May 3, 2014

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below. 

Mary Ann Beavis
Reviewed by Jeff Jay

Katherine M. Hayes
Reviewed by Bálint Károly Zabán

Jerry Hwang
The Rhetoric of Remembrance: An Investigation of the “Fathers” in Deuteronomy
Reviewed by Joel Barker

Paul S. Jeon
To Exhort and Reprove: Audience Response to the Chiastic Structures of Paul’s Letter to Titus
Reviewed by David P. Parris

Ann E. Killebrew and Gunnar Lehmann, eds.
The Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples” in Text and Archaeology
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins
Reviewed by Raz Kletter

Yung Suk Kim, ed.
1 and 2 Corinthians
Reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III

Timothy Michael Law
When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible
Reviewed by Martin Rösel

Dina Stein
Textual Mirrors: Reflexivity, Midrash, and the Rabbinic Self
Reviewed by Simon Lasair

Travis B. Williams
Persecution in 1 Peter: Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

May 2, 2014

A Review of Bible Revival

Kenneth Berding, Bible Revival: Recommitting Ourselves to One Book (Wooster, OH: Weaver, 2014).

Back in the 1970s a book called The Battle for the Bible was a clarion call to return to biblical fidelity. Although not perfect, many heard that call. I see Kenneth Berding’s Bible Revival: Recommitting Ourselves to One Book in the same vein. “This book answers the question of why we need a revival of the Bible in our generation and what it will take to see it happen” (p. 12). The author is a professor of New Testament studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

Bible Revival is composed of a brief introduction, six major chapters, and two appendices. The six chapters include the following: (1) A Revival of Learning the Word: Confronting Distractions, Priorities, and the Pretext of Being Too Busy; (2) A Revival of Valuing the Word: Confronting Haziness, Self-Sufficiency, and the Perception That the Bible Isn’t Enough; (3) A Revival of Understanding the Word: Confronting Superficiality, Superiority, and the Assumption That It Should Come Easily; (4) A Revival of Applying the Word: Confronting Special Interests, Therapeutism, and a Lack of Dependence on the Spirit; (5) A Revival of Obeying the Word: Confronting Sentimentality, Avoidance, and the Opinion That I Have the Right to Decide; and (6) A Revival of Speaking the Word: Confronting Fear, Excuses, and the Idea That It’s the Responsibility of the Clergy. The two appendices are “The Easiest Way to Memorize the Bible” and “A Method for Attaining Bible Fluency.”

This work is clearly and concisely written (128 pp.). These two characteristics make it a good resource for classes and small groups. Each chapter concludes with a prayer and review questions to further help facilitate this purpose. I appreciate the author’s passion for and commitment to the Bible. For many who will likely read this book, Berding will probably be “preaching to the choir.” But every now and again, the choir needs to be reminded that we are in a battle for the Bible.

You can read an excerpt here. You can also access an interview with the author here.

Much thanks to Weaver Books for providing the free review copy used in this unbiased review.

May 1, 2014

Free Audio Book: J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is offering J. I. Packer's classic Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God as their free download for the month of May. This is a great book and typical Packer. To read more about the book and to get your free audio download go here.

Apr 30, 2014

Free Audio: Expository Preaching Workshop: Preaching 1 John

You can now access free audio to the Expository Preaching Workshop held in March 2014. The focus this year was on preaching 1 John although a few of the messages are not from 1 John. You can access the audio here.

Apr 29, 2014

Advice for Preaching the Gospels

Steven Mathewson has more good advice about preaching from the Gospels. I have summarized five suggestions that he offers.

1. Read and reread the Gospels.
2. Purchase a couple of the best commentaries of the Gospel you intend to preach.
3. Do some background reading in Second Temple Judaism.
4. Select a couple of narratives and compare them in a synopsis.  
 5. Listen to or read good sermons on the Gospels.

Steven D. Mathewson, Preaching the Four Gospels with Confidence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2013),153-56.

Apr 28, 2014

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014)

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, or "Dr. P." as he was affectionately known, has gone to meet his Lord. He celebrated his 99th birthday last week. He has had a profound impact on many men and women around the world including myself. I count it one of God's gracious blessings that He allowed my path to cross his. He will be missed. 

Review of Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth

Holsteen, Nathan D., and Michael J. Svigel, eds. Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2014.

This volume of Exploring Christian Theology is authored and edited by Drs. Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel, professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, with contributions from other DTS professors. The focus of the volume is spiritual growth and the end times, or in more technical terms, sanctification and eschatology. Holsteen authors the section on spiritual growth and Svigel on the end times. Each section contains a “high-altitude survey” or overview of the topic, “passages to master” or the main biblical texts related to the topic, a retrospective look at the topic from the perspective of church history, principles to put into practice, key facts to never forget, dangers to avoid, quotations from Christian voices from the past and present, and shelf space: recommendations for your library, an annotated list of significant works. The volume is rounded out by a glossary and Scripture index. There are numerous user-friendly diagrams and sidebars.

There is much to like in this volume. It is comprehensive without being laboriously extensive. At around 250 pages, it is not a long work, but there is much here. The authors take seriously theological traditions and church history and treat both with respect and fairness. There are extensive selections from past and present Christian thinkers. Although the topics are academic, this volume is also pastoral and one gets the sense of the authors’ passion for both God and His church. This is usually most evident in the facts to remember and dangers to avoid sections. Bibliophiles will enjoy the annotated bibliography. The writing style of Holsteen and Svigel is serious but accessible and lively.

As far as criticisms go, I only note two observations. The first is one more of preference. Namely, I would prefer footnotes to endnotes. Second, I wonder whether it might be easier on the reader to combine the retrospective and voices from the past and present sections. I can see how separating these sections might have some benefit, but the voices from the past are just presented without any context other than a heading which identifies the particular church period in which it falls. I wonder whether those who will likely read this book have enough background to benefit from these excerpts as they stand. It may also make it easier for less-diligent readers to forgo these primary sources altogether by skipping the section (which would be unfortunate).

In sum, this volume of Exploring Christian Theology is to be commended. It could be useful for pastors, church study groups, Bible college students, and maybe even introductory-level seminary classes (though this would probably need to be supplemented with other texts).

Much Thanks to Bethany House for providing the text used in this unbiased review.

Apr 27, 2014

Conference on the Pericope Adulterae

Jacob Cerone has a nice summary here of a recent conference held at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on the Pericope Adulterae.

HT. Brian Fulthrop