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Book Notice – The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary (The Lightfoot Legacy Set)

Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still, ed. The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary (The Lightfoot Legacy Set, Volume 1). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014. 407 pp. $40.00

Lightfoot ActsJoseph Barber Lightfoot is widely recognized as one of the preeminent New Testament scholars of his time, and perhaps of all time. While on sabbatical as scholar-in-residence in St. John’s College at Durham University in the spring of 2013, Dr. Ben Witherington III discovered in the Cathedral Library hundreds of pages of Lightfoot’s detailed notes on Acts, the Gospel of John, 2 Corinthians, 1 Peter, and early Judaism, most of which had never been published before. Last October, IVP Academic released the first of a projected three-volume set. This first volume covers Acts, while volume two is projected to cover the Gospel of John and volume three 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter. This was an historical discovery, and the publication of these notes a momentous affair for scholars and serious students of the New Testament.

This first volume on Acts contains introductory sections that contain more of the story of the discovery of these notes, background into Lightfoot’s life and scholarship, as well as photographs of pages of Lightfoot’s notes. Concerning the academic quality of the notes to be published in this set the editors write, “Lightfoot’s previously unpublished works on Acts, John, 1 Peter, and some of Paul’s letters was produced when he was at the height of his powers and commentary-writing ability. These heretofore unpublished notes on Acts and other subjects are often as detailed as the published commentaries and are from the same period of Lightfoot’s life” (p. 32, emphasis original).

It must be kept in mind that this is a compilation of unpublished notes that have been edited for publication. As such, at times it will not read/flow like a proper commentary, for the editors sometimes left notes as notes while other times, when Lightfoot’s intended meaning was clear, expanded notes into full paragraphs. Furthermore, what we have of his notes on Acts end with the 21st chapter. While of course we wish we could have a complete commentary on the entirety of Acts from such a formidable historian and biblical scholar, this new volume and series is truly a gift to the world of NT scholarship. Many thanks to IVP Academic for sending this volume, and I know I will be consulting it whenever I study Acts.

Purchase: Amazon
Visit: Publisher page



New & Noteworthy Books (2015)

Though I didn’t read all the new releases I was excited about in 2014 (but do not worry, the best books will not fall through the cracks and I have reviews coming of some stellar releases from the end of 2014) and I’m trying desperately to have a good balance of old books in my reading diet (to avoid the chronological snobbery C. S. Lewis so famously wrote about), I am already eagerly anticipating quite a few new books scheduled to come out this year. Below are the books I am most looking forward to and that every self-respecting bible/theology nerd should keep an eye out for (actually, you’ll see that the list is quite biased toward my primary interests. I apologize to OT nerds, those not particularly fond of Paul, and Arminians).

Biblical Theology
Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation) – Thomas R. Schreiner (February 2015, B&H Academic). This will be the inaugural volume of a new series that will be very unique, treating every book of the Bible from the perspective of biblical theology as well as relating the content to the life of the believer and the life of the Church. I am very excited about this series and am certain that it will be a great gift for the Church that will be simultaneously academically rich and rigorous as well as edifying and practical. Schreiner is one of my favorite scholars, so I am particularly excited about this first volume. And it’s even better that a review copy is already on its way to me 🙂

Bound for the Promised Land (New Studies in Biblical Theology) – Oren R. Martin (March 2015, IVP Academic). I love IVP Academic’s NSBT series and will probably eventually read every volume. This forthcoming volume demonstrates how, “within the redemptive-historical framework of God’s unfolding plan, the land promise advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden. This promise also serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates the even greater land, prepared for all of God’s people, that will result from the person and work of Christ and that will be enjoyed in the new creation for eternity” (from publisher’s description).

Bible Commentary
The Epistle to the Romans (NIGTC) – Richard Longenecker (November 2015, Eerdmans). I am eagerly anticipating this commentary and will be buying it as soon as it’s available, and you should too if you’re looking for a semi-technical commentary on Romans. And if you’re a true Pauline nerd and just cannot wait for this commentary, read Longenecker’s Introducing Romans to hold you over. He basically wrote it as an extended introduction to his forthcoming commentary.

Biblical Languages
Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament – Constantine Campbell (July 2015, Zondervan Academic). Publisher’s description: “Advances in the Study of Greek offers an introduction to issues of interest in the current world of Greek scholarship. Those within Greek scholarship will welcome this book as a tool that puts students, pastors, professors, and commentators firmly in touch with what is going on in Greek studies. Those outside Greek scholarship will warmly receive Advances in the Study of Greek as a resource to get themselves up to speed in Greek studies. Free of technical linguistic jargon, the scholarship contained within is highly accessible to outsiders.”

Pauline Studies
Studies in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians – Hans Dieter Betz (January 2015, Mohr Siebeck). In this study Betz presents “seven chapters of new exegetical investigations focusing on controversial passages and issues of the letter. These chapters represent separate engagements over a period of several years and employ the standard historical-critical methodologies, including rhetorical and literary criticism…the studies offer new proposals for analyzing difficult passages and issues, and lay the groundwork for understanding the letter as a whole” (from publisher’s description).

The Righteousness of God: A Lexical Examination of the Covenant-Faithfulness Interpretation – Charles Lee Irons (February 2015, Mohr Siebeck). I believe this is the revised version of Irons’s dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary under the supervision of Donald Hagner and Seyoon Kim (I think Mark Seifrid was the external reader). This study “provides a critical examination of Cremer’s chief arguments for the relational, covenant-faithfulness interpretation. The author argues instead for the view that ‘the righteousness of God’ in Rom 1:17; 3:21-22; 10:3; 2 Cor 5:21; and Phil 3:9 is the status of righteousness that comes from God as a gift” (from publisher’s description). Yes, another study challenging something related to the NPP.  I can’t get enough of this stuff!

Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters – Wesley Hill (March 2015, Eerdmans). From the publisher’s description: “Paul’s ways of speaking about God, Jesus, and the Spirit are intricately intertwined: talking about any one of the three, for Paul, implies reference to all of them together. However, much current Pauline scholarship discusses Paul’s God-, Christ-, and Spirit-language without reference to trinitarian theology. In contrast to that trend, Wesley Hill argues in this book that later, post-Pauline trinitarian theologies represent a better approach, opening a fresh angle on Paul’s earlier talk about God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit. Hill looks critically at certain well-known discussions in the field of New Testament studies — those by N. T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, and others — in light of patristic and contemporary trinitarian theologies, resulting in an innovative approach to an old set of questions.”

Paul’s Divine Christology – Chris Tilling (April 2015, Eerdmans). This isn’t technically a new book, as it was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2012. But WUNT monographs are a bit inaccessible to most of us, and so there was great rejoicing across the nerdy land the day it was announced that Eerdmans would publish an affordable reprint. For more info read Nick Norelli’s review. And then preorder the book from Eerdmans. (Oh, and I’m supposed to be getting a review copy of this….unless someone forgot. Ahem, Chris 🙂 )

Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul – Simon Gathercole (May 2015, Baker Academic). Granted, it’s only an essay and therefore rather short; and yes, some might feel like any more talk on this topic is truly beating a dead horse; but I never get tired of good words on the (traditional view of the) atonement, and Gathercole is one of the finest NT scholars of our day. I’m excited to read this. I do still find the topic of Pauline soteriology intellectually stimulating (though I know many are tired of it), but even if I didn’t I’d keep reading on this because it’s the gospel. And I want to keep reading, thinking, meditating, and singing (yes, singing!) about it till the day faith becomes sight.

Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism – Ben Blackwell (July 2015, Zondervan Academic). Publisher’s description: ” Readers of Paul today are more than ever aware of the importance of interpreting Paul’s letters in their Jewish context. In Reading Romans in Context a team of Pauline scholars go beyond a general introduction that surveys historical events and theological themes and explore Paul’s letter to the Romans in light of Second Temple Jewish literature. In this non-technical collection of short essays, beginning and intermediate students are given a chance to see firsthand what makes Paul a distinctive thinker in relation to his Jewish contemporaries. Following the narrative progression of Romans, each chapter pairs a major unit of the letter with one or more thematically related Jewish text, introduces and explores the theological nuances of the comparative text, and shows how these ideas illuminate our understanding of the book of Romans.”

Johannine Studies
Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology – Richard Bauckham (August 2015, Baker Academic). Richard Bauckham. ‘Nuf said.

Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation – Michael Allen and Scott Swain (January 2015, Baker Academic). “Can Christians and churches be both catholic and Reformed? In this volume, two accomplished young theologians argue that to be Reformed means to go deeper into true catholicity rather than away from it. Their manifesto for a catholic and Reformed approach to dogmatics seeks theological renewal through retrieval of the rich resources of the historic Christian tradition. The book provides a survey of recent approaches toward theological retrieval and offers a renewed exploration of the doctrine of sola scriptura. It includes a substantive afterword by J. Todd Billings” (publisher’s description).

John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 2 (February 2015, P&R). Volume 1 came out last year. These are both great for Frame fans (as they contain previously unpublished essays), as well accessible introductions to Frame for those intimidated by his larger volumes.

Common Grace and the Gospel – Cornelius Van Til, edited by K. Scott Oliphint (March 2015, P&R). “What point of contact does the Christian have with the world in order to bring the biblical message to the nonbeliever? How can the doctrines of election and total depravity be reconciled with the universal offer of the gospel and human responsibility? Does our Lord show favor to saint and sinner alike? Restoring the full text of the original 1972 work, this collection of annotated essays addresses questions on common grace and its relevance to the gospel” (from publisher’s description).

The Election of Grace: A Riddle without a Resolution? – Stephen N. Williams (April 2015, Eerdmans). This is the inaugural volume to be published from the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology, a biennial lecture series hosted by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. “The Kantzer Lectures address the crisis of theology in the church. In particular, they confront the powerful, and not entirely unwarranted, prejudice that theology is irrelevant and unrelated to real life. They do this by showing how the knowledge of God derived from revealed theology is indeed practical” (See full purpose here). I’m particularly excited about this volume because election is perennially one of the most controversial Christian doctrines, source of both misunderstanding and heated debate among the primary camps. It also tends to be seen as impractical and insignificant, just a source of pointless heady debate by those who do not passionately hold to a particular view.

After expounding the Bible’s teaching on election, Williams turns to questions of theological method and substance. He maintains that the subject of predestination must be considered in a wider biblical context than it often is and that we cannot expect to understand election within a comprehensive systematic framework. What matters is the relation of particular truths to the particulars of life, he says, not the systematic relation of truths to each other. Williams draws on and applies the insights of remarkable nineteenth-century Anglican leader Charles Simeon throughout his study, concluding the book with a cogent discussion of Karl Barth on election (from publisher’s description).

Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado (January 2015, T&T Clark). This festschrift to one of the most significant NT scholars of our time looks like a fabulous read not just for those who already appreciate Hurtado’s scholarship, but also for anyone looking for some excellent essays in current scholarship related to the Gospel of Mark, textual criticism, and early Jesus-devotion (the last of which Hurtado is probably most know for).

Fundamentals of New Testament Criticism – Stan Porter and Andrew Pitts (April 2015, Eerdmans). This looks like a it will be a wonderful, accessible, and concise by introduction to the topic by two excellent NT scholars.

I (Still) Believe: Leading Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship – John Byron and Joel Lohr, ed. (September 2015, Zondervan Academic). “I (Still) Believe explores the all-important question of whether serious academic study of the Bible is threatening to one’s faith. Far from it—faith enhances study of the Bible and, reciprocally, such study enriches a person’s faith. With this in mind, this book asks prominent Bible teachers and scholars to tell their story reflecting on their own experiences at the intersection of faith and serious academic study of the Bible” (from publisher’s description).

Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen (Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor, ed.)

Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, ed. Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006. 464 pp. $24.00

overcoming“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” This is perhaps the most famous sentence ever penned by John Owen; you hear it in sermons, you see it on Reformed t-shirts
but probably most in our day who have heard this quote have never read any of Owens’s works. Owens is notoriously difficult to read and understand, and yet virtually all who have done the hard work to read through any of his writings attest to significant impact of his thought.

In the forward to Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, John Piper writes:

Owen is especially worthy of our attention because he is shocking in his insights. That is my impression again and again. He shocks me out of my platitudinous ways of thinking about God and man
Owen loves the cross and knows what happened there better than anyone I have read. The battle with sin that you are about to read about is no superficial technique of behavior modification. It is a profound dealing with what was accomplished on the cross in relation to the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit through the deep and wonderful mysteries of faith.

(Kapic & Taylor 13)

This volume was published in order to reintroduce John Owen to the contemporary church and brings together three of Owens’s classic works on sin and temptation: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It, and Indwelling Sin. Besides reading these works as originally written, the main prior options were abridgements or paraphrases. This volume is therefore unique, offering an unabridged version that is slightly updated in order to make these classic works more accessible to the modern reader. The editing work does not in any way take away from Owens’s original prose, but offers many additional helps in footnotes, parentheses, etc. In the preface, Justin Taylor notes the following changes:

  • provided overviews of the thesis and arguments for all three books
  • footnoted difficult vocabulary words or phrases (at their first occurrence in each book) and collected them into a glossary
  • Americanized the British spelling (e.g., behaviour to behavior)
  • updated archaic pronouns (e.g., thou to you)
  • updated other archaic spellings (e.g., hath to have; requireth to requires)
  • updated some archaic word forms (e.g., concernments to concerns, surprisals to surprises)
  • corrected the text in places where the nineteenth-century edition incorrectly deviated from the original
  • modernized some of the punctuation
  • placed Owen’s Scripture references in parentheses
  • added our own Scripture references in brackets when Owen quotes or alludes to a passage but does not provide a reference
  • transliterated all Hebrew and Greek words, and provided a translation if Owen didn’t provide one
  • translated all Latin phrases that Owen leaves untranslated
  • provided sources for quotations and allusions where possible
  • removed Owen’s intricate numbering system, which functioned as an extensive outline
  • added headings and italics throughout this volume, and extensive outlines of our own at the end, to aid the reader in following the flow of Owen’s thought

(Kapic & Taylor 17-18)

This volume is truly a gift to the modern church and should be read and re-read by every Christian who has not read these three classic works or struggles in reading the originals. Especially in our day of easy-believism, these compelling and insightful writings on sin, temptation, and the believer’s call to holiness need to be widely read.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Kostenberger & Patterson)

Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson. Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2011. 896 pp. $46.99.

invitationBiblical hermeneutics (the science of interpreting the Bible) is one of the most important topics for the Christian – not just for seminary students, pastors, and those in vocational ministry, but for lay Christians as well. Because hermeneutics is taught in Bible college and seminary, perhaps I can say that it’s even more important for laypeople to pursue. Bad hermeneutics and false teachings are rampant, and lay Christians need to be equipped to rightly handle the word of truth. All believers should be encouraged to read a book on hermeneutics and/or be trained in the discipline early in their Christian life to set up good habits for lifelong study of the word, whether through a church Sunday School course, campus ministry training, or even in individual discipleship if formal training groups are not available/possible. Long-time professors Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson have written a comprehensive introduction to hermeneutics that would serve well in the classroom, in lay training courses, and for individuals looking for an in-depth guide to the interpretive process.

Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology is designed to teach “a simple method” for interpreting the Bible (23) that involves preparation, interpretation, and application. The introductory chapter is devoted to preparation and sets the stage for the book by addressing issues such as the need for skilled interpretation and the cost of failed interpretation. Chapter 1 also provides a brief survey of the  history of biblical interpretation and an introduction to the hermeneutical triad. The concluding chapter is devoted to application and helps the student bridge the principles learned in this book to the real world of teaching, preaching, and applying the Word. Here the authors offer tips and resources for study, as well as a guide to sermon preparation for each biblical genre (including major mistakes often made, advice for how to preach from that genre, and a sample lesson/sermon from a text in that specific genre).

Everything in between (14 chapters) is dedicated to the hermeneutical triad of interpretation, which proposes that in interpreting any passage of Scripture, one should study the historical background, literary context, and theological message. This practice of studying Scripture is not new, but the terminology is used in this book for the first time. Part 1 opens with one chapter addressing the first element of history, moving from the primeval period of the Old Testament through the end of the New Testament period, covering the Second Temple period in between. Relevant extrabiblical primary sources are also covered, such as apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Part 3 in one chapter addresses the third element in the triad, that of theology, and covers biblical theology, New Testament theology, and the use of the Old Testament in the New. In between these two chapters lies not just the bulk of this section, but the bulk of the entire book – twelve chapters on the second element of the hermeneutical triad, literature.

Unlike many hermeneutics books which move from general to special hermeneutics, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation moves from special to general. Accordingly, Part 2 on literature moves from canon to genre, then finally to language. Because of the importance of the overarching storyline of Scripture on the interpretation of individual sections, Part 2 begins with a chapter on the OT canon and a chapter on the NT canon. Then a chapter is devoted to each of the different types of biblical genre (OT narrative, poetry and wisdom, prophecy, NT narrative, parables, epistles, and finally, a chapter specifically devoted to the book of Revelation), providing nature and characteristics of the genre, sample exegesis of a passage, and guidelines for interpreting the genre. Finally, the chapters on language cover topics such as the basics of biblical Greek and Hebrew, the basics of Greek syntax, discourse analysis,  exegetical fallacies, and interpreting figurative language.

Invitation to Biblical Interpretation is the most comprehensive introduction to hermeneutics that I’ve seen. It is the ideal text for a layperson looking for an in-depth, comprehensive introduction to hermeneutics (background knowledge isn’t required, but you’d need to like or at least be undaunted by big books). This would also be a good text for a church adult Sunday School series in hermeneutics, or any other serious lay training course whether in a church or parachurch context. Finally, I think this book would also make a great textbook for introductory hermeneutics courses in Bible college and seminary. Each chapter begins with chapter objectives and a chapter outline and ends with key words, study questions, assignments, and chapter bibliography, facilitating classroom use as well as self-learning.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Thanks to Kregel Academic for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Kingdom and Atonement

This past weekend I read The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology by Jeremy Treat. A full review will be coming soon, but I wanted offer a few preliminary thoughts.

The number of books that fly across my radar is staggering. I have to be pretty selective about what I read, and there are plenty of good and worthy books that don’t necessarily excite me just because, well, there are so many good books and a lot of them say the same thing. The Crucified King excited me immediately when I heard about it because the very title (subtitle, to be exact) brings together two pairs of topics that are unfortunately frequently torn asunder: atonement and kingdom, and biblical and systematic theology. In fact, the dichotomization of the latter in part causes the dichotomization of the former, which is why a comprehensive treatment of kingdom and atonement requires an integration of biblical and systematic the0logy.

In the introduction Treat provides six reasons why the rift between atonement and kingdom developed (pp. 26-29).

  1. reactionary conservative response to the social gospel movement of the early twentieth century.
  2. fragmentation of Scripture ever since the enlightenment – if the Bible is not a unified whole, then there is no need to integrate seemingly incompatible themes.
  3. the “ugly ditch” between biblical studies and systematic theology, since the former tends to emphasize the kingdom of God and the latter focuses largely on the doctrine of the atonement.
  4. the  Gospels (where the kingdom theme is most explicit) have largely been ignored as a source for theology.
  5. oversystematization of doctrines as such the states and offices of Christ. If the cross is only in the state of humiliation, and Christ’s death is interpreted only in terms of his priestly office , it’s hard to see how atonement relates to kingdom.
  6. if one has a mistaken view of either the kingdom or the cross, then obviously the two cannot be properly related.

The Crucified King will probably end up being one of my favorite books of the year. If you have an interest in any of the four topics in the subtitle (atonement, kingdom, biblical theology, systematic theology) you will love this book. But you will especially appreciate it if you lament the dichotomization of either atonement and kingdom and/or biblical and systematic theology and long to see these pairs integrated as they should be. This book is the published version of Treat’s doctoral dissertation at Wheaton under Kevin Vanhoozer.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon


In the Mail

I don’t do these posts often, just once in a while when what I receive is extraordinarily, beyond-the-norm good. Monday was one of those days – I came home to five packages and literally laughed aloud. I was giddy like a little kid on Christmas who didn’t know that it was Christmas. And it’s not just because of the quantity – I am very excited about the content of these books.

Publishers’ blurbs are below. Thanks to IVP Academic, Zondervan, Wipf & Stock, Kregel Academic, and Westminster John Knox for the review copies!


  1. An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology (M. Eugene Boring)

    This thoroughly researched textbook from well-respected scholar M. Eugene Boring presents a user-friendly introduction to the New Testament books. Boring approaches the New Testament as a historical document, one that requires using a hands-on, critical method. Moreover, he asserts that the New Testament is the church’s book, in that it was written, selected, preserved, and transmitted by the church. Boring goes on to explore the historical foundation and formation of the New Testament within the context of pre-Christian Judaism and the world of Jesus and the early church. He then examines the individual books of the New Testament, providing helpful background information and methods for interpretation, and revealing the narrative substructure found within each of the Gospels and Letters.This volume includes helpful illustrations, charts, notes, and suggestions for further reading. Sections are laid out in a well-organized manner to help students navigate the content more easily.

  2. Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson)

    Bible scholars Andreas Köstenberger (NT) and Richard Patterson (OT) provide seminarians and upper-level collegians a textbook utilizing the “hermeneutical triad” method. This approach to interpretation is based on giving due consideration to both the historical setting and the literary context, as well the theological message. Working through the major genres of Scripture and showing how their method applies to each one, they provide interpretive examples to guide the student in proper exegesis. In addition to the examples, each chapter concludes with exercises and assignments. Also included is a helpful “Building a Biblical Studies Library” appendix.

  3. From Messiah to Preexistent Son (Aquila Lee)

    How did the earliest Christians come to see Jesus as a divine and preexistent being alongside God? Aquila Lee proposes that the root of preexistent Son Christology is to be found in early Christian exegesis of the two messianic psalms (the catalyst) in the light of Jesus’s self-consciousness of divine sonship and divine mission (the foundation).

  4. What’s Best Next (Matt Perman)

    Productivity isn’t just about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done—the things that count, make a difference, and move the world forward.In our current era of massive overload, this is harder than ever before. So how do you get more of the right things done without confusing mere activity for actual productivity?When we take God’s purposes into account, a revolutionary insight emerges. Surprisingly, we see that the way to be productive is to put others first—to make the welfare of other people our motive and criteria in determining what to do (what’s best next). As both the Scriptures and the best business thinkers show, generosity is the key to unlocking our productivity. It is also the key to finding meaning and fulfillment in our work.What’s Best Next offers a practical approach for improving your productivity in all areas of life. It will help you better understand:

    • Why good works are not just rare and special things like going to Africa, but anything you do in faith even tying your shoes.
    • How to create a mission statement for your life that actually works.
    • How to delegate to people in a way that actually empowers them.
    • How to overcome time killers like procrastination, interruptions, and multitasking by turning them around and making them work for you.
    • How to process workflow efficiently and get your email inbox to zero every day.
    • How your work and life can transform the world socially, economically, and spiritually, and connect to God’s global purposes.

    By anchoring your understanding of productivity in God’s purposes and plan, What’s Best Next will give you a practical approach for increasing your effectiveness in everything you do.

  5. The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority (John Walton and D. Brent Sandy)

    From John H. Walton, author of the bestselling Lost World of Genesis One, and D. Brent Sandy, author of Plowshares and Pruning Hooks, comes a detailed look at the origins of scriptural authority in ancient oral cultures and how they inform our understanding of the Old and New Testaments today.

    Stemming from questions about scriptural inerrancy, inspiration and oral transmission of ideas, The Lost World of Scripture examines the process by which the Bible has come to be what it is today. From the reasons why specific words were used to convey certain ideas to how oral tradition impacted the transmission of biblical texts, the authors seek to uncover how these issues might affect our current doctrine on the authority of Scripture.

    “In this book we are exploring ways God chose to reveal his word in light of discoveries about ancient literary culture,” write Walton and Sandy. “Our specific objective is to understand better how both the Old and New Testaments were spoken, written and passed on, especially with an eye to possible implications for the Bible’s inspiration and authority.”



A Short Christology Bibliography

As I began reading Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God weeks ago, I had a feeling I’d be studying early Christology beyond the evangelical response book, How God Became Jesus. These feelings were solidified as I read the latter book, collecting papers referenced and adding scores of books to my to-read list. Overwhelmed by the number of good options, I asked two Twitter friends & Christology buffs for their top 10. Unsurprisingly, there were some overlaps in their lists. The overlapping titles happened to have already been at the top of my own list as well. I present below their recommendations for anyone else seeking a short bibliography on (early) Christology.

Tim Bertolet
Putting Jesus in His Place – Bowman and Komoszewski
The Christology of the NT – Oscar Cullman
Christology in the Making – James Dunn
Jesus as God —Murray Harris
Studies in Early Christology – Hengel
Lord Jesus Christ – Hurtado (maybe also How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? and One God, One Lord)
Jesus and the God of Israel – Bauckham
The Preexistent Son – Simon Gathercole
The Origin of Christology – C.F.D. Moule
Pauline Christology – Fee
From Messiah to Preexistent Son – Aquila Lee

Nick Norelli
Paul’s Divine Christology – Tilling
Lord Jesus Christ – Hurtado
Jesus and the God of Israel – Bauckham
Putting Jesus in His Place
The Preexistent Son – Gathercole
Early Narrative Christology – Rowe
Pauline Christology – Fee
The Son of God – Hengel
Climax of the Covenant – Wright
From Messiah to Preexistent Son – Lee

Eventually I plan to read every single one of these, but for now I’m starting with the bigwigs of the EHCC (Hengel, Bauckham, and Hurtado). You gotta start there, right?

Random thoughts:
1) thankful for internet friendships with fellow nerds 😀
2) thankful for Amazon gift cards! Best gift for a bookworm 😀

In the Mail

Up until a few months ago, I never entered contests. I figured I’d never win anyway, so I didn’t bother. That all changed when I started using Twitter regularly a few months ago and discovered that there are regular book giveaways in the Twitterverse. I could not resist. So I entered my first giveaway, and I won. I was shocked. And happy. And thankful. A few months later, I am still shocked and happy and thankful, but I’m also confused and amused. Because I just. keep. winning. I really don’t understand why I keep winning; I’m confused because I don’t believe in coincidence; because I believe that God “doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence” (WCF 5.1). Why would God in His sovereignty give me all these book victories? I’m not complaining. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, every victory has made me full of nerdy glee. I’ve won a lot of great books. But last week, I won the motherload. A few weeks ago Brazos Press hosted a blog tour for Craig Blomberg’s new book Can We Still Believe the Bible. Publishers often hold blog tours of new books by recruiting average joe bloggers like yours truly. But this blog tour was unique because all the participants are in the academic world of biblical and theological studies. Participants included luminaries in New Testament studies such as Daniel Wallace, Darrell Bock, Michael Bird, and Craig Keener. Do check out the tour. The giveaway included several copies of Can We Still Believe the Bible as well as a grand prize of 5 books. I won the grand prize!!!! See the picture below, and it will be obvious why I was/am so ecstatic. I’ve probably purchased more books from Baker Academic than any other publisher; and most of their books end up on my to-read list. And I own none of the books below. Words can’t express my delight. Now….I am seriously thinking about whether I can take a week off, get a cabin by a lake and just read/write.

Baker Giveaway

  1. Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions (Craig Blomberg)

    Challenges to the reliability of Scripture are perennial and have frequently been addressed. However, some of these challenges are noticeably more common today, and the topic is currently of particular interest among evangelicals. In this volume, highly regarded biblical scholar Craig Blomberg offers an accessible and nuanced argument for the Bible’s reliability in response to the extreme views about Scripture and its authority articulated by both sides of the debate. He believes that a careful analysis of the relevant evidence shows we have reason to be more confident in the Bible than ever before. As he traces his own academic and spiritual journey, Blomberg sketches out the case for confidence in the Bible in spite of various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering a positive, informed, and defensible approach.

  2. Are You the One Who is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Michael Bird)

    Did Jesus claim to be the longawaited “messiah”? Going against much contemporary scholarship, Australian scholar Michael Bird argues that he did. He begins by exploring the messianic expectations in the Old Testament and Second Temple Jewish literature. Next, Bird points out weaknesses in current arguments that “Messiah,” or “Christ,” was a title given to Jesus by the early church but not used by Jesus himself. Bird then examines the Gospels and related literature, finding in Jesus’s words and actions evidence that he saw himself as the messiah described in the Scriptures of Israel and believed that Israel’s restoration hinged on the outcome of his ministry.

  3. Jesus According to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels (Darrell Bock)

    In recent years, historians and biblical scholars have been in active pursuit of the Jesus of history. These efforts have relied heavily on extra biblical documents, since many historians consider the Bible to be propagandistic and biased. Darrell Bock, however, argues that when read together, the Gospels provide a clear picture of Jesus and his unique claims to authority. Jesus according to Scripture seeks to show the coherent portrait of Jesus that emerges from the Gospels, a portrait that is rooted in history and yet has produced its own historical and cultural impact. Now available in paper, Jesus according to Scripture is an excellent textbook for courses on the life of Jesus at both the advanced college and seminary levels. Pastors, teachers, and all those interested in Jesus and the Gospels will also enjoy this scholarly yet accessible book.

  4. The Story of Jesus in History and Faith: An Introduction (Lee Martin McDonald)

    Many books are available on the historical Jesus, but few address issues that are critically central to Christian faith–namely, Jesus as resurrected Lord, Christ, and Son of God. This comprehensive introduction to the study of the historical Jesus takes both scholarship and Christian faith seriously.Leading New Testament scholar Lee Martin McDonald brings together two critically important dimensions of the story of Jesus: what we can know about him in his historical context and what we can responsibly claim about his significance for faith today. McDonald examines the most important aspects of the story of Jesus from his birth to his resurrection and introduces key issues and approaches in the study of the historical Jesus. He also considers faith issues, taking account of theological perspectives that secular historiography cannot address. The book incorporates excerpts from primary sources and includes a map and tables.

  5. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Craig Keener)

    Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume’s argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume’s argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.

To Brazos Press and Baker Academic, thanks for hosting such a great blog tour and for giving away such an amazing prize package!


Inside the Christology Showdown – An Interview with ZonderBird

Yesterday was the official release date of the dueling books – Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, and the response by a dream team of evangelical scholars (Michael Bird, Simon Gathercole, Craig Evans, Chris Tilling, and Charles Hill) – How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature – A Response to Bart Ehrman. See my initial post on Ehrman’s book here, and the response book here.

As the response book was stirring up buzz in the past few months, over and over again I heard two questions. “Did Zondervan arrange this as a marketing ploy?” “How in the world did the authors write a response to release the same day as Ehrman’s book?” Dr. Michael Bird, one of the contributors as well as the editor of the book, gave Emily Varner of Academic Publishing Services an inside look at the process:

Well, I was walking around the book stalls at SBL, and saw the poster for Bart Ehrman’s new book, How Jesus Became God. From the blurb, I reckon I had a pretty good idea as to what he was gonna say, and believed that a timely and thoughtful response should be made. And—to be honest—while I have a great respect for some of Ehrman’s works on textual criticism and early Christian history, I’m rather fed-up with the often extravagant and inflated claims that either he or his publicity team makes in his popular level books about Jesus, the Bible, and the early church. I’m weary of getting emails from some distraught undergrad who heard the latest overstated or unguarded remark that Ehrman or one of his acolytes are saying on the TV, web, or in print. So I wanted to put forward an alternative view to take him on and show that he’s not holding all the aces. So I approached a few friends whom I know to be eminent scholars but would share my interest (Simon Gathercole, Chris Tilling, Craig Evans, and Chuck Hill), and suggested we write a short response to Ehrman. My editor at Zondervan, Katya Covrett, who always has a mixture of curiosity and concern when I share new ideas with her, thought this crazy idea could work. HarperOne was gracious enough to give us a pre-pub copy of the book, which we read and reflected on immediately, we then wrote up our responses over Christmas, and the whole thing came together remarkably well.

See the whole interview at Bible Gateway.

And if you’re wondering what ZonderBird means, here it is.

In the Mail

A few weeks ago I started learning Koine Greek, armed with a borrowed copy of Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar and free lectures from DTS on iTunes U. As I started doing simple translation, I realized that just understanding/remembering all the content is not enough. It felt rather like how I imagine it would feel if you tried to do calculus problems after learning arithmetic. I was ecstatic when I saw christianbook.com selling an older edition of Mounce’s workbook for $1.99. There was also a recent promotion of free shipping for orders over $35. Hence, my $1.99 order turned into $35.55, but I didn’t pay for shipping and I’m overall very happy with my purchase. Christianbook.com has the best sales.


At the bottom is the workbook that was the reason for the order. Above that is Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics for only $19.99!! At the very top is Mounce’s Biblical Greek – A Compact Guide for $4.99. Since I didn’t buy the grammar, I thought this would be a good resource for future review. But it is much smaller and thinner than I had imagined. The other two books are commentaries – Leon Morris (happy centenary!) on 1 and 2 Thessalonians for $5.59 and Harrison on Jeremiah and Lamentations from the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series for $2.99. I kind of have a thing for commentaries 😀 And I can’t really turn them down when they’re really cheap.