A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude by Davids

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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

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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.

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.

Acts (IVPNT) by William Larkin

book acts ivp

This book is one of the longer and higher-rated commentaries in the IVP New Testament Commentary (IVPNT) series. Mr. Larkin balanced scholarly concerns and pastoral needs quite handsomely. Pastors will further appreciate this volume because of how well he draws out missionary concerns. He never strays far from seeing salvation and its proclamation as the heart of the Book of Acts.

He approaches his Introduction from a different angle than many such volumes. He begins by getting us thinking about what’s at stake in preaching Acts today and drawing out its contemporary relevance. To grasp Mr. Larkin’s approach in stating that Acts is all about world evangelization, he says, “whether lulled into complacency by universalism or into indifference by viewing missions as the specialty of certain persons, the church will be awakened by Acts, which declares that being on the move with the gospel witness across cultural thresholds is the church’s number-one job.”

From there Mr. Larkin goes into bridging the cultural gap between the first century to our day and giving some insight into the way Acts ought to be applied today. Next, he discusses historical setting, which includes author, date, and audience. His conclusions are conservative. He treads quickly through scholarly opinions about the purpose of the Book of Acts and addresses historical reliability along the way. The highlight of the Introduction is his explanation of the theology of the book. I appreciated the way he highlighted the overwhelming importance of the Resurrection of Christ and how he further drew out salvation and witnessing.

The commentary section was well done, and as we said before, longer than several others the volumes in the series. In fact, the book itself runs to over 400 pages. Every passage that I reviewed in this book provided helpful commentary. Most importantly, he carried the aforementioned theme of world evangelization throughout the bulk of the commentary. That is, of course, in line with what the Book of Acts is doing.

If you are looking for a mid length commentary with real depth, yet without getting carried away in scholarly concerns, you ought to check this book out. 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.

Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (NAC) by Melick

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Richard Melick. Jr. delivered this helpful commentary in the New American Commentary (NAC) series. It’s actually a three-for-one deal in the already economical series, this time on two of the more beloved of Paul’s epistles as well as his lesser-known personal letter to Philemon. At 375 pages, Melick strikes the perfect balance between helpfulness and succinctness.

Instead of writing one Introduction for all three letters, he writes standalone Introductions before the commentary of all three letters. I was impressed with the depth and quality of each of the Introductions provided here. In each case, he again struck the perfect balance between providing scholarly information and accessible understanding for pastors and teachers.

In his Introduction to Philippians, he first describes the background of the city and its people. Next, in a section entitled “the founding of the church”, he describes the level of Christianity to be found there. When he looked at authorship, he had little patience for the unfounded attacks on Pauline authorship. He feels the greater question is one of integrity of the text, and in his analysis, he explains the unity of the text. He reaches conservative conclusions on origin and date. In that same conservative vein, he outlines Paul’s opponents at Philippi and explains the theological structure of the epistle. His commentary on Philippians itself is thoughtful and well done.

His Introduction to Colossians follows the same pattern. He again reaches conservative conclusions and in section 7, “the problem at Colosse”, he breaks down the unique features of the book of Colossians. He again ends with the theological structure of the epistle and an outline of the book. He delivers commentary on Colossians at the same high level he did on Philippians.

Finally, he tackles Philemon in 35 pages. I have single exegetical commentary volumes on Philemon in my library, but this is all most will need. Again, he is the model of helpfulness while being compendious. He outlines the Introduction in the same winning way that worked in the other two epistles. As you can imagine, setting the stage and explaining slavery is especially important in this little epistle. The commentary itself is again very fine.

I’m surprised this volume isn’t more well-known and highly rated, so I guess we could label it a hidden jewel. Pastors, teachers, and Bible students will love this volume 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.

Job (NAC) by Robert Alden

book job nac

Here’s one of the most conservative, pastor friendly commentaries available on the book of Job today. It’s in the economical New American Commentary (NAC) series. It’s wonderful to read a commentary that approaches the text in such a reverent, believing way. That’s exactly the way Robert Alden discusses the Book of Job here.

He provides a thoughtful Introduction much more geared toward the pastor than the scholar. He begins by discussing structure and explains how the scholarly world is in more agreement than is usual in the area of structure with most biblical books. He surveys the issues that help decide the dating of the book of Job and arrives at a conservative, older dating. In discussing authorship, he boldly speaks for the full inspiration of Scripture (believe it or not, that is rather rare today). Next, he tackles geography and culture followed by canonicity. He ends his Introduction with a helpful overview of literary style, theology, and purpose.

The commentary proper provides the kind of help that pastors and teachers are looking for. For the record, some scholarly reviews have not been that high on this volume, but that has nothing to do with anything other than Mr. Alden not being obsessed with esoteric scholarly minutia. Words, geography, obscure statements, as well as theology are all brought out clearly. If your goal is to explain the text, I believe you will greatly appreciate this commentary. In the category of a commentary for pastors or teachers, I’d have to say that this volume is as good as any out there today. For the money, this is a must-buy.

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 6: Proverbs-Isaiah

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The quality revision of the beloved Expositor’s Bible Commentary succeeds again here in volume 6 covering Proverbs through Isaiah. For the record, I’m glad Ross and Grogan were retained to revise Proverbs and Isaiah respectively, as I always enjoyed them in the old set. This revision ensures another generation of pastors will use EBC as a primary resource.

In Proverbs, the Introduction and outline are little changed and the exceptional topical index was retained. The commentary is simply one of the best on Proverbs today. Frankly, I always check what Ross has to say when working in Proverbs.

In Ecclesiastes J. Stanford Wright is replaced by Jerry Shepherd. Though the scholarship is improved, and the writing clear, his interpretation follows the currently popular pessimistic approach. Though I couldn’t agree with that approach, the work is helpful.

George Schwab replaces Dennis Kinlaw in an improved effort for the Song of Songs. It’s really outstanding. He gives an incredibly succinct summary of approaches to the book. Since pastors rarely preach on the Song, this may be all some pastors want.

Grogan has brought Isaiah up to date with current scholarship and this commentary will hold its status as one of the best in the middle-length category. I really love it! Conservative, clear, and helpful–what more could you ask for?

Quality commentary on four biblical books (and one of those books is the longer, important Book of Isaiah) between two covers at a decent price is not something you can find just anywhere. I’d especially recommend this volume to busy pastors and teachers. You will be helped by 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.

James (ZECNT) by Blomberg & Kamell

book james zec

This commentary was the inaugural volume in the developing Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) series that rivals all series in print today. This volume is shorter than the ones that followed, but must be credited with establishing ZECNT style that is outstanding on so many levels. Every passage has a section on literary context, a main idea, a translation, a discussion of structure, an exegetical outline followed by a quality explanation of the text, and a theology in application section. As a pastor, I love this design.

This volume was written by highly-respected scholar Craig Blomberg, and at his request, he was joined by his research assistant Mariam Kamell as co-author. As said before, it is quite shorter than other volumes in the series, but the quality of writing is up where you would hope.

Though the Introduction begins with a section entitled “Outline”, it’s really a review of structure and what has been thought in the scholarly world. A section called “Circumstances” gives us a historical setting including authorship. Authorship carries into more sections as it is often debated in the scholarly world though I find the reasons obtuse. In any event, conservative conclusions are reached here. The Introduction is followed by a fine bibliography.

The commentary proper is succinct, but solid; and again, the ZECNT format shines. The authors move through scholarly issues to help for expositors in a skillful way. I’m high on this series, and I recommend this 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.