Book Reviews

Review of Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages? by Takamitsu Muraoka

Muraoka, Takamitsu. Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages? Leuven: Peeters, 2020, pp 106, $24.00, Paperback. Takamitsu Muraoka received a PhD from Hebrew University in 1970 and has served as a lecturer on Semitic languages at Manchester University, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Melbourne University, and chair of Hebrew, Israelite Antiquities, and Ugaritic at Leiden University. Since his retirement in 2003 he has continued to publish in Semitic and Septuagint studies as well as teach biblical languages and the Septuagint in Asian countries. In 2017 he received the Burkitt Medal for Hebrew Bible studies from the British Academy. In Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages, Dr. Muraoka seeks to convince readers that when the Bible is read in its original languages “it can be interpreted and analyzed better or differently than when it is read in this or that modern translation” (7).  He introduces the work by sharing his passion for the languages through a brief autobiography. He then outlines two general principles concerning the value of the biblical languages: (a) there are certain aspects of language (such as poetic devices) that can only be seen in the original language, (b) and reading the original language…

Review of Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions by Paul R. Williamson

Williamson, Paul R. Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018, pp. 226, $20, paperback. Paul R. Williamson serves as professor of Old Testament, Hebrew, and Aramaic at Moore College in Sydney, Australia. Among his many published works, Williamson made a previous contribution to the NSBT series in his work, Seal with an Oath (InterVarsity, 2007), where he examined the nature of the biblical covenants as central to God’s advancement of universal blessing. He is a contributor to the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (InterVarsity, 2000) and the co-editor of Exploring Exodus: Literary, Theological and Contemporary Approaches (InterVarsity, 2008). In his most recent publication, Death and the Afterlife: Biblical Perspectives on Ultimate Questions, Williamson explorers the metaphysical reality of death and the afterlife from the vantage point of the Bible’s storyline. After a brief examination of the literature in ancient religious cultures, chapter one outlines the trajectory of the book. Williamson’s chief aim is to evaluate the biblical data related to death, resurrection, judgment, hell, and heaven. Williamson contends (chapter 2) that death, apart from being a ubiquitous reality across the ages and cultures, is diversely variegated. In the Old Testament (OT), death…

Review Article of The Growing Tree of the Global Church: Review Article of Robert F. Rea and Steven D. Cone, A Global Church History: The Great Tradition Through Cultures, Continents, and Centuries by Rea and Cone
Book Reviews , Church History / December 28, 2021

The Growing Tree of the Global Church: Review Article of Robert F. Rea and Steven D. Cone, A Global Church History: The Great Tradition Through Cultures, Continents, and Centuries (London: T. & T Clark Bloomsbury, 2019), pp. xxviii + 847. Michael McClymond Professor of Modern Christianity, St. Louis University When I attended a Protestant seminary in the 1980s, our assigned text for general church history was the venerable work by Williston Walker, D.D., L.H.D., Ph.D. (1860–1922), who had graduated from Amherst College in 1883, from the Hartford Theological Seminary in 1886, from Leipzig University (PhD) in 1888, and then taught and Hartford Seminary, before proceeding to Yale University, where he taught after 1901.  By the time I first encountered it, Walker’s book had already been revised and updated by a team of three scholars from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, first in 1956 (2nd ed.), and then again in 1970 (3rd ed.). A side-by-side comparison between the 1918 and third (1970) editions shows that the essential framework of the original 1918 book—published as soldiers battled in the trenches of World War I—had not appreciably altered, except within the final section of the six-hundred-page book.  “English Unitarianism” was expanded to include both English…

Review of Disability and The Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion by Lamar Hardwick

Hardwick, Lamar. Disability and The Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2021, pp. 199, $12.99, paperback. Lamar Hardwick, known as “the autism pastor,” is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. Hardwick is the lead pastor of at Tri-Cities Church in East Point, GA and the author of Epic Church and I Am Strong: The Life and Journey of an Autistic Pastor. Lamar has not always had his current reputation as “the autism pastor.” For many years, Lamar struggled with interpersonal relationships and social anxiety. At the age of thirty-six, doctors diagnosed Hardwick with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In Disability and the Church, Hardwick includes eight chapters devoted to creating an inviting atmosphere for people struggling with a disability. According to Hardwick, the disabled community is the largest minority in the world (p. 12). For Hardwick, many churches are failing at their responsibility to be an inclusive Christian institution. Hardwick explores various avenues through which the church should implement diversity and disability strategies in the body of Christ. If the church wants to make a kingdom impact, Christians must recapture God’s intent of inclusion and access into God’s kingdom (p. 18). In the opening chapter,…

Review of The Problem of the Old Testament: Hermeneutical, Schematic, and Theological Approaches by Duane A. Garrett
Book Reviews , Old Testament / December 16, 2021

Garrett, Duane A. The Problem of the Old Testament: Hermeneutical, Schematic, and Theological Approaches. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020, pp. 395, $40.00, paperback. Duane A. Garrett is the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous works on the Old Testament, including a commentary on Hosea and Joel (The New American Commentary), a commentary on Song of Songs and Lamentations (Word Biblical Commentary), and Amos: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text, and A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew. Garrett makes his premise clear from the moment his book is picked up by a reader. How can modern readers make sense of the challenges, or the “problem,” of the Old Testament? He begins the book by defining the problem, which he does by listing three propositions: the Old Testament is hard to define, hard to read, and hard to reconcile with the New (p. 4). He goes on to demonstrate that the lack of a consistent Old Testament theology or definition of the Old Testament among the early church fathers provides an example of these propositions (p. 45). In part two, Garrett outlines the various…

Review of The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible edited by Will Kynes
Book Reviews , Old Testament / December 14, 2021

Kynes, Will, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible. New York: Oxford University Pres, 2021, pp. 712, $150, hardback. Will Kynes is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Samford University. Kynes has authored and edited several books, including his most famous book, An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus (2019) and editing alongside Katharine Dell Reading Job Intertextually (2013), Reading Ecclesiastes Intertextually (2014), and Reading Proverbs Intertextually (2018). Following is a summary, a review of the handbook, and a recommendation for the best use of the book. The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible is a collection of entries on “Wisdom Literature,” many from renowned scholars such as Raymond Van Leeuwen, Norman Habel, Mark Sneed, and Tremper Longman III. Each essay contributes to reflections on the concept of wisdom and the issue of wisdom literature as a genre (inside front cover). The handbook is divided into two parts. The first section is about “wisdom as a concept, and the second section addresses “‘Wisdom Literature’ as a category” (p. 11). The handbook studies a large chronological window. This captures the concept and development of wisdom literature from pre-biblical books to Rabbinic…

Review of Minding Creation: Theological Panpsychism and the Doctrine of Creation by Joanna Leidenhag
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / December 14, 2021

Leidenhag, Joanna. Minding Creation: Theological Panpsychism and the Doctrine of Creation. London: T&T Clark, 2021. 224 pages. $120.00. Minding Creation is the first full-length treatment of panpsychism for contemporary theological construction. Similar treatments from different perspectives have been published and come to mind that provide similar fruitful discussions. Just consider two recent representative examples: J. T. Turner On the Resurrection of the Dead and my The Soul of Theological Anthropology. All three provide interesting constructive theological treatments of a particular doctrine by drawing from a particular position within the philosophy of mind. Turner advances a theological construction using a version of hylomorphism and I advance a constructive, and in some ways exploratory, defense of Cartesianism. These represent some of the more recent analytic theological literature that moves beyond philosophy of religion to contemporary constructive theology. Leidenhag approaches the doctrine of God’s relationship to creation through a consideration of panpsychism. Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental to the natural world such that it permeates the whole world. She is clear that panpsychism, which serves as a broad category for a host of nuanced positions about the mind, is compatible with distinct comprehensive ontological theories instead of entailing just one (e.g., process…

Review of Theology, Horror and Fiction: A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century by Jonathan Greenway

Greenaway, Jonathan. Theology, Horror and Fiction: A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century. New York: Bloomsbury, 2021, 198pp, £80, Hardback. Dr Jonathan Greenaway is currently a Researcher in Theology and Horror at the University of Chester. He is working on a Templeton Religion Trust-funded project to explore the theological importance of all forms of horror media. His background in literary studies, and Gothic fiction in particular, appropriately underpins the conceptual framework for this book, which arises from his doctoral studies at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies. The book is made up of five substantive chapters plus an introduction to ‘Gothic and Theology’ (as opposed to ‘Religion’) and a brief conclusion. Greenaway’s aim is to reposition critical understandings of the role of theology in Nineteenth Century Gothic writing, which in his view have been neglected in recent literary studies. He suggests that Gothic fiction may be read as engaging with theological positions in a variety of ways which are generative of new ideas in the fields of both theology and Gothic studies. Greenaway argues that taking an approach of ‘theological hospitality’ towards these texts opens up a productive dialogue, contributing to an understanding of their contexts as well as informing…

Review of Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts by Lucy Peppiatt
Book Reviews , New Testament , Old Testament / October 26, 2021

Peppiatt, Lucy. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp.162, $22, paperback. Lucy Peppiatt is Principal of Westminster Theological Centre, UK. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women is her fourth monograph, building on, expanding, and bringing to a wider audience her previous scholarly work on women in 1 Corinthians 11-14. Winner of the 2019 IVP Academic Reader’s Choice Award, the book provides an accessible and succinct biblical and theological case for the full equality and inclusion of women in the home, church, and ministry. Peppiatt notes that her aim in writing is, as the title of the book suggests, that “those who read it . . . will catch a vision of God’s gracious will to set women free” (p. xiv). Consistent with that aim, the book offers a positive and constructive presentation of the case for the full inclusion of women. It is wholeheartedly and unashamedly “mutualist” (p. 6) (a term Peppiatt prefers to “egalitarian”)—arguing that the “overturning of an entrenched patriarchal order” (p. 2) is not just permitted but is endorsed by scripture. This is not to say that Peppiatt is naïve to the weight of church history, the persistence…

Review of Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature by Richard P. Belcher

Belcher, Richard P, Jr. Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature. NSBT 46. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018. Paperback. $26.00. 272 pp. Richard Belcher is Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He has written commentaries on Job and Ecclesiastes, as well as several works exploring the Messiah across the biblical literature. This monograph is a recent addition to the New Studies in Biblical Theology series published by InterVarsity Press. The series has over fifty volumes in print, including a few others addressing wisdom. The monograph begins with a brief exploration of the problem of wisdom literature in the modern discussion. Belcher deftly summarizes the place wisdom has had within biblical theology, including the most recent debates about the wisdom tradition in ancient Israel undertaken by Kynes, Sneed, and Longman. After the introductory discussion, each of the main wisdom texts is explored, with each afforded three chapters—Proverbs (57 pgs), Job (58 pgs), and Ecclesiastes (55 pgs). The monograph concludes with a chapter on the relationship between Jesus and wisdom (23 pgs). While the nature of wisdom in the Song of Songs continues to be contentious (see pg….