A History of Israel (Revised Edition) by Kaiser and Wegner

book hist israel

We have here a massive revision of a much-beloved history of Israel textbook. Don’t allow the word “textbook” to cause you to think this book is only designed for college students. It’s an extraordinary resource for any Bible student or pastor. The amount of information is incredible. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. is known for his helpful conservative scholarship and has been a trusted name for many for years. You might say this volume has been made fresh with the addition of Paul Wegner as a co-author.  The addition of many color pictures and maps from the B&H Publishing collection helps immensely as well. It’s large 7” X 10” size allows the font and picture/map dimensions to add to its enjoyment. The only downside is the fact that it’s in paperback and that its type of printing removes some of the sharpness of the illustrations. My hope is that this volume will meet with such success that the publisher might consider an attractive hardback with slick pages. That is, though, the only shortcoming of this book that I found.

As much as I enjoyed the bells and whistles of this volume, it’s the well written conservative viewpoint that makes it stand out. I’ve seen most of the other histories of Israel in print by academic publishers today, and this volume far exceeds them all. The others may have some commendable features but always come with a pile of caveats because of their consistently twisted chronology and skeptical nature. This volume contains all the academic and biblical information on the history of Israel that a sincere Bible believer could desire.

After three introductory chapters that describe the scholarly mess that academia has made of the history of Israel, the book has nine major parts with 30 more chapters that take us from Israel’s beginning to the Intertestamental period. You might quibble over some date or conclusion, but you will greatly appreciate the bedrock assumption behind every conclusion drawn from the evidence found that the Old Testament is a trustworthy source and the basis of our study. I especially appreciated the archaeological proof of Israel and the Old Testament, which is substantial, that is presented in this volume.

Without a doubt, this volume will take pride of place in my library on the subject of the history of Israel. 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 Lost Sermons of Spurgeon: Vol. 2 [Collector’s Edition]

book spurgeon 2 coll

It’s thrilling to see this second volume roll out in this exciting series of the lost sermons of Charles Spurgeon from the earliest days of his ministry (1851-1854). I fell in love with the first volume, and this one continues all the interesting features and beauty of the first. I noticed the sermons are little more developed here than those in volume 1 as well.

This Collector’s Edition contains the same content as the regular volume as you will see when comparing each Table of Contents, but is still worthwhile to check out. I suspect many Spurgeon fans will prefer it. ( I do!)  It has the look and feel of those heirloom volumes that existed in Spurgeon’s day and have lasted until ours. It comes in a slipcover box and is a cloth over boards volume with leather spine binding. In addition, there’s genuine gold foil on the spine as well as gilded page edges. I’m a book lover and own many, but this collector’s edition is easily the best I’ve seen published these days. Don’t miss the incredible pictures either that have been added in unnumbered pages at this end of this book–they aren’t found in the other edition.

The forward and editor’s preface are the same as in Volume 1, but the introduction is specific to the sermons in Volume 2. Editor Christian George continues his painstaking research to uncover an incredible amount of detailed information on the sermons. As we saw in Volume 1, he shows that Charles Spurgeon did little borrowing in the early days of his ministry from preachers like John Bunyan, Charles Simeon, and Thomas Manton. To my ear, they still came out sounding like Spurgeon himself. As is always the case when he preaches, they are full of the gospel.

Spurgeon had such an eye for texts. In fact, when I look through this work the idea would often strike me that I should preach on some of these texts someday. (I promise I won’t steal Spurgeon’s sermons!) It’s no understatement to say he was a master preacher.

This volume includes #78-134 of his sermons, including the famous sermon entitled “The Curse and the Blessing” that he preached from Proverbs 3:33 when the horrific accident at the Surrey Garden Music Hall in London happened where seven were killed and others were injured in a stampede. Be sure to read the footnote that describes how Spurgeon was so affected by that tragedy that the mere mention of the text would precipitate a reaction from him. For that matter, all the footnotes in this book are incredible. I can’t fathom the number of hours involved to assemble all this information.

This set will be a treasure when completed. Either set is superb, but the Collector’s Edition is extraordinary. I imagine many are collecting them one at a time as they are released and joyously anticipating the next release. If you have an appreciation for the greatest preaching from history, you can’t overlook Spurgeon or this set. I commend the publisher for undertaking the task of producing this treasure for us. We are all indebted to them. I give this book the highest possible recommendation!

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.

Philippians (EEC) by Keown–2 In-depth volumes on Philippians

 

book phil eec

In this latest release in hardback of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series, Mark Keown hits a home run. As one who owns all the modern, major exegetical commentaries on Philippians, I can say unequivocally that these two volumes on Philippians are the most thorough we have today. As a bonus, its stance is warmly conservative. As I understand it, as is the case with all volumes in the series, this two-volume set was first released as one volume in digital form. Readers like me who will defiantly only use a book that can be held in our hands must be grateful to Lexham Press for providing these two attractive volumes for us.

Volume 1 covers Philippians 1:1-2:18 and with indices runs over 550 pages. See what I mean about thorough! This volume contains the Introduction to the Book of Philippians and runs to 92 pages alone. I appreciate that the author’s love of Philippians becomes apparent on page 1. To me, that’s essential to a good commentary. Keown quickly establishes his acceptance of Paul as the author. After discussing the role of Timothy in this letter, he dives into Paul in Rome and thoroughly describes the scene there. Next, he explains the integrity of Philippians. He picks apart the multiple–letter hypothesis and sees Philippians as a unified whole. After carefully examining the evidence, he’s comfortable with a conservative dating.

After he works his way through the data in Philippians, he reviews the recipients of the letter and gives us background on the town of Philippi itself. From there, he delves into the Philippian church and draws a careful picture of its makeup. That church’s need transitions him into some of the themes that we find in Philippians. He concludes that section with finding the “cruciform” life in the letter. The next section tackles the genre of Philippians. He finds it hard to fit in the straitjacket of one narrow description. After describing the use of the Old Testament in Philippians, he explains thematic and structural analysis of the book. Though brief, it is very good and clear. After an outline, he provides a lengthy bibliography.

In every passage he gives an introduction for the passage itself, followed by the portion of outline in play, translation, textual notes, and all followed by detailed commentary. This is where the commentary is impressive. Though it might be lengthier than many will want for Philippians, there’s no doubt that it addresses every exegetical issue imaginable. In other words, it’s not going to miss something that you think ought to be discussed. What makes it superior to many other major commentaries of great length is that its bulk is not made up of esoteric, somewhat off-topic discussion. No, he gives us mostly exegesis.

I predict that this commentary will prove to be widely used in the years ahead. 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.

Volume 2 covers Philippians 2:19-4:23 in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series, and continues the thoroughness found in the first volume. With indices, it runs to almost 570 pages. Just like the first volume on Philippians, its claim to fame is detailed exegesis. Other major tomes addressing Philippians on the exegetical level often run on side paths that many Bible students think go nowhere. I so appreciate that this volume is always wrestling with the text.

As a case in point, check out the commentary on Philippians 4:13. In six pages of commentary, every word is thoroughly investigated. Options are weighed and conclusions are explained. Hard questions are not dodged either. After all the exegetical work, he explains the major interpretive issues. How wide is the application of this famous verse? He doesn’t just spout off an answer, and though he warns against taking in too wide a direction, he explains why we can take it farther than the narrowest interpretation with good reason. It’s in places like that we discover the commentator’s skill found in this volume.

In every passage he gives an introduction for the passage itself, followed by the portion of outline in play, translation, textual notes, and all followed by detailed commentary. This is where the commentary is impressive. Though it might be lengthier than many will want for Philippians, there’s no doubt that it addresses every exegetical issue imaginable. In other words, it’s not going to miss something that you think ought to be discussed. What makes it superior to many other major commentaries of great length is that its bulk is not made up of esoteric, somewhat off-topic discussion. No, he gives us mostly exegesis.

I predict that this commentary will prove to be widely used in the years ahead. 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.

 

Preaching in the New Testament (NSBT) by Jonathan Griffiths

book preaching NSBT

This recent release in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series, written by Jonathan I. Griffiths and edited by D. A. Carson, is a winner! It matches the depth of the series that is respected all around while having something to say about preaching that will be meaningful to every preacher. While I have read and enjoyed many volumes on the subject of preaching in the New Testament, this one is different and lives up to its subtitle in that it goes hard after being an exegetical and biblical-theological study. In other words, it’s less a motivational approach and more of a declaration of what the New Testament specifically says about preaching. By the end of the volume, you will have no doubt that the task of the preacher, or “authoritative public proclamation”, is the design of the Lord revealed in the New Testament.

After a brief Introduction explaining the purpose of this book, the author tackles in Part 1 what he calls foundational matters. He will explain in three chapters the basis of the Word of God in biblical theology as well as the key Greek words for “preaching” in the New Testament. That chapter on those keywords is fascinating (don’t miss the fine charts) and really proves the authors premise by its end. This section is followed by an excursus on who the preachers are in Philippians chapter 1.

Part 2 covering chapters 4 through 9 exegetes six key passages where preaching is discussed in the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3-4, Romans 10, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 2-6, 1 Thessalonians 1-2, and Hebrews are all superbly covered. In some cases, the focus is on a few chapters while others trace words for “preaching” throughout an entire New Testament book. The author succeeds in both of these approaches, and again, in my opinion, proves the place of preaching in the New Testament beyond doubt.

Chapter 10 shares a summary and conclusions. He gives a summary of exegetical findings, followed by his biblical–theological conclusions. I found it easy to agree with every one of his conclusions made here after reading this book. In a day when preaching is held in less repute than former days, this book is just what we need. I’m glad it’s been written and glad to 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.

Understanding Biblical Theology by Klink and Lockett

book und B theo

Edward Klink and Darian Lockett join forces to guide us in defining the term “biblical theology”. In doing so, they will divide the scholarly world into five major schools of thought on the subject. In addition, they will compare theory and practice as well as the origin of it being the church or the academy. Both authors have already published major works. In particular, I greatly admire Klink’s recent commentary on the Gospel of John in ZECNT. I see him as a theological and scholarly writer to keep an eye on in the future.

The introductory chapter surveys what the authors call the spectrum of biblical theology. Though I read widely, I was a little surprised to see what I thought was a commonly accepted term so exactly defined and widely debated. Along the way, they will further try to separate the concept of biblical theology from systematic theology. As will become important as you read the rest of the text, in this introductory chapter they define the issues involved that divide scholars. How the Old Testament connects to the New Testament, whether we should look for historical diversity or theological unity, the impact of the scope and sources of biblical theology, what the actual subject matter of biblical theology is, and finally, whether biblical theology should be defined by the church or the academy. Make sure you linger over the small chart on page 22 that shows a logical way to view the five schools of thought. Spoiler alert: there’s an outstanding summary chart at the end of the book that will make it possible for you to review and make sure you followed the line of thought given in this book.

The design of the book is simple. There’s a chapter of defining the particular school of thought followed by a chapter that fully examines one of its major proponents. In a nutshell, you have biblical theology as historical description with James Barr, as history of redemption with D. A. Carson, as worldview-story with N. T. Wright, as canonical approach with Brevard Childs, and as theological construction with Francis Watson. Please don’t ask me where I land even after reading this book, though I find myself vacillating between the first two schools of thought. Strangely, each point of view had some aspects worth considering, even if some of them had more serious drawbacks.

Some might find this subject a hair too finally split, but I can’t imagine a resource that could more capably define the parameters of this subject. Believe it or not, the authors were so faithful to their task of explaining why this issue is hard and how it’s been viewed that they never championed one viewpoint over the others. This is THE book on the subject.

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 Spurgeon Journal–The Perfect Gift!

book sp journ

You’ve surely heard of one of the publishing feats of recent years in the publication of the lost sermons of Charles Spurgeon. Available in both a hardback and deluxe collector’s edition, this set when complete will be a treasure for Spurgeon fans or those who love preaching in general. Many are building their set one volume at a time as they are released. B & H Publishers has also created this exquisite ruled journal in a matching style to the set. Journaling is the rage these days, and I’ve hardly seen one that looks nicer than this one. It’s a leather-bound beauty!

This 5” x 8.25” Journal grabs your attention at first sight. You will notice Spurgeon’s signature embossed on the lower right-hand of the cover. When you open the book, you’ll see a place to put your name with another faint rendition of Spurgeon’s signature below. The next page gives a blurb about the 12 volumes of the Lost Sermons set. That’s followed by an open table of contents where you can approach the 140 sermons in the order you prefer. What’s labeled as page 1 has a place for you to put the date in the top right-hand corner with the ruled lines for your reflections filling the rest of the page. Some pages have profound quotes by Spurgeon at the bottom, with the following page giving the title and sermon number of the Spurgeon sermon that the quote was pulled from.

This journal on acid-free paper is the perfect size and feel. If you like journals, you will love this one. My guess is that any pastor would find it the perfect gift. In my view, no corners were cut in producing a journal worthy of the monumental set of the lost sermons of Spurgeon.

I received this journal 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.

Spiritual Maturity by J. Oswald Maturity

book spiritual mat

Oswald Sanders writes in a similar vein as he did in “Spiritual Leadership”. Though this title is not as well-known as his leadership classic, it probes with the same depth into spiritual maturity. As the subtitle says, he brings out principles of spiritual growth for every believer. It is an outstanding book.

He has a Trinitarian breakdown in the three parts of this book. In part one he writes on the overruling providence of God, in part two on the supreme vision of Christ, and in part three he writes on the Holy Spirit as the breath of God. As the editors say in the preface, this title “is not just a ‘how-to’, but a ‘be’ volume”.

In part one, he first tackles Romans 8:28 and goes beyond the usual shallow interpretations we find for that verse. He does find the good. In the next chapter, we get an outstanding vision of our God and how it always led to “profound self-abasement”. I love this chapter. Next, he finds the persevering love in the Lord being called the God of Jacob. In another chapter, he reviews the purposes of God’s disciplines as well as the perfected strength He gives. In chapter 6, he probes the ugliness of pride. After that, he discusses faith, deliverance, and the compensations of faith.

In part two, he first uses Revelation 5:9 to look at the transcendent worthiness of Christ. Chapter 10 looks at intercession, which he calls the unfinished work of Christ. In chapter 11, he takes one of the Beatitudes and describes Christ’s ideal of character. We also get looks at discipleship on Christ’s terms in one chapter and another on seeing the message to the church at Ephesus as a personal letter from Christ. In chapter 14, he describes what he calls a “reigning life through Christ”.

In part three, he first describes what he means by the Spirit being the breath of God, followed by an explanation of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Later chapters consider the purging fire of the Spirit, the mighty dynamic of the Spirit, and the missionary passion of the Spirit. The remaining two chapters makes sense of the controversial subject of speaking with tongues.

I underlined many lines in every chapter. The beautiful part about this work is how he draws his conclusions from the biblical text itself. In addition to being such a helpful devotional book, this is a good example for preachers in communicating truth. Mark down this title as a real 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.

The Epistles to Colossians and to Philemon (NIGNT) by Dunn

This volume in the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series is by famous scholar James D. G. Dunn. He is, perhaps, most famous for being one of the main proponents of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). While I do not find that perspective plausible, I do appreciate the clarity with which Mr. Dunn explained his position. As you might imagine, that perspective does sway the commentary on Colossians and Philemon. If you would agree with me that that perspective might be the flaw of this commentary, then the quality of writing found here that is often absent in other such works is its strength. Even if the scholarship is swayed by his perspective, no one can doubt the depths of the scholarship itself.

The style of the commentary matches what I’ve seen in other volumes of this series. Though the commentary on each verse begins with the phrase in Greek, it’s still easy to follow for those who don’t read Greek. I would not avoid this commentary for that reason.

The Introduction to Colossians begins after a lengthy bibliography. He first discusses the significance of the book, followed by the background of Colossae and its Christianity. He admits the lack of archaeological excavation in Colossae imbibes conclusions with uncertainty. I had trouble following him in some of the presuppositions that ultimately lead to his perspective on Paul. I certainly couldn’t agree with his lack of acceptance of the authorship of Paul. After a brief discussion of structure, he jumps into the commentary itself. Though his perspective on Paul is always going to be present, I still found his commentary interesting and the one I would want to consult from that perspective.

The commentary on Philemon is set up in a similar way. The Introduction discusses the author, the recipient, the occasion, and the place of writing. I was amazed that he didn’t allow himself to be submersed into the subject of slavery that consumes most other scholars these days. I appreciated that approach.

Though perhaps not as conservative as some, this is a major commentary that demands to be reckoned with. For that reason, I must 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.