Biblical Theology

Review of From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation by Sidney Greidanus

Greidanus, Sidney. From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2018, pp. 213, $15.99, paperback. The author of From Chaos to Cosmos, Sidney Greidanus, retired from full-time teaching in 2004 after serving as a professor at Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, and King’s College. Greidanus was also the pastor of two churches. One of his most popular publications prior to this book is Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1999). From Chaos to Cosmos is one of nine books making up the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series published by Crossway. Greidanus’s main purpose in writing this volume is to demonstrate the presence of a progression from chaos to order in the Bible. He tracks these themes from the first verses of Genesis to the last words of Revelation. The main difficulty in this effort is defining the word “chaos” in a way that does not mistakenly equate the chaotic waters of Genesis 1:2 with evil. After all, these waters were a part of God’s good creation. Although Greidanus recognizes that some authors avoid the word “chaos” because of its connotations of evil, he chooses to use this term in an attempt to redefine it. By…

Review of Riddles And Revelations: Explorations Into The Relationship Between Wisdom And Prophecy In The Hebrew Bible edited by Boda, Meek, and Osborne
Book Reviews , Featured , Old Testament / June 18, 2020

Boda, Mark J., Russell L. Meek, and William R. Osborne, eds. Riddles And Revelations: Explorations Into The Relationship Between Wisdom And Prophecy In The Hebrew Bible. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 634. New York: T&T Clark, 2018, pp. xvi + 306, $114, Hardback. The rise of intertextual theory in the last five decades has sparked numerous studies into the relationships between various sections of the Hebrew Bible. Most often relationships are drawn from the Pentateuch to other books (e.g. this is what we find in Michael Fishbane’s seminal work Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel, [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989]). Pentateuchal priority, however, is giving way to considerations of intertextuality throughout the OT and this collection of seventeen essays is proof of that. Following in the footsteps of similar LHBOTS monographs (e.g. Dell and Kynes, eds., Reading Job Intertextually, LHBOTS 574, [New York: T&T Clark, 2013]; Dell and Kynes, eds., Reading Ecclesiastes Intertextually, LHBOTS 587, [New York: T&T Clark, 2015]), this work seeks to provide a survey of soundings for sapiential and prophetic interplay within the OT. These essays adeptly advance the methodological question and bring new light to how both wisdom and prophetic texts may mutually build upon each other….

Review of How to Read Theology: Engaging Doctrine Critically and Charitably by Uche Anizor
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / June 16, 2020

Anizor, Uche. How to Read Theology: Engaging Doctrine Critically and Charitably. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018, pp. 204, $22, softcover. Reading theological literature critically and charitably is a necessary discipline for scholars, pastors, and students. How one goes about cultivating the appropriate skills to read in this way requires instruction and example. Uche Anizor (Ph.D. Wheaton College), associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, serves the academic community well in this primer where he addresses critical virtues for theological reading. Throughout its six chapters, Anizor’s straightforward argument addresses the need for and the instruction to reading critically and charitably. Part 1, “On Reading Charitably,” consists of two chapters, and Part 2, “On Reading Critically,” consists of four chapters. At the conclusion of these two parts, Anizor includes an epilogue where he further assists readers in applying his methodology. Here he provides examples of theological texts from which one should choose to implement his proposed strategies for critical and charitable reading, even guiding readers through the questions and steps one should expect throughout the process. In chapters one and two, Anizor describes the challenges associated with reading theology charitably, noting the critical importance…

Review of When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II by John W. O’Malley
Book Reviews , Church History , Theology / April 15, 2020

O’Malley, John W. When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap, 2019, pp. 240, $24.95, hardback.  John W. O’Malley, professor of theology at Georgetown University, has established himself as one of the most learned and thoughtful historians of the great councils of post-Luther Roman Catholicism. Having previously published separate monographs on the Council of Trent and on the First and Second Vatican Councils, this slim volume represents a capstone to his work in this area, offering a reflection upon how modern Catholicism has developed since the Reformation with particular focus on its conciliar actions. The book is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, with each chapter comparing the Councils in terms of a particular topic. Part One raises three basic questions: What do Councils do? Does Church teaching change? Finally, who is in charge? Part Two looks at the categories of people involved: popes and their curia, theologians, laity, and The Other—meaning non-Roman bodies, Orthodox, Protestant, and non-Christian. Part Three then asks what difference the Councils made and whether there will be another one. Protestant readers will find much that is of interest here. O’Malley is adept at explaining the different dynamics of the…

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…

Review of The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son by Glenn D. Butner Jr.
Book Reviews , Theology / April 7, 2020

Butner, Jr., Glenn D. The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2018, pp. 224, $28, softcover. Glenn D. Butner is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry at Sterling College, KS. Prior to The Son who Learned Obedience (subsequently, SLO), he authored articles on the Trinity including, “For and Against de Régnon: Trinitarianism East and West,” (International Journal of Systematic Theology 17.4) 2015, 399-412, and “Eternal Functional Subordination and the Problem of the Divine Will” (Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society 58.1) 2015, 131-49. His article, “Against Eternal Submission: Changing the Doctrine of the Trinity Endangers Salvation and Women,” (Priscilla Papers 31.3) 2017, 15-21, was published in the academic journal of Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization devoted to equipping people for egalitarian ministry. SLO only touches on socio-cultural issues briefly. It contends that eternal relational authority and submission (hereafter, ERAS), a perspective on Trinitarian relations, undermines the Trinity and salvation. Butner begins by describing his method and key argument. He understands theology to be second-order, so he primarily addresses indirect doctrinal principles, ending with direct exegetical data (pp. 5-9). The question of ERAS is not one of exegetical facts but of the “best way to…

Review of The HTML of Cruciform Love: Toward a Theology of the Internet edited by John Frederick and Eric Lewellen

Frederick, John and Eric Lewellen, eds. The HTML of Cruciform Love: Toward a Theology of the Internet. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2019, pp. 208, $26, paperback. This edited volume saw the beginning of its formation at the second “Ecclesia and Ethics” conference in 2014 on the topic of gospel community and virtual existence. The conference was a webinar style conference that was sponsored by Corban University and the University of St. Andrews. Six further articles were also written to supplement the papers chosen from the original conference leading to the present volume published by Pickwick. Co-editor John Fredrick is a lecturer in New Testament at Trinity College Queensland. His other works focus on the way of the cross and cruciform love including Worship in the Way of the Cross and The Ethics of the Enactment and Reception of Cruciform Love. The second co-editor, Eric Lewellen, is an account manager at Vercross LLC, an online education systems technology company. Both editors participated in the second Ecclesia and Ethics conference and collaborated to edit this volume. The articles contained in this volume focus on a theology of the internet from a variety of perspectives. Some take a primarily biblical approach such as…

Review of Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind by Owen Strachan

Strachan, Owen. Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind. Ross-shire: Mentor Publishers, 2019. 432 pages. $39.99. There is significant interest in the questions concerning humankind. The uptick in philosophical, scientific, and theological literature both of a popular sort and an academic sort is evidence of this fact. Owen Strachan in his Reenchanting Humanity contributes to the body of literature on theological anthropology. In it, Owen Strachan raises questions, both historical and contemporary, on the anthropos and offers some answers to them. While it appears to be an academic textbook, it is more of a trade book. Reenchanting Humanity is a lot like a commercial boat with some features of a ship. However, this would fail to take into account the less obvious ships, like a submarine that can move underwater, or a ship that can fly in the air above water. In many ways, Owen Strachan’s Reenchanting Humanity is like one ship, but it falters in accounting for the different kinds of ships. Reenchanting Humanity takes its inspiration from Charles Taylor’s ‘enchantment’ in his The Secular Age. While Strachan does not offer a definition of Taylor’s term, the reader might work this out if they already have a basic understanding of Taylor’s…

Review of Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living by Thomas Lynch

Lynch, Thomas. Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2019, pp. 248, $18, paperback. Thomas Lynch is a funeral director, critically acclaimed poet, essayist, and the author of five collections of poems and four books of essays. His notable work titled, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade (1997), won the Heartland Prize for non-fiction, the American Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Widely considered one of the most skilled writers and thinkers on death and the meaning of living, Lynch’s work has appeared in several internationally influential publications, including the New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, and the Paris Review, among others. Lynch is also a frequent guest poetry reader, keynote speaker on the topics of the last things, the life of faith, and medical ethics, in venues all over the English-speaking world, as well as a guest lecturer in universities, churches, institutes, and libraries. In the preface to Whence and Whither, Lynch presents the overall premise of the book, which also stands as the common human predicament—“every human whoever was or is or will be will wrestle with these mysteries: the beauty of our being and…

Review of Maurice Blondel: Transforming Catholic Tradition by Robert Koerpel

Koerpel, Robert. Maurice Blondel: Transforming Catholic Tradition. South Bend, IN: Notre Dame Press, 2018, pp.278, $55.00, hardback.  In the introduction to his book, Robert Koerpel insightfully observes that it is a “paradox of history that Blondel has become one of the most influential, least well-known, and consistently misunderstood figures in Catholicism” (p. 2). Indeed, Blondel’s philosophy of action, which led to accusations of immanentism as well as naturalism, nevertheless infiltrated French theology to such an extent that twentieth-century French debates over the relationship between nature and the supernatural are inconceivable apart from his philosophy. Koerpel’s focus, however, is to revisit a different area of Blondel’s influence—his idea of tradition, which Blondel developed at the height of the Modernist Controversy. During this time Blondel’s orthodoxy was questioned within circles of ecclesial influence. Blondel’s essay, History and Dogma (1904), emerged out of the controversy, and yet took hold in the French theological imaginary in a way that extended far beyond that particular debate with Alfred Loisy. As Koerpel notes, key Catholic figures such as Jean Daniélou, Yves Congar, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner, and Henri de Lubac all sought to recover a deeper sense of the meaning of tradition, and to…