Book Review - Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy

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.

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Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

Image of Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)
by Christopher Ash
Crossway 2014
Hardcover 496

If you search for “suffering” on Amazon in the books section you will find almost 11,800 results. If you search for “help for suffering” on Google there are 151 million entries to choose from. Indeed the world is a place full of suffering people looking for help. You cannot make it through more than four chapters in the book of Genesis without encountering suffering in the lives of the first two people God created and the first family they made. In reading through the pages of Scripture one encounters suffering at almost every turn. Ironically, it is Job, the oldest book in the Bible, which solely addresses the subject of suffering and how God relates to it and the sufferer.

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Book Review - Interpreting the Pauline Letters

The life of a pastor is busy. Hectic may be a better word. And in the 21st Century, the pace of life has quickened for everyone, while the expectations for what a pastor must do have only increased. Fortunately, there are an abundance of books and resources designed to give the pastor or teacher a helping hand. Interpreting the Pauline Letters by John D. Harvey, will prove not only helpful but indispensable in the study of the Pauline Epistles.

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Book Review - Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Seven Churches

Image of Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches
by James M. Hamilton Jr.
Crossway Books 2012
Hardcover 464

No book has been the subject of more fanciful interpretations than the book of Revelation. Various interpreters throughout the ages have wrestled with how to understand the many foreign and vivid images. It is no wonder then, that so few have gone on to explain to the average Christian what it might mean for their lives. As such, the discussion of the book of Revelation has been dominated by proper interpretive method at the expense of practical and contemporary significance. Revelation was after all written to seven churches and it is for the church today.

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Book Review - Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Galatians

Image of Galatians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
by Thomas R. Schreiner
Zondervan Academic 2010
Hardcover 432

The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament is a newer series of solid, scholarly and evangelical commentaries. I am pleased to provide a brief overview of the series using Thomas Schreiner’s contribution on Galatians as an example.

The ZECNT is a commentary series whose unusual structure and features make it unique. Future commentary series will have to take this format into consideration as they try to develop a comparable model. Though these are exegetical commentaries on the Greek text, those who are either uneducated in Greek or who are loosely familiar with it will still find much of benefit. The final form of the ZECNT series “was refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text (p. 9).” I believe the editors of the ZECNT have lived up to that desire.

The ZECNT series follows a seven-fold outline form for each chapter. Here, we will explain each part of the outline and provide a sample of what it looks like from the chapter on Galatians 3:26-29.

1. Literary Context

Each chapter starts out by setting the Literary Context. The context of each pericope is explained in one or more paragraphs. Following the explanation the author places the pericope within the larger context of the whole book in outline form. Example: Following Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:1-25 concerning the nature of the law in relation to the promises of God, Paul now moves to show “that the law as a pedagogue is now passed since all believers are now God’s sons and daughters in Christ through faith (p. 253).” All believers, Gentiles included, are the promised sons of Abraham by virtue of being in Christ who is Himself the one true offspring of Abraham (3:16).

2. Main Idea

Second, following the literary context is the Main Idea. This section seeks to summarize the central message of each pericope in a few sentences. Example: Schreiner states that the main idea of Galatians 3:26-29 “is that believers are the offspring of Abraham by virtue of their union with Christ Jesus (p. 254).”

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