Category Archives: Book Review Pending

Grundinformation Neues Testament: Eine bibelkundlich-theologische Einführung

Das Arbeitsbuch stellt die Schriften des Neuen Testaments allgemeinverständlich in der Reihenfolge des Kanons dar. Der Zugang erfolgt über eine bibelkundliche Erschließung. Exegetische Hinweise dienen der Einordnung der behandelten Schrift und der Erhellung ihrer Entstehung. Anschließend werden theologische Schwerpunkte dargestellt und Hinweise zu Wirkungsgeschichte und gegenwärtiger Bedeutung gegeben – im Kirchenjahr, in der Kunst oder auch im »säkularen« Alltag. Durch vorangestellte Thesen, eingefügte Übersichten sowie zusätzliche Informationen in einer Randspalte wird der Text didaktisch erschlossen. Mit einem Verzeichnis der wichtigsten Studienliteratur, Glossar und biblischem Personenverzeichnis.

Given that this is the fifth edition of a well known standard textbook my observations will be fairly limited.  To wit, I want to talk for a minute about why this book is in many respects more useful than the plethora of ‘introductions to the New Testament’ that are out there.

First of all, it’s quite up to date.  The bibliographic entries are fresh and thorough.  The details provided by the various authors are cutting edge New Testament scholarship.  And the writing is bold, vivid, and crisp.

Unlike many introductions, this one has not one author but many.  Experts in Pauline studies address pauline texts.  Experts in the early history of Christianity address that era.  Experts in the synoptics share their expertise with readers.  Indeed, expertise abounds in this book, and for that, in these dilettantish days, we can all be grateful.

Texts are treated not only as historical documents, but as theological as well.  Thus, this isn’t simply an intro to the New Testament, it is, as its title suggests, a volume that provides readers with all the basic information concerning the collection of documents that we call the New Testament that one needs in order to comprehend that collection.

Each section features a bibliography, naturally, as well as little sidebars which indicate the main topic of the subsection.  There are also the usual indices and a very useful glossary so that students and lay-readers who are not familiar with the jargon of scholars can find terms defined.

In a world filled with introductions to the New Testament, this one stands out both because of its thoroughness but also because of its clarity.  Multiple contributors make this volume even more useful, as readers are getting not simply one person’s viewpoint, but many.

Do read it.

Synagogues in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods: Archaeological Finds, New Methods, New Theories

The study of ancient Judaism has enjoyed a steep rise in interest and publications in recent decades, although the focus has often been on the ideas and beliefs represented in ancient Jewish texts rather than on the daily lives and the material culture of Jews/Judaeans and their communities. The nascent institution of the synagogue formed an increasingly important venue for communal gathering and daily or weekly practice. This collection of essays brings together a broad spectrum of new archaeological and textual data with various emergent theories and interpretative methods in order to address the need to understand the place of the synagogue in the daily and weekly procedures, community frameworks, and theological structures in which Judaeans, Galileans, and Jewish people in the Diaspora lived and gathered. The interdisciplinary studies will be of great significance for anyone studying ancient Jewish belief, practice, and community formation.

Review forthcoming.

Postmortem Opportunity: A Biblical and Theological Assessment of Salvation After Death

One of Jesus’ most basic commands to his disciples was to tell the world about the good news of his life, death, and resurrection. From the earliest days of the church, Christians have embraced this calling.

But for those Christians who emphasize the need for an active response to the gospel in order to be saved, this raises some difficult questions: What about those who did not hear the gospel before death? Or what about those who heard an incorrect or incomplete version of the gospel? Or what about those who were too young or who were otherwise unable to respond?

In light of these challenging questions, theologian James Beilby offers a careful consideration of the possibility for salvation after death. After examining the biblical evidence and assessing the theological implications, he argues that there is indeed hope for faith—even beyond death.

Hmmm….  Let’s see if he can convince a skeptic.  Or will he prove Tertullian right again when he notes that ‘Philosophers are the patriarchs of heretics’.  More anon.

Obadiah, Jonah and Micah: An Introduction and Commentary

Obadiah’s oracle against Edom. Jonah’s mission to the city of Nineveh. Micah’s message to Samaria and Jerusalem. These books are short yet surprisingly rich in theological and practical terms. In this Tyndale commentary on these minor but important prophets, Daniel Timmer considers each book’s historical setting, genre, structure, and unity. He explores their key themes with an eye to their fulfilment in the New Testament and their significance for today.

The Tyndale Commentaries are designed to help the reader of the Bible understand what the text says and what it means. The Introduction to each book gives a concise but thorough treatment of its authorship, date, original setting, and purpose. Following a structural Analysis, the Commentary takes the book section by section, drawing out its main themes, and also comments on individual verses and problems of interpretation. Additional Notes provide fuller discussion of particular difficulties.

In the new Old Testament volumes, the commentary on each section of the text is structured under three headings: ContextComment, and Meaning. The goal is to explain the true meaning of the Bible and make its message plain.

A review copy arrived today.  I’ll let you know what I think.

NRSV Pew Bible with Apocrypha

Hendrickson sent a copy of this pew bible for review today.  I’ll share my thoughts on it in due course.

For churches who prefer the beauty and accuracy of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, inexpensive but high-quality editions have been difficult to find. Until now. Hendrickson’s new NRSV Pew Bible combines thoughtfully designed features with a surprisingly affordable price. Boasting better-grade paper, clear and readable type, three pages of updated color maps, and a presentation page, this is a beautifully crafted Bible as well as the most affordable one on the market.

Between Hearing and Silence: A Study in Old Testament Theology

When the Old Testament refers to silence, either the silence of persons or of God, that silence conveys a diversity of meanings. It may indicate a breakdown in the divine-human relationship, or the beginning of the renewal of that relationship. It can be associated with sacred space or the realm of death. At times, God’s silence seems painful and incomprehensible, an indication of God’s indifference or neglect. At other times it speaks of the great security that the people of God may have in the Lord’s unfailing care.

Between Hearing and Silence: A Study in Old Testament Theology invites students and scholars alike to explore the various ways in which the concept of silence is expressed in the Old Testament and the many meanings it conveys. John Kessler surveys the diverse facets of the Old Testament’s understanding of silence to help readers discover the richness of this often-overlooked biblical theme. Each chapter examines various biblical texts relating to a different aspect of silence and uncovers the distinctive understanding of silence those texts present; at the same time, this thematic investigation opens up new perspectives on the broader contours of Old Testament theology in all its stunning complexity.

These portraits of silence, both divine and human, will introduce readers to a novel way of understanding the relational dynamics within the divine-human relationship. As the biblical texts move between silence and sound, readers will discover the crises of faith experienced by the people of God in their journey, even as these hardships hold within them great hope for Israel’s future. Most significantly in the Old Testament, silence emerges as a sacred medium of communication between the Lord and the people of God, modeling even for the contemporary life of faith a posture of hopeful openness to the often mysterious ways of the divine.

A review copy arrived today and I’m very interested to read it because my Hebrew prof from Seminary, Sam Balentine, wrote a blurb for the back cover.  And his opinion is one I highly respect.  When he calls something ‘an excellent discussion’ then it’s something to read.

More anon.

The Parables: Jesus’s Friendly Subversive Speech

Jesus’s parables used familiar situations to convey deep spiritual truths in ways that are provocative and subversive of the status quo. Prayerfulness was pictured by a persistent widow. The joy of salvation in the homecoming of a lost son. Love of neighbor by a marginalized Samaritan. If we’re not careful, we can easily miss details in the parables that reveal their subtle meanings as well as their contemporary relevance.

Drawing on scholarship on the parables as well as theological, pastoral, and practical insights, Douglas Webster guides the reader through each of Jesus’s parables, pointing out the important nuances that allow us to understand them and be transformed by them. Reflection questions at the end of each chapter can be used for personal or group study, and an appendix for pastors provides guidance for preaching the parables. Pastors, Bible teachers, and serious students of Scripture will find this tour through Jesus’s parabolic teaching to be a feast for both the mind and the soul.

A review copy arrived today.

Römerbrief und Tageszeitung! Politik in der Theologie Karl Barths

Die Theologie Karl Barths hat aufgrund ihrer politischen und gesellschaftskritischen Ausrichtung eine besondere Bedeutung. Ihre politische Dimension gewann sie gerade dadurch, dass Barth sich auf seine genuin theologische Arbeit konzentrierte. Als ein kritischer Zeitgenosse las er neben der Bibel aber immer auch die Tageszeitung und diese Lektüre liess er in seine theologische Arbeit einfliessen.

Inwieweit lässt sich Barths politisches Denken auf gesellschaftliche Herausforderungen der Gegenwart anwenden? Dieser Band versammelt Beiträge des akademischen Nachwuchses und von Expertinnen und Experten der Barthforschung zu theologischen Grundsatzfragen und aktuellen Themen aus den Bereichen Umwelt-, Friedens- und Sozialethik im europäischen und amerikanischen Kontext.

Mit Beiträgen von Kai-Ole Eberhardt, Margit Ernst-Habib, Marco Hofheinz, Markus Höfner, André Jeromin, Christine Lieberknecht, W. Travis McMaken, Raphaela J. Meyer zu Hörste-Bührer, Björn Schütz und Jan-Philip Tegtmeier.

A copy for review arrived today.