Oct 9, 2010

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest from a Bible Exposition perspective include:

Joel S. Burnett
Where Is God? Divine Absence in the Hebrew Bible
Reviewed by Joel Williams
Lynn H. Cohick
Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life
Reviewed by Colleen Conway
A. Joseph Everson and Hyun Chul Paul Kim, eds.
The Desert Will Bloom: Poetic Visions in Isaiah
Reviewed by Todd Hibbard
Susan R. Garrett
No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus
Reviewed by Charles Gieschen
Timothy C. Gray
The Temple in the Gospel of Mark: A Study in Its Narrative Role
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek
Reviewed by Vicki Phillips
David M. Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos, eds.
Herod and Augustus: Papers Presented at the IJS Conference, 21st-23rd June 2005
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz
Peter T. O'Brien
The Letter to the Hebrews
Reviewed by Martin Karrer
Martin Vahrenhorst
Kultische Sprache in den Paulusbriefen
Reviewed by Nils Neumann
William M. Wright IV
Rhetoric and Theology: Figural Reading of John 9
Reviewed by Adele Reinhartz


Review of Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

Rasmussen, Carl. Zondervan Atlas of the Bible. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible is a revised version of the Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible which came out in 1989. While the first edition contains 256 pages, the revised edition clocks in at 303 pages. A spot check of the written portions indicated that these remain basically the same with one notable exception. The new edition has added a section on the seven churches in Revelation (pp. 235–39). While the written portion in both volumes is very similar, many of the maps, diagrams, and pictures are either new or significantly improved. The revised edition is a more attractive volume. In my opinion, this fact alone provides sufficient reason to acquire the new edition. The cover advertises that the atlas comes with a free poster of New Testament Jerusalem. However, my review copy did not come with the poster (for whatever reason) and so I cannot evaluate it. But if the poster is similar to the graphics in the book, then I am sure it would be a nice bonus.

There are four features that I liked about the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible. First, as I have already noted, the maps, diagrams, and pictures are nicely done. Second, the written sections typically take conservative Evangelical positions on issues of history and dating (e.g., the early 1446 date for the Exodus). Third, the timelines at the beginning of each section provide the reader a helpful chronological orientation for the discussion and maps in the section. This is not an original feature, but it is one that I appreciated in the original edition as well. Fourth, the indices for Scripture references and persons helps to make the information in the atlas more accessible. Similarly this atlas includes a geographical dictionary and index. This too is helpful, but it can be a bit confusing since there is another section called a glossary. I would suggest combining these sections.

Unfortunately, there are three aspects of this volume that I am less enthusiastic about. First, the font size of the revised edition is noticeably smaller than the original. The smaller font may have been needed to provide more space for the additional maps, diagrams, and pictures. But I think that the smaller font makes this atlas a little harder to use. Secondly, an observation that I would make about other atlases as well is that I wish that there would be more discussion and explanation of how the realities of the geography of the Bible lands impacted the biblical events. Third, I really wish that all published atlases, including this one, would come with a CD or some other way to access the maps, diagrams, and pictures so that preachers and teachers could more easily and efficiently utilize the materials in presentations, lectures, or sermons. This would be much more helpful than providing the free poster noted above.

But these minor criticisms aside, I really like this atlas and it is probably the volume I would recommend for anyone who wants to get a solid and attractive atlas written from an Evangelical perspective.

You can browse the atlas here.

Oct 8, 2010

Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:24-28

See Michael Heiser's post for an introduction to a discussion of the use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:24-28. Although there is little discussion on the issues (I am assuming that will come in subsequent posts), there are two links to material which will be helpful. The first is a PDF of the texts involved (Greek NT, LXX, and MT). The second is Greg Trull's Bibliotheca Sacra 2004 article "Views on Peter's Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-32."

Free Audio to the Baptists and the Cross: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives Conference

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptists studies has made the audio for their recent conference on Baptists and the Cross: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives (August 30-31, 2010) available here. I am particularly interested in Tom Schreiner's contribution, "The Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles, Petrine Epistles, and Hebrews."

HT: Trevin Wax

Oct 7, 2010

Disagreeing without Being Disagreeable

Ken Keathley has good advice for when you are writing about those with whom you disagree. In sum he offers three good suggestions.

1. Describe your opponent’s position in such a way that he can recognize it.
2. Know your opponent’s position well enough that you could argue it for him.
3. Write as if your opponent and you were going to dinner together after you finish

I often find that advice like this is sadly neglected on discussion lists, blogs, and other forums like Facebook. This is also one reason that I don't often interact with discussions in these contexts. In any case, Ken's post is worth reading in full here.

Free Ministry Resources

See this page for over 150 free resources at churchleaders.com.

Oct 6, 2010

New Gospel of John Commentary and NICNT Commentaries on Sale

J. Ramsey Michael's new commentary on the Gospel of John and the rest of the volumes in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) commentaries are on sale at the Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore until Wednesday, Oct. 20th at 11:59 PM.

J. Ramsey Michael's new commentary on the Gospel of John in the NICNT series is on sale for $39 or 40% off. Go here.

If you buy two volumes in the NICNT series you get an additional 10% off. Go here.

Or you can buy all eighteen volumes in the NICNT series for $528.60. Go here.

Oct 5, 2010

There Must Be a Preaching Illustration Here

Rabbi Ari Schvat has issued a written ruling which concludes that Mossad agents can use "illicit sex" for sake of national security. I would be interested in seeing the rabbi's biblical support for this one. See the story here.

"SBL in October" Sale

Some readers might be interested in Eisenbraun's "SBL in October" sale. Even if you are going to the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Atlanta in November, you might want to consider taking advantage of this offer. Not only do you get the convention prices, but there are two additional advantages. You won't need pay Atlanta's sales tax and you won't have to worry about how you are getting the books home (especially with airlines and their bag limits and fees). There is also free shipping for orders over $99.00. But the sale is only until October 18. Here is a link to the sale

Oct 4, 2010

Suffering in the New Testament

See this two-part article here and here in Christian Today Australia.

New Esther Commentary

The latest offering from the Bible Speaks Today series published by InterVarsity Press is The Message of Esther by David G. Firth. I hope to share some additional insights from the book in the near future, but for now here is the publisher’s description and table of contents (I really like some of the clever titles).


By any assessment, Esther is a rather strange book to find in the Bible. Not only is it, along with Daniel, the only book of the Bible to be set entirely outside of the Promised Land, it also shows no interest in that land. More than that, Esther is the only book in the Bible which definitely does not mention God. None of this should be taken as meaning that the book has no theological intention––on the contrary it has a developed theology, but it is a theology which operates precisely because it does not mention God directly. In this volume in the Bible Speaks Today commentary series, David Firth explores this paradoxically important book and its implications for our own contemporary context, where the reality of God’s presence is experienced against a backdrop of God’s relative anonymity and seeming absence.

Table of Contents:

General preface
Author's preface
Chief abbreviations


1. Some Parties and Their Aftermath (1:1–22)
2. Providence in the Passive Voice (2:1–23)
3. Power and Corruption in High Places (3:1–15)
4. Risking All (4:1–17)
5. A Tale of Two Banquets (5:1–14)
6. A Funny Thing Happened (6:1–13)
7. An Awkward Dinner (6:14–7:10)
8. Revoking the Irrevocable (8:1–17)
9. Days of Deliverance (9:1–19)
10. Remembering Deliverance (9:20–10:3)

Much thanks to IVP for the review copy.

Oct 3, 2010

Introductory Comments on Job 14:1–27:23

I am teaching through the Book of Job this fall. Many interpreters of Job know that the heart of the book consists of cycles of speeches, cast in poetic form, between Job and his friends. Here are some introductory thoughts on these cycles.

Each cycle consists of a speech from each of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, with an intervening response from Job. Throughout the three cycles of speeches Job’s friends’ view Job’s suffering through a theory of retribution, that is, God rewards the righteous and punishes the unrighteous. The explanation for Job’s suffering then is sin. It is important to note that Job appears to also embrace the theology, but rejects the inference since he knows that he is innocent. This raises a problem for Job since the theology seems to have failed in his case. For Job, the effect does not reflect the cause. It should also be noted that as the cycles progress the tone of Job’s friends becomes more specific and critical of Job. In response to the increasing accusations of his friends, Job remains steadfast in affirming his innocence (6:10; 9:21; 16:17; 27:6). Indeed, Job accuses God of afflicting him unfairly (6:4; 9:17; 13:27; 16:12; 19:11) and seeks to present his case before God (9:3; 13:3; 16:21; 19:23; 23:4).