Understanding the Holy Temple of the Old Testament

book holy temple ot

Leen Ritmeyer is my favorite modern writer on the Tabernacle in Israel’s earlier history and the Temple from Solomon’s Temple all the way to Herod’s Temple. His earlier major work, The Quest, is the gold standard on the Temple from either a historical or an archaeological perspective. Now Carta gives us one of their fine introductory atlases (They have a whole series of these helpful books) on the Holy Temple of the Old Testament. For this colorful, attractive work Mr. Ritmeyer is joined by his capable wife, Kathleen, to produce this helpful book that you will find incredibly enlightening.

The book begins with an introduction that reminds us that holiness is a key element in thinking about the Tabernacle. That’s followed by a section called the Genesis Sanctuary as the authors describe what they call the Proto-Tabernacle. That’s an interesting perspective that I hadn’t thought of. Next, we have some information on Melchizedek and Abraham, followed by great information on the Tabernacle. Every major component is explained and profusely illustrated. There’s even a section on the journeys of the Tabernacle and how that was done.

Solomon’s Temple is carefully explained, as well as the differences we find in its description between Kings and Chronicles. There are some great explanations of the rock at the top of Mount Moriah and its relation to the current Dome of the Rock. They will explain Hezekiah’s Temple as well as Ezekiel’s Temple and the Temple Scroll. Next, we will learn about the Post-exilic Temple, the Hellenistic Temple Mount, and the Hasmonean Temple Mount.

This book is the perfect way to learn a clear overview of the Tabernacle and Temple in 48 large pages. The word that comes to my mind for this book is “ideal”. You will want to look up its companion volume, Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew, which is also an outstanding asset.

As with any Carta resource, there are outstanding pictures and maps. What stands out especially in this book is the diagrams of the Temple as well as pictures of reconstructed models. This book is well done!

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.

Understanding the Maccabean Revolt: An Introductory Atlas

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If you are like me, the silent years between the Old and New Testaments is a place of weakness as a Bible student. There were turbulent events that changed many things about the political world situation that ended the Old Testament to the Roman control firmly in place when the New Testament began. Part of that important transition had to do with the Maccabean revolt. This beautiful introductory atlas by Carta that matches the style of several attractive introductory atlases now in print by them is the perfect place to correct the deficiency of your biblical knowledge.

The work of three highly-respected scholars was effectively molded together to give us a vivid overview. Michael Avi-Yonah who has prolifically written on Bible history and archaeology is the original contributor. Two other scholars from Israel, Shmuel Safrai and Ze’ev Safrai, combined to finish and update this useful work.

In this book, you will learn about the Seleucid Empire, the factors that led to the Maccabean revolt, key battles over the century of the Maccabean revolt, key players, and the effects on Jerusalem. The text reads well. The pictures are beautiful and effectively illustrate the material. In fact, you will find yourself staring at them and feeling you are there.

And as always with these Carta titles, there are the wonderful maps. The preeminent mapmaker of our day really outdid themselves in this work. The number of maps in a work of 40 oversized pages is incredible. It’s as if there’s a map to introduce every movement the text tells you about. The scale and amount of information on every map are perfect. The visual representation of battles was especially effective. I’ve seen whole Bible atlases that had less quality maps to cover all biblical history than this one has for only one century of Israel’s history. I’ve reviewed almost every Bible Atlas on the market today, and nobody comes close to touching what Carta provides on the Maccabean revolt. I’ve loved all the introductory atlases by Carta but be sure not to think that this is the one you can pass by because it’s too obscure. No, you will never regret having this introductory Atlas at your disposal to explain a vital component of Israel’s history.

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 the Ecology of the Bible-An Exciting New Carta Introductory Atlas

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If you’ve had the privilege of reading some of these attractive introductory atlases published by Carta, you know how rewarding they can be. This latest one on the ecology of the Bible by prolific writer Paul H. Wright, who excels on works of Bible geography, history, and even a major Bible Atlas, is one of the best yet. Mr. Wright has already produced in this series of introductory atlases works that include an overview of the New Testament, one on geography, one on biblical kingdoms and empires, and one on biblical archaeology. Mastering these works by Mr. Wright will greatly expand your Bible study.

Don’t for a minute think of 48 large pages on the ecology of the Bible as an esoteric effort. So much is missed in Bible passages when you miss these details. For many of us, the natural world and ecology we live in are so different from that of the Bible that we can easily miss even the main flow of the story itself. I believe a thorough perusal of this work would be the equivalent of a college class. Fortunately, the writing is accessible and even beginners can glean so much here.

It’s thorough enough to be effective as I didn’t see any ecological or natural world item that was overlooked. The pictures were so beautiful that I would catch myself thinking, wow, I’d like to be there! The maps are all top-notch and what we’ve come to expect in any work bearing the Carta imprint. Again, I especially adored this title and I’m a fan of all these Carta introductory atlases. Look this one up!

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.

Jeremiah and Lamentations (Reformation Commentary on Scripture)

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Don’t think of this as a curiosity piece. There’s real value here as previous generations have distinct contributions they can make to our understanding of the Bible. The Lord has spoken in every generation. This large, beautiful volume is the latest release in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series. Covering Jeremiah and Lamentations, this book of 600 large pages makes many important observations that can enrich our Bible studies.

I can’t imagine the amount of research that was required by J. Jeffery Tyler to produce this volume. Without a doubt, this book also has great historical value. The trends in the Reformation become clear as a more careful return to the text of Scripture is apparent in their work. My only problem with calling this a historical work would be a possible misinterpretation that you couldn’t use it as a commentary. For my time, this volume’s expository light is its greatest asset. In addition, the Book of Jeremiah is always one of those where you would appreciate a little more help.

All of this is not to say that you will fail to enjoy the historical contribution this book makes. There is a general introduction that overviews the Reformation and explains what this commentary series is trying to accomplish. There’s also a wonderful introduction to Jeremiah and Lamentations in the Reformation. I enjoyed reading it. There were the names I was very familiar with and those I had never heard of it at all. All facets of the Reformation were fair game for this work and even the Anabaptists were brought into the commentary. Some of those unknown names reminded me that all of our heroes are not household names. Many more than we know are worth knowing. When the introduction explained the main themes that the Reformers often discussed it’s easy to see that those probably are the true themes of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Maybe new is not always better!

Every passage gets an overview and commentary from the Reformers in the commentary section. Again, it must’ve taken so much sifting to cherry pick for us readers the best of the bunch. The editor doesn’t excessively quote any one Reformer and that variety strengthens the work.

I’ve only reviewed a few of the volumes in this series so far, but I really like this one! When complete, this series will be a force to be reckoned with. In the meanwhile, don’t miss this great commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations!

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 the Twelve Tribes–A New Carta Resource!

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This volume is another of the outstanding, profusely illustrated resources published by Carta. At this point, they have several of these large paged (9 X 12”) in a similar design that will provide the opportunity for much pleasurable study for Bible students. This new volume by Menashe Har-El is a fascinating treatment that will open up your thinking to all kinds of new things you didn’t know. The author is a biblical geography expert who has taught and written widely. This work illustrates several biblical passages that only gets a cursory look in other volumes. The word “fascinating” is not an exaggerated description.

The subtitle “Boundaries and Surrounding Nations” articulates the value of this book. After a broad introduction, the geographical division of the land among the tribes at the time of Joshua is explained. Some boundaries were natural landmarks while others were erected with piles of stones or fences. There’s further development of the tribe of Dan because it went to the coast and interacted with the area that the Philistines came and possessed. Dan also inhabited the far north of Israel.

From there, the book surveys the boundaries and major neighbors of Israel. First, we have a fascinating look at Egypt. From there we learn about the Amorites, more details about Egypt because of the interaction with Moses and the Exodus, Dedan and Tema (modern Saudia Arabia), and the land of Edom (later called Petra).

Several other people groups and nations are mentioned, and many Scriptures are quoted. These places are too quickly skimmed over by Bible students. In truth, they impact a large swath of Scripture and this book gives incredible help to our understanding.

The book is filled with incredible Carta maps! Without doubt, Carta maps are the best in print today. They are colorful, accurate, use miles/feet for measurement, and specifically illustrate what the author is discussing. The map of ancient routes in the holy land and the one showing the boundaries of the Tribes are exceptional. Other maps effectively bring alive the boundaries of Israel. Additionally, the pictures are beautiful and outstanding throughout.

Do you love digging in your Bible studies? You will want 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.

The Origin of Paul’s Gospel by Seyoon Kim–A Classic!

book pauls gospel

The designation “classic” isn’t trite regarding this groundbreaking study by Seyoon Kim. It would not be hyperbole to say that this book could stand up against the 10 top books on the New Perspective on Paul and still come out ahead. With scholarly wizardry, Mr. Kim neuters the arguments of the NPP’s most influential proponents. While we can’t deny that this book leans heavily to the technical side, nor dispute the fact that it might be beyond the reach of the beginning student, it’s a tour de force on how to marshal the Scriptures themselves to craft tight arguments rather than the nebulous fair that much of the scholarly world releases these days.

Chapter 1 is essential to rank the most important elements of Paul, his theology, and his background. Chapter 2 is about Paul the persecutor and reviews his life before the Damascus experience. Many scholars hijack this background to form the basis of the later conclusions about Paul. As you will see here, they stretch a few facts much too thinly as well as creating others from thin air.

Chapter 3 is about Paul’s incredible experience on the road to Damascus. Mr. Kim returns to the clear portrait of Scripture that meeting Christ on the road to Damascus is exactly what changed Paul’s life and led to everything he believed. It’s sad that the scholarly world would rob us of the obvious and replace it with something that is obscure at best. Chapter 4 looks at Paul’s gospel, the revelation behind it and the mystery involved in his New Testament revelation. The balance of the book is three extended chapters on the Christology and soteriology at the core of Paul’s teaching.

There are a few other amazing things in this book. I was impressed with the extensive exegesis that was done on all kinds of passages. Fortunately, there are great indexes that makes this book an outstanding reference volume on your shelves as well. There are sections of this book that served better as a reference than afternoon reading. Still, the depth of thought is incredible.

We owe Wipf and Stock Publishers a debt of gratitude for keeping this important work in print. For the record, this book will still be important 20 years from now. It’s hard to explain how influential this book has been. In any event, it deserves a place in every serious library New Testament today.

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.

God’s Mediators (NSBT) by Andrew Malone

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God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood by Andrew S. Malone is one of the latest entries in the versatile New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series by IVP. This series is so multifaceted that you never know what to expect next. Often, you come across a subject that you haven’t studied much before. Such is the case for me in this volume. I had no books in my library from the scholarly world on the concept of priesthood in the Scriptures. Now I have a go-to volume on the subject with this book that probes the subject deeply.

The first chapter is an orientation. The author gives his own background, followed by the academic and pastoral perspectives that are out there. In addition, he seeks to place priesthood within biblical theology.

Chapters 2-5 make up Part One that looks at God’s individual priests. There’s a chapter on the Aaronic priesthood, one on biblical antecedents to that priesthood, and one on Old Testament prospects. Chapter 5 is one of the most interesting in the book as it looks at new-covenant transformations. That entails a careful look at Jesus as priest both in the Gospels (that’s a scholarly debate) and in Hebrews (where it’s obvious to everyone).

Part Two looks at God’s corporate priesthoods in three chapters. I could see the wisdom in breaking down the subject between individual priests and corporate priesthoods. Chapter 6 looks at Israel as a kingdom of priests, which was quite enlightening. Chapter 7 considers the church’s priestly commission in the New Testament. It was also helpful, but I thought he might talk more about the individual priesthood of the believer. Chapter 8 was a nice conclusion. The book ended with a lengthy bibliography.

This title is another good one in this much-appreciated series. My only gripe is that I thought the author retained a wee bit too much scholarly jargon when perhaps a little less would have made the book more accessible to a wider audience. No one, however, could possibly have a gripe with his thorough scholarship.

The book helped crystallize my thinking on a few points, and so it’s much appreciated. 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.

The Triumph of Grace by Daniel Block

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Having already written much on Moses and Deuteronomy in the past, it’s hard to believe that Daniel Block could turn out this additional massive volume. Amazingly, it’s rich material. A few things about Mr. Block’s perspective are undeniable when you get into this book: he loves the Old Testament and calls it the First Testament to keep the New Testament from stealing its spotlight, Moses was more of a pastor/shepherd than a lawgiver, and the Book of Deuteronomy is more about grace than law. Even though he writes about very scholarly subjects, there is a clear passion in his voice.

He gives us readers help on many fronts. He explains Deuteronomy’s overall role, the concept of hearing the Word of God, genre, a perspective of the covenant, explanation of the law, a great deal about the structure of Deuteronomy, followed by several chapters of a more theological nature. In those chapters, he explains prayer, divine violence, the fear of the Lord, eschatology, the kingdom, Moses as a prophet, and a final challenging chapter on comparing Moses and Galatians, all regarding Deuteronomy.

Even though many of the chapters of this book have been talks or submissions to scholarly journals that he has given over the last 20 years, I was impressed at how they fit together to provide a unified book. To me, this is the most important and helpful book on Deuteronomy of the type that discusses issues beyond what you can get in a regular commentary that I am aware of. Mr. Block plies his scholarly trade with the best of them. This is an impressive book!

Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, already known for their impressive array of older and out-of-print titles that are still quite important, here joins the big boys in providing an important scholarly work that compares and surpasses many being released by the older, more established publishers today. The book itself is attractive, well designed, filled with copious footnotes, as well as nice charts, maps, and other helpful aids to learning.

We have a winner here. I suspect this book will be influential for many years to come. I highly recommended 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 Historical Reliability of the New Testament by Craig Blomberg

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This massive, thorough book by respected scholar Craig Blomberg is easily the go-to volume regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament. I’m not aware of any volume that could be its legitimate rival. The publishers present it as a major apologetics book, and though that makes sense, it’s also a quality, scholarly reference book. In other words, it succeeds with two audiences: those working in academic trenches and those fighting apologetic battles with our culture. Pastors should keep it handy for either possibility.

Though the introduction to this volume reads like a personal preface, it’s essential that you read it before you use this book. The author explains clearly his intentions with this manuscript. He highlights where in his opinion he’s been misunderstood, and whether you believe he’s made too many concessions or not, there’s a wealth of information that’s great to have.

Mr. Blomberg was the ideal scholar to produce this book. Having already written on the historical reliability of both the Gospels collectively and the Gospel of John by itself, he had developed a knack for sifting massive amounts of scholarship and making sense of it. Now he takes those skills and covers the whole New Testament.

He approaches the New Testament in order: The Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, Acts and Paul, and the rest of the New Testament. He goes anywhere scholarship has gone including genre, various types of criticism, historical information, debated passages, or theology. Every chapter has a clear, concise conclusion that leaves little doubt why he accepts its historical reliability. There are two additional parts that are especially important considering recent trends that have even reached the popular culture: canonicity and transmission, as well as the problem of miracles. You will find great help here, for example, if you must wrestle with the junk that Bart Ehrman has propagated.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m a believer who inherently accepts the historical reliability of the New Testament but realizes that there are matters where we may have to give an answer to help others. This book succeeds in what it aims to do!

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.

An Introduction to Christian Worldview–A Fine New Textbook

book int chr worldview

It’s great to see this outstanding textbook come down the pike on Christian worldview. Tawa J. Anderson, W. Michael Clark, and David K. Naugle have teamed to produce an eminently readable book on understanding worldview as it presents itself in a pluralistic age. Teachers will love it for its accuracy while students will appreciate it for its clarity.

The book is divided into three main parts. In Part 1 three chapters introduce worldview, in Part 2 three chapters explain the contours of a Christian worldview, and in Part 3 two chapters analyze various worldviews.

Part 1 succeeds in explaining the overall concept of worldview. Philosophy and logic are expertly brought in while up-to-date examples are provided. For example, it was amazing how one of the author’s love of TV detectives could be brought in on a few occasions to make a great point. I loved it.

When Part 2 transitioned to explaining a Christian worldview, the book continued to deliver. In this case, I was amazed at how well theology, and I mean in-depth theology, was worked into the discussion in a perceptive way.

Part 3 was somewhat less interesting to me but had to be discussed in a book of this nature. Western philosophical alternatives, as well as global religious alternatives, were reviewed. The conclusion tied the parts together in a meaningful way.

You will appreciate, as well, how the book is laid out. In each chapter, you will find reflection questions, illustrations entitled “scenic view”, as well as some charts that really advance understanding. Every chapter ended with a list of things that you should be able to do if you mastered the chapter, a glossary of terms for that chapter, and even a list of possible term paper topics.

This book exceeded my expectations. I’m convinced I will be pulling it down from the shelf with profit in the future. It deserves an A+ rating.

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.