Category Archives: Books

Early Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Bd. II/2

The publisher provided a review copy, some months back which I have enjoyed reading tremendously.  All 950+ pages.  My review will post next week- so until then visit the link above and check out the front matter and the contents.

This volume is a part of a tremendously important series of volumes being published over the course of the next several years which will become the standard for research for decades to come: Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618–1619).(ADSND), A Project of the Johannes A Lasco Bibliothek Emden.

The Synod of Dordrecht 1618/1619 was one of the most important church councils in the history of the reformed tradition. International delegates from all over Europe served as important participants and played a significant role in the evaluation of Remonstrant doctrine and in the formation of the canons. The Synod made important pronouncements on issues like Sunday observance, catechism instruction, and theological education.Given the continuing worldwide historical significance of the Synod’s canons and church order, the absence of a critical scholarly edition of the majority of documents composed at the time of the Synod is remarkable. The Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek in Emden, being a leading research center for the history and theology of Reformed Protestantism, has taken the initiative to edit the Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht 1618/1619. The edition is organized as a RefoRC project with the participation of several institutions and scholars in Europe and North-America.

Approaching the Study of Theology: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods & Debates

From the opening pages of the Bible, we learn of God as one who communicates with humankind—offering us first steps toward knowledge of the divine, the very foothold of theology. On this basis, Approaching the Study of Theology presents an engaging introduction to the breadth and depth of the study of theology, mapping the significant landmarks as well as the main areas of debate.

The book is divded into three parts:

Part I (Approaches) describes the major approaches to theology that have emerged and developed over time.

Part II (Concepts and Issues) explains the major concepts and issues, identifying theologians associated with each.

Part III (Key Terms) provides a helpful glossary of all the key terms that readers need to understand in order to better understand theology.

IVP have sent along a prepublication draft of this new work by Professor Thiselton.  In my review please note that no page numbers will be included because the draft manuscript includes none.

The work consists of an overview of theological trends in the introduction.  This overview discusses the biblical roots of theology and a description of  the major periods of theological development. Part One is very much akin to a ‘bible dictionary’ which lists, in alphabetical sequence, methodological approaches to theology including biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, political theology, and systematic theology among others.  Part Two adopts the same alphabetical sequencing but it’s concern is ‘Concepts and Issues’ like Atonement, Authority of the Bible, Justification, Resurrection of the Dead, etc.  These discussions, like those of part one, tend to be full and ‘encyclopedic’.  Indeed, part two is the bulk of the volume.  The third part of the volume, Key Terms, is simply a glossary.

The presentation is, necessarily, very general.  That is, each concept, term, method, etc. is described in quite sweeping terms.  The work aims to introduce, and merely introduce, the basics of theological enquiry.  The details are relatively accurate overall but sometimes they are incredibly inaccurate.

One glaring problem is what Thiselton writes about the Marburg conference:

In 1529 it became clear that there were disagreements among the Reformers on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.  Deeply concerned for Reformation unity, Luther sought a friendly conference with Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (sic !)at Marburg. He did his best to achieve a united witness but Zwingli and others held firm in their beliefs…

The problems here are multiple: Luther didn’t seek any conference, friendly or otherwise, with Zwingli.  He was essentially forced into meeting with Zwingli and the others by Prince Philip.  He never wanted to participate and told friends on numerous occasions that the whole thing would be a waste of time.  He even wrote the Margrave thusly

I am indeed absolutely convinced that Your Sovereign Grace is completely sincere and has the best of intentions. For this reason I, too, am ready and willing to render my services in this, Your Sovereign Grace’s Christian undertaking, though I fear [my services] may be futile and perhaps dangerous for us. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: 230.)

Luther wasn’t interested in the meeting and thought it was a bad idea.

Further, Bullinger wasn’t there (see below).  And it wasn’t Luther who wanted to achieve a united witness but, again, the Prince and neither was it the others who were most intransigent- it was Luther.  In sum, then, the portrait of Luther here is totally wrong.  Thiselton simply misstates nearly every fact.

As mentioned just above, the draft contains one particular error that I have reported to the publisher in hopes that there is still time before printing to correct it: Thiselton remarks, wrongly, that the conference in Marburg included Zwingli, Luther, and Bullinger (!).   Bullinger will be quite surprised to learn that.  Having offered a correction I’m happy to say that, thankfully, the editor has indeed agreed that this is an error (in consultation with the author) and have asserted that it will be corrected before the printing is completed.

The rest of the volume is not free of such egregious mistakes either, though.  For instance, in his treatment in part 3 of terms, Thiselton writes

The Greek words daimon and daimonion occur over 1200 times each and the verb daimonizomai over 1200 times in the Synoptic Gospels.

This is simply untrue.  ‘daimon’ doesn’t occur at all.  δαιμόνιον occurs only 15 times. δαιμονίου occurs 4 times.  And the verbal form δαιμονίζεται occurs but once.  In fact, δαιμον* in all its various forms only occurs 78 times in the entire New Testament.

Thiselton has written a volume that contains much that is useful.  But readers should fact-check his assertions via other resources.  He isn’t always accurate.

Johann Froben, Printer of Basel: A Biographical Profile and Catalogue of His Editions

In Johann Froben, Printer of Basel, Valentina Sebastiani offers a comprehensive account of the life and printing production of Froben, a major representative of early modern Europe’s most refined printing traditions. Some five centuries after they first appeared in print, Sebastiani provides a bibliography of the 329 Froben editions published in Basel between 1491 and 1527 (including an analysis of some 2,500 copies held in more than twenty-five libraries worldwide), listing the paratextual and visual elements that distinguish Froben’s books as well as economic, technical, and editorial details related to their production and distribution. Sebastiani’s study sheds new light on Froben’s family and career, his involvement in the editing and publication of Erasmus’ works, and the strategies he adopted to market them successfully.

Folk who love the history of the Church and who love books and who love the art of printing will be interested in this, I think.  Brill have sent along a review copy, so stay tuned.

Perchance to Dream

Perchance to Dream: Dream Divination in the Bible and the Ancient Near East
Edited by Esther J. Hamori and Jonathan Stökl, ANEM 21, 2018
download paperback hardcover

You can download it for free.

Ireland and the Reception of the Bible

There’s an interview on the contents of a new volume over on the T&T Clark blog.  It will be of interest to many of you.

Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible

This new volume, in English and German, arrived today for review from Mohr.  I’m very excited about it because it is a Festschrift for my very dear friend Mogens Müller.  He’s a wonderful scholar and has long deserved the recognition brought via a Festschrift.  He deserves a celebration.

Look for my review in about a month.

Die Beiträge dieses Bandes setzen sich kritisch mit der Arbeit Mogen Müllers zu antikem Judentum, der Septuaginta, den Evangelien des Neuen Testaments und der Rezeptiongeschichte der Bibel auseinander und decken dabei ein breites Themenfeld innerhalb der biblischen Redaktion und Rezeption ab. Neuschreibung und Rezeption sind Teil eines fortlaufenden Prozesses, der innerhalb der biblischen Literatur begann, und der sich in der Geschichte der interpretierenden Gemeinden fortsetzt, die die Bibel bis heute auf zahlreiche Arten rezipieren und wertschätzen. Der vorliegende Band möchte die wissenschaftliche Debatte über solch wichtige Themen innerhalb der Bibelforschung voranbringen. Er zeigt, dass man sich mit dem Begriff der Rezeption aus sehr verschiedenen Blickwinkeln und unterschiedlichen hermeneutischen und methodologischen Perspektiven befassen kann, welche alle neue Einblicke in die antiken Texte und deren Nachleben bieten.


Jesper Høgenhaven/Jesper Tang Nielsen/Heike Omerzu: Introduction: Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible

Part I: Rewriting and Reception in the Bible
Ancient Judaism
Jesper Høgenhaven: Fortschreibung und Kanonbildung in der Bibliothek von Qumran: Bemerkungen mit besonderem Hinblick auf Genesis-Kommentar A (4Q252) – Ingrid Hjelm: The Coming of a ‘Prophet like you’ in Ancient Literature – Thomas Thompson: ‘Rewritten Bible’ or Reiterative Rhetoric: Examples from Yahweh’s Garden – Siegfried Kreuzer: New Testament Quotations and the Textual History of the Septuagint

New Testament
Michael Labahn: Die Königin aus dem Süden und ihr Auftritt im Gericht: Q 11,31 oder zur (Wirkungs-)Geschichte einer Begegnungserzählung – Troels Engberg-Pedersen: The Messianic Secret in the Fourth Gospel: On the Fundamental Importance of Mark for John’s Rewriting of the Story of Jesus – Jesper Tang Nielsen: Lukas und Johannes: Szenen einer Beziehung – Frederik Poulsen: A Light to the Gentiles: The Reception of Isaiah in Luke-Acts – Martin Meiser: Torah in Galatians: The Significance of the Reception of the Septuagint

Part II: Rewriting and Reception of the Bible
Ancient Times
Martin Karrer: Reception and Rewriting: Beobachtungen zu Schriftreferenzen und Textgeschichte der Apokalypse – Heike Omerzu: Das Petrusevangelium als ‘rewritten Gospel’? Eine forschungsgeschichtliche Erörterung der Rezeption der Kategorie ,rewritten Bible’ in Bezug auf frühchristliche Texte – Tilde Bak Halvgaard: Reception of the Johannine Logos in the Trimorphic Protennoia: The Gnostics and the Bible – Part II – Francis Watson: Reception as Corruption: Tertullian and Marcion in Quest of the True Gospel – Thomas Hoffmann: Everywhere and Nowhere: On the rewritten Bible and Qur’ān – John Strange: Rewriting the Bible in Pictorial Arts: Some Examples and Observations

Modern Times
Christina Petterson: Zinzendorf’s New Testament and the Production of Gender – Halvor Moxnes:Desiring Christ: A Nordic Christology in the Time of Romantic Friendships – Gitte Buch-Hansen:Converting Refugees and the Gospel: Exegetical Reflections on Refugees’ Encounter with Denmark and with the Lutheran Church

Sprüche (Proverbia) 1-15

Bernd U. Schipper reads the book of Proverbs within the context of ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature and at the same time as an integral part of the Old Testament. As a work of literature from the Second Temple period, the book of Proverbs takes part in the theological debates of its time over issues such as the significance of the Torah (and particularly the Deuteronomic law) or whether humans are capable of living in accordance with the divine will.

The analysis of ancient Near Eastern parallels gives special attention to textual material that has previously not been applied to the exegesis of the book of Proverbs: the sapiential texts from the Egyptian Late Period (6th–2nd c. B.C.E.).

On the whole, the final form of the book of Proverbs emerges as a text from the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods that can be ascribed to a circle of “scribes” who were well-versed in the scriptures of ancient Israel.

Looks glorious doesn’t it?  You’re welcome.

Free Book


You’ll have to go find out what it is.

Proper Library Rules

These rules apply to my personal library as well (which, frankly, I only allow visitors in once a year or so)…

A Forthcoming Volume of Interest to Old Testament Scholars

Un maître de la critique textuelle: Dominique Barthélemy: L’édition de la ‘Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament’ (1982-2015).

Watch this space.

Erfahrung im Alten Testament: Untersuchung zur Exegese des Alten Testaments bei Franz Delitzsch

Der Tatsache, dass die exegetische Arbeit des Leipziger und Erlanger Theologen Franz Delitzsch schon zu seiner eigenen Zeit als altmodisch galt, entspricht nicht die Rezeption und Aufmerksamkeit, die seine Schriften im deutschsprachigen wie im englischsprachigen Raum genossen haben und teilweise noch genießen. Diese Dissertation untersucht mit Blick auf dieses Phänomen den von Delitzsch angewandten Ansatz und dessen Wurzeln in der lutherischen Erlanger Schule, zu der er – so zeigt es sich – eindeutig gehörte. Gegenwärtige Debatten über die Stellung des Alten Testaments in christlicher Theologie bestätigen die dauerhafte Relevanz solcher Untersuchungen, gerade wenn man Delitzschs bemerkenswerte Beziehung zum Judentum bedenkt.

A New Edition of Melanchthon’s 1559 Loci

The first volume is available and the second is forthcoming. It’s a bilingual Latin-German edition:

Loci praecipui theologici nunc denuo cura et diligentia Summa recogniti multisque in locis copiose illustrati 1559, by Philipp Melanchthon

Philipp Melanchthons »Loci praecipui theologici« in der Letztfassung von 1559 sind die reife Summe ­seines theologischen Schaffens. Gemeinsam mit der »Institutio« Johannes Calvins sind sie die wirkmächtigste reformatorische Dogmatik. Sie liegen nun erstmals ins Deutsche übersetzt in einer lateinisch-deutschen Ausgabe im ersten Teilband vor.

Die philologische Seite der Übersetzung lag bei dem Basler Altphilologen Peter Litwan unter Assistenz der Altphilologin Florence Becher-Häusermann. Die theologische Redaktion hatte Sven Grosse, Professor für Historische und Systematische Theologie an der Staatsunabhängigen Theologischen Hochschule Basel. Die Ausgabe ist auf zwei Bände angelegt.

Der 2. Band der Loci erscheint im Juli 2020.

Caesar and the Sacrament – Baptism: A Rite of Resistance

When the earliest Christ-followers were baptized they participated in a politically subversive act. Rejecting the Empire’s claim that it had a divine right to rule the world, they pledged their allegiance to a kingdom other than Rome and a king other than Caesar (Acts 17:7).

Many books explore baptism from doctrinal or theological perspectives, and focus on issues such as the correct mode of baptism, the proper candidate for baptism, who has the authority to baptize, and whether or not baptism is a symbol or means of grace. By contrast, Caesar and the Sacrament investigates the political nature of baptism.

Very few contemporary Christians consider baptism’s original purpose or political significance. Only by studying baptism in its historical context, can we discover its impact on first-century believers and the adverse reaction it engendered among Roman and Jewish officials. Since baptism was initially a rite of non-violent resistance, what should its function be today?

A review copy arrived today.  More in due course.

Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context

Within the world of the Bible, prophets and prophetesses were sometimes ardent proponents of royal and priestly rhetoric and deeds, but they could also be vocal critics, speaking truth to power. Enemies and Friends of the State plumbs the depths of the prophetic voices of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament Apocrypha, and the Greek New Testament, with more than twenty-five of the most distinguished scholars in the field of biblical studies contributing articles. The volume also includes articles on prophecy in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, and Transjordan. In addition, articles at the beginning of the volume on the nature of the state and of prophecy provide a context for the discussion of prophecy both inside and outside ancient Israel, and a concluding essay discusses the views of Josephus and the Rabbis on prophecy. Because of the breadth and depth of this volume, Enemies and Friends of the State is certain to be the standard treatment of this subject for a generation.

It’s edited by Chris Rollston, so I’m sure it will be good.

Zwingli lesen

Ulrich Zwingli war ein epochaler Denker. Zwingli lesen bedeutet, an diesem Denken und Argumentieren teilzuhaben.

Dieses Lesebuch enthält deshalb die zentralen Texte von Zwingli selbst – und zwar in verständlichem heutigem Deutsch. Darüber hinaus wird jeder Text eingeleitet und kommentiert. Vollständig wiedergegeben werden: Das Pestlied (1520), Die Klarheit und Gewissheit des Wortes Gottes (1522), die 67 Thesen oder Artikel (1523), Göttliche und menschliche Gerechtigkeit (1523), Eine freundschaftliche und ernstliche Ermahnung der Eidgenossen (1524), die beiden Berner Predigten (1528) und das Kappelerlied (um 1529). Auszüge aus weiteren Texten und einige zentrale Briefe Zwinglis ergänzen den Band.

Die Auswahl greift die wichtigsten Themen und biografischen Stationen des Reformators auf. Wer diese Texte kennt, kann über Zwingli kompetent mitreden.

TVZ have provided a review copy.  And I’d like to first offer a photo of the table of contents- not merely to show what the volume contains, although that’s quite important- but to show how really very lovely the font is.  And the photo doesn’t do it justice.


As to the works by Zwingli included here, the choices made by our learned editors are extremely appropriate.   These short works all show the mind of Zwingli at its most brilliant and the mixture of letters and theological treatises is superb.  Those looking for a first hand introduction to Zwingli’s theological notions, via primary rather than secondary sources, should start here.  And then proceed to the 4 volume collection of Zwingli’s works in modern German by the same publisher.  And then on to the critical edition, also by the same publisher.  With these volumes, this publisher is living up to the first name by which it was known- the Zwingli Verlag, Zurich.

The contents of the present work are punctuated by excerpts from Bullinger’s Reformationshgeschichte where color illustrations, by hand, are included in that fabled tome.


I have to admit that I find such inclusions utterly endearing.  I love this publisher because it constantly produces volumes that really, really matter.  This is such a volume.  It is a work of art and a work of scholarship.

Concerning the translations of these key works by Zwingli with which this volume is populated; they are incredibly well crafted.  Zwingli is very, very hard to translate simply because he works in his own 16th century Swiss German and Latin.  He likes words, and like Luther he was super at creating new ones and using old ones in new ways.  This makes him both incredibly fun to read and incredibly hard to translate for modern folk.  Indeed, Zwingli’s German and Luther’s German were so different that the two theologians couldn’t understand each other at Marburg and had to use Latin.  Because Zwingli’s language is so arcane, anyone capable of translating that language into a modern language should receive a prize of some sort.  And that goes doubly for those who do it well like Opitz and Saxer.

Take, for instance, this bit from the sermon ‘On the Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God‘ from the critical edition from 1522-

Zum zehenden. Empfindstu, das es dich gewüß macht der gnaden gottes und ewigen heils, so ist es von got.

And now the modern German rendering-

10.  Spürst Du, dass dir die Gnade Gottes und das ewige Heil zur Gewissheit werden, so ist das von Gott.

I challenge you to do better.  I don’t think it can be done.

Opitz and Saxer have assemble as well a very brief but useful bibliography (though it pains me that my own work on Zwingli is not included) and they include footnotes in the body of the text but these are kept to a bare minimum.  At the conclusion of each text they also have the original source cited so interested persons can make their way to it.  And, finally, at the very end of the volume is an index of chief subjects so that if readers want to look in on Zwingli’s understanding of ‘Taufe’, for instance, the pages where that subject is touched upon are easily discovered.

By now readers of this review have surely sensed that I think in highly commendable.  If they haven’t, allow me to say it more forthrightly: I love this book.  Not just because it’s Zwingli, but because it’s so well done.  I recommend it to you.  Without hesitation or ambiguity.  It’s super.

Liz Fried’s Ezra Commentary is Now in Paperback

Via the publisher-

Sheffield Phoenix Press is pleased to announce a new publication of one of its titles in paperback, Lisbeth S. Fried’s Ezra: A Commentary. The price will be £29.50 / $34.50 / €32.50, compared to the previous list price of the hardback, £60 / $95 / €75. You can order the book from our website,,

The Bible and the Qur’an

The Bible and the Qur’an provides an overview of all the figures and groups who are mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Principal focus centres on the similarities and differences between the presentations of these characters in the two texts, with special emphasis placed on how they appear in the Islamic text. References are also included to how many of the individuals/groups discussed are treated in other Islamic sources.  Each figure or group includes: (1) a list of relevant Qur’an passages; (2) a description of how the individual/group is presented in the Islamic Texts; (3) questions and issues to consider; (4) suggestions for further readings. An introductory section provides a basic orientation to the Qur’an and other Islamic sources.

The present volume is something akin to an encyclopedia in that it is arranged in an alphabetic layout.  Each entry is independent of the other and each has its own set of ‘Questions/ Further Issues’ and its own bibliography.  Major personages are discussed and how they appear in various segments of the Qur’an is the focus of attention (not so much how they appear in the Bible which is for the most part presumed to be well enough known by readers of the present volume).

Persons discussed include but are not limited to Aaron, Moses, Adam, Joseph, Mary, Michael, the Queen of Sheba, and Unbelievers.  In all, forty-eight persons or groups of people (like ‘Prophets’) are treated.

The volume includes a very helpful introduction to the material and an equally helpful index of Biblical citations.  Readers looking for a person can easily find it in the table of contents and those looking for a passage from the Bible can find it just as easily in the index.

Readers of the Bible will find this a quite interesting work.  How the Qur’an handles major biblical figures is extremely interesting (in much the same way that the treatment of various biblical characters in the Babylonian Talmud is oftentimes very interesting).  Below is a sample from the entry on Eve:

The value of a work such as the present one is in its ability to construct a bridge between Christians (and Jews) and Muslims. Many of the persons who hold such important places in the faith of Jews and Christians also hold important places in the faith of Muslims. Perhaps the way forward to a more peaceful co-existence between the three Monotheistic faiths is to understand one another better. This book, rightly used, aids that understanding. I recommend it.

The Best Bio of Brunner Yet Written

Anhand der Quellen, vor allem von Briefen, Tagebüchern und nicht publizierten Manuskripten, gibt Frank Jehle Einblick in Leben, Werk und Wirken Emil Brunners. Das theologische Werk des Schweizer Theologen steht im Zentrum dieser umfassenden Biographie: Mit «Der Mittler» hatte Brunner die erste ausgebaute Christologie der dialektischen Theologie vorgelegt. Seine Auseinandersetzung mit Karl Barth über die natürliche Theologie ist in die Theologiegeschichte eingegangen. Vor allem aber ragt Brunner als Ethiker hervor: «Das Gebot und die Ordnungen» von 1932 ist ein Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Sozialethik. Bestimmend war auch sein Einfluss auf die Weltkirchenkonferenz in Oxford 1937. Brunner wirkte mehrfach als Gastprofessor in den USA, nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wagte er den Schritt nach Asien, u.a. nach Japan. – Erstmals dargestellt wird Brunners intensive Beziehung zu Leonhard Ragaz.Die hier vorliegende Biographie ist zugleich ein wichtiger Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts und zur Geschichte der Schweiz im und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Read it.  It is the perfect antidote for the Barthian misinformation about Brunner that too many gullible and silly people accept without question.

Two Out of Three: Emil Brunner’s Dogmatics Online

brunner83The first two volumes of Emil Brunner’s Christian Dogmatics are online-

Unfortunately volume three isn’t.  But maybe it will be soon.  Or you could just buy the print edition.  It’s very much worth it.

Barth’s Last Word to Brunner

brunner5“Barth’s letter arrived on the morning of 5 April. Vogelsanger cycled to the clinic at Zollikerberg, and informed Brunner that “Karl Barth sends his greetings!” He then read Brunner this letter by his bedside. Brunner smiled, pressed his hand, and shortly afterwards lapsed into an uncon­sciousness from which he never reawakened. He died at noon on Wednesday, 6 April 1966 at the Neumünsterspital at Zollikerberg, near Zurich. His funeral at the Fraumünster in Zurich on 12 April 1966 was led by Vogelsanger. ” – Alister McGrath