Review: God Dwells Among Us

9780830844142God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth found its beginning in G. K. Beale’s earlier work The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (IVP Academic, 2004). It is there that Beale develops a fuller exploration of the biblical themes of tabernacle and temple, “from Genesis to Revelation, exploring both the ancient Near Eastern and Second Temple Jewish view of the temple” (p. 7). Co-author Mitchell Kim subsequently developed the aim of Beale’s work into a seven-week sermon series preached at Living Water Alliance Church in Chicagoland. This material was further condensed and distilled into a conference seminar before later being adjusted and released in its present form.

God Dwells Among Us rightly recognizes that the purpose of mankind has always been mission oriented. God has created a people to reflect his presence, character, and image to the ends of the earth as the priests of his dwelling place. This purpose began in Eden, the first temple, and continues into the eschaton as God establishes his eschatological temple among us. God Dwells Among Us opens with three orienting chapters that position the reader within the overall notion of the book. It is here that Beale and Kim present Eden as a temple, with the intended mission of Adam and Eve being to reflect God’s presence to the ends of the earth. The first couple failed, sin entered into the equation, and the mission was reassigned to the Patriarchs and beyond. Beale and Kim then guide the reader through the Mosaic period and the tabernacle as the temporary dwelling place of God, the ministry of the Prophets and promised restoration of Eden, Jesus as the new temple in the gospels, the early Christians as the continuation of the mission to expand Eden to the ends of the earth, and the New Heavens and New Earth as the climax of the Edenic expansion.

The implications of the biblical theme of temple reach into nearly every corner of life in Christ. It is here that Beale and Kim conclude with two important chapters dedicated to the hermeneutical explanation and practical importance of the temple theme previously journeyed. While there is certainly a plethora of practical riches and explanation littered throughout the entirety of the book, it is here that Beale and Kim helpfully connect the dots to the reader by answering anticipated questions and founding the significance of the temple theme into the mission-oriented purpose of mankind. This is likely the most valuable aspect of the entire book. It brings the canonical journey of the temple theme to its necessary conclusion and provides the reader with a significant foundation with which to gaze upon God and his purpose in this world. But the temple theme isn’t presented without reference as though it the authors’ efforts were imaginary aspirations. Rather, the reader will encounter citation after citation, and I mean citation after citation of biblical references. It will be clear to the reader that Beale and Kim have done their homework, and to the benefit of the reader, they have clearly presented the fruits of such labor.

God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth by G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim is a clear and persuasive exploration into one of the most important themes of biblical theology. Beale and Kim have effectively presented a practical and engaging vision of God’s covenantal purpose for mankind that is firmly positioned within the context of the entire canon. The practical significance of such will be enough to radically alter the way you read the Scriptures and understand the mission of God in this world. God Dwells Among Us has provided a clear example of biblical theology par excellence. I am confident that your head and heart will be connected in all their proper places. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and 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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Review: The Hermeneutical Spiral

9780830828265Well-established as the standard evangelical work in the field of biblical hermeneutics since first being published in 1991, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Grant R. Osborne has been revised and expanded to meet the changing needs of the next generation. New chapters on the Old Testament law and use of the Old Testament in the New have been added, and general revisions have been undertaken throughout the volume. While the original work was well-situated to provide the reader with a longstanding example of usefulness in its presentation, this revised and expanded edition proves itself to be a much more refined demonstration of scholarly and practical engagement with the biblical text.

The Hermeneutical Spiral is a massive volume boasting over 600-pages. Osborne appropriately begins the investigation with an introduction to situate the reader for the task ahead. It is here that Osborne rightly understands the task of hermeneutics as the means of accomplishing an ecclesiastical end. For Osborne, “the final goal of hermeneutics is not systematic theology but the sermon. The actual purpose of Scripture is not explanation but exposition, not description but proclamation” (p. 29). This proves to be more than a mere statement of conviction for Osborne, as the outline of the book will effectively bring the reader from the examination of the biblical text in their original languages to the homiletical execution of a Sunday morning sermon.

As The Hermeneutical Spiral unfolds, Osborne helpfully directs the attention of the reader to the biblical text. It is here that the reader is introduced to the importance of context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. This section is imperative to the task of biblical hermeneutics and Osborne does an excellent job at guiding the reader through each. A high point from this section was Osborne’s discussion on semantic fallacies, including the root fallacy, misuse of etymology, the one-meaning fallacy, and much more. The careful reader will know and understand the importance of this section well, as most modern pulpit crimes are the result of semantic negligence and the proclamation of semantic fallacies.

Next, Osborne directs the attention of the reader towards an analysis of the various biblical genres. For Osborne, “Genre functions as a valuable link between the text and the reader” (p. 182). It is here that the hermeneutical groundwork that was laid in the prior section is applied to specific types of literature—Old Testament Law, Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Apocalyptic, Parable, and Epistle. This section also concludes with a helpful chapter on the use of the Old Testament in the New. A high point in this section was Osborne’s discussion surrounding the genre of biblical narrative. Specifically, the various aspects use to study biblical narrative—source, form, redaction, and narrative criticism. The latter being among the most helpful.

Lastly, Osborne appropriately closes the volume with a section dedicated to the application of the hermeneutical investigation undertaken in the previous sections. It is here that the reader is able to identify and interact with three applicationary aspects of biblical exegesis—biblical theology, systematic theology, and homiletics. Each of the three applications are discussed in detail, and the connection to the previous sections is unmistakable. However, the clear high point of this section was Osborne’s interaction and application of hermeneutics to the task of homiletics—both contextualization and sermon delivery. Osborne effectively lands the plane after a 600-page round trip flight from biblical text to target audience.

The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Grant R. Osborne is a massive volume that leaves no hermeneutical-stone unturned. Osborne recognizes the task of hermeneutics as the primary means of a homiletical end and rightly equips the reader to function out of this recognition. In other words, as the reader continues to move between text and context on the hermeneutical spiral, sound exegesis brings the reader closer and closer to the intended meaning of the text and its significance for today. While The Hermeneutical Spiral is likely more detailed than the average reader is looking to digest, Osborne has provided a volume that cannot be overlooked by any serious Student of the Bible, especially that of the Pastor or Teacher.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and 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.

Review: Johannine Theology

9780830840564Paul A. Rainbow is Professor of New Testament at Sioux Falls Seminary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Rainbow has a M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School, and a D.Phil. from Oxford University. Rainbow is a distinguished and published Biblical scholar, having written and/or contributed to several books, journals, and other publications during his nearly three decades at Sioux Falls Seminary. Still, his most recent publication, Johannine Theology: The Gospel, the Epistles and the Apocalypse (IVP Academic, 2014) remains at the top of his academic accomplishments—and for good reason.

Johannine Theology opens with an excellent introduction on Johannine literature and the task of constructing a biblical theology of the Johannine corpus. Rainbow does the reader a great service by surveying the landscape of methodology when it comes to biblical theology, and firmly positions his present endeavor organized around personal entities—namely the relation among the divine persons and the world made up of its various constituents (p. 28). This Trinitarian approach to the Johannine corpus is both unique and helpful in the overall analysis of Johannine theology. The latter portion of the introduction is dedicated to typical preliminary matters, such as date, authorship, etc. Among other things, Rainbow’s discussion concerning Johannine authorship of the corpus, ultimately concluding that it was John the son of Zebedee, will be a clear high point for most readers.

Following the introduction, Rainbow beings Johannine Theology with the person of God the Father (ch. 2), the world-system (ch. 3), and God’s self-revelation in the Son (chs. 4-5). The reader will be confronted with a number of excellent and thoroughly investigated subsections within each chapter, and the high points are many. Furthermore, Rainbow explores the Johannine understanding of the Spirit-Paraclete (ch. 6), the believers united to the risen Christ (chs. 7-8), and believers relationship to one another (ch. 9) and to the world (ch. 10). Again, each section has a number of subsections, and Rainbow does a wonderful job guiding the reader across the entirety of the Johannine corpus as he surveys each. Each chapter is well-written and meticulously documented, and Rainbow presents himself as one well-acquainted with the literature at hand.

The work that has been done on the Johannine corpus is numerous. In fact, as Rainbow rightly acknowledges, it is nearly impossible to have read everything that has been written about the canonical works attributed to John. As one with a longstanding interest in the Johannine corpus in general and Johannine theology in particular, I found Rainbow’s treatment and organization very helpful. I was especially interested in, and even excited about, the chapter (ch. 3) devoted to the Johannine understanding of the world and its usage across the corpus. Rainbow helpfully positions the conversation as having a deep-seated dependence on the Hebrew Bible and the Judaic tradition, and his survey of such was helpful. However, I was surprised that there wasn’t more discussion dedicated to eschatology, but it in no way detracted from the usefulness of the book as a whole. Lastly, I always appreciate a good index, especially in a book like Johannine Theology, and I found the threefold index (authors, subjects, and principal scripture passages) at the conclusion of the book to be intentionally curated for future reference.

To the writing of Johannine theology there appears to be no end in sight. Of course, this is far from a negative reality. Both new insight and understanding of perspectives are imperative to the life of the conversation, especially when it comes to something as difficult to understand as the Johannine corpus. Nevertheless, Johannine Theology: The Gospel, the Epistles and the Apocalypse by Paul A. Rainbow demonstrates itself to be a remarkable resource, and one that lends to the conversation in ways unlike many of its predecessors. Rainbow is both exegetically and theologically sensitive in his treatment of the Johannine literature, and his insights are carefully guided by a keen historical and hermeneutical awareness. In other words, Rainbow is consistently resilient in all the right places. If you are looking for a well-executed engagement with Johannine theology then Johannine Theology: The Gospel, the Epistles and the Apocalypse should be one of the top resources on your list. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.      

Review: An Introduction to the New Testament

0664255922An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology by M. Eugene Boring is a unique achievement in the field of New Testament studies. It is the fruit of a lifelong pursuit into the world and literature of the New Testament, and the result of decades of thorough research by a well-respected New Testament scholar.

An Introduction to the New Testament begins with a substantial introduction at over 200-pages. It is here that the New Testament is introduced to the reader as the Church’s book. For Boring, the Church wrote it, selected it, edited it, preserved and transmitted it, translated it, and interpreted it (p. 12). It is within this persuasion that Boring is able to comprehensively guide the reader through issues of New Testament composition, transmission, translation, interpretation, etc.

Following the establishment of the New Testament as the Church’s book, Boring positions the conversation historically as he guides the reader through the Hellenistic World and into the various facets of Palestinian Judaism and early Christianity. This section provides a helpful overview of the historical context of the New Testament literature and better prepares the reader for the investigation that follows.

As the introductory material comes to a close the reader encounters roughly 80-pages of discussion on Jesus and Paul. Boring provides a well-written, but brief summary of the quest for the historical Jesus, and a more substantial overview of the earthly ministry of Jesus and its overlap with that of Paul. Lastly, Boring sketches a more detailed portrait of the life and ministry of Paul and prepares the reader for his unconventional approach in the following chapters with an introduction to the epistles.

In the shadows of the introductory material Boring directs the attention of the reader to the literature of the New Testament. The reader may be surprised to discover that Boring begins with the Pauline epistles—specifically 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon—before discussing other New Testament epistles and the gospels. This approach is intentional and appropriate for the critical mindset that Boring is seeking to cultivate. Boring is thus able to construct critical thought around Paul and the other epistles in a way that better positions for the reader, his critical approach to the gospels and Jesus.

I found Boring to be both clear and comprehensive throughout. Aside from the usefulness of the content found within the book, I also found the layout and organization of the book to be extremely helpful and easy to use. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of a “For Further Reading” section at the end of each chapter. Boring provides a number of excellent suggestions for the interested reader looking to investigate more deeply. However, I did notice that his suggestions are typically, and more often than not, those that align with his own critical approach.

I often found myself in contention with the conclusions and assumptions that Boring propagates throughout the book. However, with that said, I greatly appreciate Boring’s scholarship, and his willingness and desire to cultivate a mindset within the reader that looks to think through the issues rather than simply be told what to believe is admirable. It is here that Boring has truly provided the Church and academy something special and unique.

An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology by M. Eugene Boring is a comprehensive engagement into the deepest corners of the New Testament and New Testament studies. While this is not the first New Testament introduction that I will pull from my bookshelf, nor the first New Testament introduction that I will recommend, it will be off my bookshelf often and I would certainly recommend it to others. If you are a serious student of the New Testament looking for a critical engagement therein that is easy to read and useful for reference, this present volume is an excellent resource that will fulfill your needs well.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.

Review: John Calvin

0664231810T. H. L. Parker is a widely respected authority on the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin. Parker is the author of numerous books related to Calvin, including, Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, Calvin’s Preaching, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: Studies in the Theology of John Calvin, and Portrait of Calvin. Parker’s career has in many ways been Calvin-saturated, and the present volume displays this reality extremely well.

John Calvin: A Biography beautifully chaperons the reader from the early years of Calvin’s childhood and youth, all the way unto his anonymous burial in a common cemetery. The roadmap that is traveled between the dates that would have been on Calvin’s tombstone, had he been buried with one, is both exciting and encouraging, and Parker masterfully illustrates the story as would a close friend or family member. The book itself is extremely well-written and easy to digest. Although some historical knowledge about the context is assumed by the author, and, therefore, will lack the needed explanation for some.

The reader will be hard-pressed if tasked the duty of deciding which sections of the book are to be considered most helpful, as Parker does an excellent job throughout. The book is both well documented and thoroughly researched. My only complaint is the utilization of endnotes rather than footnotes. Nevertheless, I think most readers prone to pick up a biography on John Calvin will appreciate the interwoven discussion about the development of the Christianae Religionis Institutio—more commonly known as, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parker also has an outstanding and informative retelling of the trial and death of Servetus—another event most readers will be eager to engage with concerning John Calvin. Furthermore, Parker has also included two very important appendices dealing with the dating for various events in Calvin’s life and Calvin’s conversion story.

John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker is an authoritative, accurate, and informative representation of one of the most influential individuals of all time. Parker has displayed his knowledge of “all-things” Calvin well, and the book reads more like a memoir from a close friend than an interested biographer. While there remains to this day some several hundred biographies about the man John Calvin, few will come as close to the man himself than this. If you are looking for a concise engagement into the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin, John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker should be your first stop. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.

Review: Hebrews

0664221181Luke Timothy Johnson (Ph.D., Yale University) is R. W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Chandler School of Theology, Emory University. Johnson is a notable scholar whose research concerns have been the literary, moral, and religious dimensions of the New Testament, including the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts of early Christianity, Luke-Acts, the Pastoral Letters, and the Letter of James. Johnson is also the author of numerous books, many of which, nowadays, are still widely used in academic and ecclesiastical settings around the world—the present volume on Hebrews being one of those contributions.

Hebrews: A Commentary is firmly positioned as one of the most notable volumes within the acclaimed New Testament Library (NTL) series. The commentary begins with a 60-page introduction that is well-worth the price of the volume. Johnson, of course, tackles all the introductory matters with precision. Johnson dates the composition of the book between AD 50-70 and provides a rather convincing case for the authorship by the hand of Apollo—although Johnson concludes the anonymity of the author being the only known reality. Moreover, Johnson provides an excellent discussion about the use of the book of Hebrews within Christian tradition and rightly concludes that it was the usefulness/ truthfulness of its content, rather than apostolic authorship, that resulted in its widespread acceptance.

The commentary proper is likewise excellent throughout and judiciously presented. First and foremost, like the other volumes in the NTL series, Johnson provides the reader with an original translation and textual notes. I have continually found this to be one of the most helpful features of the NTL series, and Johnson does not disappoint. He is meticulous and careful in his translation and presents the evidence and and textual issues well. In fact, compared to the other volumes that I have interacted with in the series I think Johnson has been the most helpful in this section. Second, Johnson has presented a good case for LXX priority in Hebrews and does an excellent job presenting that reality throughout. Third, while Hebrews is certainly rich with Christological significance on the surface, Johnson does a tremendous job bringing this reality to bare at almost every corner of the document.

There are no shortages in sight when it comes to the task of choosing a commentary on the book of Hebrews. Still, only the most inexperienced of readers would assume that all such commentaries are made equal—or even close to equal. While I don’t see Johnson coming off of my bookshelf before Lane (WBC) or Ellingworth (NICGT), or even Bruce (NICNT), I did find the volume extremely helpful and I am happy to have it in my library. Johnson is continually careful in his presentation of the text, and his explanation and interaction with the major themes of Hebrews and the LXX are indispensable. If you are in the market for a well-written work by a well-known and notable scholarly voice, Hebrews: A Commentary by Luke Timothy Johnson will not bring disappointment. It comes highly recommended.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.

Review: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics

9780801039775Craig G. Bartholomew (Ph.D, Bristol University) is an engaging and articulate scholarly mind whose work has visibly reached across interdisciplinary lines. Bartholomew is the H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy and Religion & Theology at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario. He is the founder of the internationally recognized Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar and is the author or co-author of several books, The Drama of Scripture: Finding our Place in the Biblical Story, Old Testament Wisdom Literature: A Theological Introduction, Ecclesiastes in the acclaimed Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, and many more. Most recently, Bartholomew has released what can only be described as the culmination of his longstanding efforts within the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, a massive introduction to biblical interpretation centered firmly within the context and service of the church.

Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture is divided into five major sections: (1) approaching biblical interpretation, (2) biblical interpretation and biblical theology, (3) the story of biblical interpretation, (4) biblical interpretation and the academic disciplines, and (5) the goal of biblical interpretation. As the subtitle states quite clearly, Bartholomew has provided a comprehensive framework, and each of these major sections are judiciously presented. The book opens by positioning the conversation amid the Trinitarian frame that will ultimately function as the confines for the pages ahead. Bartholomew explains, “. . . our understanding of the world must take as its starting point the God revealed in Scripture and articulated tradition. This means that any biblical hermeneutic worth its salt must be Christocentric . . . [thus] precisely because such a hermeneutic is Christocentric, it will be Trinitarian” (p. 5-6).

According to Bartholomew, a Trinitarian hermeneutic as such approaches the Bible as (1) authoritative Scripture, (2) a whole, (3) for the ecclesiastical body, (4) exalts and humbles academic interpretation, (5) a discrete witness of the testaments, (6) discerns the goal of reading the Bible, (7) does not close down but opens up interpretation of the Bible, and (8) takes God’s address for all life seriously (p. 8-15). It is here that Bartholomew is able to conclude we hear from God in our efforts of seeking to understand and interpret the biblical text, and it is here that the book unfolds in its discussion on biblical theology and hermeneutics, the history of hermeneutics from biblical antiquity to modernity, the intersection between the academic disciplines of philosophy, history, literature, and theology with hermeneutics, and lastly the overarching goal of biblical hermeneutics—hearing God’s address in the Scriptures.

Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics provides a plethora of important insights. Bartholomew is well-read (to run the risk of an understatement) and the reader will quickly identify the familiarity that he brings with almost any subject under the hermeneutical sun and beyond. Moreover, as one firmly planted in the Theological Interpretation of Scripture movement, Bartholomew has provided the reader with a unique perspective and contribution that will complement other hermeneutics texts well—especially given the detail and length of this volume. The first two chapters are among the best for those seeking to grasp the aim of Bartholomew’s hermeneutical vision. I found that as Bartholomew positioned the task of hermeneutics into the expectancy of listening and hearing God in the Scriptures, the trenches that follow became much easier to digest. Thus, by spending intentional time in the initial section of the book, the reader is able to better recognize the framework that was being built, and thus, interact with the content thereafter.

Still, the most helpful chapters of the book are discovered under the fourth major section. It is here that Bartholomew presents for the reader the disciplinary intersection between biblical interpretation and various academic disciplines. Not only does this section display Bartholomew’s ability to interact with other fields of academic study, but it shows the level of competency that he exhibits for the task of biblical hermeneutics, as well as the scope of this discipline’s reach beyond the confines of its own intentions. Another section that was helpful was the second section. Here Bartholomew developed a place for biblical theology within the task of hermeneutics. This is an important peripheral observation for the reader to grasp if he or she is to function within the Trinitarian approach presented in the preceding chapters. In other words, it is here that Bartholomew rightly places the whole of Scripture into the conversation and helpfully articulates with such as important if we are going to seek to hear from God therein.

Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture is an excellent introduction to the task of biblical interpretation. Craig G. Bartholomew has brought a host of interesting insights and observations from decades of experience. Bartholomew has produced a volume that is both comprehensive and readable, and his hermeneutical vision captures the essence of biblical revelation well. Bartholomew has bypassed the traditional approach of the task of biblical hermeneutics by intentionally developing a place for the interpreter to encounter God, rather than merely cultivating an understanding of a book. Bartholomew is comprehensive, judicious, and generous in his interaction. His vision is centered firmly within the context and service of the church, and the payoff for the reader is immediate. This is a monumental achievement in the field of biblical interpretation and the pastor, teacher or student would do well in referring to it often.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.