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.

Dictionary of Christianity and Science

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When you pick up this attractive hardback “Dictionary of Christianity and Science”, edited by Paul Copan, Tremper Longman, Christopher Reese, and Michael Strauss, your first thought will be to wonder if it can live up to its subtitle “the definitive reference for the intersection of Christian faith and contemporary science”. To my mind, it was a boast that turned out to be true.

That’s not to say, that you will agree with everything you read here. Fully conservative views are well defined, but in the interest of providing a comprehensive resource other views are as well. Since evangelical Christianity is not in full agreement on these subjects, you will discover here are all the opinions out there. If you do either theological or apologetic reading, you have already noticed the debate on its margins with science. In our post-Christian age, this is no time for trite platitudes. This resource helps us understand and intelligently discuss at the very point where so much of modern society is attacking Christianity.

The entries given are of three types. Some are short introductions intended to give an overview. There’s longer entries called essays that attempt to give a larger picture. Finally, some oft-debated subjects are given what they call multiple-view discussions. In these cases, scholars of varying opinions make their strongest case. That type of debate can be most instructive.

The range of topics covered almost anything I could think of regarding faith and science. Whether it was common terminology or less common scholarly jargon, you will find it here. You will find scientific terms, hot button issues of our generation, prominent movements and people, and some things I imagine you’ve never heard of before. There’s various creation/evolution theories, the Flood, fossil records, bioethics, and even climate change from various viewpoints.

I could easily see myself in the future reading an article and coming to an obscure concept or the element of debate I was a little rusty on and grabbing this book to get a grasp of what I was reading. This book has clearly found a niche missing in other Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. This fine volume succeeded in what it set out to do and I think it’s an all-around winner. I predict it will be the go-to volume of its kind for many years.

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.

Paths to Power by A.W. Tozer

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I’m one of those people who find A. W. Tozer to be an incredibly challenging writer. Having always loved his more famous books, I’m enjoying discovering his lesser-known titles published by Moody Publishers including this little gem called Paths to Power. It’s a small book that you could probably read in one enjoyable sitting, though its thoughtful paragraphs might call for a slower perusal.

This title is subtitled “Living in the Spirit’s Fullness”. As you may know, that’s a prevalent subject and Mr. Tozer’s writings as he laments the anemic state of Christianity in a way few writers do today. Chapter 1, entitled “Power in Action”, describes the deadness of our day and our bizarre acceptance of it. Chapter 2 gets quite doctrinal on us as he says, “God cannot do our repenting for us”. You’ll find a lot to think about in that chapter. The third chapter discusses “The Fruits of Obedience” and how we have removed the idea of obedience from our lives by mistakenly describing it as a works-salvation approach.

Chapter 4 takes the famous text of Hosea 10:12 explains how miracles follow the plow. Chapter 5 discusses doctrinal hindrances while chapter 6 explains how power comes through the “Out-poured Spirit”. To get a feel for the flavor of this book you should read where he says, “another thing that greatly hinders God’s people is a hardness of heart caused by hearing men without the Spirit constantly preaching about the Spirit.” See what I mean? Chapter 7 is a concluding chapter that discusses the relationship between unity and revival.

As always, you can’t go wrong with A. W. Tozer and I highly 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.

Announcing My New Book:Following Jesus Through The Gospels

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I’m excited to announce the release of my latest book Following Jesus through the Gospels. The Gospels have been a favorite of mine and the material in this book has been things I’ve studied over the last 10 years. There’s more charts than text in this volume and its designed for the busy person who needs a lot of information in a short read. It’s also designed to be small enough to easily tag along with your Bible.

In this book you will find a brief overview Harmony of the Gospels as well as an outline of the stages of Jesus Christ’s ministry. You will have a complete numbered Harmony of the Gospels that includes all the miracles, parables, personal encounters of Jesus, sermons of Jesus, private discourses of Jesus, cries of Christ on the cross, and Resurrection Appearances. Separate charts for all of the above are included for deeper study.

The final section of the book makes a special synthesis of the birth and infancy of Christ, the Upper Room and Gethsemane, the trial of Jesus Christ, the Crucifixion, and Resurrection Appearances. Perhaps you have seen my “Synthesis of the Crucifixion” that’s shared on this blog here. The others are designed similarly.

If you have interest in checking out this book in either paperback or a Kindle edition, check out the Amazon link below:

Amazon listing

Recommendations

This book is a great tool any student of the Bible needs in their toolbox. I’ve used many books that give Gospel parallels, but this is by far the most user friendly. The addition of geographical information makes this book especially wonderful, as combining the geographical information together gives new and improved understanding of the context of many of Jesus’ sermons and parables. The information is laid out in very easily understood tables that will make studying out common threads through the Gospels much easier. This reference book will be coming off the bookshelf on a regular basis, I can promise that.

Pastor Tom Otto

This book is a result of much careful study of the Gospel Records and is evidence that the author loves to study God’s Word. He answers many questions that most Bible students have had about geography and the harmony of the accounts of our Lord’s ministry. I really enjoyed the charts and notes that synthesized the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. This book is an excellent resource for all students of the Bible.

Pastor Jamin Boyer

This short volume is packed full of helpful charts and list. The research and study involved in this work are a credit to the author and his team. This is solid choice for any serious student of the life of Christ.

Pastor Mike Montgomery

Jimmy Reagan has done a wonderful job of compiling a great deal of information in a very concise format. The charts make this volume extremely useful. I believe it will serve as a good quick reference for those who are serious about studying the life of Christ.

Dr. Scott Pauley

Pastor Reagan is one of the most well-read ministers that I have ever been around. For many years in my own ministry I have gleaned from his wisdom and study. Following Jesus through the Gospels is a culmination of years of study on the life of Christ. In this valuable book, he harmonizes the events of the Gospel records and presents the information in usable chart form. You can now see various aspects of the Gospel records on one page at a time. This is treasure for any student of God’s Word and a handy resource for all preachers.

Pastor Mark Fowler

This book will prove to be most helpful for anyone studying through the life of Christ. It is loaded with information that is able to be both quickly accessible and easily understood. You will find it more study guide than book, but its affordable price and handy size, make it a great companion to scripture while reading through the gospels.

Pastor Allen Gibson

Pastor Reagan shows the ability to simplify the most challenging of topics in this chart filled book. There is no more vital topic for understanding than the life of Jesus Christ! I remember when the topics were first taught and put into chart form; they helped me and they will help you.

Pastor Ryan Brown

 

Following the Party Line

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Are you a faithful follower of the Word of God or are you a supporter of the party line? In the first case, you’re a pursuer of Christ, and in the other you’re a partisan following the group. I suppose I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t believe he or she followed was the former rather than the latter. But the far-ranging views out there today proves more are a hanger-on of a particular religious group than they would like to admit.

Though my background is in the Baptist world, I’ve seen this plague many denominations and groups. To make the problem even worse, many groups splinter into several smaller groups with their own unique set of beliefs. While we might find the presence of sin in our world as the cause of this problem, we should still pull ourselves away from it and go ever back to the Bible.

This problem begins innocently enough. At some point, we try to draw our beliefs from the Bible. Because the Lord has designed that we live in the local church setting as a group, we will also at some point decide what we believe together. So far, so good. But something changes after a time. We fall into the lazy habit of just believing what the group does. We reason that since they sought the Bible in the beginning they can always be trusted to follow the Bible now. Then, another problem arises. New issues arise that we hadn’t thought of, or at least hadn’t thought of how to make an application of the Scriptures to it, and so we specify exactly what we mean to keep our original set of beliefs.

Again, the whole process is one of well-intentioned purposes, and yet we get off track. Our current set of beliefs have been revised several times since our original digging into God’s Word. We now are 2 to 3 steps away from the Bible while thinking we are still firmly in its boundaries.

I’m quite the inferior carpenter, but have been around the process enough to know one mistake we shouldn’t make. If we are going to need several boards of the exact same dimension, we should carefully measure out the first one and cut from it. When I was a boy, I can recall my Daddy taking a pencil and making a mark on the carefully measured board to distinguish it from the others. I can remember from way back then that he told me not to pick up the boards cut from the original to cut other boards. Though it technically should have been the same dimension, he told me it’s easy to get off more and more by that process. I believe this is what we have done in our Christianity.

As you may have noticed, groups tend to get defined by their unique differences rather than what they have in common. That perspective incurs great cost for Christianity. If the error was not bad enough, the Christian divisiveness is catastrophic. Because of our warped egos and general depravity, we fight for those differences, at times, even more than we do for the great trues that we hold in common, such as, the death, the burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As is often the case, we judge each other by the wrong board. We become quite bombastic, cry separation, and criticize our brothers or sisters in Christ relentlessly. In many cases, we are convinced that we are standing for the Word of God. Our motives likely began as a desire to faithfully follow the Bible, but now the results are far below the motives.

We would all do well to stop and ask ourselves when was the last time we checked the Bible for our deeply held beliefs. To be sure, we must carefully check those Bibles as our casual reading just regurgitates without thought was someone else decided we believe the long time ago. If you haven’t carefully verified the beliefs you loudly proclaim, then put yourself down in the category of one who spouts the party line. When you spout that party line, you are saying that where the belief came from doesn’t matter as long as the party says it is correct. Why does what scares us in politics not even phase us in our own Christianity?

If we allow ourselves to follow the party line, we are only sycophants carrying someone else’s opinions. Even worse, if we attack and criticize where they tell us to, we are their henchmen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a mere follower of the party line when I have the opportunity to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt

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Mr. Vanderstelt is on to something. We are not fluent with the Gospel. As he strives hard to point out, a lack of gospel fluency is far worse than a little broken English. The stakes are so much higher. Getting the directions wrong to a tourist site because of ineffective language is of so much less consequence than getting wrong the directions to God because we don’t know how to talk about the Gospel.

This book is written for broad appeal among Christians. In other words, the net is cast all the way to the edge where the newest Christian lives, and yet is still meant to reach longtime Christians on the other side. Though that means some pages might seem to be on an elementary level, all Christians can be challenged.

The book is in five main parts. The first part explains what gospel fluency is and how so much of our attempts to speak to others lacks the Gospel. In a nutshell, if we don’t give them Jesus, we don’t give them the Gospel. I loved how he explained that even as Christians we like to speak the gospel to ourselves and really deal often with unbelief. He says a few shocking things like: “I have met too many people who love their Bibles yet have no genuine relationship with Jesus Christ”.

The second section is about the Gospel itself. In three chapters, he reminds us of what the Gospel is and how powerful it really is. Some of that is basic as many of his readers may not even have a fundamental understanding of the Gospel, but anyone will enjoy when he illustrates how wonderful it is. Part three covers the Gospel in me in three chapters. Don’t miss the chapter “Fruit to Root” as it had outstanding insights.

Parts four and five covered in six chapters attempts to take what we have learned and make it practical. His discussion of the importance of listening is a great reminder.

The book is easy to read. The only fault I found with it, and it is only a personal preference on my part, is that he illustrates too often with discussions that he had with people where he gave them great answers. While that strikes me as a little too self-promoting, we might remember that, in his defense, he might feel the need for us to know that he practices what he preaches.

The book is a success in the sense that it makes me remember that I need to put the Gospel so much more into my conversations with people. I pray the Lord will help me to do much better.

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 World’s Oldest Alphabet by Douglas Petrovich

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This book is one paradigm-shifting title. Douglas Petrovich is a diligent scholar who is considered an expert in “epigraphy, palaeography, lexicography, and comparative linguistics and literature”. The scholarly world has been in an ongoing debate for many years over what language has the world’s first alphabetic script. Mr. Petrovich has worked through the ancient specimens that we have with their proto-consonantal script and has proven conclusively that it is Hebrew. He has even translated these previously untranslated specimens. That the highly-respected scholar Eugene Merrill has studied his work and given it the highest recommendation proves its trustworthiness.

The beautiful thing about this new book is the boon this it is to those of us who believe in the complete veracity of the Bible. I don’t mean it’s a substitute for faith, but that it is another help to doubters. A quick Google search will show you that several major news organizations have already carried stories on Mr. Petrovich’s work. While many of us so appreciate this book, it will probably be something like a bomb going off in the scholarly world where so many do not believe the Bible they study. Going forward, all doubters should be sent to this book.

Though this book has all the necessary minute data to prove its thesis, non-specialists like me can still follow the argument. He well presents the history of what has been thought over the years and carefully outlines what he went through to reach his conclusions. He is not just pulling his conclusions out of the sky. No, he put an incredible amount of work into solving this long-standing puzzle.

The book itself is attractive and has the design of other fine Carta Jerusalem titles. The maps and illustrations are outstanding and really help you to follow what Mr. Petrovich is saying. This book will be discussed for many years and will likely reach the status of one of the most important volumes ever in its field. 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.

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden (Revised)

Here’s a revised and expanded edition of an influential book on discipleship. Ogden is one of the most respected authors on the subject and he is passionate about the subject as well. He gives the reader a lot to chew on.

The book is in three main parts with the first one covering what has gone wrong with discipleship. He exposes the superficiality in Christians today as the proof of discipleship going awry. He says people worship “with a reviewer’s mentality.” He cites studies that show few Christians have a goal of being committed to Christ, but are more focused on the American Dream. He laments how the lifestyles of Christians and non-Christians are indistinguishable. He says, “It would appear that Christians have been almost as seduced by self-focus as the broader population.”  He surmises that we have been diverted from the main calling we have. We are consumed with programs that does not actually disciple people. We says people don’t have the right idea about church and churches don’t have it about discipleship.

The next part is where he traces discipleship in the New Testament. He goes, of course, through Christ’s ministry. Next, he tackles Paul and even admits that Paul doesn’t use the word “disciple.” He shows Paul speaks of parenting young believers and transforming lives. He draws it out with great detail.

The balance of the book is a detailed explanation of his particular method of discipleship. He emphasizes relationships and  not expecting quick results. It’s interesting, but strikes me as working better in some areas or with professional people. Still, it’s worth considering. In an added chapter, he unnecessarily pits preaching and discipleship and is too harsh on preaching. 

This book is necessary for our shelves in discipleship.


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
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God and Tattoos by Allan Dayhoff

Have you ever read a book that was both provocative and somewhat outside your comfort zone, but still opened your eyes? This book by Allan Dayhoff was such a book for me. Tattoos to my mind were gross, ugly, and wrong. While I still am not a fan of tattoos at all, this book chided me for never considering what is going on in the souls of those with tattoos. Why are tattoos exploding in our day? More importantly, what should a Christian see in this trend of people writing on themselves? 

The author did what it never occurred to me to do: ask people why they have tattoos. He asked them what their particular tattoos meant and that opened up a massive flow of information from which some conclusions could be drawn.

He found that some are doing it because it is the “it” thing to do in our generation. In other words, for some it is merely a jump on the cultural trend bandwagon. I suspected this one, but sadly never thought about the other reasons involved. It’s in those other reasons that this book is eye opening. 

It seems as though people are needing empathy and to have meaning. In that they do not have those needs mets, Dayhoff explains that their souls are crying out these needs and writing them on their own skin. People are finding this new way to say who they are. Often, the story on their skins is one of deep pain. Other insights abound.

I met the author and while I could not do all his methods, I saw that he was sincere in sharing his faith. I must warn you too that in some cases he directly quotes his interviewees and that means some really bad language. That arose, no matter what we feel about it, from his approach to write a book that would teach Christians and could be used with non-Christians at the same time. 

It’s probably not a book for everyone, but I found it instructive and fascinating.

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.

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures by Georges and Baker



This book is profound on many levels. For me personally, I can’t remember when I last read a book that made me feel like I didn’t know a thing about the subject before I read it as was the case here. It’s not that I hadn’t traveled or been in mission work in other cultures, but that I didn’t know specifically why those other cultures even seemed to think differently than my own. My culture, as is so well described in this volume, is based on guilt whereas many other cultures think more with an honor-shame mindset. Even more surprising, my Western culture is by far in the minority in our world.

The authors, Jayson Georges and Mark Baker, are well qualified to write on this subject and I particularly appreciated how they shared their own trial and error while serving in other parts of the world to gain some of their knowledge the hard way. 

Though they tackled three distinct areas–deep analysis of what the honor-shame culture is, a careful explanation of how it fits in with biblical theology, and how to take this understanding and practically minister to those who view the world through an honor-shame lens–they amazingly prove themselves adept in all three disciplines.

In the first area they really helped you get into the mind of someone who thinks in terms of honor-shame and see why it makes as much sense to them as our more legal outlook does to us. In the second, while there is a forgiveness/legal/guilt outlook in Scripture, there is clear honor/shame outlooks as well. We may have been overlooking key theology here. Finally, the practical side is amazing. The chapter on evangelism is worth the price of the whole book.

This book should be required reading for every missionary or persons working with different cultures. It might make the difference in effectiveness more than you realize. For that matter, every Christian should read it both for its theology and ministry training. This book is home run all the way!

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.