The Weaver Book Company (weaverbookcompany.com), who I have only recently become familiar with, has launched a new series of workbooks designed to help Christians better understand the flow of New Testament books. The purpose of the series is to “draw out the back story that lies behind the writings of the Bible” (p. 9). The first workbook in the series focuses on the text of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The author’s specific intent is to “draw out the main ideas in Paul’s storyline by observing what he actually said in his letter to the Romans” (p. 11). The intended audience of the book is study groups of Christians in any form (Sunday School class, small group, person study, etc).
The workbook begins with the reader doing an overview of the entire book of Romans. The reader is expected to read each section of Romans (the workbook divides the letter into 24 sections) and give in a sentence or two the main ideas that Paul was communicating. The lion’s share of the workbook is then divided into the following sections:
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Zondervan, 2014) is a thorough revision of the original NIDNTT. Moises Silva is the revision editor, and the finished product is a must have for serious students and pastors who work in Greek on a regular basis. The updated set consists of five volumes (four dictionary volumes and an index volume).
This edition includes an extensive introduction written by Silva that gives an update and overview of all revisions and corrections that were made in the new edition. This is helpful for those who have used the NIDNTT and want to know how the NIDNTTE differs. The original was written while Rudolph Bultmann was a primary figure in New Testament scholarship, and many of the articles interacted with his writings. Some of those discussions have been shortened in the new version. A major structural change is that the NIDNTTE adopts an alphabetical listing for Greek words, moving away from the “concept” listings in the original. This shores up a major weakness in the original while still including a fairly comprehensive list of concepts in the beginning of each volume. The editors also stated that they sought to be more consistent in the presentation of statistical data (p. 12). A list of other revisions can be seen in the introduction to the work.
The book under review is the result of a conference that was held in New York in support of the special place of Israel in the Scriptures. Seventeen contributors put forth various articles under the headings of New Testament, Old Testament, Hermeneutics, Theology & Church History, and Practical Theology. A Forward is provided by popular writer Joel Rosenberg. The Introduction is by Glaser, and a short Conclusion is by Bock.
The purpose of the book is to bring together studies advocating the place of “Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God’ as the subtitle has it. The presenters come from the broadly premillennial camp; many are dispensationalists.
On the whole the articles are brief—about 12 to 15 pages on average, but for the most part each author has made good use of their allotted space. It may be helpful to give a few general remarks about the contributions rather than choosing one or two pieces for extended comment.
In the first place I found Rosenberg’s Forward to be off-putting. It is written in a journalistic parlance which is at odds with the tenor of most of the articles. It also focuses on biblical prophecies being fulfilled in our time, which seems a questionable assertion. That said, I agree with the statement that the existence of the State of Israel today is testimony to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (17). Nevertheless, I think the book could have done with a less popular opening.
Trust is a high commodity among people today but it something that is not given as easily as it was a few generations ago. Almost gone are the days where a gentlemen’s agreement was all that was needed between two people. It was possible because people had more trust in one another. Now, trust among people is harder to acquire. This natural reaction to distrust others has affected how people view the Bible. In our post-Christian world people don’t just naturally trust the Bible as reliable, let alone as the Word of God.
Now, more than ever, people want reasons to trust things and they often put a higher demand on religious texts like the Bible. They want to be reassured that there are good reasons to trust the Bible and that it comes from God. In his recent book, Can I Really Trust the Bible?: And Other Questions About Scripture, Truth and How God Speaks, Barry Cooper answer these questions and more. This book is a mini-introduction and apologetic to the doctrine of Scripture for the believer and non-believer alike.
The book is divided into five chapters. The first two chapters answer the question, “Does the Bible claim to be God’s word?” as in both from God Himself (the ‘word’) and revealing God through Christ (THE Word). Cooper does a great job showing the relationship between Scripture as God’s revelation of both His words to man and of Himself to man in Christ. Cooper states:
Doubt. For some it is the seedbed for growth and for others it is a miserable, dark and depressing pit. Everyone has doubts about things. For instance, I doubt I will ever climb Mount Everest, go to the moon or live to see the Detroit Lions have a winning season (sorry Lions fans). But while these are doubts that have little to no impact on my life, what about doubts that hit closer to home? What about doubts that strike at the heart of our personal beliefs which shape our decisions and everyday lives? What about doubts that center around our deepest held religious beliefs? What if I doubt the genuineness of my own faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior?
Doubt is a normal part of the Christian life and seeking to address this issue, John Stevens has written How Can I Be Sure? And Other Questions About Doubt, Assurance and the Bible as part of the Questions Christians Ask series from The Good Book Company. In this short and accessible book, Stevens scratches the surface on the problem of doubt in the Christian life and how to handle it with Biblical counsel.
Many Christians have false ideas and impressions about the nature of doubt and its place in the Christian life. Perhaps it is these false ideas about doubt that cause too many Christians to struggle with it as mush as they do and for as long as they do. After all, if a doubting Christian were looked down upon by his or her peers would they be more likely to tell someone about them?
Jonah: God’s Scandalous Mercy is the latest in the Hearing the Message of Scripture series put out by Zondervan and takes to heart the purpose and intent of the series. The series seeks to “help serious students of Scripture, as well as those charged with preaching and teaching the Word of God, to hear the messages of Scripture as biblical authors intended them to be heard” (p. 9-10). Youngblood, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Harding University, gives readers an extremely well done and accessible commentary on Jonah.
The commentary begins with an author’s translation of the book of Jonah. This is followed by an introductory section that includes the author’s purpose in writing the commentary (p. 25), the canonical context of the book, historical context, and literary context. The historical context section is very helpful for the person seeking background info on Jonah. Because the biblical book has so little setting given within the text, many assumptions have arisen over time. Youngblood does a nice job of cutting through the assumptions and placing Jonah squarely in a solid historical setting. The discussion of literary context is helpful as well, as the author makes some really nice observations about the structure and message of the book. Youngblood observes two problems that intersect in the book: “The first is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s concern for nations hostile to Israel with YHWH’s election of Israel. The second is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s justice with YHWH’s mercy” (p. 37). Immediately, the reader is given a purpose statement to keep in mind as he begins to work through the text.