hopkins dissertation. Knapp currently serves as development editor at William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Knapp’s primary goal is to determine how apologetic functioned in the ancient Near Eastern (ANE) royal literature, then to analyze texts he understands as exhibiting traits of “royal apologies.” The work is organized into 10 chapters. Chapters 1–2 define royal apologetic in the ANE and presents a methodology for analyzing these texts. Chapters 3–9 analyze various ANE royal texts in light of the work in chapters 1–2. Chapter 10 serves as a conclusion summarizing the information gleaned from the seven texts analyzed in the work. Knapp begins his work by defining apologetic literature based on rhetorical studies of apologetic material. He demonstrates that the field of ANE studies tends to define apologetic literature as a literary genre based on a definition of apology borrowed from Greek classical studies. Knapp argues that ANE apologetic is a literary mode rather than a literary genre (pp. 31–42). Based on his evaluation of apologetic as a…

Review of Beyond the River Chebar: Studies in Kingship and Eschatology in the Book of Ezekiel by Daniel I. Block
Book Reviews , Old Testament / March 7, 2019

Block, Daniel I. Beyond the River Chebar: Studies in Kingship and Eschatology in the Book of Ezekiel. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013, pp. 238, $30, paperback.   Daniel Block is a familiar name in Ezekiel scholarship, having written the substantial two-volume NICOT commentary on Ezekiel (1997–1998). Block also collaborated in editing Jacob Milgrom’s posthumous publication Ezekiel’s Hope: A Commentary on Ezekiel 38–48 (2012). In addition to his studies on Ezekiel, Block has produced commentaries on Ruth (ZECOT, 2015), Obadiah (HMS, 2013), and Deuteronomy (NIVAC, 2012) and served as a senior translator for the revised edition of the New Living Translation of the Bible. Currently, Block serves as Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois. Beyond the River Chebar, with its predecessor By the River Chebar, is a collection of articles and papers Block has presented over the years. The first volume focuses on historical, literary, and theological aspects of Ezekiel, while the current volume gives attention to issues of kingship and eschatology. Block is forthright that his ideological stance is Christian and his hermeneutical perspective is primarily grammatical-historical. Thus, he gives significant attention to the historical and cultural context from which the book of Ezekiel arose….

Review of The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic by Michael Rydelnik
Book Reviews , Old Testament / February 27, 2019

Rydelnik, Michael. The Messianic Hope: Is the Old Testament Really Messianic? Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2010, pp. 206, $19.99, hardcover. Born in a traditional Jewish home, Michael Rydelnik became a believer in Jesus after listening to the witness of his mother. Her faith in Christ led Rydelnik’s father to divorce her and as a consequence Rydelnik decided to study “the messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible” in order to prove his mother “wrong in attributing their fulfillment to Jesus of Nazareth” (p. 12). As time went on, Rydelnik also put his “trust in Jesus as Messiah and Lord” and became convinced that it is “essential to understand the Hebrew Bible as messianic.” (p. 12). As such, Rydelnik’s life experiences makes The Messianic Hope all the more compelling for evangelical circles. Given the modern consensus to “reject the idea that the Hebrew Bible has specific predictions of the Messiah” (p. 1), Rydelnik’s purpose in writing The Messianic Hope is to call evangelical scholars to “rethink this trend” since direct messianic prophecy “is the foundational element for identifying Jesus as the true Messiah” (p. 190). Rydelnik begins his first chapter with tracing the trend away from viewing the Hebrew Bible as messianic….

Review of Engaging the Doctrine of Creation: Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator by Matthew Levering
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / February 15, 2019

Levering, Matthew. Engaging the Doctrine of Creation: Cosmos, Creatures, and the Wise and Good Creator. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017, 372, $44.99, hardcover. Matthew Levering is one of the most prominent contemporary Roman Catholic systematic theologians, the author or editor of many books on topics ranging from Mary to predestination. Readers of this journal will appreciate his ecumenical posture with evangelicals: he is a member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together and is noted for his constructive engagement with evangelical thought. He currently holds an endowed chair at Mundelein Seminary. This book is the third in Levering’s series on topics in systematic theology (following books on revelation and the Holy Spirit). Levering starts by considering God as the creator with chapters on the divine ideas and on divine simplicity; more on those later. Levering then considers creation itself, arguing that the unnecessary diversity of creation—such as vast numbers of extinct species and regions of empty space—are not evidence against God’s goodness. These are followed by chapters defending a substantivist view of the imago dei, the command to be fruitful and multiply in light of contemporary environmental concerns, a historic Fall, and a broadly retributive atonement theory. In each chapter Levering…