#ICYMI – Philip R. Davies’ Last Book

New title from Equinox Publishing – “The Bible for the Curious: A Brief Encounter” by Philip R. Davies

Unlike most textbooks, this book has no footnotes, avoids technical discussion as much as possible, and makes no assumptions about religious belief. Its aim is to introduce the contents in a way that engages readers critically, and to persuade them that in a modern secular society this collection of ancient writings can still contribute to the way we think about history, philosophy and politics.

Hardback copies are now in stock, and paperback will be in stock very soon. Learn more about this title on our website: https://www.isdistribution.com/BookDetail.aspx?aId=105235

It was a real joy to help Philip read through the manuscript, offer suggestions, and generally be of service to the wonderful man on what so tragically turned out to be his last project.  It’s a book you should read.  And it’s a book others would appreciate as a Christmas gift.

NB- Philip would LOVE that cover.

An Ocean Of Light

An Ocean of Light: Contemplation, Transformation, and Liberation

Out of the blue this book arrived today from Oxford University Press (thanks!).

For people drawn to a life of contemplation, the dawning of luminous awareness in a mind full of clutter is deeply liberating. In the third of his best-selling books on Christian contemplative life, Martin Laird turns his attention to those who are well settled in their contemplative practice. 

An Ocean of Light speaks both to those just entering the contemplative path and to those with a maturing practice of contemplation. Gradually, the practice of contemplation lifts the soul, freeing it from the blockages that introduce confusion into our identity and thus confusion about the mystery we call God. In the course of a lifetime of inner silencing, the flower of awareness emerges: a living realization that we have never been separate from God or from the rest of humanity while we each fully become what each of us is created to be. In contemplation we become so silent before God that the “before” drops away. Those whose lives have led them deeply into the silent land realize this, but not in the way that we realize that the square root of 144 is 12.

Laird draws from a wide and diverse range of writers–from St. Augustine, Evagrius Ponticus, and St. Teresa of Avila to David Foster Wallace, Flannery O’Connor, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Wright–to ground his insight in an ancient practice and give it a voice in contemporary language. With his characteristic lyricism and gentleness, Laird guides readers through new challenges of contemplative life, such as making ourselves the focus of our own contemplative project; dealing with old pain; transforming the isolation of loneliness and depression into a liberating solidarity with all who suffer; and the danger of using a spiritual practice as a strategy to acquire and control.

It’s not really my normal fodder and I am not what you would call mystically inclined or into the whole ‘inner life questing for depth’ sort of person.  But I think I’ll read it because it might be a nice break from historical theology and exegesis.  Who knows, I might even like it (or this may turn out very badly indeed…).  So, there’s reading at the In-Laws on Christmas day waiting for the annual Christmas breakfast of gift exchange fest sorted.

Christ and the Old Covenant

A new volume by V&R in the Refo500 Historical Theology series has appeared:

This study explores the Cocceian-Voetian debate through the eyes of Francis Turretin (1623–1687). There is a dearth of research on Turretin’s take on this debate, the author will parse out how Turretin adheres to the Voetianism of the Utrecht theologian Melchior Leydekker (1642–1721) while remaining conciliatory to the Cocceians. With Leydekker, Turretin argues that Christ’s suretyship in the Old Testament is identical to what it is in the New Testament. As the Father decrees that Christ is the most perfect and certain fulfiller of God’s promise, the ancients benefit from Christ’s sacrifice as much as do the saints in the New. The sins of the elect must be fully forgiven regardless of the progress of redemption in history, for the faithful both in the Old and the New are saved by the same grace of Christ, the expromissor. At the same time, not only does Turretin leave out some of the controversial issues between the two parties, but he also tends to neutralize Leydekker’s acid criticism of the extreme form of Cocceianism. This conciliatory gesture indicates that Turretin does not consider Cocceianism his archenemy. Seen in this light, Turretin can be viewed as a moderate and peaceful Voetian.

The Vandenhoeckian-Ruprechtians have sent a review copy.  More on this in the not too distant future.

Karl Barth vs. Emil Brunner

Subtitled ‘The Formation and Dissolution of a Theological Alliance’. It’s an older volume- published in 2001 – but very intriguing and quite the ‘open window’ on the early years of the Barth / Brunner ‘friendship’.

It’s very clear – at least to me – that Barth is Hart’s hero.  Or at least the one whom he favors in the debate between Barth and Brunner.  Brunner comes off as needy and clingy and Barth comes off as – well – just about perfect.

I looked around online to link to a copy of it but it seems now that it’s kind of hard to acquire, unless you want to pay $60 or more for it. I think when I bought it (and read it the first time) right after it was published it was something like $25.

If you can manage to find a copy via interlibrary loan, I recommend it.

Theology of the Old Testament

From V&R.

Michaela Bauks zeichnet in diesem Lehrbuch zur Theologie des Alten Testaments die impliziten theologischen Konzepte des Alten Testaments nach. Altorientalische Traditionen, literargeschichtliche Entwicklungen und bibelhermeneutische Überlegungen werden behandelt, auch die kirchliche und schulische Praxis wird eigens berücksichtigt.

Das Lehrbuch präsentiert die zentralen theologischen Themen der hebräischen Bibel in der Reihenfolge der gegebenen Grundformen. Zur Erzählung, zum Recht, zur Prophetie, zum Kult und zur Weisheit finden Interessierte bei Bauks die zentralen Informationen. Im Kern geht es Bauks um die verschiedenartigen Offenbarungsformen Gottes gegenüber den Menschen und seinem Volk. Neben literargeschichtlichen Aspekten und innerbiblischer Entwicklungslinien finden daher auch die traditionsgeschichtlichen Parallelen und altorientalische Traditionen Berücksichtigung.

Im Detail werden die Themenkreise Monotheismus, Götterbild, Gottesname, Gottes Königtum, Eschatologie und Geschick Israels verhandelt. Anhand dieser Themenbereiche wird die Gottesvorstellung der hebräischen Bibel systematisch vertieft.

Der Bezugsrahmen der „Heiligen Schrift“ wird von Bauks kanonhermeneutisch und biblisch-theologisch reflektiert und umrissen.

Insgesamt finde sich in diesem Buch damit alles, was man fürs Studium braucht: 

das Wichtigste über theologische Konzepte, altorientalische Traditionen, literargeschichtliche Entwicklungen sowie Impulse zur Hermeneutik des Alten Testaments.

A review copy has arrived.  It’s on the pile.  More in due time.

An Introduction to the History of Theology

Voici la première histoire de la théologie destinée à un public protestant francophone. Des premières ébauches théologiques de l’Antiquité chrétienne jusqu’aux débats contemporains en passant par les développements de la théologie médiévale, cette Introduction présente les grandes thématiques qui seront au cœur des préoccupations des théologiens de la Réforme, des Lumières et du XIXe siècle protestants.

Rédigée dans un langage accessible par les meilleurs spécialistes du sujet, elle s’adresse aussi bien aux amateurs que la théologie intéresse qu’aux étudiants désireux d’approfondir leurs connaissances.

Avec les contributions d’André Birmelé, Christophe Chalamet, Gilbert Dahan, André Encrevé, Pierre-Olivier Léchot (éd.), Élisabeth Parmentier, Jennifer Powell McNutt, Jean-Marc Tétaz, Anna Van den Kerchove, Marc Vial et Lothar Vogel

I’m grateful for the review copy provided by the editor and in due course I will let you know what I think of it.

UPDATE:  I’m about halfway through (sorry, I know, it’s slower going than English or German because I have to look up more French words) and I have just one comment at this juncture:  this book is a better history of theology and dogmatics than Adolf von Harnack’s 7 volume masterpiece.

More anon.

The Tyndale House (Cambridge, so the real one) Reader’s Edition of the Greek New Testament

This is good news:

The highly anticipated Reader’s Edition of the Greek New Testament text combines the Tyndale House Greek New Testament with a running list of glosses of every word in the Greek New Testament that occurs 25 times or less.

Published by Crossway, the THGNT Reader’s Edition is the next stage in the work undertaken by the Editor, Dr Dirk Jongkind, and Associate Editor, Dr Peter J. Williams, to provide a text of the Greek New Testament that reflects as closely as possible its earliest recoverable wording.

Crossway have graciously sent along a review copy.

The edition I received was the hardback in slip cover, black.  The Preface tells the particulars of the coming into existence of the reader’s edition.  In great detail.  And was written by one Drayton Benner, whom I take to be the chief computer whiz behind the compilation and insertion of the thousands of lexical notes which make the earlier published Tyndale Greek New Testament even more useful and endearing than the first iteration of the edition.

The biggest change between the reader’s edition and the regular (!) edition is that the reader’s has no textual apparatus.  The bottom of the page is instead filled with lexical entries (which only makes sense given the purpose of the edition).

The Introduction is the same as the Introduction to the earlier Tyndale GNT, leading readers into the particulars of the volume’s construction and execution.

The order of the New Testament books is the same as the Tyndale GNT. The beautiful font has also been retained in the new iteration as has the page layout.  Here’s an example:

Notice the way that each line begins, where appropriate, with the same Greek word.  This visual makes it very easy to see the form and format of the passage in question in an immediate and gripping way.  The list of those greeted pops off the page.

The lexical glosses themselves are quite good and I have yet to find any error among them.  Though as always, users of reader’s editions must be cautioned that words have very wide ranges of usage and the gloss chosen by the glossator may not always be the best choice.  It behooves students of Scripture to take advantage of full-blown lexica and not rely solely on a single glossed meaning.  Still, when simply reading is the aim, such a system of single-meaning glosses is quite acceptable.

The present volume is a great addition to any New Testament reader’s toolbox of intellectually stimulating implements.  Crossway is to be congratulated for producing and publishing such an exemplary work.

Heinrich Bullinger in the News

Heinrich Bullingers theologisches und religionspolitisches Wirken war unlösbar mit einem historisch orientierten Verständnis der Welt verknüpft. Bullinger war Nachfolger Zwinglis und Vordenker eines Protestantismus, der in seinem theologischen Kern bis in die Verfassung und politische Kultur moderner Staaten ausgriff. Er war aber auch zeit seines Lebens als Historiker tätig. Das Ergebnis der langjährigen Studien waren drei imposante Geschichtswerke zur Eidgenossenschaft, zur Reformation und zu Zürich. Nun liegt das dritte und letzte vollendete Werk, die Tigurinerchronik, erstmals ediert vor.

Die drei Chroniken greifen inhaltlich und argumentatorisch eng ineinander. Es gelang Bullinger zwar nicht, die eidgenössische Geschichte in eine abschliessende Form zu bringen, aber er konnte im Dezember 1574 die Reformationschronik und die Geschichte von Stadt und Landschaft Zürich, die «Chronik von den Tigurineren und der statt Zürych sachen», seinen «günstigen herren und fürgeliepten bruederen» des Chorherrenstifts zur Aufbewahrung übergeben, «daß sy nitt verloren / verdinset [entwendet] oder veruntrüwt / und undergetruckt werde».

Read the rest of Regula’s review of the three volume critical edition of Bullinger’s opus magnum.

Jesus, Paul and the Early Church

This volume has arrived for review today.  When it is finished, that review will appear here.

This volume contains seventeen essays written by Eckhard J. Schnabel, written over the past 25 years. The essays focus on the realities of the work of Jesus, Paul, John, and the early church, exploring aspects of the history, missionary expansion, and theology of the early church including lexical, ethical, and ecclesiological questions. Specific subjects discussed include Jesus’ silence at his trial, the introduction of foreign deities to Athens, the understanding of Rom 12:1, Paul’s ethics, the meaning of baptizein , the realities of persecution, Christian identity and mission in Revelation, and singing and instrumental music in the early church.

I’m Reading Lincoln Harvey’s Book…

My feelings towards it…  will appear in full in the Reading Religion review that will appear soon.  For now, let me say briefly that though I like Lincoln very much and though I enjoyed a couple of the essays (those by Harvey, Jenson, and Tilling) the majority of the contributions can be characterized by one word: awful.  Awful because rather, to be plainspoken, boring and irrelevant.  The attempts of Begbie, Wright, and especially Green try too hard to be clever and the result is anything but.  S. Wright’s was simply unreadable.  Brink’s was intolerably dull.  Canlis’s was what can only be called idiosyncratic.  And Campbell’s was, well, Campbell-esque (meaning heterodox).

One day people will realize that trinitarian speculation is an intellectual and theological cul-de-sac and they will stop doing it.  Today, sadly, as exemplified in this work, is not that day.

I wish that I could recommend this volume in its entirety.  But honesty dictates I not.  Parts are useful.  But that’s all.  Just parts.

Märtyrerliteratur: Herausgegeben, übersetzt, kommentiert und eingeleitet

In their functions as memorial and devotional literature, the “Acts of the Martyrs”, are generally read as historical protocols. They are an access point for understanding the development of hagiography. By examining different genres and textual compilations (at times, synoptic), this volume reveals the diversity of this literature and documents its importance for understanding intellectual, social, and religious history.

Looks quite interesting.

Coming Soon From TVZ: Ulrich Zwinglis Spiritualität- Ein Beispiel reformierter Frömmigkeit


Die reformierte Tradition ist spiritueller als ihr Ruf. Das zeigt sich auch im Blick auf den persönlichen Glauben und die Frömmigkeit Ulrich Zwinglis. Sein theologisches Denken und kirchliches Wirken, sein politisches Handeln und Selbstverständnis sind getragen von spiritueller Erfahrung im Umgang mit der Heiligen Schrift wie auch von hingebungsvollem Vertrauen in Gottes Walten.

Samuel Lutz geht Zwinglis Spiritualität nach, indem er den Reformator selbst zu zentralen Punkten seiner Theologie und seines Glaubens zu Wort kommen lässt. Wie können wir Gott erfahren? Wer sind wir als Kirche? Was soll der Staat? Ist Freude möglich in diesem elenden Leben? Der erste Teil des kleinen Buchs ist Zwinglis persönlicher Spiritualität gewidmet, der zweiten Teil deren Ausstrahlung ins kirchliche, politische und alltägliche Leben: Für Zwingli gehören geistliches und gesellschaftliches Leben untrennbar zusammen. Unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Spiritualität erscheinen der grosse Reformator und das reformierte Erbe in einem neuen Licht.

‘Jesus in Jerusalem’: The Last Days

Take a look for yourself.  Its author is a solid scholar.

The four Gospels devote a significant portion of their accounts to Jesus’s last week in Jerusalem leading to his arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. This observation reflects that fact that the early Christians agreed that the death and resurrection of Jesus have foundational significance for the faith and life of the church.

Jesus in Jerusalem follows the simple but essential approach that helps readers understand narrative texts around Jesus’s final days—identifying and analyzing people, places, time, events, and significance. While there are other matters that can be discussed with great benefit when analyzing the accounts of Jesus’s last week, I focus on these four areas…

It would be a mistake to imagine that this volume is something like Ray Brown’s magisterial ‘The Birth and Death of the Messiah’.  It is not.  It is not a narrative telling of the events of Jesus’ last week.  It is not a narrative telling at all.  Rather, it is an encyclopedia of the seventy-two named and titled persons Jesus encountered in the last days of his life; the 17 places Jesus visited; the timeline of his last days; the twenty-four events of his last days, and the 5 major theological themes of those last days.

To state it another way, the volume is comprised of 5 major sections:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Timelines
  4. Events
  5. Significance

It includes copious notes (indeed, the endnotes stretch from page 399 to page 578!); a very, very impressive up to date bibliography (pp. 579-628); and indices of authors, subjects, Scripture references, and an index of other ancient texts.

The work also includes a foreword by Craig Evans, a series of tables, figures, excursuses, a list of abbreviations, and an introduction.

Users of the work will find it best to utilize as an encyclopedia.  So, for instance, if one is interested in Lazarus one need simply find him on the listing of persons at number 14.  Then one need only find listing 14 in part one of the book and one has at hand a description of the places in scripture where Lazarus is mentioned (only in John) along with a very useful discussion of the form of the name in Greek and Hebrew and its meaning.  Then follows a thorough discussion of the figure.  This is the pattern followed for each of the seventy two named souls in the Gospels which play a part in Jesus’ last days.

The places Jesus visited too are treated quite thoroughly and the timeline of his last days is meticulously examined, down to the very dates of the events.  And even, in an excursus, down to the hour of Jesus death.

When we turn to the events featured in the Gospels connected to Jesus’ last days, we learn details about such things as the anointing at Bethany, the Scheme to Eliminate Jesus, and in an excursus, the cursing of the fig tree, along with the Passover meal, the arrest of Jesus, and his various trials.  In meticulous (Germanic) detail.

The final segment of the book is what I have styled the theologically significant events of the last days of Jesus.  These are, in more detail,

  • Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews
  • Jesus and the Temple
  • Jesus’ Death
  • Jesus’ Resurrection
  • Jesus’ Mission and the Mission of his Followers

This is a fantastically useful resource.  Readers, again, may not find it the kind of book that they would sit down and read through.  But they will certainly enjoy doing so if they so choose.  However, they might find it more useful and more engaging if they utilize it to look up specific details about the various persons and places described in the Gospels.  That is how I will continue to use it in the future.  Indeed, I can easily imagine that I will be making constant use of it.

I could not recommend it more highly as a brilliant research tool.