A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters by Kostenberger

book john theology

This book covers a great deal of territory on the Gospel of John. Prolific commentator, Andreas Kostenberger, has written an outstanding volume here. Think of it as a book that summarizes all the issues and themes that scholars often talk about involving John’s Gospel to put beside your commentaries on John. Zondervan is putting out a whole series called the Biblical Theology of the New Testament (BTNT) in eight volumes to cover the New Testament. Authors in the series are required to have already written a commentary on one of the books in their section. Mr. Kostenberger has already written a highly-rated commentary on John in the Baker Exegetical Commentary series. Though its stated audience is for upper college and seminary-level students, I found it, as a pastor, accessible and easier to read than many volumes of its kind.

Part 1 of this book provides the historical framework for Johannine theology. He begins in chapter 1 by explaining how John is a “spiritual gospel” and breaks down how he intends to approach his subject in this book. In chapter 2 he approaches the much-discussed subject of the Johannine community. That hypothesis has a lot of baggage and he expertly guides us through it. There’s a great deal of scholarly interaction in this section too. Next, he tackles typical introductory matters including authorship, date, provenance, and destination. He arrives at conservative conclusions while well surveying the field. In every section of this book, remember he addresses both John’s Gospel and the Epistles of John. In a sense, it’s a two-for-one deal.

In part 2, he wades through what he calls literary foundations for Johannine theology. That involves a discussion of genre which he carries out in great detail. Don’t miss chapter 3. It’s a motherlode of extraordinary information of what he calls linguistic and literary dimensions of John’s Gospel and letters. I found so much information there that greatly expanded my thinking on the Gospel of John.

Chapter 4 is a nice, lengthy literary-theological reading of John’s Gospel followed by a chapter in the same vein on John’s letters. Part 3 discusses major themes in John’s theology. There’s a chapter on John’s worldview and use of Scripture, one on the Messiah and His signs, one on the word as creation and new creation, one on the Trinity, one on the festivals and the symbolism involved, one on the trial of Christ, one on the new messianic community, one on John’s love ethic, one on his theology of the cross, and finally one on mission. Part 4 is basically a summary and a discussion of how John’s theology fits in with the rest of Scripture. The book ends with a lengthy bibliography.

This is now the third volume in this series that I have reviewed, and the quality is high. In fact, in this volume on John, I can’t think of another volume that covers the subject so broadly and so well. This is an indispensable volume for the student of John.

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.

Acts (Pillar) by David Peterson

book acts p

David Peterson has produced one of the most outstanding commentaries we have on the book of Acts today. If you judge this commentary on the basis of its Introduction, it’s theology, and its commentary on the text, you will see that it is a winner across the board. To my mind, it is one of two in the exegetical commentary category that could be labeled “must have” today. Mr. Peterson has outdone himself in giving us a conservative, quality commentary on this critically important book of the Bible. This commentary stands high in the revered Pillar New Testament Commentary series.

His Introduction is ideal and one of the best I’ve seen on any New Testament book of the Bible. It covers all the usual topics with surprising depth. After a lengthy select bibliography, Mr. Peterson begins his Introduction discussing authorship and date. He explains well why Luke should be accepted as the author and finds a date in the 60-70s as sensible. In his discussion of genre, he looks at the unity of Luke and Acts and surveys the ancient literary models for this book. When he discusses sources, he emphasizes Luke’s eyewitness material. He is adept at explaining rhetoric and historical reliability as well.

Next, he provides a section on character, structure, and purpose. He sees the book of Acts as a theological history and says, “the narrative of Acts unfolds geographically and focuses on the ministry of key individuals within each context”. As you would expect, he draws in how the narrative is dominated by speeches and what he calls a narrative of fulfillment. As for structure, he sees the Word of God progressing through the book. In the section on interpretive issues he points out many of the editorial techniques that you will find in this book, as well as patterns of repetition. His section on textual matters is brief.

Next, he provides a large, warm, and outstanding section on the theology of Acts. He discusses God and His plan, Jesus as Messiah and Lord, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the Gospel, the atoning work of Jesus, witness and mission, miracles, the demonic, and the church. This section is impressively done and is the best I’ve seen on this book.

The commentary proper is full at over 600 pages and Mr. Peterson continues the quality of writing that we found in the theology section of the Introduction. You will not be disappointed.

Again, this is one of the two best exegetical commentaries on the book of Acts that I’ve encountered. This book will be a heavyweight acquisition for your library 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.


Handbook of Biblical Criticism (Fourth Edition)

book handbook

This book is handy to have near the desk. I’ve used an older addition when Richard Soulen authored alone to great advantage in the past, but this view, fourth edition, now co-authored with R. Kendall Soulen is even better. Pretty much any term you may encounter in scholarly reading that is obscure to you will be explained succinctly in this book. They cover technical terms, names, tools, and interpretive approaches. I noticed this later edition covers even more interpretive approaches from other parts of the world that you especially might not be familiar with.

For me, the book’s value is in its quick explanation of terms that I just didn’t know. He further helps me in words I’m a little fuzzy on or that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Even in words I knew well, it was a help to see their careful explanation in a small compass. In cases where the entry warranted, I noticed articles that were longer than in the previous edition.

The entries cover all the bases. Terms about various types of criticism, special grammatical terms, famous biblical texts, scholars who had a major impact in biblical interpretation, and the latest approaches are all covered. Several entries have helpful bibliographies attached.

Again, this is the perfect book to have on hand to grab for that quickly needed explanation while you’re in the middle of other study. I’m glad to have it near 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.

Acts (ZECNT) by Eckhard Schnabel

book acts z

Eckhard Schnabel’s commentary on Acts in the ZECNT series beautifully lives up to the high standard of this emerging series. Coming in at over 1100 pages, this volume is a major commentary on the book of Acts that ranks near the top of commentaries available today on that book.

The Introduction including the outline is only a little over 50 pages. Though that is briefer than in some other major commentaries, it doesn’t strike me that anything important was missed. He begins his discussion on describing Luke and his readers. He argues against the silly fad of seeing anonymity in Acts or any other book of the New Testament. He finds accepting Luke as the author as totally legitimate. He further discussed the language Luke used, his origins, and the fact that he was a physician. As you might imagine, he discusses the fact that Luke has written two books of the New Testament and he reaches conservative conclusions about the date of those writings.

Many scholars today debate if Luke should be considered a historian, and Mr. Schnabel feels he is a fine one who is actually the first historian of Christianity. He reviews the positions of genre, lists the speeches in Acts, and gives a fine discussion of the purpose of Acts. After discussing the Greek text of Acts, he provides an in-depth chronology of early Christian history that will be a tremendous help in studying the book of Acts. Structure, though, is barely mentioned in the Introduction as he gets plenty of coverage in the commentary itself.

If you are familiar with the design of ZECNT, you will find that this commentary uses it to great advantage. Any Greek that is used has its English counterpart nearby making this commentary accessible to any user. I found his commentary probing, helpful, and better than I’ve seen in many other major commentaries on the book of Acts. I reviewed several passages, and found material that was very helpful to me in every case. This is an outstanding commentary 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.

The Cross From A Distance by Peter Bolt

book cross distance

This title in the highly-respected New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series published by IVP addresses the subject of the atonement in Mark’s Gospel. Since we see this subject showing up profusly in the latest commentaries on the Book of Mark, this volume will be a great addition to your shelves on Mark.

In his Introduction, Mr. Bolt explains his reasons for why he feels this is an important subject today. He explains the great number of chapters dedicated to the Passion and the journey to the cross as being a prime consideration.  He further explains, of course, the centrality of the cross to the entire New Testament. That centrality makes the atonement an important subject everywhere it’s mentioned in any biblical book. You will find that Mr. Bolt accepts the history of Mark and seeks to draw his conclusions directly from the pages of the Gospel of Mark.

In chapter 1 we find a discussion of the cross and the “abolition of religion” that is commonly discussed in some circles. He works through that subject both in the details of Mark’s Gospel and a review of scholarly opinion and then reaches a conservative conclusion that honors a strong Christology. Chapter 2 is even better where he discusses the necessity of the cross. He uncovers a great deal of wonderful information in that chapter. In chapter 3 he discusses apocalyptic concerns while chapter 4 relates Christ’s reception among men. The final chapter adds the resurrection and our future hope to the discussion to great advantage. Be sure to notice his discussion of the effect of the Roman world on Mark’s Gospel as well as an explanation for what the Roman soldier meant at the cross when he called Jesus the Son of Man.

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.

Announcing My New Book:Following Jesus Through The Gospels

book fjg

I’m excited to announce the release of my latest book Following Jesus through the Gospels. The Gospels have been a favorite of mine and the material in this book has been things I’ve studied over the last 10 years. There’s more charts than text in this volume and its designed for the busy person who needs a lot of information in a short read. It’s also designed to be small enough to easily tag along with your Bible.

In this book you will find a brief overview Harmony of the Gospels as well as an outline of the stages of Jesus Christ’s ministry. You will have a complete numbered Harmony of the Gospels that includes all the miracles, parables, personal encounters of Jesus, sermons of Jesus, private discourses of Jesus, cries of Christ on the cross, and Resurrection Appearances. Separate charts for all of the above are included for deeper study.

The final section of the book makes a special synthesis of the birth and infancy of Christ, the Upper Room and Gethsemane, the trial of Jesus Christ, the Crucifixion, and Resurrection Appearances. Perhaps you have seen my “Synthesis of the Crucifixion” that’s shared on this blog here. The others are designed similarly.

If you have interest in checking out this book in either paperback or a Kindle edition, check out the Amazon link below:

Amazon listing


This book is a great tool any student of the Bible needs in their toolbox. I’ve used many books that give Gospel parallels, but this is by far the most user friendly. The addition of geographical information makes this book especially wonderful, as combining the geographical information together gives new and improved understanding of the context of many of Jesus’ sermons and parables. The information is laid out in very easily understood tables that will make studying out common threads through the Gospels much easier. This reference book will be coming off the bookshelf on a regular basis, I can promise that.

Pastor Tom Otto

This book is a result of much careful study of the Gospel Records and is evidence that the author loves to study God’s Word. He answers many questions that most Bible students have had about geography and the harmony of the accounts of our Lord’s ministry. I really enjoyed the charts and notes that synthesized the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. This book is an excellent resource for all students of the Bible.

Pastor Jamin Boyer

This short volume is packed full of helpful charts and list. The research and study involved in this work are a credit to the author and his team. This is solid choice for any serious student of the life of Christ.

Pastor Mike Montgomery

Jimmy Reagan has done a wonderful job of compiling a great deal of information in a very concise format. The charts make this volume extremely useful. I believe it will serve as a good quick reference for those who are serious about studying the life of Christ.

Dr. Scott Pauley

Pastor Reagan is one of the most well-read ministers that I have ever been around. For many years in my own ministry I have gleaned from his wisdom and study. Following Jesus through the Gospels is a culmination of years of study on the life of Christ. In this valuable book, he harmonizes the events of the Gospel records and presents the information in usable chart form. You can now see various aspects of the Gospel records on one page at a time. This is treasure for any student of God’s Word and a handy resource for all preachers.

Pastor Mark Fowler

This book will prove to be most helpful for anyone studying through the life of Christ. It is loaded with information that is able to be both quickly accessible and easily understood. You will find it more study guide than book, but its affordable price and handy size, make it a great companion to scripture while reading through the gospels.

Pastor Allen Gibson

Pastor Reagan shows the ability to simplify the most challenging of topics in this chart filled book. There is no more vital topic for understanding than the life of Jesus Christ! I remember when the topics were first taught and put into chart form; they helped me and they will help you.

Pastor Ryan Brown


The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne

book spiral

This massive book lives up to its subtitle of “a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation”. It’s the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. There’s no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study as anyone in the last 30 years. Additionally, this busy scholar has written a few important commentaries along the way.

His conception of hermeneutics as a spiral form from text to context has become the preeminent academic theory of biblical interpretation today. In this book, he breaks down the hermeneutical spiral in great detail. In his lengthy introduction, he explains the issues of interpretation, the difficulty of acquiring meaning, how to view the Scriptures, the place of the reader in interpretation, and how the goal of hermeneutics is expository preaching.

Part 1 is on general hermeneutics and covers five chapters. He takes in turn context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. In each case, he describes the range of things that has been believed in the subjects and strongly argues for his own perspective. Again, the detail is incredible and covers main issues as well as esoteric ones.

Part 2 covers genre analysis, or what we might call special cases in hermeneutics, in nine chapters. In my opinion, he shined even more in this part. The special sections of the Bible can be difficult in biblical interpretation and he gives much food for thought in every category. Even where I could not agree with him, I found him both exhaustive and interesting.

Part 3 is special. He calls it applied hermeneutics and he covers biblical theology, systematic theology, homiletics– contextualization, and homiletics– the sermon. This section continues past where most hermeneutics books end. In making the natural progression to homiletics, he provides almost a second book on that needed subject for preachers all within the same covers of this book. There’s two appendices at the end on some fairly-narrow scholarly issues too.

There’s no doubt that this is a five-star book. The only question is if it’s too much for some readers. For those who want THE book on hermeneutics, this is 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.

Mark (NTL) by Eugene Boring

book mark boring

Eugene Boring’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark is one of the most highly regarded in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. Mr. Boring is quite respected in the scholarly world and this book is just one of several of his major titles. Though he is much less conservative than I am, he has a knack for throwing out provocative thoughts that I enjoy considering when studying a passage in Mark’s Gospel.

In his Introduction, he covers all the bases in 25 pages. There was a substantial bibliography before the Introduction began too. More than some writers, he focuses on Mark’s specific audience, and says this gospel is one to be read aloud “in the context of a worshiping congregation”. Though he sometimes confuses the Jesus of history as someone different than the Jesus that Mark writes about, he does trace beautifully the story that’s being written. He feels that genre is one of the most important aspects to getting at Mark’s meaning. Though I really can’t agree with Mr. Boring on his conclusions on sources, date, and provenance, nor his conclusions about Mark 13, he is a clear writer in stating his conclusions. He pulls out many details that you might miss within the text that can give some great thoughts. His discussions of author, purpose, text and transmission, and language, translation, interpretation, though, are all quite brief. His historical conclusions are odd, but in any event, he believes the main content of Mark’s narrative is theological.

His actual commentary is even better. This is where he sees things that others miss. Even if you don’t agree with his conclusion about what he found, you will love being able to dwell on the nuggets he dug up. The real value of this commentary is here.

This commentary is now available in a more economical paperback edition. It’s one of the more important mid-sized commentaries on the Gospel of Mark. You will enjoy checking it 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.

Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Revised Edition)

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Two veteran scholars, Walter Kaiser, Jr. and Moises Silva, team to provide us this introduction to the study of biblical hermeneutics. This is a revised and expanded second edition. It comes in a nice, attractive hardback edition as well. These authors don’t always agree with each other, but they are both committed to the authority of Scripture and are worth listening to. While this book is meant to be a first introduction to biblical hermeneutics, I think it better serves as a second text because of its length and style. That’s not a knock on this volume, but a complement on how well it teaches us to logically think through some of these issues. For example, it would make a great second text to go along with Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Keil, Blomberg, Hubbard by the same publisher.

Its subtitle of “the search for meaning” describes well the approach taken here. As with most such volumes, the authors have their own approach and order of the things that must be studied in grasping the meaning of any biblical text. Part 1 looks at what the authors call “initial directions”. There they talk about why we need hermeneutics, what we mean by meaning, how language is used, how biblical theology fits in, the New Testament use of the Old Testament, and the role of history. In that section I thought the chapter “let’s be logical: using and abusing language” was one of the best.

In part 2, the authors seek to understand the text and try to help us make sense of literary genres. In that section, the unique features of the genres like poetry, the Gospels, the epistles, and prophecy are taken in turn. In part 3, they moved to meaning and application consider the devotional use of the Bible, our need to obey the word in cultural context, and how to move on to the theological use of the Bible. Part 4 is the collection of loose ends covering things like a history of interpretation and contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation. The final chapter on concluding observations attempts to tie it all together. There’s a fine glossary, an annotated bibliography, and indices at the end.

This is an outstanding volume to have on your shelves to complement your understanding of biblical hermeneutics. 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.

Entrusted With The Gospel–A Book Review


This book, edited by Andreas Kostenberger and Terry Wilder, collects 12 scholarly articles on the Pastoral Epistles. They cover matters similar to what you might find in the introduction of a major commentary and discussions of theological issues. The editors provide the first two articles while the others are provided by other scholars who have a good background in the Pastoral Epistles.

You will likely find some articles more interesting than others, just as I did, as a matter of personal interest. For example, I’m so convinced that the books in the New Testament are written by those they’re attributed to, that I find a discussion of pseudonymity pointless. Still, if that’s your thing, you’ll find a good article about it here.

I found the article that describes the stewardship theme of the Pastoral Epistles to be very interesting, as was the one on cohesion and structure. There is good coverage of Christology and the prevalence of salvation found in these letters. One of the very best articles was the one on ecclesiology as there are so many local church issues discussed in the Pastoral Epistles. Paul Wolfe has an article that exegetes several of the more debated versus in these epistles. In addition to ethics and mission in the pastoral epistles, well-known scholar Howard Marshall gives a detailed overview of all the recent literature on these epistles (since 1998).

This book accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. The contributors are more conservative and the scholarship more dependable than many such books. This book is important in any major scholarly study of the Pastoral Epistles.

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.