Tag Archives: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Who Do People Say I Am? Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity

robbinsThe nice folk at Eerdmans have sent for review this new book by Vernon Robbins.

Spanning early Christian writings from the Gospel of Mark to the Acts of John, this book by Vernon Robbins explores the various ways early Christians explained their understanding of the special nature of Jesus beyond the canonical Gospels.

Who Do People Say I Am? shows how second-and third-century Christian authors of additional Gospels and Gospel-like writings expanded and elaborated on Jesus’ divinity in the context of his earthly existence. According to Robbins, these Christian authors thought that the New Testament Gospel writers could and should have emphasized the divinity of Jesus more than they did.

The chapters have extracts from and discussions of various non-canonical gospels.  I – frankly – feel the same way about gnostic and other non-canonical stuff the same way I feel about the rebels at Münster and the pentebabbleists (who bear an amazing similarity to the early heretics) and what they thought about Jesus matters about as much as what Bill O’Reilly thinks about him.

But perhaps Vernon can persuade me to think better of them (though no one could persuade me to think better of O’Reilly).  Color me skeptical, but I’m willing to listen.  After, that is, Copenhagen.

Tomorrow is the Day: ‘The Deliverance of God’ Conference at Duke

Featuring Chris Tilling himself.  It should be good!  If you’re in the area I’m sure you can still arrange to attend.  I’m planning on being there myself, so travel time to and from might crimp postings (though there are always pre-scheduled posts ready to go).  (In fact, I may one day die and posts will continue to appear for a pretty good while…  Just to let you know so you aren’t freaked out.  Indeed, I may well be dead right now).

Would You Like a Copy of Mark Goodacre’s New Book, ‘Thomas and the Gospels’?

Mark sent me a copy and nearly simultaneously so did the nice people at Eerdmans.  Mark’s is signed so I’m keeping it and the Eerdmans direct isn’t so, because I don’t need two copies, I’m giving the second away.

If you’d like it you must

1- Live in the United States.
2- Have a deep and abiding interest in Synoptic studies.
3- Not be unpleasant.
4- Write a tiny paragraph in comments below and tell my why you yourself are particularly worthy.

I will then allow myself quite capriciously to choose the best response, and you’ll be the winner.

UPDATE:  And the WINNER IS-  Sytze van der Laan.  Congrats-  email me your mailing address and I’ll have it to you in days.

William Dever on his New Volume, ‘The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel’

Over on the Eerdmans blog Dever writes

What I intend to do here is to construct a parallel history of one era in ancient Israel and Judah — a sort of “secular history” of Palestine in the Iron Age — to supplement (and perhaps to correct) the portrait we have in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. But the archaeological data, not the textual data, will be the primary source initially. To be sure, the textual data will be considered later, in Part II of each chapter, wherever they can be shown to be historically accurate beyond reasonable doubt. But the biblical texts will be subsidiary and will often prove to be of minimal importance. In this sense, the present work will almost be “a history without the Bible,” at least for the most part, even though some have declared this impossible. In Part III of each chapter, I shall move beyond facts to admitted speculation, in an attempt to ask what a good historian must ask: What was it really like in those days? That will help us to illustrate the lives of ordinary people, who are almost entirely invisible in typical histories of ancient Israel. . . .

Read the rest.  The book, as has been previously noted, comes out the end of this month.

John Barton – On the Eerdman’s Dictionary of Early Judaism

John Barton has reviewed “The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism” in The Times Literary Supplement.  He writes

“I do not think there is now a better guide to Early Judaism than the Eerdmans Dictionary,” he writes, adding that the book, “opens a door into a fascinating and complex world of ideas, texts, and practices.”


Congratulations to Joel Green

He’s the new General Editor of the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans).

Green is the fourth general editor in the commentary series’s long history, following Ned B. Stonehouse (1946–1962), F. F. Bruce (1962–1990), and, most recently, Gordon D. Fee (1990–2011).

Check out the Eerdmans link above- Joel offers some thoughts on the series. And again, congrats to him. I just hope and pray he isn’t as slow at the process as David Noel Freedman was with the series he edited. That chap left manuscripts on his desk for over a year at times before he even looked at them! That would drive me to drink.

What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering and The Crisis of Faith

That’s the title of a brand new book by Thomas G. Long which the good people at Eerdman’s have sent along for perusal and review in an advance uncorrected proof.

Tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, diseases, wars — these and other devastating catastrophes lead Christians to ask painful questions. Is God all-powerful? Is God good? If so, how can God allow so much human suffering?  These questions, taken together, have been called the “theodicy problem,” and in this book Thomas Long explores what preachers can and should say in response. Long reviews the origins and history of the theodicy problem and engages the work of other thinkers who have posed solutions to it. Cautioning pastors not to ignore urgent theodicy-related questions arising from their parishioners, he offers biblically based approaches to preaching on theodicy, guided by Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares and the “greatest theodicy text in Scripture” — the book of Job.

Chapters include the following:

1. The Shaking of the Foundations
2. The Impossible Chess Match
3. Road Hazards
4. Fellow Pilgrims
INTERLUDE- Howl: Job and the Whirlwind
5. Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow, and; Coda: Pilgrim’s Progress


As has now become customary for me- I’ll review each chapter and when done I’ll upload them, make the link live, and reset the timestamp.

I’m keen to get started, so off I go.

The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible

Eerdmans have sent along for a test drive the newly published Eerdmans Companion to the Bible.  It’s a thoroughly useful work containing everything readers of the Bible need to know in order to rightly introduce themselves to the bible and the scholarship which presently interprets it.

Klyne Snodgrass opines on the opening page – “Given that the Bible is from another time and another culture, all of us need help in understanding the Bible, its culture, and its intent. This Companion will be a valued friend to Bible readers. It is easily accessible and is packed with information and insight from the very best scholars. It provides helpful articles on crucial topics and a pathway through the entire Bible by showing the layout of each book and giving brief explanations of each section in the book. Lay readers of the Bible will love this reference work.”

And he’s right.  What he fails to note, however, is that the volume is filled with photos, charts, graphs, maps, sidebars, excurses, and all manner of materials one usually doesn’t find in Handbooks.  Fee and Hubbard have done a great job assembling a team of scholars who have, by and large, done a good job themselves with their assignments.

Nevertheless, the volume is, as should be expected, both conservative in its outlook and its contributions.  For instance, Claude Mariottini (whom I like very much- he’s a great person and an insightful exegete) writes a piece on history and historiography which, while recognizing the theological intention of the writers of the Hebrew Bible, also wants to assert that the historical tales told are ‘history’.  Those who see things otherwise are skeptical and may be more interested in the writers’ ideology than in ‘the historicity of the text or of the sources used’ (p. 89).

Claude certainly will be read sympathetically by the majority of persons who use this volume.  And even those who hold to different perspectives will gain from reading it.

When it comes to the biblical text itself, it is ably handled.  Each pericope (in both the Old and New Testaments) are briefly explained and that usually without any sort of eisegetical inclination.

The highlight of the volume, though, at least to me, are the many ‘asides’ or sidebars.  Interested readers can discover what various theologians/exegetes/historians think about ‘Creation and Modern Science’ or ‘Weapons and Warfare’ or ‘Society and Daily Life in the Old Testament’ or ‘Beginnings of Apocalyptic Literature’ or ‘The Question of Pseudepigraphy’.

Even the Book of Revelation is properly treated, seen, quite rightly, not as some sort of divine roadmap of the future but just as the lead sentence suggests, the unveiling of Jesus Christ.

The maps, I have to say, are crisp and legible, finely detailed and meticulously done.  There’s really nothing worse is there than a map one can’t read!

This is an excellent companion volume to the Bible.  I’m going to recommend it to my students and the people at our Church.  It’s that useful.  If it were a car, it would be a very nicely equipped 2009 Mercedes SLS: comfortable, fashionable, reliable, and wondrously made.

What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith

Oh this looks BRILLIANT!  I’m a big fan of Thomas Long and when Eerdmans mentioned the availability of this excerpt I had to take a look.  For instance

This book is about what preachers can and should say regarding the theodicy problem. Engaging theodicy in the older sense of the word is not my goal, and providing a justification for the actions of God is not what I imagine myself to be doing in these pages. Indeed, to think that one could somehow defend God is theologically an act of extreme hubris. If God needs to be defended, God will need a better attorney than I.

More recently, though, theodicy has come to have a somewhat different meaning, one that is less about putting God on trial and more about putting our faith to the test. In this newer sense, which is the concern of this book, theodicy is about how believers can hold together important faith claims that seem, on the surface anyway, to be incompatible: that there is a God, that God is loving and just, that God is powerful, and that there is undeserved suffering in the world. Understood this way, theodicy is not about coming up with excuses for God’s behavior in a world of evil but about how faith in a loving God is plausible, given what we know and experience about suffering.

Brilliant.  I can’t wait to see the whole volume.

Thank You, Eerdmans

The nice folk at Eerdmans have sent along a flash drive as a ‘thank you’.  So, I want to say thank you back!

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Commentary

Building on his own fresh translation from the Greek, [Arland] Hultgren walks readers through Romans verse by verse, illuminating the text with helpful comments, probing into major puzzles, and highlighting the letter’s most inspiring features. He also demonstrates the forward-looking, missional character of Paul’s epistle — written, as Hultgren suggests, to introduce Roman Christians to the major themes of Paul’s theology and to inspire in them both confidence in the soundness of his teaching and support for his planned missionary efforts in Spain.

Here’s the Table of Contents.

1. OPENING, 1:1-17
5. ISRAEL IN GOD’S PLAN, 9:1–11:36
8. THE WEAK AND THE STRONG, 14:1–15:13
9. PAUL’S PLANS, 15:14-33

Well You Can’t Vote After All…

From Eerdmans-

Many thanks to everyone who submitted a photo to our Anniversary Photo Contest. If you received an email about online voting this morning, please disregard it. Judging will be (as the contest rules have always stated) by the Eerdmans staff; we have now adjusted the settings of our contest app to reflect this. Winners will be announced August 11. While you wait, be sure to check out all the great entries we received!

Um, well, er, I already voted….   That said, I’m glad it’s Eerdmans folks who have to decide.  The rest of the entries can’t possibly muster the massive voter turnout which I can.  First, who reads their blogs (if they have one) and second, even if they did have readers, well let’s face it, my entry is the awesome-est!


Gosh, My Awesome Entry Isn’t…

Cute, clever, picturesque, powerful, sweet, or silly


My hopes of winning dashed, I shall spend the remainder of the day attempting to be, as best I can, cute, clever, picturesque, powerful, sweet, and silly.  That way maybe I can haul in the big prize next time…

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Commentary

This new volume looks incredibly interesting and the always kind folk at Eerdmans are sending a copy for review (yes, I asked).

Building on his own fresh translation from the Greek, Hultgren walks readers through Romans verse by verse, illuminating the text with helpful comments, probing into major puzzles, and highlighting the letter’s most inspiring features. He also demonstrates the forward-looking, missional character of Paul’s epistle — written, as Hultgren suggests, to introduce Roman Christians to the major themes of Paul’s theology and to inspire in them both confidence in the soundness of his teaching and support for his planned missionary efforts in Spain.  Ideal for pastors and serious students of the Bible, Hultgren’s commentary includes eight appendices that discuss in detail such issues as “Romans 1:26-27 and Homosexuality” and “Pistis Christou: Faith in or of Christ?”

Sounds great doesn’t it!  You can read the TOC, the front matter, the preface, and the first four pages of the introduction here.  When the book arrives and I’ve got the review done I’ll post it here.  A book this large will require a series.

T&T Clark Has One and So Do Other Publishers…

So word that Eerdmans is going to enter the blogosphere is neither surprise nor shock.  But it is good news.  At least for those of us who appreciate the often good work they do for the field of biblical and theological studies.

Eerdmans is starting a blog! With contributions from authors, editors, and more, EerdWord will illustrate how today’s philosophies and theologies relate to everyday life. Join us on January 3, 2011, as we launch our new blog. Currently under construction, EerdWord will go live at http://www.eerdword.wordpress.com on January 3, 2011.

So keep an eye out.

Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle, by Martin Hengel

The generous folk at Eerdmans have sent along this new volume for review.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb

Given that Peter fades from view halfway through the book of Acts and that he left no gospel account in his name, it is tempting for many biblical scholars to dismiss him as a vague figure in Christian history and downplay his influence in the early church. Martin Hengel rejects this underestimation of the apostle and argues that Peter was in fact the Rock, central to the development of both the Jewish and the Gentile Christian communities. Hengel clearly shows how each of the four gospels specifically highlights Peter’s foundational role. He considers what Peter’s message must have been as an eyewitness of Christ, reflects on Peter’s theology, and draws attention to Peter’s work as an organizer and mission strategist. Hengel also examines the contributions of married apostles — like Peter — and their family communities to the rapid and enduring spread of the Christian message.

Hengel was unquestionably one of the most important scholars of our day.  His abilities were magnificent and he was certainly a skilled exegete and interpreter.  The volume at hand is a translation of the 2006  Der unterschätzte Petrus: Zwei Studien.  Hence, the essays have been available to readers (of German) for several years.  English readers should be very grateful to the publisher and the translator for making them more widely accessible.

Hengel addresses the usual matters including the meaning of the very famous ‘… you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.’   But he also discusses Peter’s relationship to Mark, Peter’s conflict with Paul (perhaps the most intriguing of the studies included here), Peter’s ‘unknown’ years and missionary activity (which raises the question- if they are ‘unknown’ how can we know anything about them?), and a series of studies on Peter’s family.

Peter’s importance is summed up by Hengel in a very catchy and memorable brief phrase- Peter is ‘… the empowered guarantor of the tradition about Jesus’ (p. 101).  The problem- though- is who exactly is it that is guaranteeing the tradition about Peter?

While Hengel is a master of the sources and doubtless more than capable to draw to his side witnesses and testimony from biblical and extra-biblical materials the one flaw in his presentation is, it seems to me, his credulity.  He believes, without question, the veracity and accuracy of his sources’ historical reliability.  That is the Achilles heel of each of the studies here presented.  Were it not for that little tendon, the entire volume would be utterly invincible.

Hengel possessed true singularity of vision.  An attribute sorely lacking these days in so much biblical scholarship.  But he was also hampered by his generation’s historical-critical constraints.  He can’t be faulted for that and neither can his work.  We are all, it has to be said, constrained by the limitations of our methodologies.

Serious readers will learn a great deal about Peter and about his significance for early (and modern) Christianity.  Peter may have been underappreciated in the past- but no one who reads Hengel’s volume will be able to underappreciate him in the present.  For that reason alone Hengel is to be appreciated (though he has never at all been underappreciated.  He and Peter won’t share that fate).

Here’s a photo from the inside cover of the book – taken by the translator when he visited the Hengel’s in 2007.