Category Archives: Books


Truthy truth- whether it’s their own library or their constant use of the one down the street.  Readers are smarter, better informed, better citizens, better more well rounded people.

Bob Cornwall’s Review of our Martin Bucer

Thanks, Bob.  He concludes

Martin Bucer might not be the best-known Reformer but he was surely an important figure whose influence was widely felt. He influenced John Calvin and Thomas Cranmer. He wrote confessions of faith designed to demonstrate to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V that the Reformed position was not heretical. He sought to provide the foundation for unity across the Reformation position. Having this brief Cascade Companion helps bring to light the importance of Martin Bucer’s contribution to the Reformation. We can be appreciative to Donald McKim and Jim West for bringing to light Bucer’s life and theology in their Martin Bucer: An Introduction to His Life and Theology. Their work in this Cascade Companion brings to our attention this often-neglected Reformer and gives us the incentive to learn more about Martin Bucer’s life and work. The brevity of the book, of course, leaves us wanting to learn more. That is to be expected and desired. 

Bob has grasped quite well the aim and purpose of the book.  Leaving people wanting more… that is the aim of every good book.

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

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 Rephaim: Sons of the Gods

In The Rephaim: Sons of the Gods, Jonathan Yogev provides a new theory regarding the mysterious characters, known as “Rephaim,” in Biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature. The Rephaim are associated with concepts such as death and the afterlife, divinity, healing, giants and monarchy among others. They appear in Ugaritic, Phoenician and Biblical texts, yet it is difficult to pinpoint their exact function and meaning. This study offers a different perspective, along with full texts, detailed epigraphic analysis and commentary for all of the texts that mention the Rephaim, in order to determine their specific importance in societies of the ancient Levant.

It came out a couple of years ago but I don’t recall hearing about it until today.  The publisher has sent along a review copy.  More anon.

The Book of Ruth

“Do not urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people are my people, and your God is my God.”

In this pivotal verse, Ruth’s self-sacrificial declaration of loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi forms the relationship at the heart of the book of Ruth. Peter H. W. Lau’s new translation and commentary explores the human and divine love at the center of the narrative as well as the book’s relevance to Christian theology.

In the latest entry in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Lau upholds the series’ standard of quality. The Book of Ruth includes detailed notes on the translation and pays careful attention to the original Hebrew and the book’s historical context, all the while remaining focused on Ruth’s relevance to Christian readers today. An indispensable resource for pastors, scholars, students, and all readers of Scripture, Lau’s commentary is the perfect companion to one of the most beloved books of the Old Testament.

Table of Contents

Structure and Message
Authorship and Date
The Hebrew Text
Theological Messages
Ruth and the New Testament
Text and Commentary
Act 1: Death and Emptiness (1:1–22)
Act 2: Seeking Short-Term Security (2:1–23)
Act 3: Seeking Permanent Security (3:1–18)
Act 4: Redemption and Fullness (4:1–22)

A review copy has arrived today.  More anon.

Luke the Chronicler: The Narrative Arc of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles in Luke-Acts

Coming in May, a volume sure to be of interest to many New Testament scholars.

This book proposes a fresh understanding of the literary composition of Luke-Acts. Picking up on the ancient practice of literary mimesis, the author argues that Luke’s two-part narrative is subtly but significantly modeled on the two-part narrative found in the books of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles. Specifically, Luke’s gospel presents Jesus as the promised, ultimate Davidide, while the Book of Acts presents the disciples of Jesus as the heirs of the kingdom of David. In addition to the proposal concerning the composition of Luke-Acts, the book offers compelling insights on the genre of Luke-Acts and the purpose of Acts.

And Now For Something Completely Different: A Half of a Carnival

This month I thought for the fun of it I’d do a half carnival.  I.e.,  offers readers the more interesting posts from across the globe as posted in the biblioblog universe for just the first half of the month.  Enjoy!

Hebrew Bible

Claims concerning a little ‘artifact’ inscribed with the name of Darius burst on the scene at the beginning of March with even the IAA itself declaring the little snippet of text ‘authentic’.  Some were rightly sceptical, as the fun little trinket was found on the surface and not in a controlled dig.  Others wanted to see for themselves before accepting the IAA’s verdict.  But at the end, it turns out that the thing was a modern piece of classroom instructional material completely invented by a Prof who put it on the ground and forgot to pick it up again.  Boy does the IAA have egg on its face now.  Perhaps going forward they will be a little more careful about vaunting unprovenanced materials.  Though to be fair with all the fakes discovered in recent years you’d think they’d know better by now.  Alas…

Much more edifying and scholarly is Sidnie Crawford White’s brilliant essay titled ‘My Journey With the Dead Sea Scrolls’.  Give it a read.  Turns out the Scrolls are cheap when it comes to paying for travel and lodging and food.  Sidnie had to pay for everything!  If she were Gen-Z she would set up a go fund me but she’s not so she’s a decent human being.

Anthony Ferguson also shared some thoughts on the Scrolls: i.e., the evolution of Tov’s understanding of them.  It’s pretty interesting.

Mark Leuchter did a really interesting (34 part) twitter thread on the now constantly recurring debate about David’s rape of Bathsheba.  If you missed it, read it now.

Judges 19 is the focus for this post on ordination exams for Presbyterians by Jan Edmiston.  Honestly, any post that begins [This post will make some readers unhappy.] has to find a spot in any Carnival.

Who did Cain marry? Eva Mroczek offers some thoughts drawn from Jewish tradition. Enjoy!

Who are the Rephaim?  A riddle.  Jonathan Yogev gives solving said riddle a go.  He’s most likely correct.

Curious about Jonah?  Want to read Jim Gordon’s thoughts on the book?  Now’s your chance!  There’s nothing fishy.  (Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week.  Be sure to tip the wait staff).

Want to excavate in Israel at a very important archaeological site in the North?  Then Jezreel is the place to be.  All the details about volunteering are available here.  Or do you prefer to excavate where the Philistine’s roamed?  Well you’re in luck because you can do that too.  Find the info here.

New Testament

James Crossley talked about Jesus as product of class struggle in a piece about his new book on the subject (written with one Robert Myles.

If numismatics is your bag, you will be interested in this post regarding the portrayal of kneeling conquered folk depicted on Roman coins.  Really great info.  Eye opening, as it were.

A-J Levine discusses the story of the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel.  As she rightly notes, contra the usual reading of the text, In terms of the woman herself, what people fail to ask usually is what happens to her at the end?  Jesus never says, “I forgive you.”  It’s not about forgiveness, but she’s simply left saying you’re not condemned.

It’s nice to see a couple of publications by my old friend George Raymond Beasley-Murray pop up in March on Rob Bradshaw’s resources page.  Go download them now.  Everything George wrote was absolute gold.

Dan McClellan offers a tick tock mini lecture on the meaning of the word ‘Magdalene’.  My own forays into tick tocking focus more on my incredible dance moves and mashups of kids running over their dads on skateboards.  I guess Dan is putting the platform to better use.


March was Women’s History Month and DeGruyter celebrated by offering a raft of materials for free (till April 10)- so you still have time to get in on the free-ness-ness of it.

The ‘Gospel Coalition’ hawked a garbage book based on trash eisegesis by a chap named Josh Butler who, to be completely fair, knows less about biblical exposition than Joel Osteen.  The article in TGC and the book itself were obliterated by actual scholars.  One of the better obliterations appeared from the pen (keyboard I suppose is more accurate) of Amy Peeler.  Enjoy.  And always remember, TGC is theological garbage.

Scribes and Scripture by Peter Gurry and John Meade was reviewed by Peter Montoro.  Montoro remarks … a truly excellent book that will surely become a staple in churches and seminaries all over the English-speaking world.  High praise indeed for a book I haven’t read.  How important could it be, then, hmmm?

Lindsay Kennedy (an Aussie… so I apologize in advance for including his post) reviewed a book titled AN INTERTEXTUAL COMMENTARY TO THE PSALTER: JUXTAPOSITION AND ALLUSION IN BOOK I.  Intertexuality is something like reception history but it’s the reception of biblical texts within biblical texts.  Neat, huh.  It’s like Paul quoting Psalms or Psalms quoting Genesis, etc.  It’s all the rage among the Gen-Z kids.  (When they aren’t playing Fortnite that is).

Becoming Elijah‘ was nicely reviewed by Alan Brill (no relation to the German publishing consortium).  I think if I were to become any of the Prophets, it would be Elisha.  He’s the best.  Well, after Jeremiah.

Michael Bird talks about some books in his latest Books, Books, Books episode on the YouTube.  The only interesting one is the one by Nijay Gupta.  The rest look really uninspiring.  Church Fathers, toxic masculinity, universalism?  Ick.

Niels Peter Lemche’s excellent book ‘Back to Reason’ was nicely reviewed in RBL.  It genuinely is a super book and you ought to read it if you haven’t yet.

Nijay Gupta’s excellent little book was released on March 14. A few hours previously he tweeted

@NijayKGupta — Excited to see folks are ordering #TellHerStory @ivpacademic, official release is in about 8 hours (March 14, 2023). God blessed so many women to lead, teach, and do dangerous and difficult ministry, we need to listen to, learn from, and imitate them!

If you missed it I reviewed it here.

Miscellaneous Stuff

The SBL tweeted– Registration for the 2023 Global Virtual Meeting is open! The meeting will be online 27-31 March 2023.  Access the preliminary program book here.

The Catholic University of America is offering Summer courses in Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, or Syriac. And they are all online! All the details are available here.  This is an amazing opportunity!

Bible and Archaeology (an initiative of the University of Iowa) tweets

@biblearch- Sign up for free today at Bible & Archaeology: . We know it can be hard to stay up with the week’s news, so we’ve created a newsletter that recaps content from the Bible & Archaeology website and YouTube channel.

This will doubtless be of interest to many.

The most exciting bit of news to come out in March was the announcement that the famous and the infamous NT Wrong will come out of retirement to host a biblioblog Carnival on April 1, after seven years of silence!  It will appear here.

And finally, if you’d like to keep up with the tweetings of most of the biblical scholars who tweet, you can follow this list.  If you know of others please drop me a note and I will add them.  Email



I hope you’ve enjoyed this half carnival.  The official carnival will appear on April 1, again, hosted by NT Wrong!  I’m very excited.  Maybe he/she/they will finally unveil the mystery of their identity!

Irony in the Bible: Between Subversion and Innovation

It is generally agreed that there is significant irony in the Bible. However, to date no work has been published in biblical scholarship that on the one hand includes interpretations of both Hebrew Bible and New Testament writings under the perspective of irony, and on the other hand offers a panorama of the approaches to the different types and functions of irony in biblical texts.

The following volume: (1) reevaluates scholarly definitions of irony and the use of the term in biblical research; (2) builds on existing methods of interpretation of ironic texts; (3) offers judicious analyses of methodological approaches to irony in the Bible; and (4) develops fresh insights into biblical passages.

Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith

Don McKim has written a volume that you’ll be interested in reading.

Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) was a significant Reformed theologian whose importance continues to this day. In eighty-four brief devotional readings accompanied by Scripture, Donald McKim explores Bavinck’s thought in order to deepen readers’ understanding and faith.

The purpose and aim of this book is to help Christians grow in their faith.  It may seem a simple notion, but in our world there are fewer things more important that Christians becoming more Christian.  Indeed, I would suggest that the highest and holiest of all authorial tasks is to grow Christians, make disciples, and help believers believe and act.

Don remarks, regarding his aim here, that

I hope to explain what the theologian meant and combine this with comments about the importance of these thoughts for our Christian living today. I hope in this way to provide accessible devotional readings that can nourish the minds and the hearts of those who read them.

Does he achieve this aim?  Gloriously.  Allow me to illustrate:

  • Each devotion is headed by a relevant to the topic passage of Scripture
  • Then follows an ‘interactive’ explanation where Prof McKim provides readers with a ‘guided’ discussion of a point of Bavinck’s theology.  That is, Bavinck is cited, but the discussion surrounding those citations belongs to McKim.

Take, for example, part of devotional 4- ‘Certainty Flows from Faith‘:

Christian faith brings our conviction that God has acted in Jesus Christ to forgive our sin and give us eternal life. This is a certainty at the very core of our beings as Christian people. Bavinck said this faith is “a restoration of the right relationship between God and man, the return of the trust” a child places in its parent. “Certainty is included by its very nature” in human expressions of faith—even more so in faith that believes in Jesus Christ as God’s Son, our Savior. In faith, we believe the gospel promises of who Jesus is and what he has done to bring salvation. Faith also brings the certainty that by God’s grace, “we too share in these promises.”

I have placed in bold font the lines cited from Bavinck (the bold font is not present in the book) only to illustrate the fact that Bavinck’s theology serves as the springboard and platform from which McKim offers a fuller, richer, more substantial theological and devotional series of thoughts, knitting into a coherent whole the theology of Bavinck.

The section continues

This means, wrote Bavinck, that faith “does not attain certainty regarding itself through logical reasoning nor through constantly examining itself and reflecting on its own nature. . . . But certainty flows to us immediately and directly out of faith itself. Certainty is an essential characteristic of faith; it is inseparable from it and belongs to its nature.”

And then McKim opines

What a blessed joy! Our certainty in faith is not generated by us—by our thinking or our efforts. Instead, faith flows from  the promises of God, the gospel, which poses no conditions but only proclaims that everything has been accomplished. . . . All we have to do,” continued Bavinck, is “enter into that accomplished work and rest in it for eternity.

When materials like these are made available in an easy to read and glitteringly brilliant style of writing such that any and every Christian can benefit from them, you know that you have in hand an important tome.  And more than that, a genuinely useful one.

To be sure, Don is a friend and we have written two books together and are working on our third, so readers may imagine that I am being overly generous.  But, for better or worse, I don’t have the genetic material necessary to allow me to say something positive about a book, whether it be by friend or foe, unless it be true.  Friendship and enmity never befoul objectivity when it comes to my reaction to published works.  If this were a horrible book, I would say so.

But this is not a horrible book.  On the contrary, it is, as noted previously, an important and useful book.  You ought to read it.  The consequence will be personal Christian growth.  And although I probably don’t know you, I’m fairly confident in saying that you probably need to grow in faith.

Don’s book will help you do just that.

Tolle, lege!

Call For Contributions

The Carnival is coming to town on April 1.  If you see any great posts on the topics of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, books, miscellaneous stuff, or the like related to biblical studies, do let me know so I can include them.

Especially if they are from lesser known blogs.  So that they can be popular.  Like me.

Happy Birthday to the Bible Museum of Muenster!

Wir haben heute Geburtstag 🎈

Am 8.3.1979 wurde das Museum von Prof. Kurt Aland, Bischof Hermann Kunst und dem damaligen Bundespräsidenten Walter Scheel eröffnet. Zunächst war das Museum in der Georgskommende und seit 2006 an der Pferdegasse untergebracht.

Reading the Reformations: Theologies, Cultures and Beliefs in an Age of Change

In the last thirty years, understandings of the European reformations have been transformed. A generation of scholars has demonstrated how radically wide-ranging these movements were. Across family life, politics, material culture and philosophy, the reformations are now at the very heart of our understanding not just of early modern Europe, but of religion and identity in general.

This volume collects recent work from past and present members of the European Reformation Research Group, exploring key fronts in contemporary Reformation Studies, achieving a broad view of how historiography has developed in recent decades – and where it seems set to go next.

I confess at the outset to being a little nonplussed by the virtual lack of attention given to Zwingli in the present volume.  He receives but two mentions, one on page 40 and the other on page 309.  Meanwhile Luther and Calvin are mentioned numerous times.  Indeed, Richard Baxter receives more notice than Zwingli.  Bucer is mentioned once, and Bullinger and Beza not at all.

How can one read the reformations without mentioning a number of the chief Reformers?  Especially when the book itself promises to treat ‘all sides’ of the Reformation?

Similarly, the reformations were, today by common consent, a set of processes and not a singular event: English and European, short and long, elite and popular. Chapters in this volume reflect on all sides of these – and other – coins…

If only…

The first mention of Zwingli was, of course, in reference to his disagreement with Luther about the Supper:

One of the most fiercely contested aspects of sacramental theology was the real presence. Underpinned by the doctrine of transubstantiation, Catholics taught that Christ was physically present in the bread and wine. Luther agreed that Christ was physically present, but denied transubstantiation, arguing that Christ could simultaneously occupy his place in heaven and be physically present in the elements. Zwingli opposed a literal understanding of the Real Presence, arguing that Christ’s presence was symbolic because He could not be in heaven and in the Eucharist concurrently. Calvin preferred to steer a middle path between Zwingli and Luther, agreeing that Christ’s physical body is in heaven; but this did not assume His absence from the Eucharistic elements, and Calvin instead concluded that there was a ‘spiritual real presence’ that comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Believe it or not, Zwingli talked about more than just the Supper.  I know it’s hard to see that when he’s only ever discussed in the context of his debate with Luther, but he had much wider concerns.

One lives in hope, though, that Zwingli will be taken seriously on his second and last appearance in the present volume.  Alas, hopes are meant to be dashed.  The second mention, in connection with the Long Reformation’s understanding of Scripture has a bit to say about Luther and then remarks

Zwingli was vituperative on the same point.

The source cited for this remark made in passing is a secondary source, not even going back to Zwingli’s works themselves.  It’s bad enough that Zwingli is virtually ignored in a volume about the Reformation; but he isn’t even cited in his own words.

Still, do I hate this book?  No, I actually liked it very much (aside from the intense annoyance at Zwingli being dismissed and treated dismissively).  Especially enjoyable were these essays:

  • Divine Kingship, Royal Supremacy, and Romans 13 (1526– 36), Steven M. Foster
  • Surviving a Public Obsession: Reading the Female Body in Post- Reformation Legislation and Medicine, Heather Cowan
  • Two Ways to Read the Bible in the (Very) Long Reformation, Alec Ryrie
  • Afterword: The European Reformation Research Group Looking Forward, Elizabeth Tingle

These four contributions dull the edge of rage at Zwingli’s dismissal.  They dull it.  But they don’t remove it.

When people write volumes or edit collections of essays whose subject is the Reformation, or Reformations (more properly) it is absolutely necessary to include in such works the Reformers.  And not just Luther.

Hebrew between Jews and Christians

Though typically associated more with Judaism than Christianity, the status and sacrality of Hebrew has nonetheless been engaged by both religious cultures in often strikingly similar ways. The language has furthermore played an important, if vexed, role in relations between the two. Hebrew between Jews and Christians closely examines this frequently overlooked aspect of Judaism and Christianity’s common heritage and mutual competition.

Visit this link for the contents.

A review copy arrived today.

A Retraction of an Endorsement of a Wretched Book

This seems odd to me.  When I’ve been asked to endorse books, I’ve had the whole manuscript.  And read it. To be sure, it normally isn’t the final edition, but I can’t imagine EVER endorsing a book that I haven’t read through.  Who would do such a thing anyway?

Apparently, Rich.

Rich Villodas – @richvillodas — My statement and retraction of my endorsement for Joshua Butler’s forthcoming book.

Butler wrote the Dreck that the ‘Gospel’ Coalition excerpted and got so much push back for. Here’s the retraction:

I guess the chief lesson here is- if you don’t read the whole book, don’t endorse it!

Fun Facts From Church History: The Publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and Zwingli

You may not know this, but Erasmus’ edition of the GNT appeared on the 2nd of March, 1516.  Zwingli made a copy, by hand of course, of the Letters of Paul that same year.  Interestingly, and significantly, those marginal notes demonstrate that Zwingli was moving towards reform then (in 1516) before anyone had ever heard the name of Luther.


The Dismembered Bible: Cutting and Pasting Scripture in Antiquity

It is often presumed that biblical redaction was invariably done using conventional scribal methods, meaning that when editors sought to modify or compile existing texts, they would do so in the process of rewriting them upon new scrolls. There is, however, substantial evidence pointing to an alternative scenario: Various sections of the Hebrew Bible appear to have been created through a process of material redaction. In some cases, ancient editors simply appended new sheets to existing scrolls. Other times, they literally cut and pasted their sources, carving out patches of text from multiple manuscripts and then gluing them together like a collage. Idan Dershowitz shows how this surprising technique left behind telltale traces in the biblical text – especially when the editors made mistakes – allowing us to reconstruct their modus operandi. Material evidence from the ancient Near East and elsewhere further supports his hypothesis.

Reviewed this one for the SOTS Book List.  It will suffice here, I think, to say that this book is imaginative and brilliant and if the Hebrew Bible is an interest of yours, you should read it.  It is finely written (to understate the facts) and lushly illustrated.

Go now and get a copy on interlibrary loan or from your University library.

Oscar Cullmann: Ein Leben für Theologie, Kirche und Ökumene

«Freund dreier Päpste» – so bezeichnete Karl Barth seinen langjährigen Kollegen in Basel, Oscar Cullmann (1902–1999). Der aus dem Elsass stammende ökumenische Theologe pflegte viele interkonfessionelle Kontakte, und das in einer Zeit, in der der Dialog zwischen den Konfessionen keine Selbstverständlichkeit war. Im Zentrum von Cullmanns wissenschaftlicher Arbeit stand die Auslegung des Neuen Testaments. Er betonte die Bedeutung von Jesus Christus für die Geschichte Gottes mit den Menschen: Kreuz und Auferstehung geben der Vergangenheit, der Gegenwart und der Zukunft ihren Sinn.

Matthieu Arnolds kurzweilige Biografie stellt Cullmanns theologisches Denken unter verschiedenen Aspekten dar und ordnet sie in dessen Werdegang und Leben ein. Ein ausführliches Porträt über eine der profiliertesten Gestalten des französischen Protestantismus und einen der führenden ökumenischen Theologen des 20. Jahrhunderts.