Category Archives: Books

The Disciples’ Prayer: The Prayer Jesus Taught in its Historical Setting

Jeffrey Gibson’s book came out in 2015.  I’ve now reviewed it (because it was just recently that I laid hands on it).-

Christians around the world recite the “Lord’s Prayer” daily, but what exactly are they praying for—and what relationship does it have with Jesus’ own context? Jeffrey B. Gibson reviews scholarship that derives the so-called Lord’s Prayer from Jewish synagogal prayers and refutes it. The genre of the prayer, he shows, is petitionary, and understanding its intent requires understanding Jesus’ purpose in calling disciples as witnesses against “this generation.” Jesus did not mean to teach a unique understanding of God; the prayer had its roots in first-century Jewish movements of protest.

In context, Gibson shows (pace Schweitzer, Lohmeyer, Davies, Allison, and a host of other scholars) that the prayer had little to do with “calling down” into the present realities of “the age to come.” Rather, it was meant to protect disciples from the temptations of their age and, thus, to strengthen their countercultural testimony. Gibson’s conclusions offer new insights into the historical Jesus and the movement he sought to establish.

My review has been sent along to Reading Religion, where it will appear shortly.

Three Stones Make a Wall

Eric Cline’s book arrived for review last month and I’m happy to say that it’s an excellent volume. My review will appear here in a few weeks.

Ancient Texts and Modern Readers: Studies in Ancient Hebrew Linguistics and Bible Translation

The chapters of this volume address a variety of topics that pertain to modern readers’ understanding of ancient texts, as well as tools or resources that can facilitate contemporary audiences’ interpretation of these ancient writings and their language. In this regard, they cover subjects related to the fields of ancient Hebrew linguistics and Bible translation. The chapters apply linguistic insights and theories to elucidate elements of ancient texts for modern readers, investigate how ancient texts help modern readers to interpret features in other ancient texts, and suggest ways in which translations can make the language and conceptual worlds of ancient texts more accessible to modern readers. In so doing, they present the results of original research, identify new lines and topics of inquiry, and make novel contributions to modern readers’ understanding of ancient texts.

Contributors are Alexander Andrason, Barry L. Bandstra, Reinier de Blois, Lénart J. de Regt, Gideon R. Kotzé, Geoffrey Khan, Christian S. Locatell, Kristopher Lyle, John A. Messarra, Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé, Jacobus A. Naudé, Daniel Rodriguez, Eep Talstra, Jeremy Thompson, Cornelius M. van den Heever, Herrie F. van Rooy, Gerrit J. van Steenbergen, Ernst Wendland, Tamar Zewi.

New From Mohr

Here

 

A Nice Review of Our Book, ‘From Zwingli to Amyraut’

Get your own copy here.  With many thanks to Hywel Clifford for passing it on.

If You Like Open Access Religious Studies Books…

And you’re on twitter, this will be of interest to you:

Son of God: Divine Sonship in Jewish and Christian Antiquity

In antiquity, “son of god”—meaning a ruler designated by the gods to carry out their will—was a title used by the Roman emperor Augustus and his successors as a way to reinforce their divinely appointed status. But this title was also used by early Christians to speak about Jesus, borrowing the idiom from Israelite and early Jewish discourses on monarchy. This interdisciplinary volume explores what it means to be God’s son(s) in ancient Jewish and early Christian literature.

New from Eisenbrauns and of potential interest to all of you.

A Political History of the Bible in America

A review copy of this important work arrived some time back.  I’ve completed the review and sent it along to Reading Religion for editorial exam and posting.  You will be able to find the review there when they post it.  Here, I will simply share my concluding paragraph:

This is a book whose message needs a fresh hearing today.  Desperately.  Our fractured and fragmented historical moment in the United States needs a fresh injection of a willingness to allow differences to exist without hostility or acrimony.  Hanson’s work, in sum, is more than simply relevant, it is critically important.

The Johannine Monograph Series

Paul Anderson is overseeing the publication of a series of books titled ‘The Johannine Monograph Series‘.  He’s arranged for me to take a look at three of the volumes in the series:

 

Naturally these being classics and well known among scholars and students (or at least they should be) my focus will be on the edition itself as it manifests in these sample volumes.  Are the forewords helpful?  Accurate?  Engaging?  Do they rightly introduce the work at hand?  do they aid in setting the volumes in their historical contexts?

I’ll let you know what I think pretty soon.  More anon.  And many thanks to Paul for inviting their review.

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.

The link above also directs readers to the TOC and a reading sample.  Accordingly, readers here are asked to visit that link in order to get an appreciation for the origin, aim, and contents of the work.

The four divisions of the work follow a chronological sequence of sorts, beginning with the historical and theological problems inherent in any dualistic system.  These two introductory essays are followed by 7 essays related to the subject of dualism in early Judaism (or in ‘ancient’ Judaism).  And these 7 essays are followed in the third major division by 5 essays related to demonic and diabolical figures in early Christianity.

The fourth major division (wrongly numbered as section VI- which means the typesetter simply reversed two Roman numerals) attempts to offer, in 3 essays, a few theological reflections on the topics of dualism and demonology.  Various indices conclude the volume.

The essays all began life as contributions to a conference on the Qumran texts in 2013.  That of Frey is a wonderful summary of the New Testament’s ‘reception’ of dualistic notions.  And Popkes’ a very engaging examination of the exorcist (and Jesus as such).

Beyerle, Tigchelaar, and Heilig offer helpful insights into aspects of dualism in Judaism in general and in the Dead Sea Scrolls in particular.  Becker’s work on the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and demonology is particularly interesting.  Meanwhile, Dochhorn and Collins focus our attention on Daniel.  In particular, they both offer perspectives on the ‘fall of Satan’, with Collins responding to Dochhorn’s interpretation of Dan 12.  Götte’s work serves as something of a bridge between the second and third divisions and is very well researched and presented.

Evans’ focus on the resurrection of Jesus, Grappe’s discussion of Jesus’ baptism and temptation, Hogeterp’s on the temptation narrative, Joas on Luke, and Balzer on the Apocryphon of John all move us forward in our understanding of these texts and their intricate connections with the communities from which they sprang.

Finally in section 4 (wrongly VI), we are treated to a discussion of Paul Tillich’s demonology (by Rosenau), a discussion of Protestant Dogmatics and demonology by David, and the significance of demonic power in dreams and their interpretation by Schult.

The sum and substance of this volume is the fascinating topic of demons and demonology and the dualism from which a system of thought which includes such beings must originate.  As such it is a wonderful collection of thought provoking papers sure to engage and stimulate even the most skeptical reader.  I recommend it as happily as I recommend ‘Lucifer’ with Tom Ellis on Fox Television.  And that particular series I recommend with great joy.

Indeed, my suspicion is that if another conference is organized which discusses such dark and dank and dreadful demonic creatures, then ‘Lucifer’ as pop-culture representation of the demonic surely must be included.

Until that happens, enjoy this volume.

Between the Swastika and the Sickle: The Life, Disappearance, and Execution of Ernst Lohmeyer

New Testament scholars are familiar with his name, but they probably aren’t familiar with his amazing story.  This biography looks like it corrects that situation.  In fact, it looks amazing.

Ernst Lohmeyer (1890-1946) was a stellar German New Testament scholar of the first half of the twentieth century whose work provided an intellectual counterpart to the prevailing liberalism and history of religions consensus among Biblical scholars of the day.

As a Breslau professor in the 1920s Lohmeyer published a half-dozen ground-breaking New Testament monographs, including commentaries on Philippians and Colossians, the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel of Mark, and twice that number of scholarly articles.

In the 1930s, however, his life, like so many in Germany, was commandeered by the rising tide of Nazism. A born leader, Lohmeyer was named president of Breslau University, during which time he joined the Confessing Church and opposed Nazism at its most evil point, its anti-Semitism. He was stripped of his university professorship and sent to the Russian Front in World War II.

Eerdmans have kindly sent a review copy.

Will and Greg’s Excellent Adventure… in Septuagint Vocabulary

Will and Greg have a new book coming out this Winter.  Put it on your Christmas list and tell Santa to pick up a copy.  Or you’ll stop believing in him.  That’s right.  Threaten Santa.

Der Synergistische Streit (1555–1564)

Im Jahr 1555 hielt der Leipziger Theologieprofessor Johann Pfeffinger eine Disputation über den freien Willen ab. In ihr betonte er, im Anschluss an die Lehre Philipp Melanchthons, dass der menschliche Wille eine Ursache bei der Rechtfertigung des Menschen sei. Diese Position wurde nach der erneuten Publikation dieser Disputation im Jahr 1558 in einem Sammelband, der alle Disputationen Pfeffingers vereinte, heftig bestritten.

Im Zentrum des Synergistischen Streits (1555/58−1564) stand die Frage nach der Möglichkeit eines freien menschlichen Willens und dessen Mitwirkung im Rechtfertigungsgeschehen. Insbesondere war strittig, ob der Mensch sich für den Empfang der göttlichen Gnade vorbereiten könne, oder ob er sich vollständig passiv gegenüber dem rechtfertigenden Handeln Gottes verhalte. Der Gefahr von Spaltungen innerhalb der Gemeinwesen durch die andauernden theologischen Streitigkeiten suchte insbesondere Herzog Johann Friedrich d.M. von Sachsen teils durch Vermittlungsbemühungen, teils auch durch Zwangsmaßnahmen entgegenzuwirken, sodass es schließlich zur Entlassung von Predigern im Herzogtum kam.

Im fünften Band der Edition „Controversia et Confessio“ sind für den Streit bedeutsame Texte von Johann Pfeffinger, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Victorin Strigel, Matthias Flacius, Nikolaus Gallus und anderen Theologen versammelt. Von besonderer Bedeutung ist die Präsentation des „Weimarer Konfutationsbuchs“ in diesem Zusammenhang.

The volume begins with a description of its aim, as part of a far larger project:

Der hier vorliegende fünfte Band des Mainzer Editionsprojekts „Controversia et Confessio“, dokumentiert den sog. „Synergistischen Streit“, der sich rund um die Frage entzündete, ob und in welcher Weise der menschliche Wille bei der Bekehrung des Menschen mitwirken könne.

This documentation makes possible a far richer, far deeper, far more expansive view of one of the most critical periods of the history of Christianity.

Professor Dingel’s helpful introduction places the period in context and places the chief proponents of the many theological debates of this era within that period.  Following are documents produced by the leading theologians of the period, each introduced and then the text of each provided here- many for the first time.  The works of Johann Pfeffinger, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Johann Stoltz, Matthias Flacius, Nikolaus Gallus, Simon Musaeus,  and Victorin Strigel.  There are also a number of confessional texts included.  In all there are 18 chapters featuring 18 documents.

The volume also includes the requisite indices and bibliographies.  The chief value, naturally, of the work is the making available of disparate documents representing a wide range of theological viewpoints from the very people who formulated those viewpoints, in their own words.  For instance, of von Amsdorf’s ‘Confession’, the document’s introduction states:

Im Frühjahr 1558 arbeitete Nikolaus von Amsdorf an seinem „Öffentlichen Bekenntnis“, in dem er alle Lehren, die er als falsch ansah, namentlich ver werfen wollte, um so sein theologisches Vermächtnis zu hinterlassen. Während Amsdorf diese Schrift verfasste, veröffentlichte Pfeffinger im März 1558 seine Disputation „De libertate humanae voluntatis quaestiones quinque“ in einem Sammelband aller seiner in Wittenberg gehaltenen Disputationen erneut. Dies wurde zum Anlass eines Streitschriftenwechsels zwischen den beiden. Denn Amsdorf reagierte darauf, indem er Pfeffingers Ansicht von der Möglichkeit zur Mitwirkung des menschlichen Willens an der Rechtfertigung umgehend verurteilte.  Pfeffinger verteidigte sich daraufhin mit seiner „Antwort“, was Amsdorf wiederum zum Anlass nahm, in der hier edierten Schrift Pfeffinger abermals zu attackieren.

The text of the document itself is in German (and Latin) and in it von Amsdorf remarks in due course

Was hab ich nu auff Pfeffinger erdicht oder gelogen? Denn das ist ein mal war, das die jenigen, so der heilige Geist nicht zeuhet vnd doch in die Predigt gehen vnd das Wort horen, konnen aus jren krefften das wort der verheischung nicht annemen noch ergreiffen, dieweil jr wille verderbt vnd dazu vom Teuffel nach seinem willen ge-[C 4r:]fangen.

The texts throughout are in Latin predominantly and German.  Footnotes, thankfully, rather than endnotes lead readers to positively essential details.

Scholars of the Reformation and Post-Reformation owe a great debt of gratitude to Prof. Dingel and to the publisher for this volume.  It places in the hands of the interested material that would otherwise simply not be available.  Indeed, even if one were able to track down these documents on the Post Reformation Digital Library, the very important introductions and notes along with the supplemental material are available nowhere else.

This volume is critically important, therefore, and belongs on the shelf of Reformation scholars everywhere.

A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith

Hendrickson has sent a review copy of this new work.  Provided I offer my own views on it.  Which I am always willing to do.

This handbook serves as an introduction to the Jewish roots of the Christian Faith. It includes Old Testament background, Second Temple Judaism, the life of Jesus, the New Testament, the early Jewish followers of Jesus, the historical interaction between Judaism and Christianity, and the contemporary period.

It is no longer a novelty to say that Jesus was a Jew. In fact, the term “Jewish roots” has become something of a buzzword in books, articles, and especially on the internet. But what does the Jewishness of Jesus actually mean, and why is it important?

This collection of articles aims to address those questions and serve as a comprehensive yet concise primer on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith consists of thirteen chapters, most of which are divided into four or five articles. It is in the “handbook” format, meaning that each article is brief but informative. The thirteen chapters are grouped into four major sections: (1) The Soil, (2) The Roots, (3) The Trunk, and (4) The Branches.

More in due course.

Die erste Zürcherbibel: Erstmalige teilweise Ausgabe und Übersetzung der ältesten vollständig erhaltenen Bibel in deutscher Sprache

Adrian Schenker sent along this wonderful little volume.  I am so looking forward to enjoying it when I have some work out of the way.  I appreciate the gift very much and thank Adrian for it here, publicly.  I appreciate even more his friendship.  And his profound scholarship.

Open Access: Identifikationspotenziale in den Psalmen

How is it possible that readers plunge into literary texts and experience them at first hand? Based upon this question, Sigrid Eder explores the immediacy of the psalms. Immediacy is based on the fact that readers can identify with the situations, experiences, emotions, characters and movements expressed in the texts. Therefore, the project aimed to find answer to the following research question: Which aspects of identification can be found in the psalms of the Hebrew Bible? So the aim of this project was it to analyse strategies of the texts, which enable readers to identify with the text-world described in the psalms.

Get it from V&R.

The Newest from Konrad Schmid: A Historical Theology of the Hebrew Bible

Here

In this meticulously researched study, Konrad Schmid offers a historical clarification of the concept of “theology.” He then examines the theologies of the three constituent parts of the Hebrew Bible—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings— before tracing how these theological concepts developed throughout the history of ancient Israel and early Judaism.

Schmid not only explores the theology of the biblical books in isolation, but he also offers unifying principles and links between the distinct units that make up the Hebrew Bible. By focusing on both the theology of the whole Hebrew Bible as well as its individual pieces, A Historical Theology of the Hebrew Bible provides a comprehensive discussion of theological work within the Hebrew Bible.

The nine chapters and their forty-two sections here presented offer readers a guidebook into the theology of the Hebrew Bible.  As he moves from the question of the discipline of Old Testament Theology itself to the sundry manifestations of that discipline from antiquity through the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the Romantic Period he provides an overview of the discipline suitable for emulation and admiration.  Methodologically, Schmid’s development of his theme is exceptional.  Content-wise, he addresses all the key issues and readers find new light shed on them.

Schmid then considers the discipline of Theology in a Jewish context and from there he turns to Old Testament theology’s encounter with Dialectical theology and up to the present.

Once that is done, and it takes two chapters to do it, Schmid turns his attention, and ours, to a more precise discussion of the ‘Hebrew Bible’ and the ‘Old Testament’ – with all that those terms imply.  From their roots to their transformations.  This means that he must also discuss various methodological approaches to the text of the Bible (whether Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) and their implications for our understanding of the Bible.

In chapter five, then, Schmid is set free to describe the theologians of the HB/OT and in chapter six he reads more particularly in the topics of the Law, Prophets, and Writings and gleans for readers their theologies.

This brings Schmid to something of a reconstructed History of Israel into which are set the theologies and their theologians.

Chapter eight, the most engaging of the whole (for the present reviewer), is a survey of the various themes of Old Testament theology including God’s Acts, Life in the World, The God of History, Political Theology, Law, The Temple, the People of God, the Monarchy, Zion and Sinai, the place of Mankind in the plan of God, and the varieties of Old Testament theologies.

The final chapter is a very helpful discussion of the importance of the Hebrew Bible for Jews and the Old Testament for Christians.

Each section is prefaced by a thorough and up to date bibliography and there are topical pointers, not  in the margins on each page so that readers can very quickly scan in each section and discover the subject most of interest to them as in the German edition, but as paragraph headers.  An index of authors, an index of subjects, and an index of Scriptures bring the volume to a close.

Various portions of the present work have appeared in earlier published form.  These are few, though, and Schmid describes them in the foreword.  In the German edition he also makes mention of his utilization of the 2017 edition of the Zurich Bible for his Biblical texts.  The English edition contains no such note.

The volume at hand is very much worth reading.  In spite of the fact that the German title is more precise than the English.

Not since Gerhard von Rad’s Old Testament Theology has a work been so engaging, useful, and insightful.  It deserves to be, nay, it must be read by all students of the Hebrew Bible.  It is the ideal theological compendium.

NB- For the review of the German edition, see here.

Theologie des Alten Testaments

Konrad Schmid has a new volume- Theologie des Alten Testaments.

Unter den Teildisziplinen der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft galt die Theologie des Alten Testaments lange als deren vornehmste Aufgabe. Doch in den letzten Jahrzehnten wurde mehr und mehr undeutlich, was eine Theologie des Alten Testaments eigentlich zu leisten habe. Konrad Schmid wendet sich zuerst der historischen Klärung des Theologiebegriffs in Anwendung auf die Bibel zu, diskutiert dann die Vielgestaltigkeit vorliegender Hebräischer Bibeln und Alter Testamente, um dann die theologischen Prägungen der Bücher und Sammlungen des Alten Testaments anhand prominenter Leittexte zu erheben. Weiter schließt der Autor eine Skizze zur Theologiegeschichte des Alten Testaments sowie eine thematisch orientierte und historisch differenzierte Darstellung wichtiger Themen alttestamentlicher Theologie mit ein. Der Band versteht sich gleichzeitig als eine gewisse Synthese der gegenwärtigen Forschung am Alten Testament in theologischer Perspektive.

See the Mohr website for the table of contents and other details.  They will not be unnecessarily repeated here.

The nine chapters and their forty-two sections here presented offer readers a guidebook into the theology of the Hebrew Bible.  As he moves from the question of the discipline of Old Testament Theology itself to the sundry manifestations of that discipline from antiquity through the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the Romantic Period he provides an overview of the discipline suitable for emulation and admiration.  Methodologically, Schmid’s development of his theme is exceptional.  Content-wise, he addresses all the key issues and readers find new light shed on them.

Schmid then considers the discipline of Theology in a Jewish context and from there he turns to Old Testament theology’s encounter with Dialectical theology and up to the present.

Once that is done, and it takes two chapters to do it, Schmid turns his attention, and ours, to a more precise discussion of the ‘Hebrew Bible’ and the ‘Old Testament’ – with all that those terms imply.  From their roots to their transformations.  This means that he must also discuss various methodological approaches to the text of the Bible (whether Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) and their implications for our understanding of the Bible.

In chapter five, then, Schmid is set free to describe the theologians of the HB/OT and in chapter six he reads more particularly in the topics of the Law, Prophets, and Writings and gleans for readers their theologies.

This brings Schmid to something of a reconstructed History of Israel into which are set the theologies and their theologians.

Chapter eight, the most engaging of the whole (for the present reviewer), is a survey of the various themes of Old Testament theology including God’s Acts, Life in the World, The God of History, Political Theology, Law, The Temple, the People of God, the Monarchy, Zion and Sinai, the place of Mankind in the plan of God, and the varieties of Old Testament theologies.

The final chapter is a very helpful discussion of the importance of the Hebrew Bible for Jews and the Old Testament for Christians.

Each section is prefaced by a thorough and up to date bibliography and there are topical pointers in the margins on each page so that readers can very quickly scan in each section and discover the subject most of interest to them.  A brief Scripture index and a fairly short subject/ person index bring the volume to a close.

Various portions of the present work have appeared in earlier published form.  These are few, though, and Schmid describes them in the foreword.  He also makes mention of his utilization of the 2017 edition of the Zurich Bible for his Biblical texts.

The volume at hand is very much worth reading.  And, fortunately, has already been translated into English so that those unskilled in German will nonetheless have the opportunity to access the profound learning contained in these pages.

Not since Gerhard von Rad’s Old Testament Theology has a work been so engaging, useful, and insightful.  It deserves to be, nay, it must be read by all students of the Hebrew Bible.  It is the ideal theological compendium.

NB- For the review of the English Edition, see here.

Against those who Think Doctrine Outmoded-

As the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ was Himself a Teacher, so also His disciples carry on a teaching ministry. We cannot think of the Christian Church without teaching, any more than we can think of a circle without a centre; teaching and “doctrine” belong to its very nature. — Emil Brunner

Works of Interest

Make Disciples of All Nations: The Appeal and Authority of Christian Faith in Hellenistic-Roman Times, edited by Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Beth Langstaff and Michael Tilly

Ezra – Nehemiah, by B. Becking

Die Offenbarung des Johannes, by Walter Klaiber

Visit the links to see the details.