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Mark Through Old Testament Eyes

mark through ot eyesMark Through Old Testament Eyes by Andrew T. Le Peau is the inaugural volume of the new “Through Old Testament Eyes” New Testament commentary series. While grounded in solid scholarship, this series is not written for the academic; rather, it aims to help serious lay readers as well as teachers and preachers experience fuller and richer dimensions of books of the NT by illuminating the OT backgrounds. Although it seems that the average person in the pew has always struggled to understand and appreciate the OT, Andy Stanley‘s recent statement about how Christians need to “unhitch” the OT from their faith makes it all the more urgent for us to help Christians understand and cherish the OT, and to see it as relevant for their lives and ministries. One way to accomplish this is to open up OT backgrounds to NT passages, which is what this commentary series does. However, I appreciate that Le Peau (who is also the series editor) notes that “the Old Testament is not merely a tool for understanding the New. The Old Testament is important and valuable in its own right. It was the Bible of Jesus and the first Christians. They guided their lives by it. The Old Testament needs to be and deserves to be understood on its own terms, apart from the lens it provides for seeing the New Testament clearly” (11). The hope is that these commentaries, in providing a window to the OT through the NT, will motivate readers to look more deeply into the OT itself.

The commentaries in this series will all have four repeating features. The main element is a running commentary which provides OT background and other key information. Second, “Through Old Testament Eyes” sections give a big picture of how OT themes and motifs influence large sections of the NT text. For example, “Mark 11-16 Through Old Testament Eyes: Jesus the New Temple” (pp 301-303) summarizes key dimensions of the temple motif in Mark 11-16 and concludes that in Mark, Jesus is the new temple not made with human hands (Mark 14:57-59), which the OT had anticipated when speaking of a time when there would be no need for a temple because God’s presence would dwell with his people (e.g. Isa 40:5; Jer 3:16-17; Hab 3:14; Zec 1:16-2:13). Third, “What the Structure Means” keeps track of the overall flow of the NT book, explaining how the author gets his point across using structural techniques (e.g. repetition, sandwiches, etc.). Structurally, Le Peau sees three major sections in Mark, divided in accordance with the New Exodus Motif (p. 18): 1) the liberator arrives (Mark 1:1-8:27); 2) the way to Jerusalem (Mark 8:22-10:52); and 3) conquest in Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-16:8). This parallels the Exodus in the OT as follows: 1) Moses arrives to liberate Israel (Exodus 1-15); 2) The journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 16-40, Numbers, Deuteronomy); and 3) the conquest of Canaan (Joshua). Le Peau traces the New Exodus motif throughout his commentary. Finally, “Going Deeper” addresses practical implications of the NT texts. The Gospel of Mark was written not only to convey information, but also to teach the early church how they were to live out the kingdom that Jesus preached in their contexts.

No existing NT commentary series that I’m aware of focuses exclusively on how the NT books were influenced by the OT (the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament does something similar in one volume, although it’s a bit more academic). I think this book will accomplish what the publisher hoped for the series – the reader’s understanding of Mark will be enriched by the illumination of OT echoes and allusions, and the reader will be motivated to dig deeper into the OT for itself. Mark Through Old Testament Eyes is a must-read for any serious student of the Bible wanting to study the Gospel of Mark, as well as for those preaching and teaching on this book in ecclesial settings.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon


Book Notice – New Dictionary of Theology (Second Edition)

Davie, Martin, et al., ed. New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic (Second Edition). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016. 1044 pp. $60.00

First published in 1988, IVP Academic’s New Dictionary of Theology has become an indispensable/definitive resource for pastors and theological students alike, providing an introduction to a host of diverse of topics in systematic, historical, and biblical theology. This new edition reflects some of the most important new issues in historical and systematic theology that have arisen in the past three decades, boasting over 400 new articles. The articles on biblical theology in the first edition have been eliminated due to IVP Academic’s New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (2000), giving this dictionary a specific focus on historical and systematic theology (as reflected in the new subtitle).

New articles address challenging contemporary issues such as abortion, gender, and human rights law and new theological movements such as analytic theology, postliberalism, and the Yale School. I was particularly delighted to see new articles on theology from the majority world, such as African theology, Arab Christian thought, Asian Christian thought, Black theology, Chinese theology, Japanese Christian thought, and Korean theology. Since the first edition did not have a single article on theology outside the West, the presence of these articles seems to reflect a conscious decision on the part of the editors. Old articles have also been rewritten by new authors, including, interestingly, justification (previously by N. T. Wright, now by Brian Lugioyo). The article on justification reflects what seems to be a general emphasis on historical rather than systematic presentation.

With over 800 articles by some of the finest theologians of our day addressing a variety of topics in historical and systematic theology (e.g. figures, movements, doctrines), the second edition of IVP Academic’s New Dictionary of Theology is an essential resource for historical and systematic theology from a broadly evangelical perspective. Those with strong confessional affiliations will likely find irksome the lack of definitive theological position in some articles and those more conservative might be troubled by openness to positions such as a nonhistorical Adam, annihilationism, etc. However, as a one-volume reference, there is no better resource than the new second edition of New Dictionary of Theology.

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Paul’s New Perspective (Garwood Anderson)

Garwood P. Anderson. Paul’s New Perspective: Charting a Soteriological Journey. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016. 457 pp. $45.00

pauls-new-perspectiveThe newest book on the New Perspective on Paul (hereafter NPP) offers a creative way beyond the NPP/TPP (“Traditional Perspective on Paul”) impasse by way of a theory of development in Paul’s soteriology throughout his letters. In the creatively titled Paul’s New Perspective, Garwood Anderson points to both what each side of the debate has right and how each side errs as well as proposes a novel synthesis that provides a plausible explanation of why elements of both perspectives are seen in the Pauline corpus. The thesis of the book is captured by the title: “the new perspective on Paul is Paul’s oldest perspective and the ‘old perspective’ describes what would become (more or less) Paul’s settled ‘new perspective'” (379).

In Chapter 1 Anderson begins by noting four gains of the NPP (reconsidering Paul’s conversion, reappraising the “soteriology of Judaism, reframing Torah observance, and renewing the covenant) before showing how each falls short and needs nuance. Chapter 2  examines a representative sample of texts (Phil 3:1-11,  Rom 3:21-4:8, and Eph 2:1-22) that illustrate the insufficiency of both the NPP and the TPP. Anderson demonstrates that “texts that both paradigms have claimed for themselves actually need to be shared, and once shared, call into question the exclusive rights of both paradigms” (58). With both Philippians 3:1-11 and Ephesians 2:1-11, he shows how half the passage essentially supports the NPP while the other half essentially supports the TPP. In his discussion on Romans 3:21-4:8 Anderson introduces a point that he will repeat throughout the heart of his book (chapters 6-8) and which is a pillar of his thesis: Romans marks a transition in Paul’s developing soteriology. As will be noted and developed in Chapters 6-8, Anderson argues that Paul’s soteriology in his earlier letters is essentially NPP and later “settles” into basically the TPP view. Romans is the transition point where characteristic elements of both overlap. “To put it oversimplstically, the besetting fault of the NPP is to read Romans too closely to (its reading of) Galatians, and the prevailing fault of the TPP is to read it too closely to, say, (its reading of) Ephesians, when the letter is not quite the same as either but marks a theological transition between the two, sharing and combining elements of both” (84).

In Chapter 3 Anderson surveys the NPP and post-NPP landscape. He begins with two primary figures associated with the NPP, James Dunn and N.T. Wright, and shows how their own views have become more nuanced (in the case of the former) and even transcended the NPP (in the case of the latter). Then he examines the views of several prominent post-NPP scholars (Francis Watson, Douglas Campbell, Michael Gorman, Michael Bird, and John Barclay), illustrating the trend toward rapprochement (with the exception of Campbell) and eschewal of false dichotomies. The second part of the chapter examines several common polarizations in Pauline scholarship: whether Paul reasoned prospectively (from plight to solution) or retrospectively (from solution to plight), whether his theology was coherent or contingent, whether justification for Paul is constitutive or incidental, forensic or participatory, and whether πίστις χριστοῦ is subjective or objective. The next two chapters establish the foundations upon with Anderson’s thesis is built. Chapter 4 explains what his developmental hypothesis is and isn’t as well as establishes a working Pauline chronology upon which it is grounded.  Centrally, he argues for the South Galatian hypothesis and Galatians as Paul’s earliest extant letter. In Chapter 5 Anderson argues for the plausibility of Pauline authorship of each of the disputed letters.

The next three chapters develop Anderson’s thesis and are the heart of this book. Contra norms of Pauline scholarship that analyze the seven undisputed Paulines synchronically, Anderson investigates the whole canonical corpus diachronically according to his proposed chronology. Against the prevailing tendency to read the entire corpus through the lens of a letter or part of a letter, Anderson lets each letter speak for itself. His chronological survey of usage reveals fresh and interesting insights. Chapter 6 traces the development of “works of the law” and “grace. In Galatians Paul speaks only of “works of the law” and never “works”; after Romans he speaks only of “works”; and both are found in Romans, the “transition” letter. Anderson proposes that this pattern reflects a “development in Paul’s conception of the matters at hand, from a soteriology originally grounded in the dilemma of Gentile inclusion to a more formal rejection of human attainment as the antithesis of grace” (228). He detects a similar pattern of development for χάρις. In chapter 7 Anderson traces Paul’s use of salvation language and finds a corroborating development, that of the language of “justification” transitioning to that of “salvation.” This marks a transition from a past-forensic to an eschatological-transformational conception. Anderson also  examines the emergence of reconciliation as a metaphor. “Together these linguistic and metaphorical transitions mark a reenvisioning of salvation that transcends, while never forgetting, the inclusion of Gentiles into the covenant, increasingly to stress the reconciliation of all to each other by means of their prior reconciliation to God” (282-283). Finally, in Chapter 9 Anderson offers a series of observations that confirm the largely lexical evidence proffered by the preceding two chapters. The book draws to a close with a chapter of summary and conclusion.

Paul’s New Perspective offers a new perspective on Pauline soteriology that is interesting and nuanced. At the very least, readers will come away from this book with greater appreciation for the strengths of the other side (whether NPP or NPP) and a greater awareness of the weaknesses of their own. Anderson’s study provides a fascinating new account of how elements of both the NPP and the TPP hold together and a convincing explanation for why we find characteristics of both patterns of soteriology in the Pauline corpus. The connections he draws by showing how “works of the law,” “grace,” and salvation language develop in parallel ways from Paul’s earliest to latest letters are intriguing.

Yet fundamentally/methodologically, much of the broader guild will likely not accept Anderson’s thesis because it’s grounded on a handful of minority positions (e.g. Pauline authorship of all 13 letters, Galatians as Paul’s first letter, etc.), some of which will be regarded as unacceptable/untenable by critical scholarship. As interesting as Anderson’s thesis is, the degree of its explanatory power depends on highly debatable matters of authorship and chronology. Nevertheless, this is a highly commendable read for all who are interested in Pauline soteriology, but especially those of a more traditional/conservative bent. Those who align strongly with a more traditional, so-called “Lutheran” view will likely find themselves uncomfortable and in disagreement at times, especially those more of a “theology” (in the North American sense) than “biblical studies” bent, as they find their systematizations criticized and challenged. But the challenge is good and necessary.

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon |








Biblical Studies Carnival – December 2016


For most of us 2017 probably could not come soon enough. From Trump to Aleppo, to the stream of beloved celebrities passing, a constant refrain in the latter half of 2016 was “I’m done with 2016.” Hosting the December Biblical Studies Carnival has a bit of an “inaugurated eschatology” feel – by the time you read this it will already be 2017, the new year we’ve all been eagerly waiting for; but the period of time this post covers is in the “not yet,” under the shadow of a difficult and tense year.

In Memoriam

It seems like many celebrities passed away in 2016; at one point I noticed that when a new passing was announced, many people posted the news with the note “2016 took another.” Death is always sad, but I wasn’t familiar with any of the celebrities who passed away. However, December “took” someone from “my” world, someone probably deeply respected by all who are reading this – Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J. I expect that more tributes will surface in the coming months, but for now, here are a few brief tributes to a giant in biblical scholarship. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!


Over at the Biblical Archeology Review is a post on a recently discovered stone block that reveals who the Roman governor of Judea was during the time leading up to the Bar Kokhba. There’s also a post noting the top ten biblical archeology discoveries of the year. At HAARETZ there’s a list of the best archeological finds in Israel of 2016, including new Dead Sea Scroll fragments.Breaking Israel News posted about the discovery of a coin from the Hasmonean Era that depicts the face of Antiochus Epiphanes IV.

Peter Head mentioned the SBL panel review of Peter Lampe’s From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries and shows images of the gemstone mentioned by Jutta Dresken-Weilend as an example of early evidence for Christian presence in Rome not known to Lampe.

Hebrew Bible

Marg Mowczko wrote about who crushes the Serpent’s head in Genesis 3:15.

Craig Keener continued blogging on Genesis, tackling whether Joseph’s brothers changed in Gen 44, the testing of Joseph’s brothers in Gen 44, Judah in Gen 44, and Joseph revealing himself to his brothers in Gen 45.

At the Bible and Interpretation blog is an excerpt from Helen Paynter’s Reduced Laughter: Seriocomic Features and their Functions in the Book of Kings (Brill 2016) on Elijah and Elisha.

Bob MacDonald wrote a post on Proverbs 31. He posted translations and diagrams of various chapters in Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, and Jeremiah, so browse his blog Dust and check them out! Finally, he posted about his new book Song in the Night.

Over at OnScript Matt Lynch interviewed Mary Hom about the Assyrians and the OT (though it’s a podcast and not a blog post, I think I should be allowed an exception since the biblioblogosphere is not very active in December!)

Daniel O. McClellan posted the abstract of a proposal he submitted to SBL 2017 for a paper entitled “‘Now You See Me, Now You Don’t’: The Vanishing of YHWH.”

Second Temple

Torrey Seland posted about the papers from a session on Wisdom and Apocalypticism at SBL. He also posted about the retirement of David Runia and the festschrift that was presented to him at SBL, The Studia Philonica Annual XXVIII.

New Testament/Early Christianity

In response to a flurry of posts about where Jesus was born, Wayne Coppins at German for Neutestamentler took a look at what Michael Wolter had to say on the matter in “Michael Wolter and the Meaning of κατάλυμα in Luke 2:7.” Brice Jones blogged about Stephen Carlson’s 2010 NTS article on κατάλυμα in Luke 2:7

Chris Keith at The Jesus Blog posted about a session at SBL in which Jennifer Knust presented some of the research she and Tommy Wasserman have completed on the transmission history of the Pericope Adulterae.

Phil Long continued to blog through Romans, with “Who are the Weak and Strong in Romans 14?” and “The Problem of Sacred Days and Clean Foods – Romans 14:5-9.”

Mike Bird posted a quote from Helmut Koester on the provenance of 2 Timothy.

Leading up to Christmas, the Center for the Study of Christian Origins blog posted a series of videos on the birth narratives through the centuries. You can easily find the whole series on their website, but two particularly noteworthy ones are Helen Bond on the discrepancies between Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts and Matt Novenson on what, if anything, Paul had to say about Jesus’s birth.

Jonathan Bernier blogged more in December than everyone else put together. He continued working through John A.T. Robinson’s Redating the New Testament, with posts on the Petrine Epistles and Jude (Part 1| Part 2), 1 Timothy 5:18, Hebrews, Revelation, the Gospel and Epistles of John (Part 1 |Part 2), Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, Didache, and 1 Clement. He also wrote on why Robinson is still important.

Larry Hurtado posted on the early Christians as atheists the early Christian roots of religious freedom.

Mike Bird posted a quote from an essay by Armin Baum on pseudepigraphy as non-deceptive fiction.


Anthony Le Donne at The Jesus Blog got in the Christmas spirit and wrote about why Christmas is on December 25.

William Ross posted an interview with LXX scholar José Manuel Cañas Reíllo as well as a video of Peter Williams’s lecture at the ETS Septuagint Studies session, “On the Invention and Problem of the Term ‘Septuagint.’

Linguistics Jedi Kris Lyle wrote a detailed post defining and summarizing the benefits of corpus-driven cognitive semantics.

Simon Joseph posted on his paper in NTS entitled “‘I Have Come to Abolish Sacrifices’ (Epiphanius Pan 30.16.5): Re-examining a Jewish Christian Text and Tradition

Max Lee posted about the panel review of Exploring Intertextuality from SBL and shared about where the “Intertextuality in the New Testament” section is going in the next two years.

Paul Foster and Matt Novenson both shared some brief reflections on SBL.

Jim Davila mentioned a new journal from Brill: Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation.

At the Bible and Interpretation blog there is a great post by Jeffrey Morrow on biblical scholarship and bias.

Reviews, Interviews, and More

Lindsay Kennedy reviewed The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms by Jerome Creach

Phil Long reviewed The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom by Andrew Abernethy

Phil Long also reviewed Acts (NTL) by Carl Holladay

Todd Scacewater reviewed Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews by John Barclay. Phil Long reviewed The Apostle Paul by Stanley Porter.

Chris Keith noted the RBL review of fellow Jesus Blogger Christine Jacobi’s Jesusueberlieferung bei Paulus?

Scott McKnight interviewed Beverly Gaventa on her new book “When in Romansand mentioned Cindy Westfall’s new book Paul and Gender as well as the recently completed four-volume Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity.

Nijay Gupta blogged about Larry Hurtado’s latest book, Destroyer of the Gods. He also mentioned Paul in the Greco-Roman World.

Paul Robertson reviewed Paul’s Letters and Contemporary Greco-Roman Literature at Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies.

Over at Ancient Jew Review Beth Berkowitz Jonathan Klawans, and Paula Fredriksen interacted with Christine Hayes’s What’s Divine about Divine Law? as part of a panel review for the SBL History of Rabbinic Literature section. Christine Hayes responded.

I reviewed Charles Lee Irons’s A Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament.

The Center for the Study of Christian Origins posted and interview with Timothy Lim about his research as well as an interview with Meredith Warren on her book My Flesh is Meat Indeed: A Nonsacramental Reading of John 6:51-58.

Over at the Zurich New Testament blog, Christoph Heilig posted an annotated list of books they published in 2016.

This month the Syndicate Theology symposium was on Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love.

Anthony Le Donne posted an excerpt from his new book Near Christianity: How Journeys Along the Jewish-Christian Border Saved My Faith in God.

I read just about everything Mike Bird publishes, and I am particularly excited about the next two books he has  coming down the pipes (how in the world does he write so much, especially without coffee??). Mike also announced that the Fortress Press reprint of God and the Faithfulness of Paul is now available for preorder.

Favorite Books of 2016 Lists

Nijay Gupta

Lindsay Kennedy

Andreas Kostenberger

Scot McKnight

Patrick Schreiner

Future Carnivals

The January 2017 Carnival (posting February 1) will be hosted by Cassandra Farrin at Ethics and Early Christianity. February will be hosted by Jacob Prahlow at Pursuing Veritas, and July will be hosted by Ruben de Rus at Ayuda Ministerial/Resources for Ministry. If you’re interested in hosting March-June carnivals, please contact Phil Long (@plong42).

Apologies for a belated and slim (did the bibliobloggers have something better to do in December?) carnival, especially in Hebrew Bible and related fields! If you have favorite bloggers in those areas please link them in the comments!

2017 Reading Goals – GNT & OTP

Next year I aim to read through three sets of literature: the Greek New Testament, Charlesworth’s two-volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, and the Old Testament in English.


I know I’m going to get yelled at for not having any Hebrew in my one-year reading plan, but I’m still an infant when it comes to Hebrew and can’t imagine reading large chunks of text in one sitting yet. Since I will be taking OT canon courses next year which require around six exegetical papers each, I will be in Hebrew texts on a somewhat regular basis. I plan to devote some time to reviewing Hebrew next summer and will definitely be aiming to read from the Hebrew Bible daily starting the subsequent year. For 2017 I will just read through the OT in English.

Greek New Testament

I will be using Charles Lee Irons’s one-year GNT plan (he also has a two-year plan) as well as his new Syntax Guide for Readers of the Greek New Testament. I will probably hop around in terms of order (based on, for example, what NT classes I’m taking), but Irons’s PDFs are great for keeping track of progress. Dan Wallace has a great list for those who want to read roughly in order of increasing difficulty.

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

Joseph Ryan Kelly has made an awesome one-year reading plan that actually only lasts ten months. This is quite perfect for me because it would allow me to take two weeks off for each round of midterms and finals.

Putting it all Together

I’m basically putting together three one-year reading plans into my mish-mashed plan, so I hope it won’t be too tedious to maintain. I also hope that all of this is doable in one hour per day, which is what I’m allotting to original language and primary source intake. I imagine I will spend 10 minutes on OT, 30 on the GNT, and 20 on OTP per day. I suppose this time breakdown is the real goal; if I don’t get through all of the texts it won’t be the end of the world to carry it into next year.

Biblical studies nerds, what is your plan for HB/GNT/primary source reading for 2017? If you’re looking for motivation/ideas for building a plan to tackle ancient primary sources, see this great post by Shawn Wilhite.

NIV Application Commentary Winner

nivacCongratulations to Sam Van Eerden for winning the Psalms NIVAC! Please DM me your mailing address on Twitter or fill out the comment form below.

The sale ends tonight at 11:59PM EST, so there are a few hours left to stock up on some commentaries at a great price!

NIV Application Commentary: Hardcover Giveaway and ebook Sale


From now until the coming Sunday, every NIV Application Commentary eBook is on sale for just $4.99, with even bigger discounts when you buy bundles (I highly recommend the Pentateuch one! I bought each of those volumes individually the last time the series is on sale). Click here to see all the volumes and deals.

The NIVAC series helps you understand the Bible’s ancient message and see how it speaks powerfully today. When I am preparing a Bible study or sermon, I always turn to this series for help in crafting applications. I’m pretty good at the nerdy stuff like exegesis, but I need help connecting what the text meant to what it means.

Notable volumes in this series include:

Check out all the deals here! Sale ends on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 11:59pm EST (11/13/16).


Enter to win the NIVAC on Psalms by Gerald Wilson! Entries can be gained the following ways (just comment saying you did it. Comment separately for each option  to receive separate entries. I’ll be drawing a winner from the comments):

  1. Visit the sale website.
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Tweet the giveaway.
    • sharing on any social media platform will gain additional entries, just comment separately
    • additional entries can be gained each day by mentioning the giveaway on social media
  4. Follow my blog

Giveaway ends at noon EST on November 13, at which time a winner will be announced. That way those interested in the Psalms volume who do not win still have an opportunity to purchase it at the sale price.

*Open to residents of the contiguous U.S.*

Thanks to my friends at Zondervan for the giveaway copy!

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library) – Eugene H. Merrill

Eugene H. Merrill. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015. 640 pp. $39.99.

chronOne-year Bible reading plans that don’t die in Leviticus most likely meet their demise in 1 Chronicles, with its nine opening chapters of genealogies. Preachers don’t often tackle 1 and  2 Chronicles, either. For these very neglected books, Eugene Merrill’s commentary in the Kregel Exegetical Library is a great historical, theological, and exegetical guide  for the academically oriented lay-person, preacher. Seminary students, scholars, and higher-level laypeople will probably want a more technical commentary.

The 50-page introduction is robust and goes beyond typical introductory issues such as authorship, genre, and historical/cultural context. Merrill comments on the canonical placement of these books, noting that it “is in keeping with the notion propounded in this work that the major objective of the Chronicler was to provide a theological interpretation of Israel’s past interlaced with great hope for an eschatological renewal of the Davidic house, one bound to Yahweh its God by an indissoluble new covenant” (46). He dedicates several pages to the historiographical issues in Chronicles and addresses, among others, the problem of differences between Chronicles and the “Deuteronomic History.” Merrill also provides an introduction to text-critical issues of Chronicles, and these are noted throughout the commentary proper. Another notable section of the introduction is the one on the theology of the book; here, Merrill provides overviews of the house of David, the renewed covenant, and the restored temple.

Each section of the commentary proper begins with the text in the NIV, a few key text-critical notes (from the ones I looked at, they are what you can get from the BHS critical apparatus), and then a brief exposition. Most of the notes I read were exposition rather than exegesis; there is a lot of summarization and provision of context and less exegetical work. Most of the treatments are rather brief, with commentary taking up about the same amount of space as the translation (if the English text had not been included I would guess that this volume would only be about 1/3 the length!). Scattered throughout the commentary are twelve brief excurses addressing topics such as the Angel of YHWH, Holy War, and OT historiography, as well as nine theological discourses addressing the theology of the genealogies, the rise of David, the exploits of David, the royal succession, Solomon’s temple, as well as the divided kingdom.

This is a good conservative commentary for your typical person-in-the-pew as well as for preachers. I think one of its unique strengths is its attention to theology; this comes out in the introduction, commentary proper, as well as theological discourses. Unlike other volumes in the series that have homiletical helps, Merrill’s is less attuned to application. A major weakness for me is that this commentary is not as exegetical as I would have expected based on the fact that it’s in an exegetical series. The commentary sections are also often quite brief. Seminarians will definitely (and perhaps preachers as well!) need more technical and robust commentaries on 1 and 2 Chronicles.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon

Book Notice – The Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History and Theology (Osvaldo Padilla)

Osvaldo Padilla. The Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History, and Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016. 264 pp. $26.00

Acts PadillaThe Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History, and Theology is an advanced introduction to Acts that deals with some of the typical topics of prolegomena (e.g. authorship, genre) as well as subjects not typically addressed in an introduction to Acts that are more unique to Padilla’s project (e.g. the theology of the speeches and interaction with philosophical hermeneutics and postliberalism). Chapter 1 addresses authorship, and here Padilla affirms Lukan authorship and argues that Irenaeus’s conclusion on the matter was derived from prior tradition. Going beyond typical introductory debates on authorship (hence advanced!), he engages with philosophical hermeneutics and narrative criticism to show why authorship matters for interpretation: “if it matters for our Christian faith whether the events described in Acts happened or not – then the identity of the author is indeed important. The reason for this is the crucial category of eyewitness” (35-36, emphasis original).

In the next chapter Padilla covers genre, first providing a brief history of genre theory and then summarizing and evaluating the major proposals for the genre of Acts. His own conclusion is that Acts is a “Hellenistic historical monograph in the Jewish tradition” (62), and Padilla justifies this suggestion robustly by looking at predecessors (e.g. OT historical books, 1-2 Macc., etc.) as well as analyzing the form, subject, features, and preface of Acts. This chapter concludes with a reflection on how seeing Acts as a historical monograph aids our interpretation of this text. In Chapter 3 Padilla examines how Luke wrote history. He begins by looking at the preface to the Gospel According to Luke; in showing how it’s filled with both historiographical and theological terminology, Padilla demonstrates that Luke was a theological historian. Next, he looks at Luke as storyteller and shows how Luke compresses stories for theological effect and how he presents a cohesive narrative for theological purposes. This chapter concludes with a look at the professionalization of history and postmodern historiography. One of the key things Padilla aims to demonstrate in this chapter is that the theological and storied characteristics of Acts do not prevent it from being reliable history.

The next two chapters deal with the speeches of Acts, with the first looking at speech-writing in ancient history. There seems to be a spectrum, but Padilla argues that Luke was on the end that was concerned about providing an accurate summary of what was said. At the end of this chapter Padilla’s evangelical convictions come out, which will delight evangelical readers and frustrate others. He affirms the importance of historical work and being open to the conclusions wherever they may lead, but also notes that we trust the veracity of the speeches because they are part of Scripture. The second chapter on speeches expounds upon the theology of five key speeches in Acts: Peter at Pentecost (2:1-41), Stephen (7:1-53), Peter at the home of Cornelius (10:24-48), Paul’s speech in Athens (17:16-31), and Paul’s speech before Agrippa (26:1-32). This is obviously the most theologically rich chapter of the book and one that every Christian would enjoy and benefit greatly from, even those who do not have interest in introductory matters. The final chapter provides an overview of postliberalism and then looks at how its main proposals can help us answer the question of how Acts justifies its truth claims.

The Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History, and Theology is a must-read on Acts for advanced Bible college and seminary students as well as advanced lay students of the Bible. I used the word advanced not just because Padilla himself refers to this book as an advanced introduction (hence it might be too difficult without some prior exposure to these subject matters), but also because there’s a good bit of Greek (more than I’ve ever seen in an IVP book), none of which is transliterated. While there is some overlap with traditional matters of prolegomena on Acts that you’d get in the introduction of a solid commentary, what’s presented here is conversant with the latest scholarship on Acts; even discussions of “typical” topics are informed by new proposals. But what is unique about this book (new questions, new perspectives) is certainly worth the price of the book. I appreciated the robust chapters on speeches (which I assume was influenced by Padilla’s Cambridge dissertation on speeches in Acts), as well as the interactions with philosophical hermeneutics and postliberalism (pretty rare in biblical studies books!).

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon







Giveaway Winners – No God But One (Nabeel Qureshi)

While I initially said that I’d run three successive giveaways for the three copies I have, I’ve decided to just draw three winners at once. If you didn’t win, there’s still time to preorder No God But One: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity for some freebies. Find out more about the book and the preorder deals here. Also, check out an interview with Nabeel about the book on the Bible Gateway blog. While Nabeel wrote the book primarily for Muslims who are seeking (open to Christianity) as well as Christians who are considering Islam, this book is also a fantastic resource for evangelism/apologetics, particularly for Christians who have a heart for Muslims. Now, without further ado, the winners:


Congratulations to Jonah Langenderfer, Todd Schreiner, and Will Klauber! Please fill out the comment form with your address and I will ship the book to you in a few days.