John (Pillar) by D. A. Carson

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This commentary on the Gospel of John (Pillar New Testament Commentary series) by the renowned D. A. Carson has stood as a giant among commentaries for several years now. Glowing reviews can be found in a multitude of places. Carson himself comes the closest to having a following of any scholar I know. He’s conservative, sharp, thorough, and never fears going on record with what he believes. My guess is that the publishers of this series will hold on to this title for a long time, and if there’s ever any revision done it will be done by Carson himself.

Since Mr. Carson never beats around the bush about what he believes, he is particularly adept at writing an Introduction. He doesn’t meander through scholarly prognostications, but lines them up, assesses them quickly, and shoots down the ones that don’t deserve to stand. You will learn what he believes, why he believes it, and why it is right! Whether you will agree that he is right or not, his style of writing sticks in your mind and makes an impression long after other things would be forgotten.

He begins by explaining some distinctive characteristics of John’s Gospel. That section opens up issues that will reappear in many ways later. His second section has to do with the early reception of John’s Gospel. He sifts a lot of history quickly and makes a strong case for his opinion. As he moves closer to present times, he effectively banishes some of the stranger scholarly reconstructions that have been foisted upon John. In the third section on authenticity he gets into evaluating source criticism as well as some other critical analyses. To be the conservative hero that he is, he occasionally steps farther into criticism than I would expect, but his conclusions still come down firmly in the conservative camp. These discussions, of course, lead naturally to one about the relation of John and the Synoptics. At length, he gets to the section on the authorship of John’s Gospel. In my opinion, he particularly excelled in this section. After you read this section, you will see that attempts to discredit the possibility that John the Apostle wrote this gospel are more smoke and mirrors than reality. In the section on the date and provenance of John’s Gospel he well surveys the field before he arrives at a date around A.D. 80-85. Another section on the purpose of John’s Gospel is enlightening as is the one on the theological emphases in John. He barely discusses structure before he provides us with an outline.

The commentary proper is the same thoughtful, careful, determined work that you found in the Introduction. The Gospel of John is one of the most important books in the Bible, and I have two or three special commentaries on John that I never fail to consult when looking at a passage in John. This commentary is one of those volumes. You could almost label this commentary “famous”. Believe it or not, it’s quality can bear its fame.

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.

Isaiah (NIVAC) by Oswalt

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I love this book. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in the New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC) series. Two words come to mind about the content of this commentary: mature and conservative. The tough questions are in no way dodged and quality, robust analysis can be found on every page. It probably helped that John Oswalt had already turned out an impressive commentary on Isaiah in the NICOT series. This second pass is something special.

The Introduction to Isaiah that he provides is rich, probing, and something different. Not that he fails to cover the normal introductory issues, but how he succeeds in tying these introductory issues to contemporary life is something to behold. The historical background he provides is a page turner. His conclusions in the section on authorship and date blow much of the absurd liberal scholarship that Isaiah has been subjected to right out of the water. The section on the central themes of Isaiah bring the book alive. He discusses the uniqueness of Jehovah, servanthood, the Lord of history, and realized righteousness. There’s some quality theology all across that section.

The commentary itself is excellent and follows the typical pattern of this series. Whether you agree with every conclusion he makes or not, you will find this commentary an outstanding asset to your studies. You need 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.

Deuteronomy (NIVAC) by Daniel Block

book deut nivac

Daniel Block has this commentary-writing thing figured out. He has already excelled in the past with both Ezekiel and Judges/Ruth, and now he succeeds again with Deuteronomy in one that marries exegesis and application. To my mind, this is one of the finest commentaries in the New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC) series.

In the preface you see Mr. Block’s love of Moses shine in the first paragraph. He literally brims with things to say about the Book of Deuteronomy. If you’ll do a little checking, you’ll find he has written some additional books with deep scholarly insights on Deuteronomy.

He gives us a fine introduction to Deuteronomy. He succeeds in imparting much scholarly information with the clarity that lends itself to this style of commentary. He begins by explaining the history of interpretation. He succinctly brings us through that history, and as you probably know, Deuteronomy has been subjected to some of the worst scholarship imaginable. He’s not sure if Moses wrote the book, but he has no doubt of the historicity of Moses and the authenticity of what is found in Deuteronomy. The section on hearing the message of Deuteronomy was well done and shows how Mr. Block finds fault with the place many take Deuteronomy. He sees it as a book with a great message for us today rather than just a foil to the New Testament. The brief section on theology gets to the heart of the matter and he explains structure and design with an expressive chart and thorough outline.

The commentary itself is the caliber you expect from Mr. Block. He is able to give helpful homiletic suggestions without ever resorting to fluff. The style of this commentary series that includes the sections of original meaning, bridging context, and contemporary significance is one that Mr. Block clearly mastered. The publishers allowed him more pages than many received in this series and he put them to good use. This commentary fills a real need and makes it to 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.

I, II, III John (NTL) by Lieu

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This commentary in the New Testament Library (NTL) series published by WJK on the Epistles of John has been written by Judith Lieu who had worked previously on these epistles. As is common with this series, she writes from the critical angle. Not only is her work better than most from that viewpoint, but she pushes back against some of the critical conclusions of the past few decades that were, quite frankly, from left field. In this book, then, you will not only get the theological pointers that this series is known for but also more plausible critical conclusions.

The Introduction is also more in-depth than several that I have reviewed in this series. The Introduction begins with a look at the acceptance and interrelation between the three epistles of John. The next section discusses the setting and looks at author, audience, and situation. She sees more uncertainties than I do, but still finds ways in which these three epistles clearly go together. The next section looks at the structure, background, and the thought of the letters. That will include a look at argument and style, Johannine tradition, and an in-depth look at the thought of the letters. From there, we find a review of reception and text, the overall importance of the letter and a concluding brief section on translation and language.

In the commentary proper, we find good coverage in line with this type series of the three epistles amounting to over 250 pages of discussion. The same critical assumptions found in the introduction are present here, but it is, without doubt, one of the more thoughtful and clear critical presentations. A solid effort!

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.

Sermons on Titus by Calvin

book titus cal

Banner of Truth is the home of many of John Calvin’s writings. This gorgeous volume includes a fresh translation from the French by Robert White of all of Calvin’s sermons on Titus. We have a perfect blending of outstanding sermons and sterling translation between the covers of this expertly produced book. I’m convinced that if you started reading this volume to someone they would easily believe it was from our day. To say that this book is up-to-date would not be trite in this case.

There’s a short introduction by Mr. White. He puts the Book of Titus in context in a few beautiful paragraphs. The balance of the introduction explains where the sermons fall in Calvin’s life. Don’t miss it. There’s also Calvin’s outline of Paul’s letter to Titus that gets us going. What follows is 17 wonderful sermons that cover the entire Book of Titus. Mr. White adds titles, uses modern punctuation, and has done a service to us all.

Some of the sermons about leadership in the church are a great challenge to preachers. Families will also find blessing in the sermons where Titus touches upon the family. Though it’s quite out of date in our day, Calvin is not afraid to expound God’s wisdom for the traditional home. Still, there’s plenty of balance to keep those in authority in check. No matter where you fall on the theological spectrum, you will admire and respect this book of sermons for its faithfulness to the text.

At the end of the book there’s a pleasant edition of the prayers prayed before and after these sermons. It’s a prayer for illumination as well as one of intercession. There’s both an index of Scripture references and one of subjects to conclude this book.

This book will be a blessing in your studies of the Book of Titus. The icing on the cake is that it’s a beautiful edition that will look graceful on your shelves for decades to come. Since this volume was released, Banner has also published the companion volume on 1 Timothy. Now we only await 2 Timothy in the treasure of Calvin’s sermons on the pastoral epistles for its completion. This book succeeds on every possible level 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.

Matthew (2 volumes) by Frederick Dale Bruner

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I must confess that I looked forward to getting a look at this massive commentary on the Book of Matthew. Volume 1 alone looking at Matthew 1-12 reaches 600 pages! Eugene Peterson called this book a “theological wrestling with Scripture”– you’ve got to admit that sounds intriguing. The set was updated in 2004 which makes it fairly recent. The designation that I had heard of it being mildly critical and theologically powerful is justified. I had also been told that many question its exegetical conclusions, but you will appreciate it for its theological insights. The Book of Matthew is blessed with other commentaries that might be your exegetical first choice.

Whatever Bruner has to say on introductory matters for Matthew is given in the preface. I take it that the introduction is not the contribution to studies of Matthew that he intends to make. The commentary itself is thorough, thought-provoking, wide-ranging, and theologically astute. I see this commentary as a noble second. After you have a good start on the Book of Matthew, then pick this volume up to see things that you have missed. When I peruse this volume, I don’t see any regurgitation of some other book. Bruner delivers an original production. I love the second viewpoint; don’t you?

This one is worth looking 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.

book matt 2

Volume 2 of Frederick Dale Brunner’s highly-respected commentary on the Book of Matthew is even more massive than the first volume. It checks in at over 800 pages. As was the case with the first volume, whatever introductory discussion he wants to have is found in the preface. Page 1 picks up with Matthew 13 and the commentary carries on through the end of the book. All the superlatives of volume 1 are repeated in this volume. Theology is its greatest contribution. Though it must’ve taken Bruner years to write this large-scale work, there’s no tapering off toward the end. The last chapter of Matthew is given the same quality work as the first. I’m glad to have this volume for the type of extra insights it delivers.

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.

Ephesians (NTL) by Fowl

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Stephen Fowl has delivered this volume on Ephesians in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. Mr. Fowl would rate as one of the more conservative writers in this critical series. If you are familiar with this series it’s safe to say that the author delivers what you’ve come to expect. There’s the same theological insight with even a higher level of exegesis as compared to other volumes in the series.

The introduction that follows a lengthy bibliography is rather short. Some typical introductory issues aren’t even touched upon. He does explain his view of the argument of Ephesians. He gives a fairly detailed outline of the book. He covers historical background in a section on Ephesus and Paul in Acts. When he discusses authorship, he doesn’t completely dismiss the possibility that Paul wrote the letter as we might have expected in this series. In any event, he doesn’t feel that authorship has all that much bearing on the interpretation of the book. He discusses briefly its relation to the book of Colossians, and he overviews vocabulary, style, themes, eschatology, and its use of the Old Testament. He ends the introduction with a look at the recipients and occasion of the book.

Even the commentary section is shorter than I anticipated. Still, the size is somewhat mitigated by a succinct style that is thorough enough to get to the heart of the matter in most passages. Again, the theological help makes this commentary worth consulting. Here’s a good look at Ephesians from a moderately critical perspective that is better than many in that same 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.

Historical Theology by Gregg Allison

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Here’s an excellent help for when you are studying doctrine. Designed as a companion to Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, this volume looks beyond what to believe to what has been believed. I fully agree that what has been believed is a wise thing to consider when formulating doctrine. Though this book is technically a textbook, any pastor or Bible student could glean much from its use. It reads much better than a typical textbook too. Mr. Allison must have aced a creative writing class somewhere in his past.

Though this book is tied to Grudem’s work, it could be used independently or with any systematic theology. The order the doctrines are approached matches Grudem, as do the overall conclusions. I’ve used Grudem’s work extensively over the years, so I knew in advance where I would and would not agree with Mr. Allison. His judicious handling of historical fact even when it didn’t completely match his own opinions is praiseworthy. For that matter, I found his tone toward other viewpoints a model of grace. His respectful approach adds much value to its already rich content.

When working systematically on doctrine in the future I’ll still first reach for my favorite, trusted systematic theologies, but I will definitely grab this book too before I stop. Discovering the history of belief on the major doctrines is at once revealing and the icing on the cake. This book delivers!

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.

Ephesians (EEC) by Baugh

book eec eph

Here’s another fine, helpful, conservative volume in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series published by Lexham Press, this time on Ephesians by S. M. Baugh. It dives deep into the scholarly issues while retaining readability. Along with the other volumes released so far in this series, this book encourages you to believe that this series when complete will be a major asset and will live up to both the “evangelical” and “exegetical” labels.

Mr. Baugh begins the Introduction by discussing the authorship of Ephesians. He explains that no one doubted Paul as the author until the mid-19th century. He provides a listing of the five main issues that critical scholars use to attack the authorship of Paul. The fifth issue (“the Greek style of Ephesians versus the other Pauline Epistles”) is one where he will make an in-depth, scholarly contribution to the discussion. His explanation of the Greek style in Ephesians might be more than some pastors will care to get into but they must appreciate its erudition that will be hard for critical scholars to dodge. That discussion makes up the bulk of the Introduction.

He also discusses the date and place of writing, the occasion of the letter, and recipients. His section on theological emphases is surprisingly short, and he also gives a thorough explanation of how he will explain Greek verbs and syntax in the commentary. His outline is followed by a select bibliography.

In the commentary proper, every passage is given an introduction, an outline, a rendering of the original text in Greek, textual notes, translation, detailed commentary, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography for the passage.

When I checked out some of the more controversial passages of Ephesians, such as the household code, I found him to be very cautious on his way to reaching conservative conclusions. His commentary work was still thoughtful, and I often caught myself saying “I hadn’t thought of that before”.

We have several outstanding commentaries on the Book of Ephesians available today – add this one to that category. As one of the most important New Testament letters, you will want at least a few of the great ones. I suggest you make this volume one of them.

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.