Category Archives: Book Reviews

Review of Biblical Literature – 9/26/2008

Here are some interesting book reviews from the September 26th update of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) review web site:

Review of Biblical Literature – August 2008

Recently I joined the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). I’ve seen other blogs mention the following type of book reviews, but now I’m actually getting the E-mails each month when the book reviews are released. So, I thought I would spread the word too and mention some of the book reviews that I found interesting from this months newsletter. Here they are. Enjoy!


Lester L. Grabbe
Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?
Reviewed by Brian B. Schmidt

Leslie Houlden, ed.
Decoding Early Christianity: Truth and Legend in the Early Church
Reviewed by Robert M. Bowman Jr.

Tom Thatcher, ed.
What We Have Heard from the Beginning: The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies
Reviewed by Cornelis Bennema

Francis Watson
Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

What Saint Paul Really Said – Podcast

Well, after several months of waiting, the new podcast is actually complete! 🙂

This third podcast is on the topic of What Saint Paul Really Said , a book by N.T. Wright. In the podcast we cover the first chapter of the book where Wright deals with the 5 most influential Pauline scholars of the 20th century. You will certainly learn something new in this podcast, so I encourage you to listen to all of it. Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions about the information I summarized. Next time I hope to push even further into Wright’s book.

What Saint Paul Really Said

McKnight Reviews N.T. Wright’s Latest Book

Surprised by Hope

Scott McKnight of Jesus Creed has reviews N.T. Wright’s latest and second book in Wright’s short trilogy of apologetic work introducing the Christian Faith to readers. This review is helpful and informative. I encourage everyone to read through it and consider purchasing Wright’s new book to read as well. Please let me know your thoughts.

Fathers and Sons

Here is a book review that Justin Taylor mentioned and gave good reviews about. It’s suppose to be the best book review he’s ever read. So, I pass this on to you and encourage you to read the review and see if you feel the same way.

Here is an excerpt from the review…

If asked what is the deepest relationship imaginable, many people would say it is between lovers, or between husbands and wives. The case can be made, however, that from a Christian perspective, no relationship is more mysterious and more wonderful, yet sometimes more troubling, than that of fathers and sons. The depth and wonder begin with all we know of the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, while the troubled aspects stem from the Fall. Consider Absalom’s rebellion against King David in the Old Testament, Edmund Gosse’s exposure of his father Philip, the Oedipal drive in the writings of Sigmund Freud—and now Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy for God, a memoir that is his personal apologia at the expense of his famous father, Francis Schaeffer, who was the founder and leader of the worldwide network of L’Abri communities.

Frank Schaeffer unquestionably adored his father, just as his father passionately adored him. Having lived in their home for more than three years, I have countless memories of this, including the sight of the two of them wrestling on the floor of the living room of their chalet, and ending with a fierce hug. Yet no critic or enemy of Francis Schaeffer has done more damage to his life’s work than his son Frank—a result that one might not be able to infer from many reviews of the memoir, including that which appeared in the previous issue of Books & Culture.

The problem is not so much that Frank exposes and trumpets his parents’ flaws and frailties, or that he skewers them with his characteristic mockery. It is more than that. For all his softening, the portrait he paints amounts to a death-dealing charge of hypocrisy and insincerity at the very heart of their life and work. In Frank’s own words, his parents were “crazy for God.” Their call to the ministry “actually drove them crazy,” so that “religion was actually the source of their tragedy.” His dad was under “the crushing belief that God had ‘called’ him to save the world.” Because of this, his parents were “happiest when farthest away from their missionary work.” Back at their calling, they were “professional proselytizers,” their teaching was “indoctrination,” and it was unclear whether people came to faith or were “brainwashed” and “under the spell” of his parents. Frank’s own arguments in their support, he now says, were a kind of “circus trick.” (more…)

[HT: James Grant]

Interview: HCSB General Editor

Here is a very helpful and interesting interview with Dr. Ed Blum, who edited the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I encourage everyone to read at least some part of it. The information is extremely fascinating.

Below I have re-posted the portion of the interview that dealt with the HCSB’s distinctions from other translations, in particular the ESV.

Please let me know what you think.

Will: In your mind, what makes this translation distinct from other translations? I’m particularly interested in its distinction from the ESV, which seems to be one of its biggest competitors, if I can use that term.

Ed: The ESV comes from the King James tradition. The King James was revised continuously until about 1750. In 1870 they did a major revision of the King James which never became really popular which was called the English Revised Version, and I think popularly known as the Revised Version. It actually came out in 1881. The Americans who worked on it weren’t happy with it, but they had signed an agreement not to publish for 20 years, so they came out in 1901 with the American Standard Version, their revision of the King James tradition. And that stayed in print until the mid 1930s and the National Council of Churches who owned the copyright started on the RSV. And the RSV NT was done in 1946, and the OT was finished in the early 1950s. Everybody thought the NT was fairly decent, but the OT, they had a number of Jewish scholars and they felt that it wasn’t quite what they wanted. So a group of Americans from the Lockman foundation took the old American Standard Version and made the New American Standard Version. That one began as a revision of the King James tradition. And then there was the revision done by Thomas Nelson; they did the NKJV. Then the NASB was revised again in 1995. The English Standard Version took the old RSV and revised about 7% of it. So it’s not a new translation; it’s a revision of the King James tradition. Although they worked on a lot of things, if you really compare them you’ll see that it’s still the King James tradition. They’ve taken King James word order, much of the vocabulary is still the same. The HCSB is a new translation from the original text. For example, the standard Hebrew lexicon that we used is the most recent one. The ESV is a lot closer to the NASB95 and the King James tradition. For example, how often do you use the word “shall”?

Will: Not very often.

Ed: Right. Not very often. Usually in a stylized phrase like, you might say to your wife, “Shall we eat out tonight?” But that is sort of stylized. The ESV has the English word “shall” 6,389 times. The HCSB has it zero. So for example, “Thou shalt not,” is stylized. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is traditional. We would say in English today, “Do not commit adultery. “ So the ESV uses outmoded English expressions of language. How often do you use the word “behold”?

Will: I try not to.

Ed: Okay, “behold” is in ESV 1,102 times. HCSB has it once. ESV retains the old form “Oh” plus the vocative: “Oh, King, live forever.” “Oh, Lord.” The TNIV has taken almost all the “Oh” plus vocative out. ESV follows the King James and has “Oh” plus the vocative 1,129 times. We have it in the HCSB 10 times, and in the next edition that will come out in 2009 there will be zero. The use of “whom” is declining. When you answer the phone do you say, “Whom do you wish to speak to?” Or do you say, “Who do you want to talk to?” King James has “whom” 763 times. NKJ has it 760 times. NASB has it 755 times. ESV has it 740 times. NIV has cut it down to 394. HCSB second edition coming out has it only 142. So, it’s dropping. If you got engaged, how would you introduce your fiancé? Would you say, “She’s my betrothed”?

Will: Probably not.

Ed: ESV’s got it 15 times. We have it zero. Here’s an interesting one. You’ll find that very few translations have this correct. ESV, NIV, a lot of them use the expression “strong drink.” Most people think “strong drink” is whiskey or rum or gin or something like that, but distillation was not discovered until the 9th century ad. So our translation correctly translates it “beer.” ESV continues to use the old terms like “leper.” But then they add a footnote every time they use it, and they have the same footnote 20 times. There’s a confusion in popular thinking about Hansen’s disease. Whatever it was in the Bible period—it grew on the walls and grew on clothing and so on—was not Hansen’s disease. ESV uses old terms like “tithe.” What is a tithe in your mind?

Will: Ten percent.

Ed: Ten percent. And “tithe” is just an old English word meaning “tenth.” So why not use “a tenth”? We have several special features that help the average Bible reader. We have these bullet notes. For example, ESV has the same footnote in the book of Revelation 15 times. We would just have a bullet note that takes you to that section in the reverse.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Keller’s latest book is due out on Feb. 14th, Valentine’s Day. From what I know about this book and about Keller, it is not a book you will want to miss out on. It would even be a great gift to give your loved one on V-Day! 🙂

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
By Tim Keller

The Reason for God

Book Description
The End of Faith. The God Delusion. God Is Not Great. Letter to a Christian Nation. Bestseller lists are filled with doubters. But what happens when you actually doubt your doubts?

Although a vocal minority continues to attack the Christian faith, for most Americans, faith is a large part of their lives: 86 percent of Americans refer to themselves as religious, and 75 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. So how should they respond to these passionate, learned, and persuasive books that promote science and secularism over religion and faith? For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.

Why is there suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? Shouldn’t the Christian God be a god of love? How can one religion be “right” and the rest “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God? These are just a few of the questions even ardent believers wrestle with today. In this book, Tim Keller uses literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning, and even pop culture to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth.

About the Author
As the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Tim Keller started his congregation with a few dozen people. It now draws over five thousand weekly attendees who meet in three Manhattan locations. Redeemer has since spawned a movement of churches across America and throughout major world cities. Many pastors model their churches on Redeemer and Tim’s thoughtful style of preaching.

Some Positive Book Reviews:

Publishers Weekly

Justin Taylor’s Interview

Tim Keller’s reason for writing the book

Here is where you can purchase it once it comes out: Continue reading The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study

This is Fee’s most recent work on the Apostle Paul and his theology. I do not own it, but from the reviews I’m posting below, I really do look forward to it and I would definitely recommend it to others already.

Here is the information on the book:

Pauline Christology Cover

Description: An exhaustive study of Pauline Christology by noted Pauline scholar, Gordon Fee. The author provides a detailed analysis of the letters of Paul (including those whose authorship is questioned) individually, exploring the Christology of each one, and then attempts a synthesis of the exegetical work into a biblical Christology of Paul. The author’s synthesis covers the following themes: Christ’s roles as divine Savior and as preexistent and incarnate Savior; Jesus as the Second Adam, the Jewish Messiah, and Son of God; and as the Messiah and exalted Lord. Fee also explores the relationship between Christ and the Spirit and considers the Person and role of the Spirit in Paul’s thought. Appendices cover the theme of Christ and Personified Wisdom, and Paul’s use of Kurios (Lord) in citations and echoes of the Septuagint.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Literature, Methods, Theological Approaches, Biblical Theology, New Testament Theology


Review by Matthew Montonini

Review by Don Garlington

You can purchase the book here: Continue reading Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study

Commentary on New Testament Use of Old Testament

I cannot believe that it is here! This book has been long awaited by many Christians and the day has finally arrived! 🙂

Commentary on New Testament Use of Old Testament

I hope that all of you will consider buying this book for your library and study of the Bible. If there was any one additional book you would want to bring with you to an Island, along with a Bible, this book would be it! Continue reading Commentary on New Testament Use of Old Testament