Zondervan Handbook to the Bible

book zon han

This handbook that is the favorite of many has garnered a fifth addition. I’m told that there are over 3 million copies in print in many languages for the first four editions. Even the earliest editions, edited by David and Pat Alexander, were colorful and more eye appealing than most on the market. That tradition is extended in this latest edition. It’s beautiful, colorful, full of helpful articles, and contains wonderful maps, charts, diagrams, and photographs.

Section 1 introduces the Bible with broad discussion, helps put the Bible in its proper setting, explains keys to understanding, looks at the unity of the Bible, and surveys the challenges of reading the Bible today. The next section covers the Old Testament, breaking it down by looking at the four genres found there. Each book of the Bible is given an overview and a synopsis of its contents. There’s many articles of special features found in the book as well as lavish illustrations. The New Testament is approached in the same helpful way.

You will enjoy the final section too that they call the “rapid factfinder”. I describe it as a brief Bible dictionary as well as a reference on where to find further discussion in the book itself.

The book is beautiful and well done. The paperback cover is sturdier than most and actually works well in this case. Many of the contributors are well-known scholars. I imagine any Bible student would crave this book. It’s a winner.

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.

Second Corinthians (NIGTC) by Harris

book nigtc 2 cor

This volume by Murray Harris is one of the most respected in the well-known New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series. Its success arises from its masterful exegesis, its scholarly clarity, and its warmth. Along the way, you will have one of the most conservative entries in the series as well. Having already written a helpful commentary II Corinthians in the EBC series aimed at pastors, Harris flexed his scholarly muscles in producing this meticulous, yet clear technical commentary.

Harris provides a massive bibliography running 100 pages. He begins the Introduction by digging into the literary issues of II Corinthians. I appreciated that on page 1 he wasted no time in saying, “one of the areas in which there is consensus among NT scholars is that Paul was the author of 2 Corinthians….” Quickly he segues into where the strongest debate concerning this book always happens – how it fits with I Corinthians. He explains what he calls “the severe letter”. He works through all the main possibilities before he begins defending the integrity of II Corinthians. There’s debate also about some of the passages and if they possibly come from a different hand than Paul. Again, these passages are covered from every possible angle and he is quite open to conservative solutions.

He also tackles the occasion, purpose, and outcome of the book. From there, he comes back at the book with a view to explain historical issues. In doing so he will review the date, Paul’s opponents, and the collection for Jerusalem. He works with care in producing a chronology before he dives into discussions about structure. There’s also some good discussion of theology in the book, which you will also find in the commentary itself.

The commentary proper is over 800 pages on the text. It is in perusing these pages that you will see that Harris lives up to the reputation that has attached to this book. As with most volumes in this series, the English translation of the Greek presented is nearby and fairly easy to follow even for non-Greek readers.

This volume is easily the best we have on the more technical side for II Corinthians today. Don’t miss 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.

President McKinley by Robert Merry (Presidential Bio. Series)

book mckin

In the world of presidential biography, how would you grade the biography of one of our lesser – known presidents? Without doubt, it requires more of the author. The two main characteristics of such a presidential biography must revolve around: a) skilled writing that draws you into the life of one you never realized was interesting, and b) enough depth to make you feel that you really know this person. Granted, the life of the president that headlines the biography is what it is, and the author will be greatly aided if that individual happens to be compelling, even if the accumulating years pushes him into obscurity.

In this work by Robert W. Merry on Pres. McKinley, all these factors aligned beautifully to create an outstanding biography. It’s a joy to read and it moved me firmly into the category of counting McKinley as one of our better presidents. In fact, Merry is so successful here that I’m still scratching my head how that I, as one who enjoys presidential biographies, thought so little of McKinley before. The subtitle “Architect of the American Century” is in no way an overstatement. Probably the only reason that McKinley has suffered such obscurity is the unfortunate circumstance of being followed by the flamboyant Teddy Roosevelt. I found Roosevelt larger than life myself, and in reading his biographies found McKinley pushed exactly where Roosevelt wanted: in the shadows.

McKinley is easily one of the more upstanding men to hold the office. Merry is extremely fair, and worthy of praise even, in his presentation of the religion of McKinley. In other words, he reports the facts, and doesn’t pass judgment on those views, nor does he attack the sincerity of those views. McKinley was raised in a dedicated Christian family. He was a gentleman, he did not use swear words, yet was not overly judgmental of others. As a young person, he came forward at a camp meeting to profess salvation at a mourner’s bench, and in my view, stayed true to his roots in a much greater way than most presidents.

The author seems amazed, and I agree, that McKinley was extraordinary in managing and getting his way, yet without running over others. Though he took great pride in his military career in the Civil War, he was not horribly vain. He seemed to always rank getting the job done more than getting personal glory.

Whether it be with the gold – versus – silver issue, the Spanish-American War, a foreign policy that predicated itself upon America’s greatness without features of colonialism, the Panama Canal, and even economic policy, McKinley moved us from post – Civil War times to the 20th century. I’m glad Merry pushed Teddy Roosevelt enough to the side that we could see this great president.

As presidential biographies go, this one is a winner. I enjoyed it, and suspect you will to.

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.

Haggai and Malachi (NICOT) by Jacobs

book hag mal

This latest entry in the highly- regarded New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) by Mignon Jacobs covers Haggai and Malachi. It replaces the serviceable volume by Pieter Verhoef that’s been much used for 30 years. In the last few decades this series has transitioned to academic issues from its earlier emphasis of assisting pastors, though scholarly pastors will still love it. If you appreciate the last few entries in this series, you will find this new title in that same vein and fully of their caliber.

After a substantial bibliography, the Introduction of Haggai begins with the historical background. We learn of the times of the prophet, his identity, and the date of his activity in the book. The next section tackles historical context by explaining what the author calls “chronological indicators” followed by the sociopolitical context and the conceptual framework. Next, there’s a brief discussion of the text followed by a section on inter-textual indicators. That revolves around Haggai’s comparison with Ezra, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Leviticus. There’s also a short section on structure (It could have been longer). The Introduction ends with a brief overview of the message that includes a few theological values.

The book of Malachi has an Introduction with the same design as that used by Haggai and explained above. There’s a few more charts and tables in this one to help the reader. The outline provided in the section on structure was also much more detailed than that of Haggai. I thought the theological discussion of the ideal versus the real was illuminating.

The verse by verse commentary of both sections is helpful. Scholarly issues are well defined and inter-textual discussions are well done. I’m glad to have this book on my shelves. It’s a real asset!

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.

Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology

book arc h

This Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology is a real gem. Not only is it attractive, but it assists in the very area that many Bible students struggle: archaeology. Randall Price has both taught and participated in archaeological excavations, and is the perfect candidate to produce this book. H. Wayne House, a prolific biblical writer, assists.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the introduction to biblical archaeology provided in this volume. It defines terms, helps you see were biblical archaeology is today, explains the major difference between minimalists and maximalists, explains the limitations of archaeology, its value, and its methodology. There’s a good description of what archaeology contributes to biblical studies too. That’s followed by a fascinating explanation of an archaeological site. It really brings archaeology to life. The introduction ends with an overview of archaeological periods.

The book is divided into three main sections, you have archaeology in the Old Testament, archaeology and the intertestamental period, and archaeology in the New Testament. This enables the reader to approach the Bible chronologically and apply archaeology to it.

You will love all the vivid, color photos, the helpful charts and diagrams, and the text itself. As a bonus, each of the main sections has a detailed chart of archaeological discoveries from that time. There are several helpful color maps at the end, as well as a thorough glossary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book and 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.