Book Reviews

Review of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems by Baldwin and McNabb
Book Reviews , Philosophy / November 12, 2020

Baldwin, Erik and Tyler Dalton McNabb. Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems. London, UK: Lexington Books, 2019, pp. 315, $95, hardback. Baldwin and McNabb’s Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions is the first in-depth assessment of the prospects of extending Alvin Plantinga’s strategy for defending the epistemic rationality of Christian belief to other religious contexts. To this end, the authors engage representative positions in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, and Islam for determining which, if any, are able to sustain something at least analogous to the Plantingian religious epistemological model. This project is important in light of the well-known Pandora’s Box objection to Plantinga’s religious epistemology: some are weary of Plantinga’s theory if just any proponent of any major world religion can employ it to congratulate themselves for having epistemically rational religious beliefs. The book is structured in four parts. The first introduces and defends the main outlines of Plantinga’s religious epistemology; the second evaluates select eastern religions in their capacity for integrating that epistemology; the third evaluates Judaism and Islam with respect to the same question; and the fourth engages the aforementioned Pandora’s Box problem. Ultimately the authors conclude that, while the Abrahamic religions have resources for…

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 Preaching God’s Grand Drama by Ahmi Lee

Lee, Ahmi. Preaching God’s Grand Drama. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp. 175, $22.99, paperback. An experienced pastor and worldwide preacher, Ahmi Lee is Assistant Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Her first book, Preaching God’s Grand Drama, is a timely, theologically rich contribution to the field of homiletics. While other works, such as Eric Brian Watkins’ The Drama of Preaching, have explored the dramatic dimensions of preaching in relationship to the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture, Lee builds on the work of Kevin Vanhoozer and others to present a theodramatic homiletic in conversation with prevailing models of preaching. Specifically, the book reflects Lee’s experience of feeling “caught” between two competing paradigms of preaching: “the text centered, so-called traditional preaching” model and “the reader-centered, conversational mode of preaching” (pp. 1-2). Preaching God’s Grand Drama is her attempt to draw upon the best of these two models to articulate a third way: theodramatic preaching, an integrative model of preaching that invites the Church to participate in God’s past, present, and future action in the world. The book is arranged into six chapters. The first chapter articulates and assesses the traditional homiletic. For Lee, the traditional homiletic is…

Review of Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry by Siang-Yan Tan

Tan, Siang-Yan. Shepherding God’s People: A Guide to Faithful and Fruitful Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019, 263 pages, $22.99, paperback. Originally from Singapore, Siang-Yang Tan (PhD, McGill University) serves as professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and senior pastor of the First Evangelical Church in Glendale, California. Tan has authored fourteen books and serves in editorial roles for several academic journals. If only a single word were used to describe this volume, one might settle on “comprehensive.” Indeed, this is how John Ortberg describes the book in his preface. A quick perusal of the table of contents, and a thorough reading of its content reinforces the comprehensive nature of this overall project. From the beginning of the book, readers sense Tan’s commitment to plunge into the deep waters of pastoral ministry. Guided by an expert with more than thirty-five years of experience under his belt, this volume comprehensively covers the critical aspects of a faithful shepherding ministry. Divided into two overall sections, part one consists of the first four chapters. Here Tan introduces readers to select fundamentals of pastoral ministry: a biblical perspective on ministry, the essential role of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual life of a pastor, and…

Review of Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today edited by Gibson and Kim

Gibson, Scott M. and Matthew D. Kim, editors. Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, 192 pages, $21.99, paperback. What is the influence of hermeneutics to the task of preaching? Scott M. Gibson, the David E. Garland Chair of Preaching and director of the PhD program in preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, and Matthew D. Kim, the associate professor of preaching and ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, have collected four leaders in the field of preaching to weigh in on this important discussion: Bryan Chapell, former president and chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary; Abraham Kuruvilla, senior researcher professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary; Kenneth Langley, adjunct professor of preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; and Paul Scott Wilson, professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto. As established authors in the field of homiletics and former presidents of the Evangelical Homiletical Society, editors Gibson and Kim were excellent choices to facilitate a discussion about the interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics among these able evangelical scholars of preaching, and voice their own perspectives at the conclusion. Gibson and Kim set the table for the conversation…

Review of Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief by John H. Walton
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 24, 2020

Walton, John H. Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017, pp. 302, $35, hardback. John Walton is one of the most well-known and prolific scholars of the Old Testament today, having published several Old Testament introductions, works on the conceptual and contextual world of the Hebrew Bible, and various individual monographs such as the Lost World series. He currently serves as a Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School.  An offering concerning the theology of the Old Testament from an author with his pedigree is therefore of significant interest. Walton’s approach in this volume is to try to discern the contextual world of the Old Testament authors and then to try to build a bridge from that thought world towards a Christian understanding of these concepts, or what Walton terms as “enduring theology.” This methodology has several advantages, with perhaps one of the strongest contributions being the safeguarding against reading New Testament passages and their theological concepts back into the Old Testament, which may not teach those same principles. This is not to say that Walton holds that the Old Testament and New Testament are contradictory to…

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 Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?
Book Reviews , Old Testament / September 17, 2020

Hill, Carol, Gregg Davidson, Tim Helble, and Wayne Ranney, eds. The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?  Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2016, pp. 240, $26.99 hardback. The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth is a collaboration by eleven authors to address the “needless controversy” surrounding the creation of the Grand Canyon (11). The eleven authors are scientists—geologists, paleontologists, hydrologists, biologists—and some are admittedly Christian while others are non-Christian (11, 232-35). Many authors hold teaching positions in institutes of higher learning, while others serve(d) in various agencies such as the National Weather Service and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. All authors have contributed greatly to their respective fields (232-35). In The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth the authors offer a response to scientists who argue that Noah’s flood created the Grand Canyon (flood geology). Flood geologist, in keeping with a literal understanding of Genesis 1-11, argue that the Grand Canyon did not form in billions of years. The authors of The Grand Canyon, however, contend that saying the earth is billions of years old should not be seen as an attack on the Bible (10). They note that of…

Review of To Think Christianly: A History of L’Abri, Regent College, and the Christian Study Center Movement by Charles E. Cotherman
Book Reviews , Church History , Theology / September 10, 2020

Cotherman, Charles E. To Think Christianly: A History of L’Abri, Regent College, and the Christian Study Center Movement. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2020,  pp. 320, $31.50, hardback. I owe a great personal debt to Christian study centers. I became a believer at Swiss l’Abri, from an agnostic background at age 19. My wife and I were on staff at the FOCUS Study Center (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools) on Martha’s Vineyard for a number of years. And I was a Senior Faculty Member (a part-time job) at the Trinity Forum Academy (which became the Trinity Fellows Academy) at Royal Oaks, Maryland, for some fifteen years before its closure. Even though my career has been largely in established graduate schools, I am a strong believer in lay education. At a time when many histories of the evangelical movement are critical (sometimes deservedly, but often agenda-driven) it is refreshing to read Charles Cotherman’s perspective. Cotherman, a Vineyard pastor, based To Think Christianly on his University of Virginia doctoral dissertation. This is a marvelous book—informative, engaging, and deeply fascinating. Both the main thesis and the outline are simple. The argument is that l’Abri and Regent College, in two rather different ways,…

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…