Online Textbook Ordering

Over the next month or two, we will be sharing some “Tips” for buying textbooks. Stay tuned, we’ll be asking you to comment and suggest ideas and experiences that may help save a student unneeded frustration or lower their costs.

This post is to help in finding your textbooks. It is more informational in nature, but should be helpful to students, especially incoming freshmen and transfer students. Continue reading

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Welcome to our Blog

Welcome to our new blog! We hope that through this venue we are able to extend the same experience our customers enjoy in our store to the blogosphere. This idea came into being as we’ve seen several of the publishers … Continue reading

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Book Review of How Jesus Runs the Church

Guy Prentiss Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church 

How Jesus Runs the Church is a book about Presbyterian church government. The title may sound a bit cheeky to those, such as myself, who are not Presbyterian. Waters is making a serious point with the title, however. Since Jesus is the Lord of the church, the form of church government is not left to the discretion of the members. Waters therefore seeks to demonstrate how the Presbyterian from of church government is grounded in Scripture. How Jesus Runs the ChurchHe also acquaints readers with older Presbyterian literature on ecclesiology. Though those with differing denominational convictions will find plenty to disagree with, Waters’s clear writing style and effort to ground his view of church government makes him an ideal “conversation partner.”

Review written by Dr. Brian Collins and you can read his blog Exegesis and Theology

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Book Review of Did God Really Say? Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture

David B. Garner, ed., Did God Really Say? Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture

David Garner and six of his associates at Westminster Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary respond to recent criticisms of inerrancy and inspiration through a series of well-executed chapters that demonstrate (1) inerrancy is a necessary doctrine (K. Scott Oliphint), (2) inerrancy is a doctrine properly understood and articulated by its champions (Michael Williams), (3) recent popular attacks against the canon are historically naïve or otherwise problematic (Michael Kruger), (4) inspiration is a necessary corollary of God’s person (Vern Poythress), (5) N.T. Wright’s formulation of bibliology falls short of orthodoxy (John Frame), and (6) a multiplicity of interpretations of Scripture by Protestant exegetes does not undermine the perspicuity of Scripture (David Garner).  The weakest contribution by far was a chapter urging “grace in the debate,” which, while correctly urging a biblical spirit in defense of doctrine, mocks fundamentalists and minimizes the significance of the doctrine of inerrancy (Robert Yarbrough).

Throughout its argument, the book demonstrates that although the application of the term inerrancy to Scripture is relatively recent, the use of that term coincides with the historical belief of the church, derives from direct assertions of Scripture about itself, and reflects a logical necessity.  The contributors recognize that pastors need to understand the attacks being made against Scripture in order to defend their flocks against encroaching postmodernism.  Did God Really Say? answers its own question with a strong affirmative, and it warrants attention by pastors and laypeople who wish to understand the inerrancy debate and defend the trustworthiness of Scripture.

  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: P&R Publishing, 2012
  • ISBN: 978-1596383999

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.

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Book Review Words of Life

Timothy Ward, Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009.

This is an excellent recent survey of the doctrine of Scripture. Ward is concise, readable, careful, and judicious. He does not simply restate that traditional evangelical doctrine but instead seeks to make explicit its biblical foundations. He also interacts with recent challenges to the doctrine. But this is not to say that Ward is innovative. While he does make use of recent theories about how language works, Ward also appreciatively draws on the wealth of previous theological giants who have formulated this doctrine: Calvin, Turretin, Warfield, and Bavinck.

I have only one major complaint about the book. In his section on sola scriptura, I find Ward overly dependent on Keith Mathison and Heiko Oberman’s inaccurate handling of the various views of tradition held throughout church history. He would have been better served by the categories found in Anthony Lane’s article, “Scripture, Tradition, and Church: An Historical Survey.” Vox Evangelica 9 (1975): 37-55. This one complaint, however, should not deter readers from reading this excellent  study on the doctrine of Scripture.

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (May 22, 2009)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830827442

Review written by Dr. Brian Collins and you can read his blog Exegesis and Theology.    This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

 
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Book Review 1 Kings Reformed Expository Commentary

Phil Ryken, long-time pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (successor to evangelical luminaries James Montgomery Boice and Donald Grey Barnhouse), has returned to his home of Wheaton College to take its presidency.

But while he was a pastor he was a well-known expositor, and his sermons on 1 Kings—now collected into one volume in the Reformed Expository Commentary Series—provide a good example of the type of homiletical food he served his congregation.

You’re not supposed to start book reviews with negatives, but I’m going to sprinkle good and “bad” (nothing I came across was truly bad—this is a fundamentally good book) throughout my review.

Here’s the first “bad”: Mark Dever comments on a dust-jacket blurb that this particular commentary series shows an appropriate balance between forest and trees. I disagree. I would like to see a good bit more forest, even in expository sermons. I simply didn’t see Ryken making enough connections to the redemptive historical storyline for my taste, or even to the thought flow of the book itself in a macro sort of way. Ryken didn’t do enough, I don’t think, to show how 1 Kings leads to Christ. (For more on that, see my review of the excellent God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of Scripture.)

But here’s the good: Ryken’s treatment of the trees is still valuable. It’s straightforward, reliable, sane—not prone to fits of allegorical fancy or to hobby horse races. Even if the moral examples of the various characters are not (in my estimation) the main point of the text, they are very important sources of divine revelation. And Ryken mines them faithfully.

Here’s another good: One of the main reasons I sometimes get volumes of sermons like this is to benefit from the hard work of others in collecting illustrations that I can feel free to lift (well, the book isn’t free!). Ryken did good, hard work here.

Another slight negative: every once in a while I felt his applications were a bit simplistic (e.g., he spent a good deal of time enlarging on Jehoshaphat’s desire to check with God before doing something), but that can be hard to avoid in a book like Kings. We are so far removed from those historical circumstances that finding appropriate parallels is a difficult task that Ryken generally manages well.

And one last slight negative to the budget-conscious (whether in time or finances!): Ryken often cites the following commentators: Provan (NIBC), Wiseman (TNTC), Davis (FB), and Leithart (BTC). These men just happen to be among the top seven commentators on Kings at bestcommentaries.com. Having just completed an exposition of a great deal of 1 Kings, I can say that Ryken and bestcommentaries.com were both right: these four commentaries are worth having and consulting.

But after you’ve checked those commentaries, how much time will you have to read Ryken’s sermons? Davis’s commentaries are already themselves sermons, and Davis is a bit more energetic and scintillating than Ryken—he also makes more connections to redemptive history (i.e., to Jesus). Plus, sermons take more time to wade through than more compressed exegetical commentaries like Provan (who is truly excellent, a must-have).

Here’s my advice: get House (NAC) and Provan (NIBC) first, because exegesis and literary sensitivity ought to come first. Then sample Davis and Ryken, because homiletics comes second. If you like Ryken’s sermons more—if they fit your personality better—then his illustrations and observations will probably be more helpful to you and you should buy him over Davis. I sometimes can’t imagine using some of the illustrations Davis chooses. They’re just not me. Ryken’s are a better fit.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

Mark L. Ward, Jr., Ph.D. is a recent graduate of the BJ Seminary New Testament Interpretation program and has worked since 2006 at BJU Press as a high school Bible curriculum author and Biblical Worldview Team member. Before that he spent five years at a research center in the Mack Library. He blogs at βλογάπη.

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Book Review of Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism

Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism edited by Andrew Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 222 pp.

Zondervan’s “Counterpoints” series invites contributors to lay out differing positions on issues pertinent to evangelical Christianity. This volume gets right to the heart of the matter—what is evangelicalism itself? Editors Andrew Naselli and Collin Hansen provide a forum for four men to describe their views on the nature of evangelicalism, not only what it is but also what it should be. Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Seminary in Minnesota lays out the position for fundamentalism, R. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville describes what he calls confessional evangelicalism, John Stackhouse of Regent College in Canada advocates what he labels generic evangelicalism, and Roger Olson of Truett Seminary at Baylor University defends postconservative evangelicalism. Each writer not only presents his own view but also responds to the views of the others.

To be fair to these writers, one ought to read their own essays for their positions, but the following summary will serve to orient the reader. To some extent, Bauder and Mohler use a doctrinal framework whereas Stackhouse and Olson emphasize practice more and rely on the self-identification of professed evangelicals. Bauder defines the fundamental teachings as doctrines related to the gospel, making these both essentials of Christianity and the reference for Christian fellowship. Mohler advocates a doctrinal “triage” (his term) offering levels of doctrinal importance, with fellowship and cooperation dependent on the level of doctrine involved. Stackhouse uses David Bebbington’s “quadrilateral” of distinctive characteristics of evangelicalism (described below) plus transdenominationalism as defining evangelicalism, limited only by what is not truly Christian (such as Mormonism). Olson outlines a “centered-set” approach to evangelicalism, where there is a core of Christian evangelical belief in the middle around which evangelicals gather but no identifiable boundaries. All of the contributors but especially Stackhouse and Olson refer to Bebbington’s quadrilateral of evangelical distinctives: stress on conversion, “activism” in holy living and evangelism, emphasis on the Bible, and the central place of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.

From each of these writers come useful insights. Kevin Bauder points out that there can be no outward unity where inward unity does not already exist. Intriguingly he uses the gospel (not simply “the fundamentals”) as demarcation for essential Christian belief and fellowship. Here he raises a point for further consideration as his position establishes a greater objectivity in definition and application. He compares favorably with approaches to fundamentalism that are more subjectivity based, such as individually defined fundamental doctrines or an appeal simply to disobedience as a test of fellowship. In response to Mohler, he correctly highlights the differences between fundamentalism and the new evangelical heritage, noting that the divide was not over issues of intellectualism and scholarship but rather the gospel as the boundaries of Christian fellowship, revealed particularly in the debates over the ecumenical evangelism of Billy Graham. Consistent with the fundamentalist approach, Bauder argues against Olson that it is not consensus about doctrines that makes them marks of a position but their biblical foundation.

For his part, Mohler points out that Bebbington’s four-point definition is more descriptive than normative and therefore insufficient to define evangelicalism. In answer to the charge that doctrinal definition requires a “magisterium” to authoritatively define dogma as the Catholic Church claims for itself, Mohler says doctrinal consensus must be based on “persuasion and argumentation.” His own position as a Southern Baptist suggests that  church discipline within denominational churches and structures must be the agents to maintain the necessary doctrinal discipline, not an extra-ecclesial authority. It is also good to note that Mohler apologizes for signing the Manhattan Declaration, a document that aligns evangelicals with Roman Catholics to fight for moral issues.

Stackhouse notes that Mohler’s confessional evangelicalism is really more conservative evangelicalism (no creed or confession is involved), although he then mistakenly and abruptly equates this approach to primitivism. More significantly Stackhouse makes the telling point (worth further consideration) that investigators of the evangelical ethos such as George Barna define evangelical improperly. Therefore such observers make false conclusions and generalizations, for example, that “evangelicals” do not differ from the mainstream of Americans in divorce rates, charitable giving, and so on. In fact, accurately defined, Stackhouse argues, evangelicals do differ for the better in these areas. Even Olson, who is likely most problematic for fundamentalist readers, makes the good point that evangelical conversion is vital in any definition of evangelicalism, a point not always evident in the other discussions.

At the same time, none of these writers is exempt from criticism (although not in equal amounts). With Bauder these are more matters of interpretation and emphasis. He makes much of “revivalism” as the root of many of fundamentalism’s problems. His definition of revivalism appears to rely on Iain Murray’s categorization of revivalism as mechanical and human-centered activities, classically represented by evangelist Charles Finney. The contention of Murray and Bauder has weight, but if revivalism is defined more broadly as that which awakens/reawakens faith, then it may serve as an important formative force for fundamentalism without all the baggage. As for his (richly deserved) criticism of Finney, one may wonder whether he places too much of the blame on Finney’s shoulders alone. One recalls Herbert Hoover’s comment that blaming him for the Great Depression was “a great compliment to the energies and capacities of one man.” Also Bauder may be too pessimistic. The “hyper-fundamentalism” he criticizes is indeed noisy but is it really as numerous as he asserts? Does the extreme wing really make up the majority of card-carrying fundamentalists? (One notes that Bauder is not alone in this view; see Chris Armstrong’s article in Christian History, issue 102 [2012]). A closer study of the actual numbers of fundamentalists, rather than the impressions that guide so many observers, might present a different picture.

Al Mohler links himself explicitly to the new evangelical movement (with its suggestion of the rejection of fundamentalism), claiming the new evangelicalism as part of his heritage. (Mohler in fact corrects Olson, who says that fundamentalists labeled the dissent “neo-evangelicals” in the 1940s, when actually new evangelicals devised the term themselves.) In doing so Mohler raises an essential question for those who look for a convergence of fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals: Have the issues been resolved that contributed to the original division of the 1940s and 1950s? Answering that question is a prerequisite to pursuing further cooperation.

Stackhouse (responding to Bauder) removes the priority of doctrine by elevating “correct practice” and “right affections” to essentials of evangelicalism. These matters are certainly important, but they derive from a proper doctrinal foundation. Orthodoxy always has a logical, if not necessarily chronological primacy, over orthopraxy. Raising practice to the same level as doctrine duplicates the error of the Orthodox Churches. Also, despite his reservations about Catholicism, Stackhouse refuses to say Catholics deny the gospel, despite Catholic failure to admit justification by faith alone. Finally, the very label “generic evangelicalism” is unsatisfactory, perhaps a compromise forced on the writer to explain how his position is not fundamentalist, not conservative evangelical, and not postconservative. Actually, the term broad evangelical coined by David Beale in the 1980s might work better, except that one would still need some distinction from Olson’s postconvervative position.

Olson probably raises the most problems for the fundamentalist reader. He divorces experience from doctrine and removes doctrine from its central place. At times Olson creates impression that anything a professed evangelical believes cannot preclude him from being considered an evangelical. To Olson doctrinal boundaries are “litmus tests.” Yet this overused metaphor as a pejorative masks the truth that a litmus test does indeed indicate the nature of the substance tested. If Christianity is defined by truth, then there must certainly be a contrasting error. And it is worth noting that although Olson impugns some to the right of him for lack of charity, he resorts to judging the motives in critics of open theism, saying that controversy over this position was “an emotional brouhaha … fueled by a pent-up desire by fundamentalists calling themselves conservative evangelicals to test evangelical theological boundaries (which, as I have made clear, do not even exist).”

In light of the earlier fundamentalist–new evangelical split, this book reveals several ironies. For one thing, it manifests the further splintering of the evangelical  movement, as shown by the need to present three different evangelical views beyond fundamentalism. The book also displays the irony that the new evangelicalism rejected the separatist approach of fundamentalism (which had produced a series of independent fundamentalist institutions) in favor of a strategy of infiltration into the American religious mainline. Yet evangelicalism ultimately ended up instead only creating a different set of independent institutions.

Finally the book highlights the point that “fundamentalist” and “evangelical” are not necessarily points on a continuum. To be specific, one can easily define fundamentalism (whatever its shortcomings in living up to that definition) but one is more likely to describe evangelicalism (although its historical characteristics are sometimes doctrinal). Perhaps one comes back to a basic question in this book—what evangelicalism should be. To his credit, Kevin Bauder shows that fundamentalism can articulate a vision of what it ought to be. The other contributors, particularly Stackhouse and Olson but also Mohler, need to articulate more clearly what evangelicalism ought to be, if it is to survive as a distinct phenomenon.

This is a useful book for surveying the current religious scene. The editors and authors present their positions clearly in an easy-to-follow manner. The work will reward the reader who thoughtfully considers its content.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

Mark Sidwell

 

 

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Book Review: A Commentary on the Psalms

Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 1 (1—41)

The first of a massive three volume commentary on Psalms promises us a set that may become a classic and certainly is a unique work on this important biblical book. It is unique in its great emphasis on exposition (practical and significant for preaching) while at the same time providing a pastor with the many details of exegesis.

The introduction (over 150 pages) is thorough without becoming too detailed and technical. Ross discusses briefly the ancient manuscripts and translations as well as the history of Psalm interpretation. Then he provides fuller treatments of (1) Psalm titles (pp. 42-50; 150-53), (2), the organization and arrangement of the book of Psalms (pp. 52-63), (3) the aspects of biblical poetry, including figures of speech, and (4) literary categories in Psalms (including a section on imprecations, pp. 115-17). Ross has included a brief treatment of the book’s theology (pp. 155-68) and a very helpful selected bibliography (pp.71-80). Before beginning his treatment of the individual psalms, Ross furnishes a list of steps to be followed by an expositor of Psalms (pp. 169-79), thus giving the reader insight into Ross’s procedures of exegesis and exposition.

On each psalm Ross has written three sections: introduction, commentary, and application. The introduction starts with his own translation, including detailed footnotes on textual criticism and the Septuagint’s handling of the original Hebrew. Then he proceeds to a discussion of the psalm’s literary category and its organization. Here the reader will find information about the historical occasion of the poem’s composition as well as its later use for worship. This is followed by a detailed exegetical outline that maps out the logical flow of the text.

The main comments are organized under the points of Ross’s detailed expository outline, that restate the historical exegetical summary points in timeless theological propositions. The comments focus on five elements. (1) First are the explanations and analysis of the text. (2) There are key word studies in the footnotes (for example, “glory,” “reproach,” and “redeem” [pp. 473f., 534, & 605]. In his exegesis as Ross encounters one of these important words, that are used repeatedly in Psalms, he will reference where the note on that word is found, either earlier or later in the commentary. (The reader will need to have all three volumes handy!) (3) Ross discusses problems of interpretation and translation, drawing on and interacting with a number of other commentators, such as Delitzsch, Perowne, Briggs, A. A. Anderson, H. J. Kraus, Craigie, Broyles, and Goldingay. The footnotes contain numerous citations of scholarly articles. Regrettably, he has not availed himself as often to the insights in such conservative commentaries as Kidner, Leupold, and J. A. Alexander. (4) The reader will find much discussion of Hebrew tenses with categories of uses labeled. (5) Ross has identified also the various uses of figurative language (for example, “metonymy of the effect” and anthropomorphism).

In the final section Ross attempts to provide a statement of the main “expository idea” in the psalm. He also comments about the application of this theology to modern man. Often in the last paragraph he will identify how the New Testament has used this theology (for example, Psalms 14, 22, and 25).

Unfortunately, his method of organization has resulted in frequent repetition: what occurs in the notes to his translation may appear again in the comments.

  • Hardcover: 887 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0825425622

Reviewed by: Robert D. Bell, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament in BJU Seminary.
This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review: The Psalms as Christian Worship A Historical Commentary

Bruce K. Waltke & James M. Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary

This is a unique commentary, and not just among volumes on the Psalms. It’s refreshing to read an erudite volume with careful grammatical-historical exegesis and a (faithful) eye on theology.

This commentary also has an eye on the history of exegesis, and that’s why it has a double authorship. (Triple, actually: Erika Moore wrote a chapter on Second-Temple Jewish responses to the Psalms.) Major author Bruce Waltke is, of course, an exegete and theologian, and he confesses himself unqualified to write much on patristics. So James Houston of Regent College was enlisted to provide the “church’s voice of response.” He contributed the many pages of “reception history,” basically a chronological survey of how major church fathers and medieval and Reformation figures understood the psalms at issue.

The psalms at issue are as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 51, 110, 139. They were chosen for their representative status.

The book’s substantial introduction, uncharacteristically for a scholarly commentary, starts with declarations about things the authors deplore—and those things boil down to liberal and postmodern treatments of Scripture:

We deplore the confessional reductionism in much contemporary Biblical scholarship, which overlooks two thousand years of Christian devotion and orthodoxy or “right worship,” in the use of the Book of Psalms. It ignores the historical continuity of tradition in the communion of saints. It is like studying the activities of a seaport, and yet ignoring the existence of its hinterland. Such liberal scholarship is expressive of the skeptical culture of “postmodernism,” which rejects all “absolutes” and denies “truth claims.” It reinterprets “the historical” as a series of events subjectively selected according to the interest of the investigator, with no sense of a divinely ordered past or of any sovereign guidance and providence. (pp. 2–3)

We also deplore the lack of authentic exegesis in the use of the psalms, as well as the lack of Christian commitment and orthodoxy in much contemporary Biblical scholarship. (p. 4)

The authors follow up with a comment that “the text’s divine Author and his meaning in the text cannot be truly known or understood without a spiritual commitment to him.” (p. 4)

And this was choice:

The allegorical approach of [early] Christian commentators cannot be used to defend postmodern interpretation, which gives priority to the reader’s response to the text, not to the author’s intention. To be sure, both the “allegorizers” and postmoderns impose meanings on a text not intended by the author, but postmoderns bastardize the Christian commentator’s allegorical method. The church’s commentators allegorized the text, but they were orthodox, pastoral, and above all Christ-centered, whereas postmoderns are, for the most part, apostate, anthropocentric, and self-serving, and so deconstruct the author’s intention to foist their own political and/or social agenda on Scripture to validate their elitism, while accusing the Biblical writers of doing the same thing.

And I can’t leave out this:

For the early Christians the Psalms were also the unique emotional handbook for personal use of what might be termed “psalmno-therapy”—only eclipsed by modern psychology and the more recent “pop culture” of popular praise songs with their wearisome repetitions, substituting emotional enthusiasm apart from sober reflection. As Jonathan Edwards pointed out in his masterpiece, the Religious Affections (1746), the gospel provides us with appropriately responsive emotions. (pp. 10–11)

Amen! It is refreshing to read a commentary that is full-throated in its conservative theological commitments—and in its spirituality. Commentaries ought to be a service to the church and an exercise in worship before they aim at any goals specifically limited to the academic community.

It will, however, take some academic training to follow the introduction. But those who can follow it should not miss it. It provides a great deal of wisdom for the interpreter of the Psalms. Houston gives a helpful history of interpretation in general, and Waltke offers a powerful evaluation of Historical Biblical Criticism.

I’m not saying much about the commentary itself; it almost goes without saying that Waltke’s exegesis is solidly helpful and that he provides a valuable “theology” section at the end of each treatment.

Two Quasi-Negatives:

I have just two mild criticisms:

1. I confess that I’m not yet sure of the value of the summaries of pre-critical exegesis that accompany each chapter. I read the material with that dutiful, “eat-your-vegetables” feeling. My interest picked up when significant names arose whose theology is still important to a low-church Protestant like me: Augustine, Luther, Calvin. And there’s no doubt that valid exegetical insights happened before the 16th century. But I’m afraid that overall, those surveys had the unintended effect of confirming me in my de facto dismissal of the fathers. In my busy life as a Bible teacher and preacher I simply don’t have time to read authors who don’t help me understand and apply the Bible text. I’m glad some people know what the fathers have to say. I know beta-carotene is good for me in appropriate dosages. But I expect a solid evangelical scholar to sift through the fathers a bit more and present only what will truly help likely readers.

I would be remiss, however, not to quote the authors’ counter-objection:

Pre-Reformation commentators who center on Christ with piety and passion are in fact more Biblical than academics who dispassionately and scientifically explain the text without considering its holistic context, including the New Testament, and without passion and devotion to Christ. The Christ-centered piety and devotion of commentators before the recovery of the plain sense should be treasured, not trashed. Although some of their interpretations seem to us to be ridiculous and silly, for the most part they stayed within the parameters of orthodoxy—that is to say, within the parameters of the apostolic traditions as they found later expression in the creeds of the early church, especially in the Nicene Creed. Nevertheless, they are to be faulted when they twisted the original author’s interpretation and represented it as the meaning of the text, justifying their ignoring of the author’s intention by claiming spiritual illumination of divine mysteries. (pp. 6-7)

One more thing: I suspect that many readers won’t read (or maybe remember) the helpful introduction to this commentary, where the authors clearly and persuasively condemn the fanciful and even “unorthodox” allegorizing of many church fathers. Many readers will just look up the psalm they’re working on. If they do that, they may get the impression that Houston was even-handed with fathers (like Origen) whose hermeneutical ideas were simply dangerous.

2. This is another unfair negative, but naturally it would be nice to see a few more psalms make the cut: 32, 37, 40, 73, even (can you imagine?) 119. But the book is already substantial, and for a unique commentary with this special focus on Christian worship picking the psalms it did makes good sense. A solid understanding of these psalms is a gateway to much of the rest of the psalter.

I picked up this volume because I had to write 1,000 words on the Psalms for eighth-graders. Needless to say, I won’t quote it directly. But it did definitely help me, particularly with ideas about David and his (“typico-prophetic,” these authors helpfully call it) kingship in the Psalms. This commentary does belong on your shelf.

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (November 22, 2010)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802863744

Mark L. Ward, Jr., Ph.D. is a recent graduate of the BJ Seminary New Testament Interpretation program and has worked at BJU Press as a high school Bible curriculum author and Biblical Worldview Team member since 2006. He blogs at βλογάπη.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review of Daniel

Walvoord, John F. Daniel. Revised and edited by Charles H. Dyer and Philip E. Rawley. The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries.

In this recently updated commentary by John Walvoord, the reader will find an engaging and important work on the Old Testament prophet Daniel.  Walvoord presents an abundance of information in an eminently readable style.  He defends the authorship and early date of Daniel against its modern detractors.  He shows how the archaeological data that has been unearthed has consistently confirmed the accuracy of Daniel’s account, giving the Bible believer every reason to stake his confidence on this book of divine revelation.

Walvoord demonstrates that Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome comprise the four kingdoms of Daniel’s prophecy (in place of the liberal reckoning that ends with Greece).  He defends a futurist view of Daniel’s 70th week, showing that even amillennialists have to have a gap of at least 40 years between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel.  One of the most significant contributions of this commentary is its easy-to-follow description of the connection between the kings of the intertestamental time period and Daniel chapter 11.  Readers will want to access repeatedly his charts on this time period that demonstrate the incredible accuracy of Daniel’s prophecy (pp. 322-27).

Walvoord has given us a valuable tool for understanding and explaining a significant prophetic book.

  • Hardcover: 427 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0802417442

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.

This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review: Submerged ( Alaskan Courage Book 1)

Dani Pettrey, Submerged

A downed plane. An old church sunk to the depths of the ocean hides a priceless secret. A Russian bloodline going back to the Romanov’s. A ruined reputation. Suspense, mystery, romance and more are all rolled in to one with Dani Pettrey’s exciting new book Submerged.

This fiction novel is a fast-paced story similar to the writing of Dee Henderson and Lynette Eason. Pettrey’s characters are well-developed and draw you in from page one. Her main character, Bailey Craig, made many bad decisions in her youth that destroyed her reputation and shaped her future. Ten years later, God has saved her and turned her life around. But she is still running from her past, afraid to face the people she once knew. Forced to return home for her aunt’s funeral, Bailey must now confront her fears and learn to trust God with both her past and her future.

Cole McKenna grew up in Alaska and remembers Bailey’s wild youth, but he can see the changes God has worked in her life. As the murders pile up, Bailey and Cole must work together, diving the caves off the Alaskan coast, in search of Russian artifacts that have been lost for decades.

This is a story of God’s grace to restore us despite our past. When the mistakes we’ve made seem insurmountable, God’s grace is abundant. If we lean on Him, He will give strength to face our mistakes and move forward in faithful service to Him.

Pettrey weaves a story that will draw you in from the first chapter. You’ll love her characters and learn Scriptural truths from the struggles they face.  If you are looking for a new author to read and enjoy a suspenseful mystery, Submerged is the book for you.

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764209826

Book Reviewed by Betsy Tojdowski a staff member of the BJU Campus Store and avid reader.  Submerged releases May 1, 2012 and can be purchases at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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Book Review of Ephesians, Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon

Hoehner, Harold W., Philip W. Comfort, and Peter H. Davids. Ephesians, Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary.

This volume of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary surpasses the value of some of the other volumes.  Hoehner (Ephesians) presents a strong, well-worded defense of Pauline authorship of Ephesians and provides excellent historical background to the book.  Comfort (Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians) rejects improper kenotic views in Philippians even to the point of showing how the New Living Translation (NLT) badly mistranslates some important theological words and phrases.  He defends an early date for the Thessalonian letters and argues in favor of a collaborative work on the part of Paul and Silvanus (and possibly Timothy) in order to explain the frequent first-person-plural references in the Thessalonian epistles.  Although he is strongly inclined against a pre-tribulational Rapture, he does defend the existence of a future, personal Antichrist and takes a moderate view of the “Restrainer.”  Davids takes the Colossian heresy to be a predominantly Hellenistic-Jewish religious problem, and he refutes the claim that Colossians addresses a later, fully developed Gnosticism.  Davids also correctly analyzes “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15.
All of the contributions in this volume exhibit the same strengths.  They present a conservative interpretation of the crucial issues in these New Testament books.  This series does not attempt to cover issues that are relevant only to the NT scholar.  Instead, it addresses the major difficulties of interpretation and the most significant insights from which all Christians could profit.  This makes the series highly accessible for the reader.
The reader should be aware of two weaknesses in the New Living Translation.  First, the NLT is a highly dynamic (periphrastic) translation that either obscures the crucial wording of the Greek text or misses the point of the underlying text altogether.  All three commentators in this volume spend time in their notes correcting the NLT.  The fact that such a correction appears mitigates some of the weaknesses of the series.
Second, the NLT series tends to draw too heavily from the Pseudepigrapha and non-Christian sources such as Philo to make theological points.  Although the cultural and linguistic background can be helpful, commentators can get carried away with the supposed connections between the Pseudepigrapha and Scripture.

  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0842383448

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.
This book is available at www.BJUCampusStore.com

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