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.

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way by Michael Horton

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Mark this systematic theology down as one that tries to unite deep theological thinking with living the Christian life. The Christian Faith by Michael Horton provides another viewpoint and presentation for those doing systematic theological study. The volume truly has its own voice and in no way regurgitates what other major systematic theologies have to say.

Be sure to check out the introductory chapter that lays out both his ideas of doctrine and theology as well as a description of what he will attempt to do in this volume. He states that he is “writing from the perspective of a reformed Christian living in North America”. He admits that he doesn’t speak for all Christians but hopes to speak to all Christians in this book. While sticking to his own perspective, he also emphasizes that the Christian faith is one faith.

Part One is five chapters on knowing God where he discusses the presuppositions of theology and covers the doctrine of the Scriptures. Part Two is about the God who lives and in three chapters he discusses the doctrine of God and the Holy Trinity. Part Three is five chapters on the God who creates which will discuss his view of predestination, creation, providence, as well as the doctrine of man. Part Four is three chapters on the God who rescues which covers the doctrine of Christ. Part Five is 10 chapters on the God who reigns in grace that covers the doctrines of salvation and the church. The final part discusses in three chapters the God who reigns in glory which is a look at eschatology. As you can see, he organizes the material of systematic theology in a different fashion that I’ve seen others do.

I’m glad to have this volume on my shelves. It may not be the first systematic theology that I will pull out when I’m studying a particular doctrine, but it is one I plan to consult in any detailed study of theology that I’m digging into. It’s a boon to a Bible student to have an asset like this volume that approaches the subject from a different angle. You will see listed in the book an impressive array of respected theologians who highly recommend this book. It’s one that you will want to check out!

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.

A Clear and Present Word (NSBT) by Mark Thompson

BOOK CLEAR WORD

This entry in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series by Mark D. Thompson dives into an oft-overlooked aspect of biblical theology – the clarity of Scripture. Since this clarity, which is often called the perspicuity of Scripture, faces such widespread negligence, or even disdain, Mr. Thompson tells us why we can confidently assume clarity and use the Bible in our lives.

The first chapter is a detailed look at how rogue scholarship has victimized the concept of biblical clarity. Their attempt to render the acceptance of clarity as absurd is turned by the author as he takes their arguments and objections one by one.

The second chapter sees God as the communicator. Though some claim human words by definition obscure the clarity of what God reveals, we see that the opposite is true. The clarity of Scripture springs from the character of God. In other words, because the Almighty God has chosen to communicate, what he chooses to communicate must be clear.

The third chapter wrestles with the fact that Scripture sometimes explains that it is hard to understand. For example, such a statement is made about parables in the Gospels. This book shows us how those two ideas do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can, in fact, have a Bible that presents both the clarity that God intended while upholding his inscrutability.

Chapter 4 is on what the author calls “engaging the hermeneutical challenge”. He explains how hermeneutics have taken a life of their own, and in the scholarly world at least has created more doubt than belief in the Word. It is true that the Bible that the author argues possesses clarity also has a wide variety of conclusions by its readers. His discussion of this fact is quite helpful.

The final chapter is Mr. Thompson’s attempt to tie everything he has stated together to both restate the clarity of Scripture and give it an understandable definition. The title of the book is the hint you need to forecast what he concludes.

This book succeeds in fulfilling the aims of this series. It finds the sweet spot and expounds with scholarly, logical, and conservative aplomb. It’s a winner!

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 Making of the New Testament

book making nt

Here’s enlightenment where we really need it. The story of the making of the New Testament all the way through canonization is a weak area for many. Coupled with our insufficiency is how this issue has grown into one that Bible critics have coalesced around. Whether you would agree with every conclusion that Mr. Patzia makes or not, this book richly repays the reader who wrestles with it. I understand that this revised and expanded edition is used by many as a textbook, but I believe it’s needed by pastors and Bible students as well.

Part 1 gives an outstanding background of the literary world of the New Testament. You will gain an overview of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, the Old Testament Apocrypha, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Greco- Roman literature. These things are rarely presented with any kind of balance in popular articles, so this even has a wonderful apologetic value.

Part 2 describes the making of the Gospels. The first section describes the Gospels going from oral to written status. In mentioning form criticism, he is more than fair in describing its shortcomings. There’s another discussion about why the Gospels were written before he dives into how they were written. I can’t follow all he had to say about the synoptic problem, source, or redaction criticism. More helpful is his explanation of our fourfold gospel collection. He will give us both a positive argument for these four while suggesting why others are spurious. He covers the history of their acceptance as well.

Part 3 takes Paul’s letters on a similar journey to the one he did with the Gospels in the previous section. There are some additional debated points like Paul’s use of a secretary or that some scholars champion pseudonymity. The best part, again, is his taking Paul’s letters through their collection acceptance. Part 4 takes all the other parts of the New Testament through the same process.

Parts 5 and 6 are invaluable. They describe how the canon came together and counteracts the tilted scholarship of folks like Bart Ehrman. Paleography, types of materials used for writing, the forms of books like the roll and the codex, the actual writing of New Testament manuscripts, and the transmitting of them. I found less value in Part 7 on his explanations of textual variants and textual criticism.

This book is a major success. It’s now one of my favorites on the subject of canonization. I give it the highest recommendation!

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 Question of Canon by Kruger

book canon

This book on the canon of the New Testament comes at a different angle than most I’ve seen. In my view, it’s a breath of fresh air and displays a wonderful viewpoint. He goes beyond the usual question of which book should be included in the canon to the more fundamental one: why is there a canon of the New Testament in the first place? Along the way, he exposes where the scholarly world has gone awry in this discussion. Where I felt that those scholars were predisposed against the Bible, Mr. Kruger was content to look at the Bible, what was logical, and weigh scholarly opinion against it. I may have disagreed with him on a small point or two, but this book was a grand success!

In the introduction, he lists five tenets that are prevalent in a wide array of scholarship. These five assumptions lead to conclusions that put the canon of the New Testament in jeopardy. The five chapters of this book tear these five assumptions to pieces. Since the canon of the New Testament is under relentless attack in our day, it’s great to see how lacking these assumptions are on a variety of levels. Someone should send Bart Ehrman this book for a Christmas present!

Call this book a needed corrective. Call it a helpful apologetic. But most of all, call it a book that you need to read.

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.

In Defense of the Bible–A Great Book!

book def bib

This is a needed book! Its subtitle explains its approach: “a comprehensive apologetic for the authority of Scripture”. Edited by Steven B. Cowan and Terry L. Wilder, this book gathers a fine collection of articles by competent writers. I was especially impressed that though these writers were scholars, they truly succeeded in writing in a way that was accessible to a wide array of readers.

You will find this book to be expertly designed. After a brief introduction, Part One discusses philosophical and methodological challenges in four chapters. That covers things like special revelation, the veracity of the Bible, what higher criticism says and how it’s wrong, as well as our ability to understand the Bible. Part Two explains textual and historical challenges in seven chapters. In this section, you will learn how that neither the Old nor the New Testament are hopelessly corrupted. You will also be made aware of the reliability of each Testament and how to view apparent contradictions in the Bible.

Part Three, which was my favorite, looked at ethical, scientific, and theological challenges in six chapters. It covers subjects that often bewilder Christians when the world attacks. What about the Bible’s apparent condoning of genocide? There’s a profound chapter answering the question–does the Bible condone slavery and sexism? There’s another chapter on the Bible’s conflict with science, and though I did not agree with all of it, it did give some help in understanding the subject. Considering the charges that our Bible is missing several books, the chapter on Canon was especially enlightening. All in all, every chapter was a winner.

My library contains just about every major work on the authority and inspiration of the Bible. I have all the old standbys and love them, but if I had to choose to recommend just one volume to someone wanting to really dig into this subject, I would choose this book. The main reason that it’s so valuable is that it takes a high view of Scripture just as the best books have in the past while focusing on the most turbulent issues that our non-Christian culture hurls at the Bible today. It’s fair to say this book succeeds in both defending the Bible and in offering an apologetic for our day. Every pastor could benefit from this book, but I recommended it to anyone feeling overwhelmed by the criticisms widely broadcast against the Bible in our day. This is an awesome resource!

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 Revelation of God by Peter Jensen

book rev god

This book on the revelation of God is part of the Contours of Christian Theology series. Having used and been impressed with some others in this series, I looked forward to checking this one out. As with others in the series, it was a good mixture of going deeply into the subject while being written in an accessible manner. Even the systematic theologies I read do not go into the foundational subject of the revelation of God in their presentation of the doctrine of the Scriptures with near the thoroughness that this volume does. Though I can’t agree with all his conclusions, he gives you much to think about.

The author, Peter Jensen, believes the gospel is central to the idea of revelation from God. His first chapter makes a beautiful case for that fact. In chapter 2 he clarifies the nature of the gospel. In chapter 3 he explains the role the gospel plays in our grasping the knowledge of God. In the next chapter, where he explains the gospel as a pattern of revelation, he concludes that the gospel is the measure of all revelation. He makes a great case for his premise.

In chapters 5 and 6, he transitions to revelation and experience. In other words, he defines the essential revelation that we must grasp in the gospel. In chapter 7, he finally reaches the subject you would expect when analyzing this doctrine: the authority of Scripture. It is in this chapter that he explains the concept of inspiration. He takes a strong, conservative position and shares much great food for thought. The final chapters address our reading Scripture, the role of the Holy Spirit, and contemporary revelation.

This book taught me. It expanded my horizons and I was blessed by what I learned. I warmly 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 Message of the Word of God by Tim Meadowcroft

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The Message of the Word of God by Tim Meadowcroft in the prolific Bible Speaks Today (BST) series tackles the doctrine of the Bible. My interaction with this series has led me to believe that the editors give each author wide latitude in how they approach their subject, particularly in these ones about doctrinal subjects. The author here takes the unique approach of exegeting 20 key scriptures on the subject. At first, I thought that an odd approach, but after reflecting on it I realize that that’s probably how many pastors would teach it over the years. For that reason, then, this volume stands out among the plethora of books on the subject.

His choice of texts was ideal including both the usual suspects and a few you might not have thought of. He divides them up into four parts: God speaks, God speaks in the written word, God speaks in Christ, and God speaks today. In my judgment, a few that particularly stood out were Proverbs 30, 2 Peter 1, Hebrews 1, Revelation 5, and Nehemiah 8. In addition, his short chapter on the key 2 Timothy 3: 10-17 passage was insightful.

Only in a few cases did he seem to bog down into some scholarly observations like you might find in a detailed exegetical commentary. They seemed out of place in this volume, but maybe they only seemed worse to me when I didn’t agree with them!

Pastors and Bible students will be blessed by this book. As said before, it will be unlike most others on your shelves on the subject. That unique approach allows it to make a distinct contribution. Worth adding to your library.

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.