The Triumph of Grace by Daniel Block

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Having already written much on Moses and Deuteronomy in the past, it’s hard to believe that Daniel Block could turn out this additional massive volume. Amazingly, it’s rich material. A few things about Mr. Block’s perspective are undeniable when you get into this book: he loves the Old Testament and calls it the First Testament to keep the New Testament from stealing its spotlight, Moses was more of a pastor/shepherd than a lawgiver, and the Book of Deuteronomy is more about grace than law. Even though he writes about very scholarly subjects, there is a clear passion in his voice.

He gives us readers help on many fronts. He explains Deuteronomy’s overall role, the concept of hearing the Word of God, genre, a perspective of the covenant, explanation of the law, a great deal about the structure of Deuteronomy, followed by several chapters of a more theological nature. In those chapters, he explains prayer, divine violence, the fear of the Lord, eschatology, the kingdom, Moses as a prophet, and a final challenging chapter on comparing Moses and Galatians, all regarding Deuteronomy.

Even though many of the chapters of this book have been talks or submissions to scholarly journals that he has given over the last 20 years, I was impressed at how they fit together to provide a unified book. To me, this is the most important and helpful book on Deuteronomy of the type that discusses issues beyond what you can get in a regular commentary that I am aware of. Mr. Block plies his scholarly trade with the best of them. This is an impressive book!

Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, already known for their impressive array of older and out-of-print titles that are still quite important, here joins the big boys in providing an important scholarly work that compares and surpasses many being released by the older, more established publishers today. The book itself is attractive, well designed, filled with copious footnotes, as well as nice charts, maps, and other helpful aids to learning.

We have a winner here. I suspect this book will be influential for many years to come. I highly recommended it!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

 

 

The Historical Reliability of the New Testament by Craig Blomberg

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This massive, thorough book by respected scholar Craig Blomberg is easily the go-to volume regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament. I’m not aware of any volume that could be its legitimate rival. The publishers present it as a major apologetics book, and though that makes sense, it’s also a quality, scholarly reference book. In other words, it succeeds with two audiences: those working in academic trenches and those fighting apologetic battles with our culture. Pastors should keep it handy for either possibility.

Though the introduction to this volume reads like a personal preface, it’s essential that you read it before you use this book. The author explains clearly his intentions with this manuscript. He highlights where in his opinion he’s been misunderstood, and whether you believe he’s made too many concessions or not, there’s a wealth of information that’s great to have.

Mr. Blomberg was the ideal scholar to produce this book. Having already written on the historical reliability of both the Gospels collectively and the Gospel of John by itself, he had developed a knack for sifting massive amounts of scholarship and making sense of it. Now he takes those skills and covers the whole New Testament.

He approaches the New Testament in order: The Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, Acts and Paul, and the rest of the New Testament. He goes anywhere scholarship has gone including genre, various types of criticism, historical information, debated passages, or theology. Every chapter has a clear, concise conclusion that leaves little doubt why he accepts its historical reliability. There are two additional parts that are especially important considering recent trends that have even reached the popular culture: canonicity and transmission, as well as the problem of miracles. You will find great help here, for example, if you must wrestle with the junk that Bart Ehrman has propagated.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m a believer who inherently accepts the historical reliability of the New Testament but realizes that there are matters where we may have to give an answer to help others. This book succeeds in what it aims to do!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

Sermons on 1 Timothy by Calvin

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What a beautiful book! Book, binding, dust jacket – it’s all gorgeous! More importantly, it’s a consequential book. No one could reasonably deny the significance of John Calvin in the annals of Christianity. Further, you do not have to subscribe to the theological system that bears his name to appreciate that he was an outstanding expositor of Scripture. His output was mind-boggling. Besides his many commentaries, he turned out an astounding number of sermons. As the introduction to this volume explains, the sermons on I Timothy came from the latter part of his life and ministry. Simply put, they are good.

What also makes this work superlative is the work of the translator, Robert White. Quite frankly, he brought Calvin to the 21st century. It’s hard for me to describe how easy to read the sermons are – that’s to the credit of Mr. White. It’s also hard for me to describe how up-to-date the sermons seemed – that’s to the credit of the Word of God that Calvin carefully preached.

You may not, just as was true for me, agree with every word he says. But really, that’s not even the point. It’s his wrestling with the actual text of Scripture that is so valuable. You can wrestle with him. I Timothy has several highly-debated points, or at least points that repulse modern ears, but Calvin has something to say about what the text preaches about men, women, or even pastors, and a wide array of other subjects. If you know something of his biography, you will find it is no surprise that he will lambast idleness at any point possible. I Timothy provides several such places!

This book is something of a labor of love from both Banner of Truth Publishers and the translator. Still, don’t confuse it for a collector’s item because this book will be a great asset to your work in I Timothy. Fortunately, I think all 3 of the Pastoral Epistles are planned for publication in these beautiful hardback volumes. (Mr. White, since you are such an outstanding translator, I’ve heard Calvin’s sermons on Jonah are particularly good!)

Buy this book if you want outstanding volumes to help as you study God’s Word. Buy this title in this edition if you want something that will last a lifetime. I know the book market is a turbulent place these days, but I wish we could see more outstanding volumes in quality bindings published like this one. Book lovers – you will want this volume!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

Our Eternal Reward by Erwin Lutzer

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Erwin Lutzer has written several best-selling works that are popular among the rank-and-file of Christianity. I consider him a model preacher and as a pastor personally find great devotional value in what he has to say. In this book, he tackles a subject that is, strangely, rarely written about. There is no doubt that the Bible has plenty to say about rewards for Christians and possible loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I agree with him that we do much harm to Christians today by dodging this powerful topic.

He begins his book by describing tears in heaven. Besides mentioning that “God shall wipe away all tears” is in the future tense, he really uses this chapter to explain some misconceptions that we have. The first one is something I hear all the time–our sins are judged on the cross and forgiven, so they couldn’t really be brought up later. He makes a great case for separating judicial forgiveness and fatherly discipline. He also explains that there are both degrees of punishment in Hell and degrees of reward in Heaven. He explains future rewards in a way that doesn’t allow us to take any glory away from Jesus Christ. I thought he did a good job with it.

His next chapter was more specific to the Judgment Seat of Christ. Though he well demonstrates the gravity of it, he never becomes too fanciful as some writers do on the subject. The next chapter discusses what we can gain and reminds us that we must remember the positive side of this biblical discussion. Still, chapter 4 helps us see what we can lose. That is an unpleasant thought that cannot be avoided.

Chapter 5 was the best in the book. In it, he described what Christ will be looking for, or really examining what the Bible says we will be rewarded for. The next 4 chapters contain encouragements to positively strive for rewards and a good Judgment Seat of Christ experience. The final chapter explains the Great White Throne Judgment and even encourages those who have not yet trusted Christ to do so.

This is a fine, encouraging, challenging book. I recommend it to Christians everywhere!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

Ezekiel (NICOT)–2 Great Volumes by Daniel Block

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Perhaps you have noticed the widespread praise that has been heaped upon this commentary. No doubt, scholars across the spectrum can’t deny its success. Not only do many reviewers list it as the best commentary available on Ezekiel, but I’ve even seen reviews that say it is the greatest commentary in print on any Old Testament book. After reviewing it myself, it’s easy to see why scholars are impressed. There are simply no weaknesses in all the categories we expect to be addressed in a major exegetical commentary. What I would like to add to all that press is that I believe pastors can also be greatly enriched by both these volumes Mr. Block has given us on Ezekiel here in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) series.

Pastors, you will love Mr. Block’s passion for Ezekiel and his prophecy. In addition, you will love his high view of Ezekiel’s God. Instead of just listing copious facts, of which there is plenty in this commentary, this impressive array of information is marshaled to say something to us about Ezekiel, his prophecy, and his God.

His Introduction runs 60 pages. He begins with a background of Ezekiel’s world. Covering the political and social environments, he draws a vivid portrait for us. Next, he discusses author, purpose, and methods. The discussion of Ezekiel’s methods is really an exercise in rhetorical criticism. From there, Block jumps into the literary style of the book. He interacts with other scholars and attempts to explain the structure of the individual oracles. Look for the interesting chart on pages 28 and 29. Since it is so important in studying the Book of Ezekiel, he explains what he calls the formulaic framework. It’s in this detailed section that you discover so much of what is especially unique about Ezekiel. It’s amazing the amount of work that must’ve gone into preparing the information in this section. After a brief section considering the text, he discusses Ezekiel in Jewish and Christian tradition. The final section is a probing look at the theology of Ezekiel. He realizes a past, present, and future aspect of Ezekiel’s vision. The outstanding introduction is followed by a lengthy bibliography.

The commentary in volume 1 covers chapters 1-24. It’s extremely well done. It misses nothing on the exegetical level, draws careful parallels, and is sensitive to theology.

Volume 2 of this fine two-volume set covers chapters 25-48. There’s no introduction as he did a full introduction for the book in volume 1. The commentary is in the same thorough style. For every passage, he gives a translation, a discussion of the nature and design of the passage, commentary on the text, and theological reflection. If you hold to a pre-millennial viewpoint as I do, you may find him a little more nebulous about what the text is predicting for the future at places in these later chapters of Ezekiel. You could grab Cooper in the NAC to compensate if you wanted, but the commentary still gives outstanding exegetical help throughout.

Besides being a seminal academic work, this commentary is easily in the “must-have” category for pastors. It would be a mistake not to secure your own copy!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

The Revelation of God by Peter Jensen

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This book on the revelation of God is part of the Contours of Christian Theology series. Having used and been impressed with some others in this series, I looked forward to checking this one out. As with others in the series, it was a good mixture of going deeply into the subject while being written in an accessible manner. Even the systematic theologies I read do not go into the foundational subject of the revelation of God in their presentation of the doctrine of the Scriptures with near the thoroughness that this volume does. Though I can’t agree with all his conclusions, he gives you much to think about.

The author, Peter Jensen, believes the gospel is central to the idea of revelation from God. His first chapter makes a beautiful case for that fact. In chapter 2 he clarifies the nature of the gospel. In chapter 3 he explains the role the gospel plays in our grasping the knowledge of God. In the next chapter, where he explains the gospel as a pattern of revelation, he concludes that the gospel is the measure of all revelation. He makes a great case for his premise.

In chapters 5 and 6, he transitions to revelation and experience. In other words, he defines the essential revelation that we must grasp in the gospel. In chapter 7, he finally reaches the subject you would expect when analyzing this doctrine: the authority of Scripture. It is in this chapter that he explains the concept of inspiration. He takes a strong, conservative position and shares much great food for thought. The final chapters address our reading Scripture, the role of the Holy Spirit, and contemporary revelation.

This book taught me. It expanded my horizons and I was blessed by what I learned. I warmly recommend this book!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

Holman’s Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Reconstructions

 

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Though this book of biblical charts, maps, and reconstructions has been around for a while, it still holds up favorably with its later imitators. In fact, I just looked at a recent volume of this type by another publisher, and I would lean toward this one. Though it’s been widely used, it is no way out of date. As with any book of this type, the choice of charts may seem arbitrary, and you may not find the exact one you want, but this book will have many that you will appreciate.

The first section of charts labeled “general charts” is quite the hodgepodge. Still, many of them are fascinating. In addition, there’s a lot of information gathered here that would be hard to put together yourself quickly. In this section, be sure to check out the names of God, prayers of the Bible, religions of the world, and stages in the development of the New Testament canon. There’s also an elaborate timeline of biblical and church history.

The section of Old Testament charts was my favorite. Any Bible reader knows that foreign rulers in the Old Testament are hard to keep up with, but they can be traced out here. You will also find listings of messianic prophecies, judges, priests, prophets, Queens, as well as other historical information.

There’s a good number of New Testament charts. There’s a harmony of the Gospels covering several pages. Once again, several rulers are covered as well as other things involving the ministry of Jesus Christ. The chart entitled “Jewish sects in the New Testament” was especially helpful.

The collection of maps includes both modern information and maps of biblical history. They are vivid and easy-to-read. It’s almost like you get a mini-Bible Atlas.

The final section is of well-done reconstructions of things like the Ark, Jerusalem at various times, and items from regular life. I have noticed several of these reconstructions in later Holman products. That is no surprise since their quality is such that they are worth repeating.

This is an excellent resource and would be a nice gift for anyone who loves to study the Bible. Highly recommended!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

The Message of the Word of God by Tim Meadowcroft

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The Message of the Word of God by Tim Meadowcroft in the prolific Bible Speaks Today (BST) series tackles the doctrine of the Bible. My interaction with this series has led me to believe that the editors give each author wide latitude in how they approach their subject, particularly in these ones about doctrinal subjects. The author here takes the unique approach of exegeting 20 key scriptures on the subject. At first, I thought that an odd approach, but after reflecting on it I realize that that’s probably how many pastors would teach it over the years. For that reason, then, this volume stands out among the plethora of books on the subject.

His choice of texts was ideal including both the usual suspects and a few you might not have thought of. He divides them up into four parts: God speaks, God speaks in the written word, God speaks in Christ, and God speaks today. In my judgment, a few that particularly stood out were Proverbs 30, 2 Peter 1, Hebrews 1, Revelation 5, and Nehemiah 8. In addition, his short chapter on the key 2 Timothy 3: 10-17 passage was insightful.

Only in a few cases did he seem to bog down into some scholarly observations like you might find in a detailed exegetical commentary. They seemed out of place in this volume, but maybe they only seemed worse to me when I didn’t agree with them!

Pastors and Bible students will be blessed by this book. As said before, it will be unlike most others on your shelves on the subject. That unique approach allows it to make a distinct contribution. Worth adding to your library.

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.) – Volume 11, Romans-Galatians

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Volume 11 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) series, revised edition, replaces volume 10 in the old series. Both volumes covered from Romans through Galatians. We have a mixture of original authors being updated by younger scholars, new scholars replacing old ones, and one who did his own revision. What we have is yet another success in the EBC series!

Respected scholar Donald Hagner revised Everett Harrison’s original work on Romans on such a level that we now have a joint authorship. The Introduction covers the founding and history of the church at Rome, authorship, date, and place of origin, destination and integrity, occasion and purpose, composition of the Roman church, literary form, theology, the New Perspective on Paul (wisely rejected here), canonicity, and followed by a bibliography and outline. The commentary follows the usual EBC style: overview, text, commentary, and textual notes. It’s a solid effort for a mid-length commentary on Romans.

The Book of 1 Corinthians is a new work by Verlyn Verbrugge. He is known for the vast amount of academic works that he has edited. The Introduction addresses Paul’s missionary strategy, the church at Corinth, specific occasion of the letter, date, authorship, and integrity, literary characteristics, theological considerations, and a bibliography and outline. His editorial background gave him good insight on what would be helpful to pastors. He clearly aimed his work at them and succeeded.

II Corinthians was handled by Murray J Harris. His Introduction looks at historical background, unity, authorship, date, place of composition, occasion and purpose, special problems, theological values, structure and themes, and bibliography and outline. The success of Mr. Harris on II Corinthians is universally acknowledged. He has had a coup of sorts: the most highly-rated mid length commentary on II Corinthians with this effort as well as the top major exegetical commentary in his volume in the NIGNT series. I can’t recall anyone else who has done that. This is an outstanding commentary and the revision was successful as well.

Galatians saw James Montgomery Boice be replaced by Robert Rapa. I must confess having a warm place in my heart for the late Boice’s commentary, but it’s age did call for its replacement. The Introduction discussed the identity of the Galatians, the relationship of Galatians and Acts, authorship, date and place of writing, the epistlolary and rhetorical structure of Galatians, and a bibliography and outline. It was a little brief, yet contained conservative conclusions. Pastors will find the commentary adequate.

After reviewing almost all of the EBC volumes, I just don’t see how you could go wrong with this volume as a pastor or Bible student. The price is right, and the quality is good without getting as wordy as some of the major exegetical commentaries. For many pastors, that is another plus. Here’s another winner that you should check out!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.) – Volume 1, Genesis-Leviticus

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Volume 1 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) series in this revised edition covers the books from Genesis to Leviticus. As is common in this series, this volume is a revision of an already valuable commentary. In this case, two authors revise their original work while another is replaced with a new scholar. There’s some great help to be found in this volume.

The Book of Genesis is revised by the original author, John H. Sailhamer, who is known for his writings on the Pentateuch. It appears to me that the earlier part of the Introduction is not majorly revised, but much material is added farther in. He begins with a discussion of the historical background, followed by one on the unity of the book. Next, he discusses authorship, date, and place of origin. In doing so, he reviews both the traditional and critical viewpoints. He expands to discuss the compositional view where he surveys what he calls In-Textuality. He goes on to discuss purpose, literary form including an assessment of structure, and the final shape of the primary history. He also compares it to the Old Testament (Tanak) as a whole. After an outline, he jumps into the commentary and gives an overview, commentary, and textual notes on each passage. I agree with those who rank it highly.

The Book of Exodus is done by prolific scholar Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. I have long had a deep respect for his work. I am aware that some think that his work on Exodus is not long enough while others expressed disappointment that his revision was not more in-depth. Still, his work strikes me as quite helpful in a series with the aims that the EBC has. In the Introduction, Kaiser discusses title and theme, authorship and unity (with conservative conclusions), date of writing, the text of Exodus, the date of Exodus, the route of the Exodus, and a brief discussion of theology. After a brief bibliography and outline, along with a chart about the Tabernacle, he jumps into the commentary proper. It’s in the same style mentioned above and is very well done.

The Book of Leviticus has Richard Hess replacing the work of R. Laird Harris. Mr. Hess has also written a commentary on the Song of Songs that is highly regarded. In his Introduction, he reviews name and text, date and authorship (with a favorable view of Mosaic authorship), scholarship and interpretation, and theology. Most agree that he has turned out a substantial improvement over the old edition. The commentary is outstanding and there are a few charts along the way that greatly help understanding.

This commentary provides great help on Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. It’s a bargain with its three commentaries for one price deal. Pastors and Bible students will love it!

I received this book free from the publisher. 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.