Review: The New Chosen People

PrintWilliam W. Klein is professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary where he also serves as Chair of the Division of Biblical Studies. Klein earned a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and a M.Div. from Denver Seminary. He has written articles for several dictionaries and encyclopedias and has edited or contributed to a number of major publications, including, An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (with Craig Blomberg and Robert Hubbard Jr.) and the commentary on Ephesians in the revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Most recently, Klein has revised, enlarged, and re-published his classic book on corporate election, The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election (Wipf & Stock, 2015).

The New Chosen People begins with a thorough analysis of the Old Testament and Jewish background relating to the theme of election. Klein guides the reader through the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Qumran literature, as well as the rabbinic literature. For Klein, the Old Testament and Jewish sources unequivocally display a corporate nature of election found in the people of Israel. Klein states therein, contrary to the assertions of the Calvinist, “there is no evidence of the view that God chose specific individuals for salvation” (p. 40). This initial 40-page investigation becomes, in many ways, the lenses through which the latter conclusions are established as Klein turns attention to the New Testament.

The New Testament is examined systematically in five major sections: (1) the Synoptic Gospels, (2) the Acts, (3) the Johannine literature, (4) the Pauline literature, and (5) the letters of Hebrews, Peter, James, and Jude—or the catholic epistles. In each section Klein has identified significant election themes, gathered the appropriate passages for each theme in each category, and analyzes each biblical text through the thematic lenses he has prescribed. For example, discussing “God Foreknows People” in the Pauline literature, Klein discussed Romans 11:2 and 8:29. Another example, discussing “God’s Appointment of Individuals” in Hebrews, Klein briefly comments on Hebrews 5:4.

One of the most attractive features of this book is the organization that Kline has provided. By identifying the major categories in each section, Klein helps the reader grasp the larger picture at hand before he narrows in on each specific passage. On the other hand, I think many will also find this categorical organization frustrating because the comments on a specific passage could be scattered across a number of categories and subpoints. For example, Romans 8:28-30 includes major comments on page 135, 137, 160, 180, and 181. In other words, some readers would probably appreciate if Klein’s comments on a passage were more centrally located in a single place, while others will find Klein categorical organization helpful. I tend to prefer the latter, despite some difficulties therein.

In regards to the content of Klein’s work, I was admittedly unpersuaded by the exegesis and interpretation provided at various points in the book. I found his comments to be somewhat insufficient at points, and I was often left wanting more than I was provided. But, I also think that this could be an issue with the organization—despite my preference mentioned above. In other words, if I look over the entirety of Klein’s work I am able to better see the picture that he is trying to paint, but because there are additional comments found under different categories, the exegetical detail appears to be lacking. Either way, it is safe to say that this revised and expanded edition of The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election by William W. Klein has provided readers with an excellent treatment of election from a classical Arminian perspective. Thus, it should come highly recommended regardless of one’s theological persuasion, at least it does from this self-proclaimed Calvinist.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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