Review: Ephesians (EEC)

29597964S. M. Baugh is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California. Baugh has earned both a M.A.R. and MDiv from Westminster Seminary California and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. He is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is actively engaged in preaching and teaching. Baugh has written essays and articles for various publications, and he is the author of A First John Reader: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar (P&R, 1999) and New Testament Greek Primer, 3rd edition (P&R, 2012). Most recently, Baugh released a mammoth commentary on Ephesians in the highly acclaimed and quickly growing Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series published by Lexham Press.

Ephesians is a powerhouse of exegetical insight and reflection. Baugh seems to leave no interpretive stone unturned, and his interaction therein displays decades of seasoned consideration on both primary and secondary literature. The introduction alone is approximately 50-pages in length and includes a healthy and up-to-date bibliography, as well as the standard introductory material that the reader would expect from a commentary of this caliber. Although it must be said outright that Baugh does little if anything “standard” in this commentary. From beginning to end, it would not be a stretch to conclude that even the most learned of readers will walk away from Baugh’s interaction with a wealth of exegetical and interpretive insights.

One of the most apparent benefits of this commentary is the organization and presentation of the content. This really works well with Baugh’s interaction with the text. Each of the major sections begins with a brief introduction to the unit of text, followed by an outline, the original text, textual notes, translation, commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography. Also, the reader will occasionally meet an additional exegetical comments section, where Baugh seeks to provide additional comments on various themes in the letter (i.e. magic, faith in/of Christ, etc.). One of the most helpful features of Baugh’s work is the amount of information provided in the original text and textual notes sections. Baugh does well in assisting the reader in the task of establishing the text before he carefully guides them on an exegetical tour towards a very practical end.

Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary by S. M. Baugh is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best technical commentary on Ephesians available today. Baugh has offered far more than a reworking of his predecessors. This volume is carefully researched and judiciously presented for maximum usability. There is an assumed knowledge of the original languages that is required, but even those with limited knowledge will benefit greatly. Baugh has effectively blended academic rigor with practical exposition—a feat that could only be accomplished after decades of reflection and interaction. If you are looking for a commentary that will make you think and evaluate the available landscape of ideas before guiding you through the outcomes therein, this is a volume that you cannot ignore. It will quickly become the first off of your bookshelf!

 

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.

Review: High Definition Commentary: James

28279999Steven E. Runge currently serves as Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software. Runge has a Master of Theological Studies degree in Biblical Languages from Trinity Western Seminary in Langley, B.C., Canada, and a Doctor of Literature degree in Biblical Languages from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He is the author or editor of a number of books related to Greek discourse analysis, including Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis, Discourse Studies & Biblical Interpretation: A Festschrift in Honor of Stephen H. Levinsohn (editor), Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament (general editor), and the High Definition Commentary series of which three volumes have been published—Philippians, Romans, and most recently, James.

High Definition Commentary: James is a unique commentary experience that will position itself well alongside other commentaries, such as James (EEC) by William Varner or The Letter of James (PNTC) by Douglas Moo. Both the size and content of this volume display that it was not intended to be a replacement commentary for those mentioned above. Rather, Runge has provided an excellent supplemental commentary that guides the reader through the trenches of a rigorous discourse analysis of the Greek text. Still, the reader with no prior exposure to such analysis will be happy to find that this volume is extremely accessible notwithstanding the complexity of the preceding sentence. Runge has truly done the reader a service by distilling the fruit of such analysis and presenting it within a clear and digestible package—a package that will bolster the readers understanding of the text without bogging them down in details.

The commentary itself is very readable and overflowing with practical insight for pastors and teachers. This is likewise true with the other volumes in the High Definition Commentary series. The commentary lacks a traditional introduction that some readers may expect. However, Runge does provide some introductory material in his opening treatment of James 1:1-11. Nevertheless, the real benefit of this volume is the way that Runge guides the reader through the text of James with a unified approach to his overall thought process. This is unique in that the reader is able to see the clear shifts in James’ argument as he moves from thought to thought, but also see the unity therein—something that is lacking in some of the other approaches taken towards this book. This, accompanied by the numerous graphics included, will be particularly helpful for those seeking to teach or study the book cover-to-cover.

High Definition Commentary: James by Steven E. Runge is a commentary that I wouldn’t want to be without. Runge is clear and articulate in his presentation of the discourse analysis of the Greek text, and thus very readable for those approaching the book of James—maybe even for the first time. Moreover, the inclusion of the graphics allows the pastor or teacher to more easily digest and display the overall message of the book to his hearers—providing a visual point of reference to better communicate the information therein. In short, if you are preparing to teach or preach through the book of James, or even simply looking for a more holistic understanding of the text, this is a commentary that will make your efforts worthwhile. Highly recommended!

 

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.

Review: The Unseen Realm

25077593Michael S. Heiser is Scholar-in-Residence at Faithlife, the creators of Logos Bible Software, and has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Heiser has written a host of peer-reviewed articles for Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Journal of the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament, Themelios, Tyndale Bulletin, Bible Translator, and much more. Heiser also contributed a number of articles in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (IVP, 2012), and the Lexham Bible Dictionary. Most recently, Heiser has made waves with his new book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham Press, 2015).

The Unseen Realm begins with a brief introduction into Heiser’s personal journey as a Hebrew student and his encounter with Psalm 82. This background provides the premise for the investigation that then unfolds in the coming pages. The book is divided into eight parts: (1) First Things – the stage is set with some preliminary rules for engagement; (2) The Households of God – attention is directed towards the initial biblical patterns, namely that God has a divine family, a heavenly assembly, or council, of elohim in which he is superior over all others; (3) Divine Transgressions – attention directed towards the arrogance of the nachash (the Serpent) and his transgression that fractured the human-divine relationship; (4) Yahweh and His Portion – attention is directed towards Yahweh’s acts of intervention amid his people, especially when in conflict or threatened by gods or men; (5) Conquest and Failure – the readers are guided through the intended results of the conquest under Moses and Joshua, and the divine backdrop that motivated therein; (6) Thus Says The Lord – attention is directed towards the theological intentions that undergird the monarchy’s history, and the reader is guided through the prophets and into the realization of the kingdom already, but not yet; (7) The Kingdom Already – the exploration enters into the realm of the New Testament and the anticipation and inauguration of the King, and the New Testament dependence on Old Testament motifs therein; and (8) The Kingdom Not Yet – the investigation comes full-circle and further establishes the supernatural worldview of the context within the closing climax of the Christian Bible.

There are a number of exciting aspects of this book that make it a must-read. First, I think that Heiser does an excellent job guiding the reader through some of the more commonly discussed issues of critical scholarship concerning the unseen realm of the ancient Near East, and yet does so in such a way as to keep the tenor of the conversation understandable and clear for the reader. Second, it is clear that Heiser is sensitive to the fact that the content being presented is likely to shake the foundation of many personal traditions. His awareness of such, I believe, makes the reader desire to follow his investigation further as oppose to abandon it. Third, Heiser does well in his overall organization of the topic. Each chapter has various subsections that build upon each other and allow the reader to digest smaller chunks of text and ideas. Finally, the overall thrust of the book is executed well and I think the reader will appreciate the attention to detail, but it is the content that makes the book so incredible. Admittedly, I did find myself in disagreement with Heiser at times, but he is generally fair in his understanding and presentation of the text—especially when it comes to Genesis and the Old Testament—and he does well in guiding the reader to his conclusion rather than making a bunch of empty statements.

The Unseen Realm is breathtaking. Heiser presents a vision of God and the supernatural world that untangles much of the complexity that has historically plagued the reading of passages such as Psalm 82, Genesis 1:26, 6:1-4, Judges 6, Daniel 7, and much more. Having already been familiar with Heiser’s work, I knew in large what to expect with this book. But, I must say, The Unseen Realm has delivered much more than I anticipated. This doesn’t mean there aren’t areas of concern or disagreement that I have with Heiser’s hermeneutic at part, but rather that his arguments are well-presented and persuasively met with a keen awareness of the ancient Near East. Heiser will make you think outside your traditional bubble as he ushers you through the ancient Near Eastern world with confidence and wonder. He carefully guides the reader through difficult waters of ignorance and unearth an undeniable theme penetrating the biblical narrative. Students of the Bible will do well in reading this book closely. It will change the way you read and study your Bible, and for that it comes highly recommended!

Also, for those wishing to investigate further, Douglas Van Dorn has compiled an excellent companion volume, The Unseen Realm: A Question & Answer Companion. This volume is saturated with Scripture references and useful beyond words. I wouldn’t buy one without the other!

 

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.