Review: The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible

41fMkqHERaL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_It’s not difficult to find a Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament combined under one cover. Biblia Sacra has been a standard for nearly two decades and A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek by A. Philip Brown II, Bryan W. Smith, Richard J. Goodrich, and Albert L. Lukaszewski has been offered by Zondervan for roughly 8 years. That said, earlier this year when I found out that Hendrickson would be publishing The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible, the anticipation began to develop almost immediately.

There are a number of reasons Hendrickson’s The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible is a standout from the crowd.

First, and probably foremost, the quality of The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible is superior even to some of the most premium original language Bibles. The printed text is sharp and well-defined with minimal bleed on the opaque off-white paper. This is especially unique at under $40 for the hardcover edition and $60 for the imitation leather edition. A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek is over twice that price and half as nice.

Second, the choice to use the Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia (BHL) edited by Aron Dotan and the 1881 edition of the Greek New Testament edited by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (WH) is both functional and unique in the marketplace. Where most options available tend to use the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) and either the 27th or 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (NA), here BHL and WH offer pastors and students a reliable text that is both readable and versatile.

Third, while other options may prefer the textual basis of the BHS and NA, both BHL and WH offer textual analysis where differences are present. WH includes a  critical apparatus at the bottom of the page indicating when it differed from NA27 and the Byzantine text by Robinson and Pierpont. Unfortunately, BHL does not include a critical apparatus at the bottom of the page, but Dotan did include an appendix with manuscript variants.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning a few stylistic features in WH, such as periscopes labeled in English, verse references to synoptic parallels, and Old Testament quotations and allusions indicated by bolded Greek text with reference at the bottom of the page. These features expand the functionality of the Greek New Testament beyond simply text on page, and allow the pastor or student room both to read and study.

The only foreseeable shortcoming of Hendrickson’s The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible is a lack of attention to consistency with regards to the functionality of BHL. Apart from Qere forms in the margins and the corresponding unpointed Kethiv forms in the main text, there is little effort to offer the reader anything other than a reading experience. There isn’t anything wrong with this approach. But, as readers turn to the New Testament, the “bells and whistles” found in WH’s critical apparatus and stylistic features are evident. It seems that the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament were edited separately before being bound together, and a consistency check was lacking. As mentioned above, Dotan does include a number of appendixes in BHL with helpful material. But, it would have been nice to have at the bottom of the page like WH.

Hendrickson’s The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible is a phenomenal new resource at a very attractive price. The quality far exceeds the sticker-price! Both the Hebrew and Greek text are crisp and readable, and the binding is well-constructed. It opens flat with no issues and should last a very long time. Apart from the shortcoming mentioned above, I can think of no reason that pastors and students shouldn’t jump at the opportunity to own this volume. It’s easily the best option on the market for the price, and comes highly recommended!

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Review: Getting Into the Text

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The influence of David Alan Black is observed far and wide in New Testament studies. Black is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Dr. M. O. Owens Jr. Chair of New Testament Studies. Black is author, editor, and contributor to numerous influential works, including Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, and Learn to Read New Testament Greek. Recently, the legacy of David Alan Black was honored with the publication of a well-deserved and long-coming festschrift.

Getting Into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black edited by Daniel L. Akin and Thomas W. Hudgins is an attractive collection of essays by a top-tier list of scholarly contributors. The contributors include Stanley E. Porter, Constantine R. Campbell, J. K. Elliott, Tommy Wasserman, Maurice Robinson, and Steven H. Levinsohn. Most of the essays focus on aspects of New Testament Greek or textual criticism, but there are a few essays on the Synoptic Gospels and other areas of interest. The editors did an exceptional job in this volume selecting the contributors to ensure that the topics covered would reflect the longstanding academic career of David Alan Black.

The festschrift begins with a brief introduction to the life and ministry of David Alan Black by Thomas W. Hudgins. Hudgins orients readers towards Black and the impact of his work, which is followed by an 8-page listing of his published works. Each of the essays that follow do well to honor Black in the topic discussed. This is especially present in the methodology used to arrive at various conclusions. The essays were fairly balanced in their worth, but readers are going to be drawn to specific areas of interest and determine such value for themselves. I enjoyed most of the essays for different reasons. But, I was especially encouraged by the essays related to textual critical matters. Elliott, Wasserman, and Robinson offer important contributions worth the price of the book alone. I looked forward to reading Levinsohn’s essay, as I have appreciated his work in the past, but unfortunately was unable do to it being written in Spanish. Christian-B.Amphoux also has a Spanish essay.

Festschrifts tend to be hit or miss. It’s extremely difficult to get a capable group of contributors together to offer an adequate representation of a figure such as David Alan Black. The influence and legacy of this man is far-reaching and instrumental. Getting Into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black edited by Daniel L. Akin and Thomas W. Hudgins is not only a great representation of Black’s lifework, it’s a wonderful sample of how he has graciously served the academic community. If you are a fan of Black, a student of New Testament Greek, or an avid enthusiast on matters pertaining to textual criticism, then there is little reason to overlook this volume. It’s wonderfully done and thoroughly contemplated, and I couldn’t recommend it more strongly!

Thankfully Wipf & Stock Publishers has graciously given readers of Sojourner Theology 40% OFF the retail price of Getting Into the Text when they use the coupon code sojotheo between now and November 1, 2017. You now have no excuse!

Review: The Press of the Text

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James W. Voelz is Graduate Professor of Exegetical Theology and Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Professor of New Testament Theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Voelz received a PhD from Cambridge University and has done postdoctoral research at both Oxford and the University of Basel. He is an accomplished New Testament scholar and an expert in Hellenistic Greek. Voelz is author of several books and articles, including Fundamental Greek Grammar, What Does This Mean?: Principles of Biblical Interpretation in the Post-Modern World, and a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Mark in the Concordia Commentary series (Mark 1:1-8:26 currently available).

The Press of the Text: Biblical Studies in Honor of James W. Voelz edited by Andrew H. Bartelt, Jeffery Kloha, and Paul R. Raabe is a magnificent festschrift that includes a list of essays and contributors that demands attention and displays adoration in all the right places. Bartelt, Kloha, and Raabe have done exceptional work from an editorial perspective. The essays and contributors are well selected as a tribute to Voelz and the depth and breadth of his academic interests. The festschrift begins and ends with brief honorary essays by Jack Dean Kingsbury on the life and legacy of James Voelz. The nineteen essays between cover a range of topics, including the Christian life, religious freedom, intertextuality, hermeneutics and exegesis, various aspects of New Testament Greek, and more.

While the depth and breadth of the essays is evident by a single glance of the contents page, a number of essays standout from the crowd as unique contributions. There are two worth mention here. First, J. K. Elliott has an excellent essay on the evaluation of textual variants in the Greek New Testament. The essay specifically focuses on the authors linguistic style and usage as a means for evaluating textual variants, and Elliott offers several examples and two brief excurses. Second, David S. Hasselbrook has a fascinating essay examining lexical flaws in the beloved BDAG. Hasselbrook demonstrates a clear and convincing need in Greek studies for continued refining of the New Testament lexicon. Other essays worth reading include, “The Development of the Greek Language and the Manuscripts of Paul’s Letters” by Jeffrey Kloha and “Effective Justification and Its Hermeneutical Implications” by Mark A. Seifrid.

The Press of the Text: Biblical Studies in Honor of James W. Voelz edited by Andrew H. Bartelt, Jeffery Kloha, and Paul R. Raabe is an excellent tribute to a deserving and dedicated scholar. Bartelt, Kloha, and Raabe have done a tremendous service in this volume, not only in the honor of the legacy of James Voelz, but in the depth of essays included. It comes highly recommended and should be on the shelf of anyone interested in New Testament studies or New Testament Greek.

Thankfully Wipf & Stock Publishers has graciously given readers of Sojourner Theology 40% OFF the retail price of The Press of the Text when they use the coupon code sojotheo between now and November 1, 2017. Now you have no excuse!  

Review: Christ and Covenant Theology

35847115Cornelis P. Venema is President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-American Reformed Seminary. Venema has a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of several books, such as The Promise of the Future (Banner of Truth, 2000) and Getting the Gospel Right: An Assessment of the Reformation and ‘New Perspectives’ on Paul (Banner of Truth, 2006). He is also a co-editor and frequent contributor to The Outlook and the Mid-American Journal of Theology. Most recent, Venema has assembled together a number of useful essays summarizing and defending various aspects of Covenant Theology.

Christ and Covenant Theology: Essays on Election, Republication, and the Covenants is divided into three parts: (1) the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, (2) covenant and election, and (3) covenant theology in recent discussions. Part one offers an introduction to the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, as Venema argues alongside Westminster Confession of Faith and distinguishes between a pre-fall and post-fall covenant. For Venema, the distinction between these two covenants is vital to understanding God’s redemptive purpose in the person and work of Christ. Part two focuses more narrowly on the topic of election within the realm of covenant. More specifically, as election and covenant relate to the children of believers. Part three seeks to address the contemporary discussions concerning justification and election more broadly within the arena of covenant. Most of Venema’s interaction is with the “Federal Vision” folks, although he does provide a fascinating essay examining N. T. Wright’s interpretation of Romans 5:12-21 as it relates to covenant and justification.

Christ and Covenant Theology is a classic treasure trove of Reformed riches. Those familiar with Venema will appreciate his keen ability to evaluate and examine contemporary issues in view of the confessional Reformed tradition. Venema is both judicious and accessible, though a working understanding of the Reformed confessional tradition is assumed. Still, while readers will likely gravitate towards one of the three parts, it’s interesting to see how Venema naturally allows the whole to hang together. This demonstrates the functional consistency of Venema’s theological conviction and displays his deep familiarity with the Reformed tradition. There will be inevitable disagreement that arises for those in opposition to Reformed theology as articulated by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Nonetheless, most readers approaching this book should have a firm understanding of such differences prior to opening the initial pages. Additionally, it should be noted that most will agree that Venema provides some of the best, most reflective and persuasive material on the various topics intersecting with Covenant Theology.

Thus, agree with him or not, Christ and Covenant Theology: Essays on Election, Republication, and the Covenants by Cornelis P. Venema is nothing short of a must-read resource! It is a collection of essays that cannot be ignored.

Review: Sons in the Son

31243443David B. Garner is vice president of advancement and associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS). Garner received his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD from WTS. He is author of How Can I Know for Sure?: Christian Answers to Hard Questions (P&R Publishing, 2014) and editor of the influential work Did God Really Say?: Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture (P&R Publishing, 2014). Garner is well-respected in the academic community and his many research interests culminate in a special concern for the interface of theology and missions. Most recently, Garner has written a classic theological exploration of doctrine adoption.

Sons in the Son: The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ is a groundbreaking examination of adoption in Pauline thought. Garner divides the study into three parts: (1) hermeneutic, history, and etymology, (2) exegetical and theological survey of key texts, and (3) biblical and systematic theology. This threefold division is intentionally oriented towards Garner’s goal of providing an examination of adoption that moves from divine revelation to theological refection, rather than social and cultural reconstruction to theological conclusion (p. xxv). It is also here that Garner offers a somewhat unique approach to the topic of adoption. In part one, Garner provides readers with a hermeneutical and historical-theological survey of adoption and an exceptional treatment of huiothesia. For Garner, huiothesia “captures the whole scope of filial grace enjoyed by means of the Spirit-wrought union with the resurrected Son of God” (p. 54). In part two, the readers are judiciously guided through the three major Pauline huiothesia passages, including Ephesians 1:3-6, Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 8:15-17 and 22-23. Finally, in part three, Garner gathers everything together and begins to uncover the systematic thread of adoption as it joins the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of salvation in the Ordo Salutis and union with Christ.

Sons in the Son is a phenomenal work, full of rich theological reflection and practical wisdom. The organization is appropriate for road traveled and readers will appreciate Garner’s detailed knowledge of the subject. Because the majority of literature on adoption is saturated with social and cultural reconstructions, some readers may be slightly dissatisfied with Garner’s theological approach. There is something to be said about the social and cultural practice of adoption in the Greco-Roman world and how such informed the biblical metaphor in Pauline thought, but the approach that Garner takes seems to offer a more sustainable reflection upon the overall scope behind the metaphor rather than the metaphor itself. That is, these perceived shortcomings are actually a strength when taken within context of the purpose of Garner’s exploration.

Sons in the Son: The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ by David B. Garner is both timely and timeless. Garner is comprehensive, clear, and readable. I’m honestly flabbergasted that other contemporary Reformed theological minds haven’t attempted to write this book. It’s so basic to the heart of the gospel. But, then again, I’m so very thankful that Garner was the one to do it! It is without a shadow of a doubt that Garner has written one of the most important books of 2017. If you’re looking for a book that with alter how you view and think about the relationship between salvation and Christ, then Sons in the Son should be at the top of your list. I couldn’t recommend it more strongly!

Review: The Essential Trinity

prpbooks-images-covers-md-9781629952987The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance edited by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman is a collection of essays by leading New Testament scholars and theologians who have built a career upon the importance of the Trinity to Christian doctrine— including well-known individuals, such as Richard Bauckham, Benjamin L. Gladd, and Michael Reeves. The essays offer a biblical-theological exploration through the New Testament and culminate with a number of essays that survey the practical relevance of the Trinity in the Christian life.

The Essential Trinity is naturally divided into the two parts detailed within its subtitle: (1) New Testament foundations and (2) practical relevance. The initial part comprises the majority of the book and each chapter takes on a specific New Testament subcorpus. For example, Brandon D. Crowe addresses the Trinity in the Gospel of Mark and Brian S. Rosner takes up Paul and the Trinity. The entire New Testament is handled in eight essays and the initial section closes with a brief essay on the Trinity and the Old Testament. The second section brings the exegetical rigor to a much-needed culmination with essays on the relevance of the Trinity to prayer, revelation, worship, and preaching. The second section does much to establish the widespread importance of Trinitarian theology to nearly every aspect of Christian existence.

The book itself is a refreshing treasure-trove of exegetical riches. The overall presentation and organization of the book is superb, and readers will appreciate the level of detail explored as a consistent witness is uncovered across the New Testament. Bauckham’s essay on the Gospel of John was phenomenal, as most will expect. That said, Jonathan I. Griffiths’ essay on Hebrews was among the best in the book. It is worth the price of the alone. Recognizing the scope of the volume as a New Testament engagement, readers should evaluate the major shortcoming of the book as minimally impactful—a lack of Old Testament engagement. There was a clears sense in the book of the value and importance of the Old Testament to the New Testament foundation that was explored, and some authors explicitly brought such into their essay (e.g. Benjamin Gladd on Revelation). It would have been extremely useful to see further exploration of the Old Testament Trinitarian themes that include Old Testament scholars both exploring shadows of the concept and putting to rest many of the misconceptions propagated in contemporary Christian thought. Again, this is a major shortcoming of the volume, but also recognizably beyond its scope.

The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance edited by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman is undoubtedly one of the most useful books on the Trinity in recent years. Apart from the shortcoming mentioned above, it is hard to think of a more well-rounded and exegetically sound engagement on the Trinity. It comes highly recommended!

Review: Theology in Three Dimensions

35999474.jpgJohn M. Frame is Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Frame received an MA and MPhil from Yale University and a DD from Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Frame is the author or contributor of numerous books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, and the four-volume Theology of Lordship series. Frame is a brilliant and distinguished Christian thinker in the Reformed tradition, and well-known for the concept of Triperspectivalism—a revolutionary approach to understanding the world (and everything therein) from three distinct perspectives. Triperspectivalism threads itself through nearly everything that Frame does, and, until now, readers would need to explore his entire corpus to develop a succinct portrait of the concept. It is here that Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance offers readers a concise look into the methodology and rationale for Frame’s three-fold approach.

Theology in Three Dimensions appropriately begins with a brief discussion on perspectives. Frame unpacks the collaborative effort of Vern Poythress in the development of the approach and helpfully demonstrates the basic construct of Triperspectivalism. A perspective, according to Frame, “is the position from which a person sees something . . . the angle from which he looks” (p. 2). For Frame, because God is triune in nature, inevitably the world around us (the creation of the triune God) reflects his triunity in the abundance of triads that dot its existence. Theology in Three Dimensions is primarily concerned with showing such theologically and biblically, and thus Frame’s discussion focuses on three perspectives: (1) the normative, (2) the situational, and (3) the existential perspectives.

The normative perspective is concerned with what ought to be (obligations), rather than what is (p. 53). That is, the normative perspective is a perspective of knowledge that views the world as a revelation of God’s will (p. 95). Frame notes, “the normative perspective includes everything that God has made and everything that God has said to us” (p. 57). The situational perspective is concerned with the states of affairs or the objects of knowledge—facts. That is, the situational perspective focuses on the objects in the world rather than the norms that ought to be in the world. As Frame differentiates, “laws and facts, norms and situations, describe one world—God’s world—from two perspectives” (p. 62). The existential perspective is a perspective of human knowledge that focuses on our internal subjective experience in close proximity to the presence of God (p. 94). That is, the existential perspective is closely related to the concept of knowledge of self. Each of these perspectives holds together within themselves and offer triadic layers within layers.

Theology in Three Dimensions is a fascinating read. It’s brief and can be read in a single sitting. That said, while Frame is a gifted communicator and a prolific writer, most readers will need to read it more than once to see how the concept fits together. Chapters 2-4 further elaborate on the nature of perspectives, while chapters 5-7 spend more time unpacking each of the perspectives individually. Where readers will most likely find satisfaction in Frame’s book (apart from a clear concise presentation of the far-reaching nature of Triperspectivalism) is chapter 8—what to do with perspectives. Here Frame takes the concept of Triperspectivalism and applies it (briefly) to various aspects of life, such as salvation, the word of God, philosophy, apologetics, and even pedagogy. So, what’s the big deal with Triperspectivalism? “It keeps us focused on the biblical bottom line,” Frame continues, “that God is nothing less than the Lord, and that his lordship is fully revealed in Jesus Christ . . . everything we do as Christians should be done to Jesus as Lord” (p. 89).

If you are looking for a quick introduction to one of the most revolutionary ways to view the world and teach the Bible, then Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance by John M. Frame is an essential read. It will not only change the way that you interact with the Bible, it will change the way that you interact with God! It comes highly recommended!