Hosea (Apollos Old Testament Commentary) by Joshua Moon

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The Apollos Old Testament Commentary series is starting to get out enough titles to see that we are going to have a major series on our hands. They run from conservative to moderately critical and are far more conservative overall than, say, the Word Biblical Commentary series. This latest release is a helpful volume on one of the Minor Prophets, Hosea. I enjoy having individual commentaries on even the smaller books, and this is one of the few major ones on Hosea. Only Dearman in NICOT comes to mind, yet their strengths are different enough to make both worthwhile. Both have impeccable scholarship, yet I suspect pastors might favor this one while scholars will go with Dearman. I’m glad to have both within reach. Joshua Moon is the younger scholar, and perhaps like me, you hadn’t heard of him before. I suspect a productive career for him after writing this quality commentary on Hosea. He seemed adept at commentary writing as he pitched this book perfectly for both scope and length.

The Introduction begins with an overview of Hosea’s historical backdrop. He holds to a conservative chronology. From there, he broadens his purview to Hosea’s place among the prophets. The next section looks at Hosea from a writing perspective. He says, “As will be amply demonstrated, no part of the text requires a date earlier or later than the era stated in the superscription”. He does discuss editing which always strikes me as fanciful. The sections on text and structure are a little too brief, but the one viewing Hosea in light of the Covenant was well done. Theology could have used more space too, but I suppose he saved it for the commentary itself.

The commentary is truly helpful. It’s presented in the usual Apollos style: translation, notes on the text, form and structure, comment, and explanation. I liked what I found here.

The Apollos series has another quality title here and I warmly 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.

The Message of the Living God (BST) by Peter Lewis

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Peter Lewis contributes this book in the Bible Speaks Today (BST) series. In addition to all the fine commentaries covering all the books of the Bible, there are several like this one that covers biblical themes. The approach to explaining these themes is still one of examining Bible passages. If you happen to be studying the doctrine of God, you might find this volume along with The Message of Creation by David Wilkinson and The Message of the Trinity by Brian Edgar to form quite a trilogy. In any event, this book on the Living God covers several key passages effectively.

The book is divided into three parts: God and His world with all Genesis passages, God and His people with passages over the rest of the Old Testament, and God in Three Persons with all New Testament passages. Believe it or not, that division is not stretched.

There are many outstanding expositions here, but I found the one entitled “Genesis for today” on Genesis 1 to be particularly perceptive. Several attributes of God are brought alive here. You’ll find many underlined sentences in my copy!

This book has great value because most volumes on this subject approach it in a systematic theology fashion. We sometimes need reminding that good systematic theology should come from Bible passages first.

I’m a fan of all the books in this series and mark this down as another title well worth your time.

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.

Spirit-Led Preaching (Revised Edition) by Greg Heisler

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Most books on preaching, and I’ve read a lot of them, only give a cursory mention of the Spirit’s role in preaching. The better ones sometimes give a chapter. Besides a book by Tony Sargent on the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I’m not aware of any book like this helpful volume by Greg Heisler that probes the Spirit’s role in preaching. Even the Sargent book, as awesome as it is, doesn’t guide us through the whole sermon preparation process step by step with an eye on the Spirit as does this book. I somehow missed the first edition of this work, but this revised edition was a blessing and a reminder to me.

Chapter 1 challenges us to see that the most vital element, the Spirit’s help, may be missing in our preaching. What’s worse is that we may not have even felt the loss! Chapter 2 probes exactly what Spirit-filled preaching is. That aforementioned loss may mushroom for you in this chapter. If you somehow slip through without concern through chapters 1 and 2, chapter 3 will bring you before the tribunal. Jesus, the Prophets, and Paul all clearly highlight the essentialness of the Spirit in preaching. That must be the standard for us as well. Since there’s little doubt of being all in at that point, chapter 4 works through the doctrine of illumination. Here the nuts and bolts meet the Spirit. We who love the Word, and the exposition of it, find how complimentary Word and Spirit are to each other in chapter 5.

Chapter 6 looks at the Spirit and sanctification. Here the preacher himself and the Spirit are in view. The next chapter takes the preacher again through the sermon preparation process from text selection to ready to preach again with the Spirit. Chapter 8 glides into sermon delivery with the Spirit. Chapter 9 is a breath of fresh air as it takes the Spirit to the congregation. The value of listening is even probed. Chapter 10 is something of a challenging summary.

I’m impressed with this book. Its contents are desperately needed in our day of programmed, sterilized preaching that would rather give pointers for self-improvement than deliver the Word of God that throbs with life and has the power of the Spirit to bring it to life for you. Every preacher needs a library of key books on the ministry. Make sure this book is in yours.

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.

Dr. Benjamin Rush–A New Biography by Unger

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Dr. Benjamin Rush is a Founding Father that I’m happy to finally get to know. Famed historian, Harlow Giles Unger, delivers Rush from his inexplicable obscurity in this fine biography. The subtitle “The Founding Father who healed a wounded nation” is in no way hyperbole. If you love biography, you’re in for some pleasant reading. If you love early American history, you’re going to wonder how you’ve missed Dr. Rush for so long.

What an incredible person was Dr. Rush! He signed the Declaration of Independence, was dear friends with many of the more famous Founders and faced personal danger for favoring independence from Britain. He loved medicine and people and continually damaged his own finances to help the less fortunate. He was “first” in so many categories—humane treatment of wounded soldiers, medical treatment for the poor, prison reform, and psychiatry. He stood up to anyone it took, including Washington, to push these things he felt were right. Every chapter of this biography makes you admire him more.

Beyond just providing great biography, Unger skillfully handled the medical aspects of Rush’s life story. That Unger comes from a long line of doctors was a big help. Rush was involved in a few medical conflicts and was a proponent of “bleeding” patients. This biography will show that though bleeding was a mistaken treatment, it was based on the best medical science available. Rush studied hard and accumulated research that was a great help to later researchers. He was slandered unmercifully, yet never abandoned his medical calling.

Unger also relates Rush’s Christianity. He doesn’t probe it or determine it’s influence on who Rush was, but he doesn’t obscure the fact of it either. The reader can do his or her own analysis. I was fascinated at Rush’s efforts to get to the bottom of Jefferson’s beliefs. It almost amounted to witnessing. Jefferson respected him so much that he opened up to Rush when he usually preferred to keep his religious views to himself. Since Jefferson’s views were not too orthodox, Rush suggested they agree to disagree.

Another nugget of this biography is the relating of how Rush reached out to both Adams and Jefferson to mend their differences and reestablish their friendship. That healing was as profound as his medical work in the young nation. It appears that he was the only man both so respected that he could have pulled this off.

This biography is a treat. If you love early American history, it’s a must-have book. I loved 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.

Psalms Volume 2 (NIVAC) by Tucker and Grant

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We have waited for this commentary for a long time. Gerald Wilson’s volume 1 on Psalms 1-72 has been out for years and has been the most-decorated volume in the entire NIVAC series. His untimely death necessitated others produce this commentary and Dennis Tucker and Jamie Grant have filled that lacuna. They have the credentials in scholarship to write this commentary that is, perhaps, unfairly in the spotlight and will face more scrutiny than usual. Wilson was like the guru on the Psalms, and as these authors admit in the preface, he singlehandedly defined the direction the scholarly world has taken since the 1980s on the Psalms. Such influence casts deep shadows, yet these authors acquitted themselves nicely. Beyond the scholarly world, pastors and Bible students will see and love it for what it’s meant to be–thorough commentary that bridges to contemporary life.

Two things become obvious in the Introduction. They are only going to write on what Wilson left undone and intended for volume 2. Since most who purchase this volume will likely have volume 1, that approach makes sense. They also will write with profound respect for Wilson, yet not be afraid to gently disagree on any point. I’m impressed by that style.

The Introduction, then, is taken up with two main concerns: the shape of the Psalter and the theological themes of the book. I don’t buy into the idea of editors changing the Psalms, but I do believe these scholarly discussions uncover intent. The Psalms aren’t haphazardly thrown together. There is purpose. As for theology, the Psalms are both so unique and precious that theological understanding is paramount. I enjoyed what I read here.

The commentary is fine as well. It follows the NIVAC pattern and uses it to advantage. As would be the case with any commentary, I might not agree with their slant on certain psalms, but they give real help. Just think, over 1000 pages on Psalms 73-150!

This commentary exceeded what I expected, accomplished all of its goals, and would make a fine addition to your library. 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.

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

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Mark this down as one of the best books around on the Trinity. Don’t let the fact that it’s written in a popular style cause you to believe that it’s inferior to more scholarly volumes either. Michael Reeves has put the Doctrine of the Trinity on the high perch it deserves and uses it as a springboard to comprehend our faith. If you don’t go into the reading of this book with Mr. Reeves’ conclusions, you will likely leave it that way. Along with all that academic value, you will have your heart warmed too. This book succeeds at every level.

Instead of giving a chapter-by-chapter overview, let me tell you some of the things that jumped off the page for me. He reminded me how persuasive the concept of God as Father is all across Scripture. He demonstrated that because the Father loved the Son, creation is about Him sharing His love! He explained how our triune God “is the sort of God who will make room for another to have real existence”. That observation even explains the presence of evil in our world.

There’s more! He reveled in the explanation of grace being more than God giving out of what He had—He gives Himself. The Lord created familial relationships, he said, to extend the fellowship He loves. Isn’t this enough to hook you? If not, check out his discussion of holiness. I saw in the Trinity more than ever that God loves me.

If I could only have one book to explain the importance and practicality of the Trinity, this book would be it. Call it indispensable!

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.

Hebrews (Interpretation) by Thomas Long

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Thomas Long contributes this volume to the Interpretation Bible Commentary Series on Hebrews. On the plus side, it’s lively and theologically sharp. On the negative side, it’s too brief. In line with the series, it gives a cogent rendition of the critical position. Out of line with the series, it’s too short for the size and importance of the book of Hebrews.

The Introduction is merely a teaser. He succeeds in wheting your appetite for Hebrews, but little more. No common topic addressed in the introduction of a commentary is sufficiently addressed here. The bibliography at the end is equally as meager. Turn on to the commentary proper.

Here there is value. He writes well. Even if you don’t agree with him, which was often the case for me, your gray matter will be activated. I got what I wanted out of this book. I could see where critical scholarship stands on Hebrews. As a bonus, there was some theology that you could take and run with. It should have been longer, but we will still label it a solid critical 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.

The Triune God by Fred Sanders

book triune god

Fred Sanders does a fine job explaining our Triune God in this volume that’s part of the New Studies in Dogmatics series published by Zondervan. You may have heard about this series being in the tradition of Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics. It’s fair to label it a success as it excels in theological penetration and is at times dogmatic! Scholars have lined up to praise it and it’s easily one of the better volumes on the subject of the Trinity.

He doesn’t consume himself with the historical development of the doctrine but approaches the doctrine head on instead. That is, to my mind, a great approach. Many books drown in the history and make little contribution to actual understanding so this book will be more effective for most readers.

He begins with doxology which is the perfect approach for such a far-reaching doctrinal subject about our God. He describes trinitarian doctrine as “a doctrine about God, spoken in the presence of God, to the end of praising God.”

Next, he looks at the revelation of this doctrine. He probes deeply, interacts with other scholars, and explains “mystery”. The following chapter on the communicative mission of Each Person of the Trinity is key to his overall argument. There’s plenty of help here.

Chapters 4 and 5 look at the Incarnation and gets into procession within the Trinity. As you will see, there are plenty of ways to go off the rails here. Chapters 7 and 8 look at each Testament and its contribution to trinitarian doctrine separately. Chapter 9 is a wonderful summary of what we learned.

You will want at least two or three books in your library on the Trinity. Make this 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.

I & II Peter and Jude (NTL) by Donelson

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Lewis Donelson contributes this volume on the Epistles of Peter and Jude in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. As with other volumes in the series, this commentary takes a critical approach in its exegesis. With these epistles being some of the more challenged in the New Testament, that critical outlook protrudes more distinctly.

After a wide-ranging bibliography, we are served a brief introduction to the three letters together. The author sees a connection as Christians in conflict, which is a reasonable proposition.

Next, 1 Peter gets its own introduction. He denies Petrine authorship completely. More helpful are sections on the letter’s recipients and the theme of persecution.  After a discussion of date, he returns again to authorship this time suggesting pseudonymity. He doesn’t see much literary structure before offering his outline. There’s more theology before some brief comments on text and translation.

Each periscope in the commentary proper gives an overview of the passage, his translation, detailed exegetical notes, commentary on each verse, and a few concluding paragraphs. The exegesis is always on the critical side while there is robust theology.

Jude and 2 Peter follow a similar pattern for both Introduction and commentary. Both the critical outlook and commentary quality remain throughout.

Of the critical commentaries I’ve seen on these letters, this is the most in-depth, clear, and theologically helpful. For that perspective, this commentary is the one I’d recommend!

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.

Hebrews (NTL) by Johnson

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Prolific New Testament commentator Luke Timothy Johnson tackles Hebrews in this volume in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. He’s written in other major series such as the Anchor Bible commentary series, and from what I can tell, this has been one of the more popular titles in the NTL series. In my view, it’s one of the more rigorously done scholarly work in the series.

After a substantial bibliography, the author jumps into what turns out to be a longer, more in-depth introduction than found in several other volumes in the series. After some opening observations, the author explains Hebrews in the Christian tradition as he delves into the historical background. Next, he tackles literary concerns including language and form. There’s a cultural and social overview that considers Roman as well as elements of Judaism and Christianity in the text. From there, we read of what the author calls the circumstances of composition. He delves into the rhetorical situation and finally addresses the issue of date. As you would imagine, the conclusions are of a more critical nature as is usual in the NTL series. There’s a survey of the always-controversial subject of authorship for the book of Hebrews. Finally, we have some good probing of the theology of the book. The author’s conclusion that we have here the mature teaching of Christ was well done. Much of the conclusions in this section would match that found in more conservative commentary series. The same would hold true for the theological discussion of discipleship.

The commentary proper includes some rigorous exegetical work. If you are familiar with either the author or the series, you will know what to expect. As a bonus, you will find 7 top-notch excurses. Again, it is helpful and effective. I can’t think of a better commentary on Hebrews from the critical camp.

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.