Review: A Political History of the Bible in America

066426039XPaul D. Hanson is the Florence Corliss Lamont Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School where he has taught Old Testament for over forty years. In 1970, Hanson received a PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Hanson is the author or co-author of several books and a number of noted Old Testament commentaries, including Isaiah 40-66 from the highly acclaimed Interpretation series, 2 Chronicles: A Commentary from the esteemed Hermeneia series, Political Engagement as Biblical Mandate, The People Called: The Growth of Community in the Bible, and many more. Most recently, with the release of A Political History of the Bible in America, Hanson has provided a substantial investigation into the religiopolitical relationship that permeates American civilization.

A Political History of the Bible in America is a massive volume that leaves virtually no stone unturned. Still I must admit at the outset of this review that I am by no means an expert or specialist on American politics, nor American history. At best one could classify me as an interested spectator in a culturally familiar game. But, then again, this makes me a somewhat interesting candidate to do a review on a book of this magnitude.

Hanson begins with a lengthy prologue in which he builds a workable framework for the road ahead, and constructs a compelling case for the overall aim of the book. Hanson explains, “Biblical history, enriched by many religious and cultural traditions, flows into and is intertwined with our nation’s epic, both for better and for worse. To ignore that history is to cut ourselves off from our roots and to deny the ancestral experiences that forged our individual and collective identity” (p. 23). It is here that A Political History of the Bible in America divides into two major parts: (1) a historical retrospective on the relation between the Bible and politics in the United States, and (2) politics in the Bible.

In part one, Hanson traces the history of America back to the colonial times, starting with the theocratic model of the Puritans, paying close attention to the role of biblical tradition in the development of the national story of the United States. Hanson summarizes this objective, writing, “our objective is to examine the relationship between religion and politics in US history and identify the theo-political models that were adopted and developed to shape that relationship” (p. 29). As a nonspecialist, I found this section to be both clear and compelling. Hanson quickly drew me into the historical portrait that he was painting. Nevertheless, I found myself wanting more as I entered into the following section. This is largely a result of the brevity of the first part, but also due to Hanson’s ability to pull the reader into the details of the story.

In part two, Hanson directs the reader’s attention to the biblical framework in which the political underpinnings of American life have developed. To call this section a detailed study would be a minor understatement at over 500 pages. Hanson surveys both the Old and the New Testament in chronological order and presents a comprehensive study of politics in the Bible. I found this section to be rich with interpretive insight, especially when it involved discussion of the Old Testament Prophets. It is clear that Hanson is in his stride here. Another notable section was the lengthy chapter on the politics of Jesus, where Hanson aims to entertain the historical Jesus conversation and political implications of such simultaneously. Finally, the expedition comes to a close, as Hanson considers the proper methodological approach of biblical interpretation for the changing landscape of contemporary American culture.

As mentioned above, I am not a political enthusiast nor an expert on American history. Still, I find both to interesting and intriguing for various reasons (hence, the desire to read and review this book), and inevitably I engage in both on a daily basis as an American citizen. Overall, Hanson has provided a fascinating and compelling study of the religiopolitical relationship in America and beyond, and I appreciate his effort in writing an accessible volume that can be enjoyed by readers of all educational backgrounds. I think that some readers will unavoidably disagree with Hanson’s interpretive method of the biblical text, but they should still be able to appreciate the biblical and theological lenses in which he wears. If you’re even slightly interested in submerging yourself into the world of American politics, then I would highly recommend finding a place for A Political History of the Bible in America in your library. It’s well worth the investment.

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 Question of Canon

17861711Michael J. Kruger is President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is one of the leading scholarly voices today in the study of the origins of the New Testament, particularly the development of the New Testament canon and the transmission of the New Testament text. Kruger received an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in California, and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under the advisement of Larry W. Hurtado. Kruger is the author of numerous books, including, The Gospel of the Savior (Brill, 2005), The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Crossway, 2010, with Andreas Köstenberger), and Canon Revisited (Crossway, 2012). He is also the co-editor of The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford, 2012), and Gospel Fragments (Oxford, 2009). In his most recent publication, The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (IVP, 2013), Kruger aims to address a crucial and foundational question: why is there a New Testament at all?

According to most contemporary scholarship, the question of canon is not something understood to be intrinsic to the Christian faith, but rather something later imposed upon Christianity from an outside source—the result of an ecclesiastical response. Canon is then something that the biblical literature becomes, not something that the biblical literature already is. In other words, the question of canon is argued as an extrinsic development rather than intrinsic reality. According to Kruger, this extrinsic model may indeed retain value for the conversation, but it shouldn’t be the starting point of the conversation, and it certainly doesn’t explain the full story of why the New Testament canon exists. It is within this premise that The Question of Canon begins.

 

In Chapter one, The Definition of Canon, Kruger confronts the presuppositions of the extrinsic model in its desire to distinguish between Scripture and canon. For Kruger, canon existed even before it was recognized as being such. It was authoritative upon composition and then received by the Christian community as Scripture. In chapter two, The Origins of Canon, Kruger addresses the issue of apostolic authority and its implications on the inevitability of the existence of a canon. In chapter three, The Writing of Canon, Kruger critiques the assumption that the early Christian communities favored oral tradition over written documents. Thus, he rightly places emphasis on the early recognition of the New Testament writings. In chapter four, The Authors of Canon, Kruger aims to build upon the previous chapter by connecting the New Testament documents to apostolic authority they conveyed. This is an important chapter the book and a crucial presumption of the intrinsic model. In chapter five, The Date of Canon, Kruger presents a well-positioned critique of the idea that the canon formulated at the end of the second century following the influence of Irenaeus of Lyons. Kruger carefully surveys a number of early Christian documents considered to be contemporary to Irenaeus and examines the existence of any deposit of a concept of authoritative books.

The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate is an important book. By understanding and defining the concept of canon as an ontological, Kruger has rightfully positioned himself to discuss the issue on theological grounds. The attentive reader will recognize the importance of this presupposition, and appreciate the judicious care with which Kruger articulates his view. The goal of the book is not to discredit the extrinsic model as unbeneficial to the discussion, but rather to offer a well-intended corrective to the model’s narrow assessment and interpretation of the historical evidence. The book itself is well written and largely accessible to the average reader, and, for this reason, should be recommended to anyone questioning the existence of canon. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or interested laymen who interacts with the world around you, The Question of Canon will better equip you to recognize the short sights of the current conversation and encourage your confidence in the inevitable existence of the New Testament text.

 

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: An Introduction to the Old Testament

26267459John Goldingay (PhD, University of Nottingham; DD, Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth) is David Alan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Goldingay is the author of numerous books, including the seventeen-volume Old Testament for Everyone series (Westminster John Knox, 2010-15), The Theology of the Book of Isaiah (IVP, 2014), Do We Need the New Testament? Letting the Old Testament Speak for Itself (IVP, 2015), and the three-volume Old Testament Theology (IVP, 2003-09). Furthermore, Goldingay has also published a number of highly respected commentaries and a host of articles pertaining to the sphere of Old Testament studies. Most recently, An Introduction to the Old Testament: Exploring Text, Approaches & Issues (IVP, 2015), Goldingay has brought the lively and informative conversations of his classroom to the everyday reader.

Part of the difficulty with the current landscape of introductory material on the Old Testament is that it generally overlooks the necessary balance between engaging the reader and instructing them in the areas of information they need. There are certain topics that the instructor needs to address in detail, and others that they do not. Moreover, for the student, there are particular issues and topics that perk their interest and others that may not. Finding the proper balance between “need to know” and “want to know” is a difficult task, but it is essential if one is going to fully engage others in the learning process. It is within this need and reality that An Introduction to the Old Testament shines the brightest, as it executes this balance with intentional precision.

There are several unique features that make An Introduction to the Old Testament more accessible in this manner. For the sake of space here, I will list two. First, rather than operating within the traditional chapter divisions, Goldingay has designated separate two-page sections for each topic addressed within the five major sections of the book — (Part I) Introduction, (Part II) Torah, (Part III) The Prophets, (Part IV) The Writings, and (Part V) Looking Back over the Whole. This attention to detail makes the content more digestible and accessible for the average reader. Second, to supplement these smaller sections, Goldingay has provided the reader with a whole host of additional material and expanded discussions at his website. Thus, at the end of each major division the reader will find a dedicated section entitled “Web Resources” where they can further investigate related issues. This is a great feature and it really allows the reader to plunge as deep as they desire, into whatever area they desire, and come out on the other side with a better understanding of the material.

An Introduction to the Old Testament: Exploring Text, Approaches & Issues by John Goldingay is an excellent guide through the deep trenches of the Old Testament Scriptures. Goldingay is a seasoned professor and has provided the reader with a welcomed balance between the “need to know” information of the Old Testament and the “want to know” information. Moreover, he has presented it in an easily digestible layout and provided the reader additional avenues to further pursue other topics of interest. For these reasons and more, An Introduction to the Old Testament is an easy recommendation for anyone looking to explore the Old Testament. But, more specifically, if you are a teacher and/or professor and are considering the use of An Introduction to the Old Testament as a textbook, I couldn’t think of a better resource to engage your students and cultivate conversation in your classroom than this. 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.

Book Review: Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?

8103566James D. G. Dunn is no stranger to the world of Early Christianity. In fact, it has been said of Dunn, “Anyone who is interested in the rigorous study of early Christianity and who has not engaged with the works of James D. G. Dunn is not really interested in the rigorous study of early Christianity” (The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins, 2004). Dunn is Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham. He received an M.A. and B.D. from the University of Glasgow and a Ph.D. and D.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books, including, The Evidence for Jesus (1985), Romans 1-8 & 9-16 in the Word Biblical Commentary series (1988), Jesus Remembered, Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (2003), Beginning from Jerusalem, Christianity in the Making, vol. 2 (2009), as well as the present volume and the subject of this review: Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence (2010).

Everything that I have read by Dunn has been well-written and thoroughly engaging. He is consistently both scholarly and accessible to the average reader, and Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? displays the marriage of these two realities well. Though it must be said that the content within may not be easily welcomed by conservative evangelicals. The book begins with a brief introduction where Dunn reveals his conversation partners—Richard Bauckham and Larry Hurtado—and builds the case for his investigation with a number of sub-questions that become the focus of the subsequent chapters. The thesis of the book is also laid on the table twofold: (1) for the first Christians worship of Jesus was a way of worshiping YHWH, and (2) the contemporary worship of Jesus now witnessed is only possible or acceptable within what is now understood as a Trinitarian framework (p. 6).  In Chapter one Dunn examines the language of worship in the New Testament as applied to Jesus. He concludes that there is no real concrete evidence that worship language, as applied to God, was ever directly applied to Jesus. According to Dunn the worship language found within the New Testament was never explicitly directed at Jesus, rather it was directed at God for Jesus (p. 27-28). Chapter two carries much of the same theme of ambiguity as Dunn examines at the practice of worship in relation to the person of Jesus (i.e. prayer and sacrifice). Dunn writes, “in earliest Christianity, Christ was never understood as the one to whom sacrifice was offered, even when the imagery of sacrifice was used symbolically for Christian service” (p. 56).

As Dunn moves toward the topic in closer detail, chapter three addresses the topic of monotheism, heavenly mediators, and divine agents. This was an interesting chapter and most readers will likely find it to be a highpoint in the book. Dunn examines Paul’s reframing of the Shema, the divine personification of Spirit, Wisdom, and Word in light of the early Christian claims about Jesus, as well as exalted human beings such as Moses, Elijah, and Enoch. Dunn historically concludes that none of these entities were treated as a rightful recipient of worship, and thus either was Jesus to the first Christians. The final chapter is the heartbeat of the book and crucial to Dunn’s thesis. If the reader is able to read only a single chapter from the book this is the chapter to read. In chapter four Dunn address a number of stimulating topics related to the proposed question of the book, such as Jesus’s view of monotheism, the New Testament texts that appear to refer to Jesus as YHWH (i.e. 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:24-28), as well as related issues within the Fourth Gospel and Revelation. As the book concludes Dunn warns the reader of the dangers of an oversimplified answer to the question. It’s not that simple according to Dunn. So, did the first Christians worship Jesus? Dunn concludes, “No, by and large the first Christians did not worship Jesus as such . . . so our central question can indeed be answered negatively, and perhaps it should be” (p. 150-151).
As stated above, everything that I have read by Dunn has been well-written and thoroughly engaging. He is consistently scholarly and accessible to the average reader, and Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? displays the union of these two realities well. Nonetheless, the content within this book may not be as easily welcomed by conservative evangelicals. Still, Dunn will make you think long and hard about your reading of Scripture and history. While I would largely align myself in opposition to Dunn’s conclusion, and in full disclosure did so prior to reading the book, I personally discovered many benefits in his contribution to this ongoing conversation. Consequently, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence is a commendable book, and I am certain that it will be enjoyed and discussed often by the interested reader.

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.

Book Review: James (EGGNT)

13212720Chris A. Vlachos is the Ph.D. program administrator and adjunct assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. Prior to joining the staff and teaching at Wheaton College in 2007, Vlachos served in Utah for thirty years, twenty-two years of which as an instructor and professor of Greek and New Testament at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. Vlachos earned an M.A. in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology of the New Testament from Wheaton College. Vlachos is the author (with Marvin R. Wilson) of A Workbook for New Testament Greek: Grammar and Exegesis in First John (Baker Academic, 2010) and The Law and the Knowledge of Good and Evil: The Edenic Background of the Catalytic Operation of the Law in Paul (Wipf & Stock, 2009). Most recently, Vlachos has authored a welcomed commentary in the EGGNT series, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: James (B&H Academic, 2013).

The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series seeks to function as a bridge to narrow the gap between the text of the Greek New Testament (UBS4) and the available lexical and grammatical resources being utilized by pastors and teachers today. The book begins with a brief introduction, discussing issues of authorship, date, occasion and purpose. If you are looking for extensive introductory material on the epistle you will need to look elsewhere, but Vlachos will provide you with a good survey of the need-to-know introductory information. As the commentary opens the reader is met by diagramed Greek text that functions as the roadmap for the commentary that follows. This is helpful for understanding the flow of the epistle and the overall thought of James as his pen hit the page. The commentary is discussed at the clausal level, as Vlachos explains and surveys the grammatical and exegetical discussion amongst biblical scholarship. Overall, I think Vlachos was objective in his evaluation, presenting the evidence in a responsible way in which cultivates contemplation on the part of the reader. Each unit in the commentary closes with a “For Further Study” section that includes a topically organized bibliography, as well as a “Homiletical Suggestions” segment which provides the reader with a number of text-derived preaching and teaching proposals.

The highlights of this commentary are numerous. First, Vlachos is clear, concise, and careful in his treatment of the text. If you are looking for a commentary that delivers sprinkles and frosting to decorate the cake, then you will want to look elsewhere. Vlachos is going to give you the cake alone. But the cake that Vlachos delivers is going to be some of the best cake you have ever tasted. It will be refreshing, enjoyable, and bursting with flavor. In other words, at under 200 pages, Vlachos will give you what you to know rather than what you may want to know. Second, as someone who seeks to engage in conversation with Mormon’s often, and given Vlachos’ prior position in Salt Lake City, I found his interaction on James 2:14-26 incredibly insightful. This is also testimony to the text-centered objectivity of Vlachos’ approach as he seeks to provide you with what the text says (and could say) without diverting into theological name-calling. Lastly, I found the grammatical index at the back of the book to extremely helpful for consulting the grammatical ideas flow across the letter. Not to mention, I seem to remember grammatical phraseology well, and thus can find the section I need quickly.

It is certainly no easy task to follow up the inaugural volume of what has come to be recognized as one of the best exegetically oriented series on the Greek New Testament. But if that wasn’t enough pressure on Vlachos, the introductory volume was written by one of the world’s foremost respected biblical exegetes Murray J. Harris. Still, despite these mental challenges that inevitably entered into his mind, Vlachos has produced a clear and concise compilation of some of the best work on the letter of James and did so while walking the reader through the grammatical and exegetical forest of one of the most important New Testament writings. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or trained laymen, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: James is a resource you will not want to see missing from your bookshelf. It follows closely in the footsteps of Harris’ work and has become the first book off my shelf when studying the letter of James.

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.

Book Review: Pauline Parallels

6947305Walter T. Wilson is Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. Wilson received a BA from Johns Hopkins University, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including, Love Without Pretense: Romans 12 and Jewish Wisdom Literature (1991), The Mysteries of Righteousness (1994), The Hope of Glory: Education and Exhortation in the Epistle to the Colossians (1997), The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides (2005), and Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues (2010). Wilson has also published articles on the Sermon on the Mount and the letter of James. Prior to the release of Wilson’s most recent work he published this present volume, Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide (2009), which aims to present a parallel journey through the Pauline epistle—a journey built largely upon the success of an earlier volume by Fred Francis and Paul Sampley.

There are a number of distinguishing features that set Wilson’s volume apart from prior works. For example, the parallels chosen for this volume are based largely on the similarity of specific terms, concepts, and/or images between passages (ix). Previous volumes focused more narrowly on the similarity of literary structure and/or form between passages. Additionally, the translation chosen for this volume is the New American Standard Bible (1995), which is particularly well suited for the task of the volume, since it is among the most literal translations available (ix). Wilson’s Pauline Parallels covers the entire Pauline corpus. Following the discussed text, which is organized canonically, Wilson has formatted the volume into four section: (1) parallels from the same epistle, (2) parallels from other Pauline epistles, (3) parallels from biblical passages outside the Pauline corpus, and occasionally (4) noncononical parallels. Apart from the overall structure of the volume, Wilson has also combed through the parallels and emphasized the key phrases, terms, and/or images drawing the parallel for the reader.

Having used this resource while teaching through the Letter to the Romans, I can attest to its usefulness firsthand. First, I greatly appreciated the format of the book, from the order of the content to the execution of the layout. It was easy to use and helpful for sermon preparation. Second, Wilson avoids passage to passage parallels and focuses more on the paragraph level. This allows the reader to gather the full thrust of Paul’s argument, and thus cultivates more usefulness for the emerging parallels. Third, the noncanonical sources, while only employed occasionally, are strategically selected to best fit Pauline thought. Source include apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works, Mishnah, Nag Hammadi Library, Dead Sea Scrolls, and many more. Fourth, the tedious work of combing through each passage and parallel passages to individually emphasize the intended correlations is worth the cost the book alone. Wilson’s labor truly becomes the reader’s reward.

If you are looking for a resource that will help you better understand the Pauline epistles then Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide is the ideal tool for you. You will be ushered into the mind of Paul like never before. In working through Romans, Wilson has truly given me a set of peripheral lenses with which I am now able to view the letter and see what is coming or had passed through my blindspots. For this, I am immediately grateful and I foresee this resource getting plenty of good use. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or just an interested layman, this is an essential starting place for Pauline studies, and it is well deserving of a spot on the bookshelf—preferably within reaching distance.

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. 

Book Review: Handbook of Religion

18652917Finding a reliable resource that surveys the religious landscape of this contemporary world is a daunting task. Not because there is a lack of resources, but because there is a lack of good resources. In fact, the options for such resources are almost beyond count, but the content therein is often mediocre at best. This is true across the board for all faith systems who actively seek to engage other religious worldviews. However, with the release of Handbook of Religion: A Christian Engagement with Traditions, Teachings, and Practices (Baker Academic, 2014), the once difficult task of sifting through growing mountains of possibilities for useful information has become a whole lot easier for the Christian. Handbook of Religion is a comprehensive compendium of Christian engagement with the various manifestations of religious belief around the world. This type of book is nothing new to the market, but the judicious execution and intentionality interaction of this resource are unique beyond anything else currently available.

Handbook of Religion opens with a strong introduction to properly orient and familiarize the reader with the Christian engagement of other religions. The book is then divided into four subsequent sections: (1) World Religions, (2) Indigenous Religions, (3) New Religious Movements, and (4) Essays. First, the “World Religions” section seeks to interact with some of the major world religions from a Christian perspective (i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam). Each major world religion is discussed in detail, including interaction with the history, beliefs, and practices of the religious system. Moreover, specific chapters on each major religion are dedicated to Christian contact, theological exchanges, current issues, and adherent essays. Second, the “Indigenous Religions” section seeks to interact with some of the native religions around the world. This section follows the same format as the prior, but the religions are discussed geographically as opposed to with specified titles (i.e. India, China, Europe, Africa, Oceania, etc.). Third, the “New Religious Movements” (NRM) section seeks to interact with some of the more recent religious phenomenon around the world (i.e. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Satanism, Atheism, etc.). This section, like the prior two sections, follows the same chapter format of discussion. Lastly, the “Essays” section provides a number of useful essays concerned with religious engagement with broader social issues (i.e. science, gender, violence, human rights, environment, etc.).

Handbook of Religion is prosperous in the execution of the intended goal for several reasons. First, the breadth of interaction in this resources reaches every corner of the earth—literally. It is easy to find resources that engage the major world religions from a Christian perspective, but rarely will the reader encounter a comprehensive look into the indigenous religions. This will better prepare the sensitive reader to serve in these areas. Second, the vast diversity of contributors to this volume is incredibly valuable for the reader. A total of fifty-five of the top religion scholars in the world, representing a broad spectrum of Christianity and other religious faith systems, contributed to this volume under the editorial guidance of Terry C. Muck, Harold A. Netland, and Gerald R. McDermott. Third, the inclusion of an “Adherent Essay” brings balance and insight where balance and insight is needed. Fourth, each essay concludes with a brief bibliography. This will help the curious reader investigate deeper as interest arises. Fifth, the generous number of “Study Aid” sections throughout the volume bring the reader in contact with helpful charts, maps, timelines, and sidebar discussions. I personally found the timelines to be extremely helpful when examining the history of the religions, and I think the reader will as well. Lastly, the layout of the volume is extremely user-friendly. This may not seem like a big deal for most, but the content on a page is only as good as it is able to be consumed by the reader. If the content is a burden to consume it is nearly useless. This volume delivers solid and digestible content in an inviting and engaging environment—a combination not often seen, and rarely executed well.

Handbook of Religion: A Christian Engagement with Traditions, Teachings, and Practices may appear as just another mediocre world religion textbook from a Christian perspective, but don’t let your presumptions lead you astray. This volume is comprehensive in scope and judicious in examination. Muck, Netland, and McDermott have assembled an appropriate team for the task of this resource and the reader will benefit greatly from having it on their bookshelf. Normally a review on a book of this caliber would conclude with a recommendation to pastors, teachers, and students, but this would be highly misdirected. If you are a Christian living in this world and engaging those around you, this book should be in arms reach of your nightly reading chair and consulted often.

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.