The Voices of the New Testament by Tidball

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At first glance this is a book idea that seemed a little cutesy, or at least that’s what I was thinking. In fact, this idea of having the different New Testament writers discuss theology as if they were around the table seemed like a gimmick. It wasn’t until I actually read the book that I found it to be a unique and engaging way to think about how doctrine is presented in the New Testament.

Derek Tidball’s first chapter gave a good, brief overview to the different approaches to New Testament theology. When he discusses the authorial approach, you can’t help but think how many such works set the writers of the New Testament against each other almost as competing voices for Christianity. That is not the case here. Besides an imaginary Chair and observer, his panel is made up of Luke, James, John, Jude, Mark, Matthew, Paul, Peter, and the Hebraist.

In chapter 2 he goes big picture and discusses the common thread of the New Testament as being the Good News. It’s in this first chapter of the panel going at it that you find out just how interesting and helpful this work is. The quality is maintained all the way to the end and the great doctrines of the New Testament are gone through in a very logical sequence. The amazing part is that this method actually reads much better than many other such theologies.

In addition to the theology, you get a great picture of the emphasis of each New Testament writer. For example, if you were study in Matthew you can go through this book and read Matthew’s statement in each of the theological discussions and you have a good idea of the uniqueness of the book of Matthew. Not only does this book read well, it lends itself to future consultation on a variety of New Testament subjects.

You won’t agree with every single theological description in this book, but you will get a conservative, Scripture-affirming treat for your studies. To my mind, this volume can take his place among much larger works on our shelves and I highly recommend 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.

Jonah (ZECOT) by Kevin Youngblood

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What a commentary! Having read in the past most of the major commentaries on the Book of Jonah, I feel this is a standout volume. This book is the first ZECOT volume that I have used, but if future volumes are of the same caliber, this series will become one of the top choices for Old Testament study.

Don’t let the subtitle “a discourse analysis of the Hebrew Bible” throw you off and assume this is some esoteric angle that would never appeal to a pastor. This discourse analysis approach simply means the story of the entire Book of Jonah and the flow of the narrative are always kept front and center in the verse by verse comments. Frankly, that approach works and is well done.

I loved that the series introduction confessed that all Scripture is God-breathed while the author’s preface declared the Book of Jonah a masterpiece. If you use a lot of commentaries, you will especially appreciate the ones where the author is in love with the book of the Bible on which he or she writes. Mr. Youngblood certainly came across that way to me.

Mr. Youngblood’s introduction to the book of Jonah struck me as being of the perfect length and depth. He discussed the usual suspects – placement in the Canon, historical context, literary context, and an outline – with verve. Much of the information was of the kind that really aids one preaching on Jonah. He beautifully wove in his discourse analysis as well.

The commentary itself is superb. Again, he always keeps us grounded in the context at large. Still, he draws out the needed background, word meanings, and other important detail. At the end of every periscope, there is fine theological reflection.

As an added bonus, this is an attractive volume. The layout is ideal and eye pleasing while the charts and maps really add something helpful. Simply put, this volume is my new favorite exegetical commentary on the Book of Jonah.

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.

Hebrews (NIGTC) by Paul Ellingworth

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Eerdmans has breathed new life into this reputable commentary by this new release in a more economical paperback edition. Now pastors and students can afford to have this major exegetical commentary on their shelves where it belongs.

This work is massive. Encyclopedic comes to mind when you consider all it offers in its over 750 pages. Scholars will pour over every line while pastors will likely focus on the paragraphs that aid in exegeting the passage.

Its 88-page Introduction covers well all the issues you would expect in a major commentary on a book of the Bible. He carefully goes through all the options for authorship and cautiously supposes that Apollos is the best guess. He examines carefully the first readers, destination, and date of this book. He briefly and carefully lays out the canonization of Hebrews and highlights the obvious use of the Old Testament throughout the book. When he discusses literary structure, he covers in detailed fashion what has been thought before. He discusses theology, purpose and occasion, and ends His Introduction with a few pages for the specialist on the text of Hebrews.

In the commentary proper he gives incredible detail. This commentary’s greatest strength (detail) might also be its greatest weakness as sometimes the trees get more prominence than the forest. Still, if you were building a major exegetical library, how could you possibly be without it? Further, it can give you the detail you will need to make your own decisions.

You may find places as I did where you could not agree with Mr. Ellingworth, but you will find it a serious resource. I recommend 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 Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom by Abernathy

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Here’s a book that digs deeply into the meaning of the book of Isaiah. Andrew Abernethy believes that seeing the kingdom in the book of Isaiah is the key to discovering its meaning. I believe that you, as I, will come to believe that he made an outstanding case for what he believes to be true about the concept of the kingdom in Isaiah. This volume makes a great addition to the New Studies in Biblical Theology series published by IVP and edited by D. A. Carson.

In the Introduction, he points out how words about the king in the kingdom are found all through the book of Isaiah–far more actually than most of us realize. He states that he wants to frame the entire study on: God the King, the lead agents of the King, the realm of the kingdom, and the people of the King.

Throughout the book, he approaches how Isaiah covers the concept of kingdom in its three main sections (1 – 39, 40 – 55, 56 – 66). He begins in the incredible vision of God in Isaiah 6, and though that is a familiar passage to most Bible students he points out examples of the concept of kingdom where we might have missed them.

Though he makes interesting, conservative observations throughout the book, there are places where I would not be able to agree with him. His handling of Isaiah 7:14, for example, is not something I could fully agree with.

The ultimate praise that I can draw from this book in this review is that I will never again read the book of Isaiah without thinking of the concept of God’s kingdom. When the author accomplishes what he sets out to do with the reader, as he has done with me, he obviously has succeeded. Therefore, I highly recommend this volume to students doing an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah.

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.

William Henry Harrison by Gail Collins (Presidential Bio Series)

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William Henry Harrison is the president who never had a chance to building a legacy as he died one month into office. We at best can guess what he might have done. Believe it or not, he is still part of only four families (Adams, Roosevelt, and Bush being the others) to have two occupants in the White House as his grandson Benjamin would later be president.

His real claim to fame was the Battle of Tippencanoe and the War of 1812. In fact, he was an older man whose career seemed over when the presidency came calling. He seemed a devoted family man and was father to many children.

Gail Collins outlined the bare facts of his life, and was a fine writer, but she was totally out of sympathy with him. As with most in his generation, he walked a tightrope on the issue of slavery and that was enough for Collins to completely write him off. Her boorish portrait was not substantiated by facts.

I have looked deeply to trace out the religion of each president on my journey to read a biography on each president. She never once mentioned his religion and I checked the index when I finished just in case I missed something–nothing!

Though this book is part of the reputable American Presidents Series, I wish I had chosen a different volume. While he may not have been one of our outstanding presidents, I feel he was far more a decent man than presented here.

The Attributes of God: Volume 2 by Tozer

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When you have Tozer on the Attributes of God you have Tozer at his best. Perhaps you have read his “Knowledge of the Holy” and found it one of the most amazing books you have ever read as I have. This volume, along with the corresponding volume 1, cover the same territory but with a more conversational and devotional approach. It is profound and worth reading even if you have read “Knowledge of the Holy.”

After an Introduction that talks about God’s Character in general, Tozer presents ten of the attributes in ten in-depth chapters. These attributes cover God’s self-existence, transcendence, eternalness, omnipotence, immutability, omniscience, wisdom, sovereignty, faithfulness, and love. There’s not a clunker in the bunch as I found meaning, warmth, and enlightenment in every chapter. You always get the feeling that you were reading a man who knew the Lord in the way you wanted to.

This edition by Moody has over 100 pages of a study guide by David Fessenden that really help readers dig into this volume. Mr. Fessenden is clearly well versed in Tozer’s writings and often quotes his other volumes to illumine the text here.

I highly recommend this volume. It is a true must-have 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.

Preaching Old Testament Narratives by Benjamin Walton

 

 

Benjamin Walton has been teaching preaching for some time as well as having pastored himself in the past. He begins his book explaining the need of accuracy in preaching. He argues that most do not do so, even some who imagine they do.

He next distinguishes OT narrative from other biblical genres. I personally believe he misses on the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 and too narrowly limits OT narratives because of it.

He uses his own jargon. CUT (complete unit of thought) and THT (Take-Home Truth) are his two main emphases. He deals with what most every such volume would, even if he uses his own words.

On the plus side, the book really gives the nuts and bolts. It ever reminds us that our listeners deserve the word of God, not the word of man. It explains thoroughly everything it suggests.

On the negative side, he sometimes makes it sound like that anyone who doesn’t follow him down the line completely is off the mark. Again, his method can be too rigid at times.

This book will be the greatest asset to those with less experience in faithfully giving out the text. It could, though, be a help to anyone.
 

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.

 

 

Genesis by Meredith Kline

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Meredith Kline is someone I’ve not really read much, but was intrigued as I have read several things mentioning the insight and even uniqueness of his writings. This volume turns out to be a posthumous work where his grandson, Jonathan Kline, found this manuscript in his grandfather’s things and lovingly edited it for publication.

Though this book is clearly not written as a major commentary, it is a pithy help on Genesis that reflects the mature judgments of an influential scholar in the twilight of his career. Unlike some modern commentaries, this book is not dry. Even better, he is not afraid to see Christ and His glorious Gospel revealed on the pages of Genesis. For that matter, he even sees Moses as the author, which is unfortunately too uncommon in our day.

I couldn’t personally agree with all his thoughts on the covenant, nor a few of his thoughts in Genesis 1, but if you prefer a volume that spurs thinking rather than trying to do it all for you, you might want to look up this little jewel.

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.

Bishop J. C. Ryle’s Autobiography

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J.C. Ryle’s Autobiography has been rescued from oblivion by Banner of Truth in this gorgeous volume edited by Andrew Atherstone. The editing, copious footnotes, and information relentlessly dug out for this edition suggest to me that it was a labor of love for Mr. Atherstone.  In fact, Banner of Truth has taken on the role of preserving Ryle’s fine writings for our generation. In addition to his set on the Gospels, BOT has at least 8 other titles of his in print currently.

Iain Murray already provided us with an outstanding biography earlier this year and mentioned he had access to the autobiography as he wrote. I assumed this would be a nice extra volume, almost a collectible, since we already had that other volume, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Ryle wrote in an ideal style for autobiography and gave us tremendous insight into himself. When he would reflect, he would see that in certain points of his life he took a course that was not the best. He even criticized himself for a disposition that might have turned off some that he pastored. You might say he was “raw” before being raw was the rage.

Though the autobiography was written in mid-life, it is still outstanding. Atherstone added 7 appendices that shared things like the family Bible, some of his earliest tracts, and even his last will and testament. In the book you will get good biography and information of historical importance that brings Ryle to life.

If I had to choose, I’d probably pick the Murray biography of Ryle. Since we are not forced to make that hard choice, grab them both. This book, as said before, is stunning and of quality binding, and it is an easy, thoughtful, and enjoyable read. I highly recommend 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.

Ministry Mantras by Briggs and Hyatt

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J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt present a discussion and encouragement for ministry that uses key statements as the angle to get us to have clear focus on ministry. While it might strike you as only slogans that appeal to our distracted generation, or even clichés that sound cute, the book does manage to push us in ministry.

Some of the mantras were just a reminder of what we should know, but others were quite profound. The one “Leadership is purposefully choosing whom you will disappoint”, especially when it was demonstrated that Jesus practised this in His ministry, is an example.

The mantras are categorized as either leadership, vision, motivation,ministry, pastoral care, leadership development, opportunities, success, spirituality, expectations, community, formation, conflict, outreach, and stewardship, though there is clearly overlap. Some you have heard, but many you have not.

Only occasionally did they give the impression that if your ministry doesn’t look like theirs it’s substandard. Overall, I enjoyed reading this volume. To my mind, you could either read this straight through as a regular book like I did, or you might read one mantra a day to spread out the challenge. Either way, it is a solid effort.

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.