Apr 4, 2015

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. 

Itzhak Benyamini
Narcissist Universalism: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Paul’s Epistles
Reviewed by Kari Syreeni

Wim M. de Bruin
Isaiah 1–12 as Written and Read in Antiquity
Reviewed by Ibolya Balla

Trevor J. Burke and Brian S. Rosner, eds.
Paul as Missionary: Identity, Activity, Theology, and Practice
Reviewed by Ronald R. Clark

J. Patout Burns Jr.
Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators
Reviewed by Daniel Patte
Reviewed by Adam Ployd

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, ed.
Apocalyptic Paul: Cosmos and Anthropos in Romans 5–8
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Barbara Green
Jeremiah and God’s Plans of Well-Being
Reviewed by Lissa M. Wray Beal

Richard H. Hiers
Women’s Rights and the Bible: Implications for Christian Ethics and Social Policy
Reviewed by L. Juliana Claassens

William S. Kurz
Acts of the Apostles
Reviewed by Thomas E. Phillips
Reviewed by Troy M. Troftgruben

A. James Murphy
Kids and Kingdom: The Precarious Presence of Children in the Synoptic Gospels
Reviewed by Marianne Blickenstaff

Ruth Poser
Das Ezechielbuch als Trauma-Literatur
Reviewed by Michael S. Moore

Robert M. Price
The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul
Reviewed by Corneliu Constantineanu
Reviewed by Glenn E. Snyder

Ephraim Stern
The Material Culture of the Northern Sea Peoples in Israel
Reviewed by Raz Kletter

Apr 3, 2015

Review of Acts by Guy Prentiss Waters

Guy Prentiss Waters, Acts, EP Study Commentary (Holywell: EP Books, 2015).  

Students of the Book of Acts have many options related to commentaries. Indeed, one is almost overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and new works continue to be added to the options. One is the volume presently under consideration. It is written by Guy Prentiss Waters, a Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS.

The commentary itself falls in the middle of a spectrum that stretches from the devotional end to the technical end. At 614 pages, it is definitely more than a devotional commentary although there are devotional-type thoughts in the “application” sections. But this is also not a technical commentary since most technical issues are not discussed, but rather, the interested reader is referred to other resources through the copious footnotes. These footnotes provide ample evidence that the author is familiar with the standard commentaries and that his explanations have been informed by them. All this is important to state so that this work can be evaluated for what it is rather than what it is not.

As a mid-range commentary, there is a brief but serviceable introduction that will resonate with most Evangelicals. He holds to Lukan authorship, a date of writing ranging from AD 61–100, and affirms the book’s historical reliability. The outline is simple but I am not sure that it adequately captures the major movements in the book. In the commentary proper, Waters does a nice job in providing a general explanation. His writing is clear and succinct. Greek references are sparse and always transliterated. Waters generally reaches a typically Reformed Evangelical conclusions in regard to some of the debated texts. For example, in Acts 2 he apparently takes a cessationist approach to tongues and rejects baptismal regeneration. Each outline section concludes with an application. This is commendable since many preachers, teachers, and readers need some help in moving from text to life, especially in narrative literature. The “applications” here are generally good but in many cases, the applications are really principles rather than applications. So it might be better to call these sections, “Principles and Applications.” All-in-all there is much to commend in this commentary. However, a bibliography (or at least a work cited) had been included since those who would likely benefit most from this work are also those less likely to be familiar with the broader literature.

In sum, Waters’s commentary meets a need for someone looking for an in-between resource. This volume provides an adequate, conservative, and helpful examination of Acts and its implications for Christians today.

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

Apr 2, 2015

Gordon Fee Videos

Matthew Montinini has posted three videos here of a younger Gordon Fee teaching on 1 Corinthians.

Apr 1, 2015

Free Logos Book for April: Isaiah by Bevard Childs

The free Logos Book for April is Brevard Child’s commentary on Isaiah in the Old Testament Library series. You can also purchase Jeremiah in the same series for .99 cents. While you are at it, you can enter to win  7 volumes from the OTL series. Go the Logos' Free Book of Month page here to enter and download your free book today!

Mar 30, 2015

Picturing the Triumphal Entry in a Sermon

Yesterday I preached on the Triumphal Entry from Matthew 21:1–11. Among other things in my PowerPoint, I was able to use several photographs from Todd Bolen’s excellent Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (PLBL). I thought I might share a few thoughts on how I used this resource in preaching.

First, I wanted to show an overview of the area mentioned in Matthew 21:1: “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives.” Although, Matthew does not mention Bethany as part of the story, I wanted to include it as well since it is noted in both Mark and Luke (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29). I found what I was looking for in the PLBL Volume on Jerusalem, in particular in the PowerPoint on the Mount of Olives (slide 38). This slide helpfully labels a number of locations. I removed all the labels except for Bethany, Bethphage, and the Dome of the Rock (representing Jerusalem since the others labels were not pertinent to the message. I also changed the labeling slightly to make it easier to see. I then took a photo of the church in Bethphage from volume 17: Cultural Images of the Holy Land in the Christian Holidays-Palm Sunday folder and used it an inset to the overview slide. Here are the before and after slides.

After talking about Matthew 21:1–3, I also used a PLBL photo of a donkey in Bethphage from the Mount of Olives folder in the Jerusalem volume. In my message, I noted that although this was not the Triumphal Entry donkey, I would like to think that maybe it was its great, great, great, great ancestor!

In sum, these photos were not essential for the message but I do think that they helped people to better visualize the scene in the text. They also added a level of realism that the Triumphal Entry occurred in a real place and not in some Neverland. Next time you are preaching (especially from a narrative) and you plan to use a presentation, then you might want to take a look at the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. You might find exactly what you are looking for.

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. 

Miryam T. Brand
Evil Within and Without: The Source of Sin and Its Nature as Portrayed in Second Temple Literature
Reviewed by Rodney A. Werline

Ronald E. Clements
Jerusalem and the Nations: Studies in the Book of Isaiah
Reviewed by Bo H. Lim

John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt
Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader
Reviewed by Bálint Károly Zabán

Jason von Ehrenkrook
Sculpting Idolatry in Flavian Rome: (An)Iconic Rhetoric in the Writings of Flavius Josephus
Reviewed by Patrick McCullough

David A. Fiensy and Ralph K. Hawkins, eds.
The Galilean Economy in the Time of Jesus
Reviewed by Ulrich Busse
Reviewed by Sarah E. Rollens

André Gagné and Jean-François Racine, eds.
En marge du canon: Études sur les écrits apocryphes juifs et chrétiens
Reviewed by Edmon L. Gallagher

Jonathan S. Greer
Dinner at Dan: Biblical and Archaeological Evidence for Sacred Feasts at Iron Age II Tel Dan and Their Significance
Reviewed by Aren M. Maeir

Helen R. Jacobus, Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme, and Philippe Guillaume, eds.
Studies on Magic and Divination in the Biblical World
Reviewed by Craig A. Evans

David Marcus
Scribal Wit: Aramaic Mnemonics in the Leningrad Codex
Reviewed by Christopher Dost

Susan Marks
First Came Marriage: The Rabbinic Appropriation of Early Jewish Wedding Ritual
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

David R. Nienhuis and Robert W. Wall
Reading the Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude as Scripture: The Shaping and Shape of a Canonical Collection
Reviewed by John Kloppenborg

John Painter and David A. deSilva
James and Jude
Reviewed by Darian Lockett

Luis Sánchez Navarro
Escudriñar las Escrituras: Verbum Domini y la interpretación bíblica
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Morrow

C. S. Song
In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts: Story Theology
Reviewed by Michelle J. Morris

Mar 29, 2015

Note Taking During Sermons?

Jared Wilson has some interesting thoughts here on whether to encourage or discourage note-taking during sermons. To be honest, I have not really done either one and have left it to my hearers to decide what they want to do,