Category Archives: Books

Jeremiah in History and Tradition

Very thankful for the brilliant scholars who wrote essays for this volume.  A finer assemblage of honest and intelligent academics from a variety of perspectives and locales cannot be found.  And very thankful for my co-editor NPL.  A man whose scholarship is literally second to none.

Also thankful for the series editors, Manu Pfoh and Ingrid Hjelm.  The perfect colleagues for such a project.

And, finally, very grateful for the brilliant staff at Routledge.  Pick up a copy when it’s out (in August).

Coming Soon


New by Ulrich Luz


Old Testament Ethics: A Guided Tour

Ethics is not merely about tricky situations or hot topics. Instead, ethics asks questions about what sort of people we are, how we think, what sort of things we do and don’t do, and how we ought to live our everyday lives.

How might we learn ethics from the Old Testament? Instead of searching for support for our positions or pointing out problems with certain passages, trusted guide John Goldingay urges us to let the Old Testament itself set the agenda. In this volume, readers will encounter what the Old Testament teaches about relationships, work, Sabbath, character, and more.

Featuring Goldingay’s own translation and discussion questions for group use, Old Testament Ethics: A Guided Tour is a resource for ethics like no other. Topically organized with short, stand-alone chapters, this book is one to keep close at hand.

Goldingay’s book is brilliant.  He treats the subject at hand from the point of view of

  1. Qualities
  2. Aspects of Life
  3. Relationships
  4. Texts
  5. People

In part one, godlikeness, compassion, honor, anger, trust, truthfulness, forthrightness, and contentment are treated.  Part two examines mind and heart, wealth, violence, shalom, justice, reparation, Sabbath, animals, and work are discussed.

Part three is perhaps the most ‘controversial’ section since it is here that the topic of marriage (and who should and should not be married) is broached.  Goldingay also turns his attention to friends, neighbors, women, good husbands and wives, people you can’t have sex with, people who can’t undertake a regular marriage, parents and children, nations, migrants, cities, and leaders.

Part four is a bit different than the preceding three sections.  Instead of dealing with topics, it deals with texts: Gen 1, Gen 2, Lev 25, Deut 15, Deut 20, Ruth, Ps 72 and The Song of Songs and those texts’ relationship to ethical issues like families and authority and sex.

The final section, part five focuses on people: Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Joseph, Shiphrah, Puah, Yokebed and Miryam, David, Nehemiah, and finally the trio of Vashti, Esther and Mordecai, and how their stories contribute to our ethical education.

A conclusion wraps up the volume proper but Goldingay then follows it with a postscript on the Canaanites and genocide.  A subject index and a scripture index are also included.

There are plenty of things that this book does well.  It’s language is homey and accessible.  It offers, at the end of each chapter, a series of discussion questions.  And it is packed full of Scriptural references.  Goldingay is a scholar whose reputation for lucidity and clarity is on full display here.  His treatment of thorny issues is unblinking and when he discusses issues that matter he is unafraid of direct speech.

When, for instance, he discusses in chapter 8 the ethic of contentment, he begins by forcefully asserting that

The genius of Ecclesiastes is to look at all the concerns on which human beings focus and to point out that none of the ultimately gets us anywhere.

Goldingay also shares personal stories from his own life.  So, for example, when he discusses friends in chapter 18 he opens up his life to his readers by describing the important role his friends played when he decided to leave England for California.

His discussion of women includes a discussion of women in ministry.  His discussion of marriage includes a discussion of same sex marriage.  His examination of marriage is egalitarian in focus.  And his discussion of nations, in chapter 26, includes this sentence:

It’s quite reasonable for a nation to establish borders, as it’s quite reasonable for a family to have a home.  But a home is then the place into which the family welcomes other people and offers them hospitality, and a nation’s territory is not by nature a basis for exclusion but a basis for inclusion.  Which leads into a consideration of the place of aliens in a country.

Goldingay then cites Gen 23:2-4 and Ex 2:21-22.

This is a spectacularly learned volume and spectacularly readable nonetheless.  But one thing more needs to be said: in the preface, Goldingay offers readers who may be a bit more conservative alternative treatments of OT ethics and he does the same with those who may be a bit more liberal in their inclinations.  In other words, Goldingay tells you who you may wish to read, besides himself, on the topic which the book addresses.  And that isn’t very common.

Goldingay wants his readers to learn what the OT says about ethical issues and he wants his readers to do so even if that means pointing them somewhere else.

That’s scholarship.  This volume is utterly praiseworthy.  Read it.  And if you don’t like it, you can read his recommendations!

Wittenberg und die frühe Reformation

The anniversary of the Reformation directs our attention not only to Martin Luther as a person, university professor, theologian and preacher, but also to the conditions which made his impact possible, as well as the milieu in which he was acting. For exploring these topics the beginnings of the Reformation and the locale in which they took place, Wittenberg, are of particular interest. 

The essays collected in this volume are dedicated to the context, the conditions in which these historical factors developed, as well as the impulses that were set in motion by the early Reformation and their – long-term – impact. The overarching political and theological conditions, and the associated aspects in popular piety and media, are discussed alongside life in the town and at the university of Wittenberg as a microcosmos of the early Reformation.

A copy for review has been sent along by the publisher.  More later.

Proper Library Rules

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

Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition

In Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, Roland Boer presents key moments in the 2,000 year tradition of Christian communism. Defined by the two features of alternative communal practice and occasional revolutionary action, Christian communism is predicated on profound criticism of the way of the world. The book begins with Karl Kautsky – the leading thinker of second-generation Marxism – and his oft-ignored identification of this tradition. From there, it offers a series of case studies that deal with European instances, the Russian Revolution, and to East Asia. Here we find the emergence of Christian communism not only in China, but also in North Korea. This book will be a vital resource for scholars and students of religion and the many aspects of socialist tradition.

This is a tremendously informative work.  And it is as wide ranging as it is ideological.  From Kautsky to the early Church to Paul to Luther Blissett’s wonderful novel ‘Q’ (about the anabaptist lunacy of the 16th century) to Calvin to Luther, and Marx and Engels, to Bruno Bauer and on to Christians and Bolsheviks to communism in China and Korea.  And lots in between.  Each chapter is its own focus and they are not interlinked in any way but as a chronological/ geographical storyline.

What readers encounter here is a round-robin on Christianity and Communism.  Boer is a wonderful writer and his phrases are expressive and his connection to the subject matter oozes out of every line.  Boer loves his Communism, and one gets the impression that he wants readers to love it too.

But Boer is very explicit in naming his Communism as Christian communism, and that is the real goal of this work.  I.e., to show that communism and Christianity are not at all incompatible.  Whether Boer proves his case is something each reader of the work will need to decide for her or himself.

He writes, for example, in his chapter on the novel ‘Q’-

I have argued that Q offers a comprehensive recovery of the radical, revolutionary dimensions of the Reformation, especially for a range of Left wing movements today. It is indebted to the Marxist tradition of identifying the revolutionary strain of Christian thought and practice, whether in terms of early Christianity, Thomas Müntzer and the Peasants, or the Anabaptists at Münster.

Boer, it seems, sees radicalism as the roots of everything interesting in the world.   Further on Boer makes a rather odd remark:

Müntzer, Münster and the Anabaptists were not the only manifestations of radical theology and politics during the European sixteenth century. In this chapter and the next, I turn my attention to the ‘magisterial’ Reformation – although Müntzer too was called Magister Thomas…

Does Boer think that ‘magisterial’ means that the Reformations so named are led by ‘Masters’ (Magister) (i.e., people who held advanced degrees)?  Because it doesn’t.  ‘Magisterial Reformation’ refers to the fact that the cities of Wittenberg, Zurich and Geneva lent political support to the reforms initiated by the Reformers.  The Reformers were joined in reform by the Magistrates.  Hence the ‘Magisterial Reformers’.  Or perhaps Boer is simply trying to make a point that escapes me.  I do find it odd that he appears to misunderstand the term.

Calvin too, it turns out, has communistic sympathies which he can scarcely control.  As Boer opines

Time and again Calvin espies the radical possibilities of the Bible and theology, only to try to contain it within his own carefully constructed boundaries, from where it breaks out once again.

Moving forward, Boer focuses on issues of decreasing interest to me personally.  Marx, Engels, their reading of Luther, etc.  Nevertheless, I did find Boer’s descriptions incredibly interesting, even if he appears to misunderstand Luther- doubtless because he reads him anachronistically through the lens of is self professed Christian Communism.

Indeed, the chief takeaway of Boer’s engaging work is that, like Karl Barth’s 1919 commentary on Romans, the reader learns much more about Boer (and Barth) than one learns about their historical object.  Boer’s book is self revelatory.  And for that reason alone it’s worth reading.

In this volume’s pages one learns a great deal about how a modern reader of texts reads texts through a particular prism and the overwhelming power of presupposition.  The present work is an excellent introduction to Roland Boer’s vision of Christian Communism.

Enjoy it.

La Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament: Dominique Barthélemy

This recent volume, edited by Adrian Schenker, Clemens Locher, and H. G. M. Williamson will be of interest to all text critics:

La Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament de Dominique Barthélemy est le commentaire textuel le plus développé de la Bible hébraïque qui existe aujourd’hui. Il offre aussi l’histoire de l’exégèse ancienne et moderne de très nombreux passages difficiles. Cette œuvre monumentale fut réalisée entre 1969 et 2015. Elle est à la fois le fruit d’un travail collectif, du Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, et d’un auteur individuel, Dominique Barthélemy, décédé pendant le travail. La publication posthume de la rédaction inachevée fut toute une aventure. Ce Cahier de la Revue biblique retrace l’histoire de ce grand projet et situe celui-ci dans la perspective des recherches actuelles sur le texte de la Bible hébraïque.

See the link for the table of contents.

#ICYMI – Bible And Interpretation: James Barr’s Collected Essays – The Book(s) of the Week

Originally posted in May, 2015.

John Barton’s work on these three volumes is a tour de force in academic publishing. First, because the collection is so expansive. And second, because Barton’s editorial hand never quivers or shakes or deviates from the task- which is to make available those rare creatures of biblical scholarship- interesting essays and reviews- which flowed Mozartesque from Barr’s pen.

I’ve been reading a number of the essays and as the weeks go by I’ll have ample occasion to cite them.  They are as amazing as I expected them to be.

I have a long-abiding interest in and fascination with the work of Barr for a very personal reason: I am his academic Grandson.  My teachers in grad school, the illustrious John I. Durham and the equally illustrious Samuel Balentine were both students of Barr at Oxford.

Furthermore, I had the honor of meeting Prof. Barr and chatting a bit at SBL a couple of times before his very untimely death.  I also spent time with his very, very lovely wife when the SBL (both nationally and in the Southeast Region) honored Professor Barr with special sessions and she was in attendance.

I’ve also had the great privilege of being a colleague of John Barton in the Society for Old Testament Study and it was at one of those meetings during the middle of a very fruitful discussion that Prof. Barton first mentioned his work on the collection and my nerdy heart skipped a beat in anticipatory excitement.

Now that James Barr’s collected essays are available and readers can access much more than the few books they can round up in the used book stalls, I think that a new generation of budding biblical scholars will learn how scholarship really works and how supposition and fad methodologies simply will not abide the test of time, or use.

[I realize that the 3 volumes are costly.  I realize that as a consequence many private scholars and few students will be able to have them in their personal libraries.  It is precisely for that reason that research libraries ought to be urged by biblical scholars and theologians to add these volumes to their collections.  It is imperative that students and faculty have access to this work.  Accordingly, in the strongest possible terms, I advise libraries to get a copy.  And if the parents, friends, families, and total strangers wish to pitch in and buy you something- get them to pitch in to buy this.  You will not regret 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.

More Than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe

This volume contains the plenary papers and a selection of shortpapers from the Seventh Annual RefoRC conference, which was held May 10–12th 2017 in Wittenberg. The contributions concentrate on the effects of Luther´s new theology and draw the lines from Luther´s contemporaries into the early seventeenth century. Developments in art, catholic responses and Calvinistic reception are only some of the topics. The volume reflects the interdisciplinarity and interconfessionality that characterizes present research on the 16th century reformations and underlines the fact that this research has not come to a conclusion in 2017. The papers in this conference volume point to lacunae and will certainly stimulate further research.

Contributors: Wim François, Antonio Gerace, Siegrid Westphal, Edit Szegedi, Maria Lucia Weigel, Graeme Chatfield, Jane Schatkin Hettrick, Marta Quatrale, Aurelio A. García, Jeannette Kreijkes, Csilla Gábor, Gábor Ittzés, Balázs Dávid Magyar, Tomoji Odori, Gregory Soderberg, Herman A. Speelman, Izabela Winiarska-Górska, Erik A. de Boer, Donald Sinnema, Dolf te Velde.

The editors describe the volume as follows:

The Seventh Annnual RefoRC conference, which was held May 10–12th 2017 in Wittenberg, focused on the topic More than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe. Close to ninety papers on this topic were presented and a selection of these is presented in this volume. Yet this selection reflects the broadness of the conference as well as the interdisciplinarity and interconfessionality that characterizes the Reformation Research Consortium. The conference underlined, once again, the fact that research on the reformations of the sixteenth century has not come to a conclusion in 2017. Quite the contrary, the 500th anniversary of Luther′s decisive action has demonstrated how wide a field of research is still open. The papers in this conference volume point to lacunae and will certainly stimulate further research.

The link above allows access to the table of contents, which do read.  As described above, the collection here published is comprised of papers presented at a conference concerning the Reformation and its intention was to examine the varieties of reformations which sprang up in the 16th century.  These papers do a very good job of precisely that, and their breadth and scope is the great strength of the volume.  So, for instance, in a discussion of the Reformation and marriage we read

It is one of the recognised core statements arising from the historical research done on the Reformation, that the Reformation had a lasting influence on gender relationship (cf. Westphal: 2016; Conrad: 2016). The topic of marriage is a particular focus of interest in this case because it is assumed that the structure it took was altered or renewed completely. Although a clearly defined doctrine on marriage is not actually being spoken about in this case, yet there are – according to the common consensus – topics in relation to numerous individual aspects in reaction to concrete problem areas that have been broached.

And at the conclusion of a very engaging discussion of Calvinism and the rise of pluralism in Europe, which focused especially on the Huguenots, we find these lines:

From 1559 on, the Huguenots began more and more consciously to distance themselves from the ecclesiastical unity in France. Such a situation, in which a church established itself without the involvement of the government, was entirely unique, so that the Huguenots had achieved a point of no return. The familiar, age-old notion of a European Christendom guided by the church, whose pastoral care and rituals structured and disciplined the whole life, as well as the notion of the corpus christianum – all of this was more or less changed in Reformation times, although it had already begun in the time leading up to that.

And of Dort-

The Synod of Dordt, which met for six and a half months from mid-November 1618 to the end of May 1619, was convened primarily to settle the Arminian controversy that had agitated the Netherlands for about twenty years. The synod also considered other discipline cases and made decisions on a variety of other ecclesiastical matters.

After which the author goes into deep detail about the topic.

Each essay contains a very fine bibliography and each is festooned with footnotes pointing to both primary and secondary sources.

This conference volume is very useful and will expand the knowledge of all who read it.

Dualismus, Dämonologie und diabolische Figuren

Published in German.  Dualistic worldviews and demonic or devilish figures make frequent and varied appearances in both early Jewish and early Christian texts. By setting out the background and charting the development of these notions in Second Temple Judaism, this volume explains New Testament traditions within early Jewish contexts, focusing on issues of the origins of evil and its eschatological removal, the role of eschatological opponents and the function of demons. Textually, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Second Temple texts are highlighted alongside the Jesus tradition. Four concluding contributions reflect the place of demonological ideas in present theological thought and problems of handling them in church practice.
Sounds fun!  The link above also directs readers to the TOC and a reading sample.

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

Reminder: Barth and Romans- The Conference at the University of Geneva

The program of the international conference on the Römerbrief of Karl #Barth at the Faculty of theology of @UNIGEnews in #Geneva June 5-7, 2019, is now online!

Conference details here. Via Andreas Dettwiler.

A few month after the Great War, in 1919, a young unknown pastor published a commentary on the epistle to the Romans that would become one of the great theological works of the 20th century. In opposition to the liberal and conservative theology of his time, Karl Barth offered a new reading of the central Pauline text in which God reveals Godself as wholly Other.

A century later, what should we make of this text, rooted as it is in the post-World War I period and its social and theological conflicts? Bringing together experts in the field and young researchers from different continents, the international und multidisciplinary conference organized by the Faculty of Theology of the University of Geneva June 5-7 2019 invites both retrospective and prospective responses to this question.



Public lectures

  • Beverly Gaventa (Baylor University, USA)
  • Jean-Luc Marion (Académie française and University of Chicago)

Conference papers

  • Hans-Christoph Askani (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • John Barclay (Durham University, UK)
  • Benoît Bourgine (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium)
  • Philippe Büttgen (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France)
  • J. Kameron Carter (Duke Divinity School, USA)
  • Christophe Chalamet (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • François Dermange (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Andreas Dettwiler (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Mark W. Elliott (University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK)
  • Anthony Feneuil (University of Lorraine, France)
  • Michaël Foessel (École polytechnique, France)
  • Pierre Gisel (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Matthias Gockel (University of Basel, CH)
  • Emmanuel Gougaud (Service national pour l’unité des chrétiens, France)
  • Jean Grondin (University of Montréal, Canada)
  • Elio Jaillet (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Cambria Kaltwasser (Northwestern College, USA)
  • Declan Kelly (University of Aberdeen, UK)
  • Pierre Manent (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France)
  • Amy Marga (Luther Seminary, USA)
  • Bruce McCormack (Princeton Theological Seminary, USA)
  • Andrew J. Peterson (Princeton Theological Seminary, USA)
  • Shannon Nicole Smythe (Seattle Pacific University, USA)
  • Sarah Stewart-Kroeker (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Michael J. Thate (Princeton University, USA)
  • Günter Thomas (University of Bochum, Germany)
  • Brandon Watson (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
  • Claudia Welz (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Matthias Wüthrich (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Matthias Zeindler (University of Bern, Switzerland)
  • Luke Zerra (Princeton Theological Seminary, USA)
  • Philip Ziegler (University of Aberdeen, UK)
  • Peter Zocher (University of Basel, Switzerland)

Organizing CommitteeFrançois DermangeAndreas DettwilerElisabeth Parmentier and Sarah Stewart-Kroeker

Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest

Pál Ács discusses various aspects of the cultural and literary history of Hungary during the hundred years that followed the Battle of Mohács (1526) and the onset of the Reformation. The author focuses on the special Ottoman context of the Hungarian Reformation movements including the Protestant and Catholic Reformation and the spiritual reform of Erasmian intellectuals. The author argues that the Ottoman presence in Hungary could mean the co-existence of Ottoman bureaucrats and soldiers with the indigenous population. He explores the culture of occupied areas, the fascinating ways Christians came to terms with Muslim authorities, and the co-existence of Muslims and Christians. Ács treats not only the culture of the Reformation in an Ottoman context but also vice versa the Ottomans in a Protestant framework. As the studies show, the culture of the early modern Hungarian Reformation is extremely manifold and multi-layered. Historical documents such as theological, political and literary works and pieces of art formed an interpretive, unified whole in the self-representation of the era. Two interlinked and unifying ideas define this diversity: on the one hand the idea of European-ness, i. e. the idea of strong ties to a Christian Europe, and on the other the concept of Reformation itself. Despite its constant ideological fragmentation, the Reformation sought universalism in all its branches. As Pál Ács shows, it was re-formatio in the original sense of the word, i. e. restoration, an attempt to restore a bygone perfection imagined to be ideal.

My review will appear in due course.

Word of God, Words of Men

The book presents many aspects of the phenomenon of translation and commentary work of the Bible in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains studies of eminent scholars as well as of some young adepts, coming mainly from Poland, but also from Lithuania and Czech Republic. The texts present various aspects of the researches conducted on this phenomenon nowadays. As it was an exceptional movement, extremely varied and long-time lasting, it would be difficult to offer its complete synthesis in one volume. Though, the exhaustive presentation of the historical and linguistic contexts allows the reader to understand the phenomenon. Intensified interest in translations of the Bible is closely connected with the interest in the Polish language, its literary expression as well as its grammatical and orthographic standardisation that occurred just in the same time. The intellectual activity related to the Bible contributed simultaneously to the development of the Polish literary language and even inspired the translations of the sacred texts of other religions present in the country. Moreover, contacts between different languages of Central and Eastern European area, where many attempts of new translations appeared, are very important. A quick rise of the different Reformation movements contributed to a »natural« need for new translations and commentaries to be used by community members. These new currents, first easily accepted and spread in the country, even when suppressed, could not stop this activity, and later new Catholic translations and commentaries of the post-Trident period, both in Polish and Lithuanian, proved it. Big part of study is also dedicated to particular typographical realizations of this activity and an interesting example of the musical expression directly inspired by the biblical translation, is also provided.

A review copy has arrived.  More later.

A Companion to Heresy Inquisitions

Inquisitions of heresy have long fascinated both specialists and non-specialists. A Companion to Heresy Inquisitions presents a synthesis of the immense amount of scholarship generated about these institutions in recent years. The volume offers an overview of many of the most significant areas of heresy inquisitions, both medieval and early Modern. The essays in this collection are intended to introduce the reader to disagreements and advances in the field, as well as providing a navigational aid to the wide variety of recent discoveries and controversies in studies of heresy inquisitions.

I must read this. And thanks to the Publisher, I’ve been provided a copy to review.  More anon.

Illustrated Wall Maps of the Bible

Hendrickson distributes here in the States the amazingly useful and carefully produced Carta edition of bible maps described below:

Carta’s Illustrated Wall Maps of the Bible is a package of 12 beautiful maps ideal for classrooms. 40″ x 28″ unfolded and covering the entire Bible epoch, these Bible maps are specially designed as a teacher’s aid and can be used in conjunction with our Atlas of the Bible, a handy reference index and chronological book (8.5″ x 11). One copy is included in the boxed set, but is also available separately. Carta’s large Illustrated Maps of the Bible are made for use in schools, Sunday schools, Bible classes, Bible Colleges or seminaries.

It comes in a sturdy box and the maps included are made of heavy glossy paper (much thicker, for example, than the road map in your car’s glovebox*) and includes maps and city plans.  They are quite large sheets at 40 x 28 and are ideal for classroom work, whether the classroom be at a college, seminary, Church, or house church Bible study.

Maps and charts are so utterly indispensable when it comes to illuminating biblical places.  Describing the region of the Galilee is one thing but showing a map of it is quite another.  These maps are ideal.

Here’s a couple of photos of me holding a couple of them so you get a sense of their size:

And the set also includes a book which lists the contents and provides a geographical index so if you are looking for a particular location you simply look it up by name and the map number and grid location is provided.

If you are lacking a set of maps for instructional purposes I would recommend this particular edition.  It’s really quite helpful.  I will make use of it, a lot.

*For the millennials, a road map is something printed on paper which drivers used to carry around in their cars before the invention of phones with maps on them and gps directions.

#ICYMI – A Discourse Analysis of Ruth. A Review of a Book I Dislike Immensely

9780310282983_455_600_90Zondervan Academic have sent along this for a looksee-

The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament serves pastors and teachers by providing them with a careful analysis and interpretation of the biblical text, rooted in a study of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and intended to track the flow of the argument in each book and passage.

The layout of the commentary isn’t the standard fare.  Instead, each pericope is titled, it’s ‘scenes’ are subdivided, the main idea of the passage is offered, the literary context is described, the structure and literary form are shown, extensive flow charts of the sentences and phrases are displayed (think sentence diagram charts), and then, finally, the text is ‘explained’.  Useful informational boxes and sidebars along with charts and graphs festoon the work, some of them resembling computer scroll boxes (I know not why).

After the text is treated, our author generates what he describes as ‘A Dramatic Reading of the Book of Ruth’.  This snippet includes a suggested stage arrangement along with the script of a play with various narrators and actors.  The work concludes with a Scripture Index, a subject Index, and an author Index.

I dislike the volume immensely.  I dislike its girth.  It attempts too much and delivers too little.  It rambles on and on endlessly in such a way that one feels as though one has visited Grandma and she’s talked about 15 disparate topics in an hour and you still have no idea what the point of it all was.  The Book of Ruth is tiny.  It shouldn’t take anyone 200 pages to explain it to modern readers of the Bible.

It’s too busy.  It’s too crowded.  The graphs and their little tiny arrows virtually gouge into the reader’s eyes and by the time a single chapter of the volume has been worked through the reader will be begging those little tiny arrows to bolt from the page and plunge themselves into and through one’s own eyes so that the misery of experiencing the volume is terminated.

There are so many excellent commentaries on Ruth.  Go buy one of them.  This isn’t one.  It isn’t even worth borrowing from the library.  it is infuriating and annoying and spite producing.  I literally hated it like I’ve not hated a book in a very long time.

Avoid this book like the plague it is.