A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude by Davids

book theology j p j

Here’s another volume in the impressive Biblical Theology of the New Testament (BTNT) series by Zondervan that will include eight volumes when complete. This volume addresses between its covers James, Peter, and Jude. As you can imagine, this book covers the least addressed elements of theology in the New Testament. Peter Davids, the author, has spent his career in this portion of Scripture including two major exegetical commentaries on James and First Peter. He is the perfect author to tackle this subject.

Chapter 1 serves as an introduction that traces out common themes and issues among these New Testament epistles. He argues that the Greco-Roman background and educated writing style are true for each of these letters. Further, he sees a monotheistic outlook with a strong Christology. To his mind, all four letters put a strong emphasis on the the source of sin (desire or lust).

The other four chapters address each of these four letters individually. Issues commonly found in the introduction of an exegetical commentary are studied in each case, but its emphasis on theology is brought out in the latter part of every chapter. Mr. Davids wrote as one who greatly admired these four letters. He did agree with a few conclusions that I could not, particularly in the area of sources, but he has written a scholarly, predominantly conservative work.

Each chapter also gives an outline followed by a literary – theological reading of the book. I felt he covered well where commentary and theology meet. His tracing of the important theological themes in each of the letters was spot on in my opinion. As an added bonus, the book is attractive, well written, and contains a few charts where appropriate. Coming in at 300 pages, the author manages to neither dodge any important issue, nor become so prolix that he wearies the reader.

In my judgment, this book holds up well with the other fine volumes already released in this series. If you are beginning a study of James, Peter, or Jude, put this book in the must-buy category.

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 9: Matthew-Mark

book ebc 9

Volume 9 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (revised edition) covers only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Fortunately, that means that Matthew, one of the most important books of the Bible, gets a great deal of extra space in the series. D.A. Carson, one of the most respected scholars of our day, handles Matthew in this volume. It seems to me that Carson’s Matthew is the most heralded volume in either the old set, or this new revised series of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.

Although the rewrite was not substantial, Carson’s Matthew still holds its place among the commentaries on Matthew available today. Carson wrote a substantial Introduction. He begins discussing the criticism of Matthew, or in other words, how critical scholars have debated the book of Matthew. Considering Carson’s reputation in conservative circles, his credence of the opinion of some of the more critical scholars is somewhat surprising. Still, his work is outstanding. He addresses history and theology, as well as the synoptic problem, and again entertains more than I could. In any event, I can hardly imagine a better overview. When he discusses authorship, he is tentatively agreeable to the historic position of Matthew being the author. On subjects like occasion, purpose, and structure, he begs for restraint. His discussion of themes and special problems was well done. While the text of the Introduction was not altered greatly from the original volume, I noticed the footnotes and bibliography were updated a great deal.

The commentary on Matthew would just what you’d expect from Carson – detailed, careful, cautious, thoughtful, and with skilled scholarship. He is occasionally harsh, but this is one of the most important commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew available today.

The Gospel of Mark received a more substantial rewrite. The work of the late Walter Wessel, much appreciated by pastors in the old set, was thoroughly updated by scholar Mark Strauss. The Introduction was also updated a great deal, I noticed, when I laid the old and new volumes side by side. The upgrade was a success. The new work covers in its Introduction the place of Mark’s gospel in biblical studies, genre, authorship, origin and destination, date, occasion and purpose, literary features, and ends with a bibliography and outline. The commentary itself was also effectively updated.

The 2-for-1 nature of this volume, along with the fact that the Matthew portion is considered one of the premier commentaries on Matthew, means you can’t go wrong in adding this book to your library. It’s a good deal 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.

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation Workbook

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I’ve already gone on record giving Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (3rd ed.) a high rating. Now the publishers have prepared an outstanding workbook to go along with that fine textbook by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard for those taking a hermeneutics class. As the cover states, a combination of study questions, practical exercises, and lab reports make this workbook the perfect complement to those using the textbook.

The workbook is flexible in that you wouldn’t have to do every exercise listed. Teachers can pick those they feel most appropriate. Some exercises are merely a template where the passage suggested could be substituted by the instructor for another passage.

This workbook increases the value of the already excellent textbook. I predict a wide usage of textbook and workbook and warmly recommend both.

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.

Deuteronomy (Interpretation) by Miller

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This commentary is one of the best we have today on Deuteronomy from a critical perspective. Just as the Interpretation Bible Commentary series is known for, Mr. Miller scours Deuteronomy for all kinds of helpful theology. Though I could not agree with several of the critical views represented here, I found in this book many thoughtful, well-written insights.

The Introduction begins with the meaning of the name Deuteronomy. If you are like me, you may not enjoy the source criticism found in the section “how did Deuteronomy come to be?”, nor the section on authorship. When Mr. Miller turns to discussing the literary setting of Deuteronomy and explaining what Deuteronomy is about, he becomes much more helpful in my opinion. He covers material about structure in a helpful way. The final short section explaining why we should read Deuteronomy gives eight fine reasons why we should. I agree with all eight reasons he gave.

As you might have guessed, the real value of this book is in the commentary proper. You will continue to cross critical presuppositions with which you may not agree, but the probing theological nuggets that others miss is why you will likely enjoy this volume.

As a conservative pastor who likes to have a few commentaries on each book from the critical camp to be well-rounded in my studies, I find that this volume is one of the best of that kind of which I’m aware. Plus, as I said before, he really will bring out theological reflections worthy of pursuing that you won’t find anywhere else. In fact, I’d rate this volume as one of the better of the Interpretation Bible Commentary series of the several that I have seen. For these reasons, I 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.

Israel Biblical Archaeology: A Carta Map

book archaeol israel

I wish I had had this map when I toured Israel! I can’t imagine a handier resource for either planning or touring Israel for one interested in Bible sites. With a quick glance, you can see all the archaeological sides of both the Old and New Testaments. As a bonus, you also see the sites of the Byzantine Era, crusader times, Middle Ages, and Islamic periods.

The map itself is well done in the usual Carta style. The legend used makes it obvious which period the site is from. Ancient main roads of Bible times are also added. Some modern roads are also given, but the map is never too busy. It’s eye pleasing in every detail. The areas of each of the Twelve Tribes is also highlighted with different colors, which adds another layer of information without detracting from the overall map. To the right and left of the map are columns of additional information about some of the most important archaeological sites. All of this is just side one!

Side two is a treasure trove of information for the Bible student or one touring Israel. There are several awesome Carta maps along with great information on the other side. There’s a map of the major archaeological sites in the old city of Jerusalem, one of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, one describing the economy of the Roman province of Judah at the time of Jesus, one about Jesus’ ministry around the Sea of Galilee, one of the major routes in the holy land in ancient times (exceptional), one describing Masada, another describing Herodian, and one on Quran and the Essenes. Additionally, there’s one describing the Perfume Route, another on Caesarea, one on the exile of Judah, another on Jericho, one on the Roman provinces in the First Century, and one final map on the Crusader Kingdoms of the Middle Ages.

This map is one every traveler to the Bible lands should have. While you’re at it, look up the companion Jerusalem Biblical Archaeology: A Carta Map, which is in the same outstanding style. I’m so impressed with this map and I think you will be too.

I received this map 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.

Exodus (Interpretation) by Terence Fretheim

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This book is one of the very best in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series. This series is one from the critical camp that is aimed at preachers and teachers and is best known for its theological help. Terence Fretheim has received several accolades for this work on Exodus.

The Introduction begins with the big picture of what we have in Exodus. He describes Exodus is both a Pre-Christian and a Christian book. He gives great insights on the correlation between Exodus and the New Testament. Further, he comments on how we might honor both in the interpretive process. Next, he tackles the critical perspective of Exodus. While I could never agree with most of his conclusions, he still noted things worthy of tracing like the key transitional sections. There is even less I could agree with him in terms of history – he’s much too skeptical there.

The Introduction turns itself back toward great helpfulness when it offers a discussion on the theological task that we will find in Exodus. His discussion of the leading theological issues is eye-opening even if you couldn’t agree with every conclusion he makes. Still, this section alone makes the Introduction worth reading.

The commentary itself would fall into the mid-length category, but is especially theologically perceptive. For example, I thought he made some brilliant comments about the interaction between Pharaoh’s own hardening of heart and the Lord’s hardening of his heart. Taken as a stimulus for ideas rather than a straightforward guide, the commentary section will be beneficial to you.

If you are a conservative Bible student like me, I would suggest that you will still enjoy this book on many levels although you will find some paragraphs completely subversive. Not only is this commentary well written, but the author pulls out thoughts that others miss. You will be the richer for interacting with 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.

40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline by Kimble

book 40 questions

This book provides a unique format to get you thinking deeply about church membership and discipline. You can read through the table of contents for a specific question on the subject, or you can as I did, read through the entire book and be blessed to think through the issues from a variety of vantage points. Mr. Kimble has provided a nice resource here. Though there are many new titles in the area of church membership and discipline published recently, this book carves out its own niche and will be appreciated by readers everywhere.

The author divides the questions into four main parts. Part One defines terms and gets us thinking in the right direction for the questions that follow. Part Two contains general questions about church membership. These questions cover theology, ministry, and practicality. I can’t think of a question he left out, nor of a question he answered carelessly.

Part Three contains general questions about church discipline. If anything, the subject of church discipline is even more bewildering to most Christians than that of the little-discussed subject of church membership. The author again divides the questions into theological, ministry, and practical questions. Part Four asked two concluding questions about the significance of these two interrelated subjects.

As a Baptist pastor, I find this volume biblical, well-written, and helpful. Its design makes it the ideal volume to have on the shelf to pull down when a question comes to mind. Even if you squabble about some conclusion the author makes, he writes succinctly and carefully lays the issue out for you. The reader cannot help but be blessed by this volume. 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 Most Thoughtful Article I’ve Seen On North Korea

This article is important because it illustrates the one thing we are overlooking. At least I was overlooking it. Maybe you were not.

Total war is different than limited war. Let’s just bomb them like we did Iraq won’t bring the happy results it did then. We’ve fought limited wars for so long you’d have to go back to the WWII generation to have any idea.

Whatever we do, and likely there is no perfect option, we must keep this in mind.

Without further ado, here the timely article we all need to consider:

Into the Abyss-the Scenario for the Next Korean War 

The Real Facts About the Latest Generation!

blog phoneI’ve heard it in bits and pieces and had already decided that the smartphone was the defining factor of this generation approaching adulthood. Now I came across a substantive article that has hard data behind what it says. The point is not to bash this generation. How could we? Wouldn’t it be more a reflection of we who are as the generation raising them?

The truth is that every generation has its strengths and weaknesses. That translates to the latest generation being better in a few categories, but its problems are of concern and worthy of our attention.

This generation lives with its parents knowing where they are far more than any generation alive today. For that reason, you could say that they are physically safer. They tend to be less motivated to drive and have fewer wrecks. Their average age of the first sexual encounter is actually older than the last several generations – that’s certainly a plus. If you dig through the data in the article, you will see more of this type of positive information.

Strangely enough, some of their biggest problems springs from the same areas. This is the least-interested-in-independence generation we’ve seen. If they have a nice bedroom, in which to lay and be on their smart phones, they are satisfied. The article mentioned several of them have an indention in their bed from lying there on the phone so much. Many of them are not really interested in driving. Does that surprise you as much as me? Many of them are developmentally at least two years behind.

While the rate of teen homicide is down (that’s a plus!), the rate of teen suicide is far higher. Quite frankly, many of them are not happy. The article explained how the ones who are on their smart phones over the average rank much higher on the chart of unhappiness and suicidal feelings.

The article, which was not in a Christian publication, mentioned sports, other activities, and less social media as having great improvement in the data on being happy and not feeling suicidal. Although the article wasn’t Christian in any way, I couldn’t help but notice that those young people very active in what the author called “religious activities”, fared much better as well. I suppose the data will always bear out that the parents who forget God in their home will reap a whirlwind in their children.

Here’s the great article that you will want to ingest slowly: Has Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

There’s so much more in this article. Read it for yourself. We parents need some deep reflection about whether our homes are just going to be like the average of the world today, or are we going to swim upstream to go after different results. May the Lord help us all in the choppy waters that we Christian parents now navigate.

The Reformation in England (2-volume set) by D’Aubigne

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What a classic! I’ve heard of this jewel for years and am excited to see this reprinting by Banner of Truth. D’Aubigne is an able historian who writes with spiritual fire. These volumes lived up to the hype I heard and I was not disappointed!

Volume 1 was made up of 4 books and took us all the way back to the earliest days of Christianity in England (2nd to 6th Centuries). I enjoyed the fine Introduction to the writer and this work. When we jump into the text, we hear of St. Patrick, the early infiltration of Rome, Wycliffe, the Lollards, and the very origin of the Reformation in England. There’s amazing, inspiring tales of martyrs for Christ. The latter part tells how the divorce of Henry and all that led up to it had an amazing impact on the Reformation. He won’t allow you to believe that the Reformation is a secular event, though, but rather the Lord working through amazing means.

Volume 2 was made up of 3 books and takes us on through Henry VIII’s death as the author sees that as the ultimate birth of the Reformation in England. Henry was a despicable, unstable man! His treatment of his wives was heinous. Still, it’s clear that the Lord works behind the scenes to free England from its religious darkness through these political events. It’s incredible how much blood was spilled along the way. If you’re a Baptist like me, you will love the respectful way he mentions the Anabaptists.

This 2-volume set is well-written, captivating, and illuminating. The author clearly knows what he’s talking about and knows how to tell us. He reads much better than some of the usual heavy reading of that time period. As with other Banner titles, the set is beautiful and bound to last. Frankly, I loved it. It’s THE title for those with an English background for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

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.