Interpreting the Psalms by Mark Futato

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In the series “Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis” that teaches us how to interpret the different genres of the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms is rightfully seen as so important as to receive its own volume in the series. This book will complement “Interpreting Poetry”, which can also be found in this series by Kregel.

Chapter 1 discusses appreciating poetry and seeks to differentiate Hebrew poetry from what is common in our culture. For one thing, rhyming is not important in Hebrew poetry. This chapter also serves to define all the terms like line, colon, by-colon, strophe, stanza, and correspondence. The chapter also seeks to explain imagery and patterns. As you will find throughout the book, many examples are pulled from the Book of Psalms to make his point.

The next chapter on “Viewing the Whole” was one of the best in the entire book. The author gave much discussion on the purpose and message of the Psalms where he found the theme of the book to be the kingship of God and the eschatological hope that our King is coming.

Chapter 3 is about preparing for interpretation. In this chapter, we learn to ascertain the historical setting of a Psalm, to see the timelessness of the Psalms, and how to do text criticism. This chapter ends with bibliographic suggestions for further study. Chapter 4 is about interpreting the categories, or as we might normally express it, the genres. He explains how these things guide our expectations and give another level of context to help us. Chapter 5 moves us on to the sermon and putting into practice what we’ve learned in the book. The book is concluded with a helpful glossary.

This book by Mr. Futato, and edited by David Howard, is a worthy addition to this series. It stacks up well with the others that I have had the chance to use. It gives hermeneutic help in the narrow, but vitally important, Book of Psalms. 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.

Interpreting the New Testament:Essays on Methods and Issues

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Here’s a collection of 22 essays on issues involved in New Testament interpretation. This collection boasts a host of highly-respected scholars including Peter Davids, David Dockery, Darrell Bock, Grant Osborne, George Guthrie, Craig Blomberg, Robert Stein, Gary Burge, John Polhill, Thomas Schreiner, and several others. I view this book as a superb secondary text on New Testament hermeneutics. Keep this book nearby to your chosen hermeneutics textbook and you will find the extra help that you need.

Part one is an introduction that contains the first two essays. The first one on authority, hermeneutics, and criticism by Peter Davids is quite provocative. Though I cannot agree with every statement he made, I couldn’t help being instructed by what he shared. The second chapter provides a fine historical survey of New Testament interpretation.

Part two contains essays 3-8 covering the basic methods in New Testament interpretation. All told, textual, source, form, redaction, literary, and sociological criticism are all covered in turn. Though I am skeptical of the value several of these critical methods, I find these essays outstanding in explaining what each of these criticisms are. Whether we agree or not, these critical methods play such a part in the modern scholarly world that we must at least grasp what they mean. Though these authors may find more value here than I do, they still write in a conservative vein.

Part three is the largest section and contains essays 9-22. Highlights include an explanation of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament and another chapter on discourse analysis. Beginning in essay 13 several of the following chapters cover the literary genres of the Scripture. To my mind, these are some of the most difficult elements of hermeneutics and are a place where we can use help. I appreciated the final essay on New Testament interpretation and preaching by Richard Wells that reminds us that the task of interpretation is to lead us to the sermon.

Again, I feel this book quite valuable to have in your hermeneutic library. As I said before, I do not see it as a first choice for a hermeneutics textbook, but as an outstanding aid for extra reading in areas we find difficult to understand. It’s refreshing to have a conservative resource for such help. I think you ought to check out 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 Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart

book aware leader

Terry Linhart has written a book here that forces ministry leaders to take the inward look. With the current epidemic of ministers either falling by the wayside or succumbing to burnout, this book provides an important self check. Though we cover some of the same material found in similar books, his writing is perceptive, flows well, and issues a real challenge .

In his introduction, he is transparent in telling his own story and his own bumpy path that taught him to finally develop self-awareness. He explains self-deception that finally pushes us into a life of hypocrisy. Though self-awareness is a modern psychological term, he means it in the biblical sense of examining ourselves before God.

In chapter 1, he reminds us that most of us want to do our best in Christian ministry, yet we often fall short of our potential. He rips from the pages of the New Testament the analogy of a race to help us see life as it should be seen. (Be sure to note the Johari Window he shares). He exposes our allusions that we can bear fruit without being closely connected to Jesus Christ. In chapter 2 he goes after our blind spots and teaches us to learn to pass the smell test in our actions and reactions. In chapter 3 he encourages us to learn how to view our past appropriately.

When it comes to chapter 4, he tackles the sticky subject of our not being blind to our temptations. He hammers away at what he calls “the big five” of seeking prominence, holding on to control, valuing shiny stuff, pursuing inappropriate intimacy, and relishing resentment. He provides self checks and ways to build in personal safeguards in each category. In chapter 5 he tackles our emotions and surveys the damage they can cause and the emotional maturity we need. Chapter 7 guides us through the common ministry problem of conflicts. Again, he provides practical advice for being more mature in that area. The final chapter is about seeing your margins. He gives some really thoughtful help and encouragement here. His conclusion brings out the end goal to steady our perspective.

Mr. Linhart succeeds in helping us find our blind spots to reach our true ministry potential. The book reads well and is a real help. In our age of brokenness, this book has come along at a perfect time. 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.

Biblical Hermeneutics (2nd Ed.) by Corley, Lemke, and Lovejoy

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This volume on biblical hermeneutics, edited by Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, is offered up as a comprehensive introduction to interpreting Scripture. Its approach is different than many such volumes in that each chapter is written by scholarly expert in that field. Usually, one or only a few contribute to such a book. The book is divided into five parts presented in the logical order of how to study the Bible, biblical hermeneutics in history, the authority, inspiration, and language of Scripture, the genres of Scripture, and going from exegesis to proclamation. The book is aimed at students and ministers and has been widely used as a textbook.

The book begins with a fine primer for exegesis to help those with little background and to define the keywords any student will need to know in the subject. As with each chapter, the contributor provides a bibliography for further study. Chapter 2 explains the grammatical – historical method and puts this book on a firm conservative foundation. From there, inductive Bible study methods are explained.

The next section covers biblical hermeneutics in history in eight chapters. While that might be more history than some would want, it covers all the bases and is well done. Part 3 brings in the often-forgotten subject of the authority and inspiration of Scripture and introduces us to textual criticism.

One of the best sections of this book is part 4 where the genres of Scripture are discussed in seven chapters. To my mind, this is where the student most often needs help and they’ve gone out of their way in this book to provide it. Biblical hermeneutics that doesn’t go on to preaching is rather pointless, so the final five chapters teach us how to take the hermeneutic process and translate it into biblical preaching.

This book is a solid effort. I prefer it as a secondary resource as it complements well with other volumes that might have gaps. This volume is well worth securing.

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 Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne

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This massive book lives up to its subtitle of “a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation”. It’s the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. There’s no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study as anyone in the last 30 years. Additionally, this busy scholar has written a few important commentaries along the way.

His conception of hermeneutics as a spiral form from text to context has become the preeminent academic theory of biblical interpretation today. In this book, he breaks down the hermeneutical spiral in great detail. In his lengthy introduction, he explains the issues of interpretation, the difficulty of acquiring meaning, how to view the Scriptures, the place of the reader in interpretation, and how the goal of hermeneutics is expository preaching.

Part 1 is on general hermeneutics and covers five chapters. He takes in turn context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. In each case, he describes the range of things that has been believed in the subjects and strongly argues for his own perspective. Again, the detail is incredible and covers main issues as well as esoteric ones.

Part 2 covers genre analysis, or what we might call special cases in hermeneutics, in nine chapters. In my opinion, he shined even more in this part. The special sections of the Bible can be difficult in biblical interpretation and he gives much food for thought in every category. Even where I could not agree with him, I found him both exhaustive and interesting.

Part 3 is special. He calls it applied hermeneutics and he covers biblical theology, systematic theology, homiletics– contextualization, and homiletics– the sermon. This section continues past where most hermeneutics books end. In making the natural progression to homiletics, he provides almost a second book on that needed subject for preachers all within the same covers of this book. There’s two appendices at the end on some fairly-narrow scholarly issues too.

There’s no doubt that this is a five-star book. The only question is if it’s too much for some readers. For those who want THE book on hermeneutics, this is 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 Hermeneutics (Revised Edition)

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Two veteran scholars, Walter Kaiser, Jr. and Moises Silva, team to provide us this introduction to the study of biblical hermeneutics. This is a revised and expanded second edition. It comes in a nice, attractive hardback edition as well. These authors don’t always agree with each other, but they are both committed to the authority of Scripture and are worth listening to. While this book is meant to be a first introduction to biblical hermeneutics, I think it better serves as a second text because of its length and style. That’s not a knock on this volume, but a complement on how well it teaches us to logically think through some of these issues. For example, it would make a great second text to go along with Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Keil, Blomberg, Hubbard by the same publisher.

Its subtitle of “the search for meaning” describes well the approach taken here. As with most such volumes, the authors have their own approach and order of the things that must be studied in grasping the meaning of any biblical text. Part 1 looks at what the authors call “initial directions”. There they talk about why we need hermeneutics, what we mean by meaning, how language is used, how biblical theology fits in, the New Testament use of the Old Testament, and the role of history. In that section I thought the chapter “let’s be logical: using and abusing language” was one of the best.

In part 2, the authors seek to understand the text and try to help us make sense of literary genres. In that section, the unique features of the genres like poetry, the Gospels, the epistles, and prophecy are taken in turn. In part 3, they moved to meaning and application consider the devotional use of the Bible, our need to obey the word in cultural context, and how to move on to the theological use of the Bible. Part 4 is the collection of loose ends covering things like a history of interpretation and contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation. The final chapter on concluding observations attempts to tie it all together. There’s a fine glossary, an annotated bibliography, and indices at the end.

This is an outstanding volume to have on your shelves to complement your understanding of biblical hermeneutics. 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.

Revival Sermons of Jonathan Edwards–A Review

book edwards

Jonathan Edwards was an amazing man. Besides being impressive for his theological writings, he was one of the preachers God used mightily in the Great Awakening. Having read the book Jonathan Edwards on Revival in the past and being amazed by it, I was pleased to see this book that collects some of his most effective revival sermons of that time. In case you’re wondering, this book does include the famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

For those who are not that knowledgeable of Jonathan Edwards, this book provides a preface that gives a biographic overview of him. After that preface, you have seven of these great sermons. There are several things you will notice about the sermons. First, they’re long. Where it seems only fluffy sermons appeal to the masses in our generation, the Lord used deep, profound, scripturally-laden sermons in that day (I imagine that would still work!). Second, his style usually involves beginning with some doctrine on the subject and then branching out into pointed, applicable material to take the Scripture home to the hearer’s hearts. Finally, these sermons will not allow the listener to escape the searching light of God’s holy Word.

While the sermons have great historical value, they serve far better as a conduit to examine our own hearts. They serve also as a call for our sermons of today to get back to the Bible since it is the Bible that the Holy Spirit uses to pierce the heart of men and women.

This book is an attractive paperback edition that will serve as a nice addition to your library. 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.

A Minister’s Obstacles–An Awesome Reprint

book turnbull

I’m excited to see this superb book reprinted. I found an old copy of this book early in my ministry and it made quite an impact on me. It’s crazy that it went out of print. It’s truly one of the great titles on the ministry that has been written. In fact, when I started a series a few years ago on the best books for ministry, I recommended this book. (Read me earlier review here).

The story behind this reprint is touching. Marty Moon fell in love with this book and was saddened to realize that preachers today did not have it available to glean from. He also wanted to give a gift to his pastor, Bill Lytell of Gospel Baptist Church, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as pastor. On March 5, 2017 Pastor Lytell was presented with a copy of this book reprinted in his honor. Clearly, Mr. Moon saw in Pastor Lytell the great traits exemplified in this book.

Your pastor would likely be blessed by a copy too.

Click here to find on Amazon.

Old Testament Exegesis by Douglas Stuart (4th edition)

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Subtitled “a handbook for students and pastors”, this volume has been a standard in the field for many years. Now in its fourth edition, it is poised to continue its usefulness for many more years. Mr. Stuart is a highly-respected Bible scholar, who has written several outstanding commentaries. I’ve enjoyed using several of them myself. In this volume, he goes through his process of performing exegesis on Old Testament passages. This book is especially valuable for those new to exegesis.

The structure of the book, with every section and subsection numbered, makes using it as a reference at any point of the exegetical process very efficient. After you work through the volume initially, you will find it easy to go back and check certain elements where you may be confused. There’s even a handy analytical table of contents at the beginning to help you zip to the needed location. While you might not have his exact method, you must think of everything he addresses at some point in the exegetical process. I don’t personally do everything in the exact order he says, but I found him to be engaging and suggestive. It even struck me as I read that there were some elements of the exegetical process that I could improve.

Chapters 1 and 2 are aimed more at students doing exegetical papers in seminary. Not only does he explain the process well, but he also illustrates his point with scriptural passages on several occasions. Chapter 3 shortens the process for pastors creating sermons. He takes the process even through application and sermon. Chapter 4 is a fine bibliographic chapter suggesting books for each phase. The suggestions are quite extensive.

The only downsides I could see in the book is that it reduced the process to such a science that the art was lost. Further, some of the language work he suggested is realistically not going to be done by pastors. Finally, if the student or pastor is just beginning, it would take years to build the library he recommends. In his defense, I’m sure he was suggesting buying one good book in each category.

You might want to check out a similar volume on the New Testament from the same publisher. Don’t miss the list of common Old Testament exegesis terms and the list of frequent hermeneutical errors in the back of the book. As a guide or refresher, 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 Lost Sermons of Spurgeon: A Publishing Event!

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This book is a call for celebration for any Spurgeon lovers or any who appreciate great preaching in general. If you are like me, you already read often from the pool of sermons available in either the New Park Street Pulpit or the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit sermon sets. Perhaps you would agree with me as well in saying that Spurgeon is one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. This gorgeous volume is the first in what will be an indispensable set.

Spurgeon himself meant to publish these sermons from his earliest ministry, but it never worked out. His notes have languished in storage for these many years. Now Christian T. George has rescued the sermons and B & H Publishing has blessed us all by committing to print them in quality, beautiful editions. What will be obvious the minute you pick up these volumes is that both Mr. George and the publishers have treated the sermons as a labor of love.

Once you open this beautiful volume you will find a treasure trove. You will read a history of how the project came together, an interesting timeline that puts Spurgeon in historical context, and introduction, two interesting essays on Spurgeon, and an essay about the sermons themselves. Mr. George then describes his sources and methods and even gives a sermon analysis that reviews the number of words in his sermon notes and other interesting facts. I must confess that I found every page of the introductory material to be interesting reading. Don’t miss the incredible amount of information in the footnotes as well.

Then there’s the sermons. Many of them are only an outline, but Mr. George has put such incredible research of interesting tidbits both historical and personal that are loads of fun for Spurgeon fans. Who would’ve thought that Spurgeon’s first outline mostly came from John Gill! As I read the sermon outlines, I could tell that these were, perhaps, before Spurgeon completely hit his stride, but they still showed the homiletic genius that he was. It also demonstrated how Spurgeon can teach us all to find great sermons in unlikely texts.

I look forward to getting each volume as they come out and can’t wait to have the set completed. If you are a book lover, this is the release of the year. I pray this series has great success and mark me down as its first admirer.

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.