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The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Second Edition)

Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd Ed.). Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016. 1168 pp. $59.99.

For years The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (hereafter CCC) has been my favorite evangelical NT introduction and one of my favorites overall. I’ve loved it for its comprehensiveness – the first volume was 161 pages longer than the volume with which it is probably most often compared, Carson & Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament (what can I say, I love big books!). One unique feature of CCC is that it is unabashedly Christian, as can be seen in the opening lines of the preface to the both editions: “For believers who look to Scripture as the authority for their faith and practice, the NT, with its 27 books, presents both a wonderful, God-given treasure trove of spiritual insights and a formidable challenge for faithful, accurate interpretation.” Academic material is presented not in a dry, disinterested way but in a way that is connected to our faith, encouraging devotion and application. CCC presents top-of-the-line scholarship in a spiritually nurturing way for the Christian (one example of the spiritual nourishment provided by this volume is that there is at least one devotional on each NT book).

CCC is also distinctive because it begins with two chapters on foundational issues to which chapters are not typically dedicated in NT introductions. The first chapter addresses the nature and scope of Scripture, covering  the history of canonization, textual translation/transmission and the reliability of the Bible, and the doctrine of Scripture (covering topics such as inspiration and inerrancy). The second chapter surveys the political and religious background of the NT, providing an overview of the Second Temple Period. Usually the serious student of the New Testament, once armed with an NT introduction, must seek out additional books in order to be introduced to the nature of Scripture and the background of the NT. CCC provides a one-stop-shop, and the content of the first two chapters are a unique strength of this volume.

After the two introductory chapters, the remainder of CCC provides a robust overview of each book of the NT using the same pattern – the “hermeneutical triad” of history, literature, and theology (explicated in Kostenberger and Patterson’s fantastic book on hermeneutics, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation). The discussion on theological themes for each NT book is also a distinctive, as many NT introductions do not address the theology of the NT writings. Each chapter begins with a breakdown of what one should know from the chapter if aiming for 1) basic knowledge; 2) intermediate knowledge; or 3) advanced knowledge. This is especially helpful for self-studiers but can also be a valuable aid in the classroom (e.g. professors can communicate which level of mastery is desired of their students and create quizzes and exams accordingly). Other helpful features for the student include the study questions and bibliography at the end of each chapter.

None of what is described above has changed in the second edition. What has changed is that the content (including bibliography and footnotes) has been brought up to date with the latest in NT scholarship. Entirely new content include sections on how to interpret different genres of scripture as well as an epilogue that traces the storyline of Scripture from creation to consummation. All-in-all, the second edition is 223 pages longer than the first. The length and comprehensiveness of CCC is a blessing and in combination with the user-friendly features should be an attractant rather than a repellent. CCC is designed in a way that makes it very easy to cull for precisely the information you need (whether you just want to study a particular book of the NT, or whether you just want information about the history or literature or theology of a book), so the length need not be daunting. This book is both a valuable reference resource for the layperson and preacher alike as well as a fantastic textbook for seminary courses that introduce the NT.

Many thanks to B&H Academic for sending me a review copy of the second edition of The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown!

Purchase: Amazon | Westminster





Book Notice – Ephesians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament)

Benjamin L. Merkle. Ephesians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament).  Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016. 272 pp. $24.99.

ephesiansB&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series is an essential resource for seminary students, pastors, and biblical scholars alike. Written and edited by some of the finest Evangelical New Testament/Koine Greek scholars of our day, these volumes are crucial supplements to conventional commentaries for those studying the Greek NT. The volumes in this series are designed to do what commentaries do not accomplish (provide robust grammatical/syntactical analysis of the Greek text), not duplicate what can be found in any good commentary. However, reference is frequently made to commentaries and Greek grammars where more information can be found.

The latest volume is Ephesians by Benjamin Merkle  (professor of NT and Greek at SEBTS and editor of the Southeastern Theological Review). As is typical of this series, the introduction is very brief (in contrast to commentaries), providing a concise overview of authorship (Paul), date (AD 60-62 during Roman imprisonment), destination (Ephesus rather than circular), and occasion and purpose (here Merkle summarizes six proposals without noting his preference). Like the other volumes, there is a section of recommended commentaries at the beginning and an exegetical outline in the end. Each section of exegesis of the Greek text begins with a basic sentence diagram and concludes with recommended resources for further study as well as homiletical suggestions, providing valuable aids for both study and preaching. Merkle parses notable/difficult words, provides grammatical/syntactical analysis, and for issues where there is debate, summarizes the main views and places an asterisk by his position. A few examples of Merkle’s analysis will be noted from Ephesians 2:1-22.

  • Verse 1 – τοῖς παραπτώμασιν and ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις  could be datives of sphere or cause or both, but sphere is preferred here primarily because of the parallel text  Col 2:13
  • Verse 2 – τοῦ κόσμου is best labeled descriptive genitive (“the age of this world”) but could also be attributive (“worldly age”) or genitive of apposition (“the age, which is the world”)
  • Verse 3 – The prepositional phrase ἐν οἷς could be a dative of sphere (in which case it is structurally parallel to ἐν αἷς in 2:2 with the same antecedents, τοῖς παραπτώμασιν and ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις) or location (in which case the antecedent is τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας from 2:2). Merkle prefers the latter.
  • Verse 14 – Merkle presents the three main views of what τὴν ἔχθραν and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ refer to: both to the previous participle, λύσας (in which case τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ modifies λύσας); both to the following participle, καταργήσας (in which case τὴν ἔχθραν is in apposition to νόμον in 2:15 and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ modifies καταργήσας); or τὴν ἔχθραν relates to the previous clause and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ relates to the following clause, with the phrase in apposition to τὸ μεσότοιχον and ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ modifying καταργήσας. Merkle prefers the last alternaive and renders this verse “he who tore downthe dividing wall, that is, the partition, by setting aside in his flesh the law.”
  • Verse 20 – In response to those who appeal to the Granville Sharpe rule to argue that the apostles and prophets are identical here, Merkle notes that the rule does not apply here because the substantives are plural. In contrast, he takes the position that the two are distinct and that the apostles are a subset of the prophets, and the single article ties the two together as the foundation of the church.

The Ephesians Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament is an indispensable resource for the intermediate Greek student. Besides using it in studying through Ephesians in Greek, this guide is also a great tool for growing in skills of syntactical and exegetical analysis – choose a passage, work through the syntax, do your own exegetical work, and then check your work with the book.  In addition to those studying Greek, this exegetical guide is, of course, also a valuable resource to preachers and Bible study leaders with at least an intermediate facility with Greek.

Thanks to B&H Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon | Westminster

Philippians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament)

Joseph H. Hellerman. Philippians (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament).  Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015. 368 pp. $29.99.

EGGNT PhilThough B&H Academic’s Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) is a fairly new series with only 5 volumes released so far out of a projected 20, it has already established itself as an essential resource for seminary students, pastors, and biblical scholars alike. Written and edited by some of the finest Evangelical New Testament scholars of our day, these volumes are crucial supplements to conventional commentaries for those who have a working knowledge of Koine Greek and desire to exegete the Greek NT text. During my Greek Exegesis courses (Colossians & Philemon and 1 Peter) last year I always consulted the EGGNT after doing my own work in the text and consistently found my understanding of what’s going on grammatically and syntactically to be enriched by these exegetical guides.

One of the newest volumes in the series is Philippians by Joseph H. Hellerman (pastor and professor of NT language and literature at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University). Like the rest of the volumes in the series (and unlike typical commentaries), the introduction is just a few pages and provides a very brief summary of basic introductory issues such as authorship, provenance, occasion, etc. In keeping with the aim of the series to bridge the gap between the Greek text and the available tools, the introduction of these volumes also addresses important grammatical features of the respective NT books when present (e.g. the introduction to the volume on 1 Peter addresses the imperatives and imperatival participles; the introduction for the present volume on Philippians addresses time and aktionsart in the Greek verb). The EGGNT is designed to do what commentaries do not accomplish (provide robust exegesis of the Greek text), not duplicate what can be found in any good commentary. These volumes also provide recommended commentaries at the beginning and an exegetical outline in the end. Each section of exegesis of the Greek text begins with a basic sentence diagram and concludes with recommended resources for further study as well as homiletical suggestions, providing valuable aids for both study and preaching.

A look at how Hellerman handles one of the most beloved (and most academically debated?) passages of Philippians, the Christ-hymn, will provide a good windown into his perspective. Interestingly, Hellerman argues that Paul’s argument here is primarily sociological and not ontological, i.e. less about Christ’s divine nature and more about Christ as a model for relationships among members of the Philippian church. While Hellerman believes it likely that Paul composed Philippians 2:6-11 himself, he explains why nothing is at stake exegetically even if the text is a pre-Pauline hymn. His expertise in Roman history also comes out as he illuminates the cursus ideology that was central to the cultural values and social codes of Philippi as well as expressions of honor/shame found in the Christ-hymn. All of this enlightening and perhaps less well-known background information is contained in a robust introduction to the section.

Regarding verse 5, Hellerman summarizes the arguments for the two main interpretations of ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (Christ’s mind-set in the incarnation and crucifixion versus the believer’s mind-set in union with Christ); while affirming the difficulty of the decision and the maintenance of Paul’s paraenetic aims on either reading, Hellerman prefers the former with some reservations. He takes ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ in verse 6 as referring to Christ’s preincarnate “social status”; while he has no problem with a secondary argument for the deity of Christ from this clause, Hellerman believes that making this theological corollary primary underemphasizes the sociological thrust of Paul’s argument. He argues for taking the following ὑπάρχων concessively, noting why its preferable to a causal interpretation (espoused by, e.g., O’Brien). Similarly to his argument for μορφῇ θεοῦ, Hellerman contends that εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ should not primarily be taken ontologically.

Pertaining to the controversial doctrine of kenosis derived from verse 7, Hellerman notes that it is erroneous to assume that ἐκένωσεν needs a modifier; rather, he contends that the ensuing participial modifiers demonstrate that ἐκένωσεν “is intended metaphorically to signify a lowering of rank (vis-à-vis v.6) by means of the incarnation” (114). In verse 8 Hellerman notes that “humiliated” is a better translation that “humbled” for ἐταπείνωσεν because the latter denotes an attitude or state of mind, whereas the former signifies action performed in a social context with social implications. He argues for reading τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα in verse 9 as referring to public acclaim rather than the name of YHWH.

Though I mainly highlighted some of Hellerman’s notable exegetical conclusions and decisions, he provides robust word studies and grammatical/syntactical analysis. Like the other volumes in the series, on points of debate the arguments for every side are presented fairly before Hellerman offers his own conclusion. One unique aspect of this volume is the emphasis on the sociocultural background of the Epistle to the Philippians. I have gained much insight that opened up greater depths to my understanding of certain texts, but there are also areas where Hellerman’s arguments initially made me uncomfortable (e.g. the Philippian Christ-hymn). Hellerman argues for a sociological interpretation for many of the elements in which I saw a primarily ontological argument, and I feel a bit like one of the pillars of the early high/divine-identity Christology argument is crumbling! So, in addition to looking forward to exegeting through Philippians with Hellerman’s exegetical guide, I feel I need to study the Christ-hymn again!

Joseph Hellerman’s Philippians (Exegetical Guide on the Greek New Testament) is an essential resource for students of Greek exegesis as well as teachers and pastors who work from the Greek text.

Thanks to B&H Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation) by Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner. Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation). Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015. 560 pp. $39.99.

BTFCP_CommentaryOnHebrews_CVR_R2.inddIn the mist of a tremendous flourishing of evangelical publishing on biblical theology, for years I had longed to see a biblical theology study Bible and a commentary series from the perspective on Biblical theology. To my joy, in the last year we have seen both. The latter presented itself in the form of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (D. A. Carson ed.), and the former saw its inaugural volume on Hebrews by Dr. Thomas Schreiner (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series from B&H Academic).

Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation Series
Though there are different schools of biblical theology that define and pursue the discipline differently, the general editors of this new series (T. Desmond Alexander, Andreas J. Köstenberger, and Thomas R. Schreiner) define biblical theology as, in essence,

the theology of the Bible, that is, the theology expressed by the various biblical books on their own terms and in their own historical contexts. Biblical theology is the attempt to understand and embrace the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. What is more, biblical theology is the theology of the entire Bible, and exercise in whole-Bible theology (ix, emphases original).

While the volumes will discuss typical introductory matters and provide verse-by-verse exegetical commentary, their two primary distinctive contributions are conveyed in the series title. First is biblical theology – each volume will explore the contribution of the given book or groups of books of the Bible to the theology of Scripture as a whole and provide “thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole…in the context of the larger salvation-historical metanarrative of Scripture” (xi). Second is Christian proclamation, seeking to relate biblical theology to our own lives and the life of the church, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry of teaching and preaching the Word.

Commentary on Hebrews (Thomas Schreiner)
The biblical-theological emphasis of Schreiner’s volume on Hebrews shows up mainly in the introduction and conclusion. After briefly addressing typical introductory matters such as date, authorship, destination, etc. in an accessible way that does not get bogged down in technical details, Schreiner spends more than half of the introduction on biblical-theological matters. First, he situates Hebrews in its canonical context, tracing redemptive history from Genesis through the Gospels and pointing out along the way the significant types of Christ and salvation and how Hebrews speaks of their fulfillment. For example, after mentioning Leviticus 10 Schreiner notes how Hebrews focuses on the inadequacy of the sacrificial system and emphasizes the inauguration of a new and better covenant because the old was a failure. He ties the sin of the wilderness generation in Numbers to the warning Hebrews makes of the example of Israel. He notes how Hebrews picks up on the theme of rest in Joshua as a type and anticipation of a greater rest to come. From the Gospels, Schreiner notes themes such as Jesus being the new David promised by the prophets.

Second, Schreiner discusses four structures that undergird the biblical theology of Hebrews. The first is promise/fulfillment, where Schreiner points to how Hebrews proclaims certain OT predictions to have now been fulfilled. Jesus is the Davidic king promised in the OT who would establish God’s kingdom; He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4) in his humanity, participation in summering, and resurrection; He has sat down at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1). The second structure is the tension of inaugurated eschatology, seen in Jesus’s reign, salvation, sanctification, perfection, the warning passages, the call to faith, and rest. Third, concerning typology, Schreiner helpfully emphasizes that the correspondences were intended by God and not merely used by Him as illustrations, and that typology is characterized by escalation. In Christ we have a better prophet, a better priest, a better king, a better covenant, a better land, and better promises. The final structure noted by Schreiner is spatial orientation (i.e. the relationship between heaven and earth); while some scholars treat this topic within typology, Schreiner separates it because of Hebrews’s distinctive emphasis on the subject. Whereas key themes that give structure to the letter are investigated as structures of thought, the conclusion provides additional biblical-theological insight by dealing with some of the central themes (e.g. God, Jesus, the New Covenant, etc.) in their own right.

I look forward to digging into Schreiner’s commentary on Hebrews and eagerly anticipate each forthcoming volume in this series. These commentaries will provide rich biblical-theological and practical insight that can’t be found in other commentaries, from some of the best evangelical scholars of our day. Find out more about the series, including the list of volumes and contributors, here.

Thanks to B&H Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon | Westminster


Book Review – Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views (Andrew David Naselli & Mark A. Snoeberger ed.)

Andrew David Naselli and Mark A. Snoeberger, ed. Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015. 256 pp. $24.99.

AtonementI don’t usually gravitate toward multiview books, but what solidified Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement in my mind as a book I needed to read was a comment made in passing by my friend Lindsay Kennedy about how he always likes to engage with the best arguments of opposing positions. I have been a convinced 5-point Calvinist for a long time, and I’ve read many of the significant tomes defending Reformed soteriology (e.g From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Salvation by Grace, etc.); but I couldn’t remember ever reading a good academic defense of Arminian soteriology. Because this issue is one of the most controversial intra-Evangelical theological debates and one in which both sides are prone to caricature the other, at the very least Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement helps us see that each of the three views espoused in this book is exegetically and theologically tenable and that this is an in-house, family debate amongst genuine believers who all affirm the essential tenet of penal substitutionary atonement.


Book Review – A Theology for the Church (Daniel Akin ed.)

Daniel L. Akin, ed. A Theology for the Church, Revised Edition. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2014. 770 pp. $54.99.

theologyEvery time I say I’m not going to read another introductory systematic theology I read another one; and I have never regretted it. Last year it was Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology, this year it was A Theology for the Church edited by Daniel Akin. There are several distinguishing features of A Theology for the Church. One is the length – at 728 pages not including backmatter, this volume is considerably shorter than typical one-volume systematic theologies (which are over 1,000 pages), making this volume more accessible – less daunting and easier to get through for those not accustomed to reading such tomes. Another is that every chapter is written by a different person and the whole book is from a Baptist perspective (though competing views are always presented fairly).

Thirdly, this volume was written by churchmen for the Church. Systematic theology is often perceived as dry, academic, and irrelevant by those without an affinity for the discipline. But many systematic theologies by evangelicals who love the Church and see doctrine as fuel for doxology and orthopraxy do convey that in their tomes (e.g. Grudem ends each of his chapters with a memory verse and a hymn). However, in this volume implications on the Christian life and mission are much more explicit than is typical, and recur much more frequently. In the midst of teaching on the various doctrines, authors frequently exhort the reader to know and love God more and to participate in His mission. This unique emphasis can be explicitly seen in the fact that every chapter ends with a section entitled “How Does This Doctrine Impact the Church Today?

Perhaps the most significant distinguishing feature/strength of A Theology for the Church is that it’s not actually a systematic theology as I had expected: it’s an integrative theology. “The present volume is born out of the conviction that a theology for the church should integrate the historical, biblical, philosophical, systematic, and practical aspects of theology as it seeks to achieve a unified, coherent, contextual, and compelling account of the Christian message” (46). Integrative theologies are much rarer than volumes that treat a specific discipline, and typically one must read a different book on each discipline (e.g. many read Grudem’s Systematic Theology at over 1000 pages and Allison’s Historical  Theology at over 700 pages, and that leaves several other facets unexplored). To have a one-volume integrative theology at just over 700 pages that is so accessibly written and geared toward the Church is truly a blessing.


Review & Giveaway – Illustrated Life of Paul (Charles Quarles)

Charles L. Quarles. Illustrated Life of Paul. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2014. 300 pp. $29.99.

paulWhenever I’m asked the question of who I’d want to talk to first in Heaven besides God, I answer with “Paul.” For me there’s no biblical character more stimulating both intellectually and practically. I love studying Paul’s writings and theology academically. Yet his humility, Christ-orientation, missionary zeal, and courage and joy in the midst of unthinkable persecution and pain constantly drive me to prayer, imploring for these attributes to characterize my own heart and life in an ever-increasing measure.

Paul’s staggering influence on the church is undeniable and is surpassed only by that of the Lord Jesus Himself. He penned thirteen out of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament (comprising approximately one-fourth of the total volume), and an additional sixteen chapters in the book of Acts focus on Paul’s life. Working ever to preach Christ where He was not known and refusing to build on another’s foundation, Paul evangelized much of the known western world during his lifetime. His God-inspired writings went on to influence giants in the history of the faith such as Augustine and Luther, whose effects on the Church are still felt today.

In his latest book, Illustrated Life of Paul, Dr. Charles Quarles (perhaps best known for the New Testament introduction co-written with Andreas Kostenberger and L. Scott Kellum, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown) provides a survey of this amazing man and his incredible story, following “solid evidence in reconstructing Paul’s life without becoming the detached and disinterested historian that was the ideal of modernism” (ix). With over 150 color images including maps and photographs of artwork, artifacts, and modern-day sites, this book helps readers step inside the first century Greco-Roman world of Paul.

As it guides us from Saul’s pre-conversion background to his Damascus Road conversion experience through each of his three major missionary journeys to his final years and ultimate martyrdom, this book does more than just narrate a chronology of the events of Paul’s life. Quarles also provides much insight into the cities that Paul visited, which is vital background for studying Paul’s epistles. He illuminates the background and themes and purposes of the letters as well.

In addition, there are also points at which Quarles gets into Paul’s theology. For example, when describing Paul and Barnabas’s ministry in Antioch in Pisidia, he notes,

The doctrine of justification is an important hallmark of Paul’s message in books like Galatians and Romans. Already at this point in his ministry, teaching on justification was prominent. Justification meant that sinners who believed in Jesus were pronounced righteous by God on the basis of Jesus’s sacrificial death.

(Quarles 51)

Quarles goes on to explicate five essential elements of Paul’s doctrine of justification: 1) no one could be judged righteous by God by the “works of the law”; 2) God freely justifies sinners who believe in Jesus; 3) justification is made possible only through the sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross; 4) the free gift of justification requires faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ; and 5) justification by faith had been the means of salvation in the Old Testament era (51-53).

The last few pages of the book moved me deeply as Quarles reflects on Paul’s martyrdom, how the church’s loss was Paul’s gain (Phil. 1:21, 23), how his desire had been fulfilled at last, how his faith had finally become sight, how he had fought the good fight. Quarles reminds us that although those who study Paul’s life cannot help but be awed by him, Paul himself would be angered by such accolades because he lived ever to point to and boast in Christ.

Although this book has attempted to help readers better know the mind and heart of the apostle Paul, Paul himself would insist that this is not the point…Know him, Paul would say. Know Him…If knowing Paul stirs a yearning to know the One for whom he suffered, the One whose name he proclaimed, the One for whom he died, then Paul lived and died well

(Quarles 270)

Many thanks to Chris and B&H Academic for providing a free copy in exchange for an unbiased review!

Purchase: Amazon

Download the first two chapters for free from the B&H Academic blog.



B&H accidentally sent me two copies of this book, which means that one of you could be the lucky (I mean predestined, what was I thinking) winner of the extra copy! Unfortunately my blog can’t host the fancy giveaway widgets, so you’ll have to work a bit harder. You can enter the following ways: 1) Comment with your favorite Pauline passage/epistle, and tell me why it’s your favorite; 2) Follow me on Twitter; 3) Tweet the giveaway; 4) subscribe to my blog; 5) share the giveaway on Facebook and/or any other form of social media. Each social media share can be a separate entry. If you’re already following on Twitter or the blog, comment saying so for entries.

Here’s the key: for each entry method, leave a separate comment telling me you did it – this will increase your changes of winning. I’ll use a random number generator to select the winning comment.

Open to residents of the US & Canada. Giveaway closes this Friday, June 27 at noon EST, at which time I will select and announce the winner. May Providence be ever in your favor!

Book Review – Truth Matters (Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, & Josh Chatraw)

Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw. Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic,2014. 208 pp. $12.99.

truthMany, many years ago, just months after I became a Christian, I took a Christian Origins and New Testament course at my undergraduate institution, Case Western Reserve University. I was ecstatic that my secular university was offering a course related to my newfound faith; little did I know that what awaited me was going to attack everything I was just starting to believe in. As I reflected on this years later, I was profoundly grateful to the Lord for preserving my faith, for veterans in the faith had abandoned biblical Christianity as a result of this course. The Lord is truly amazing, for not only did He preserve my faith through that course, but He also used it to stir within me a great appetite and hunger for academic study of the Bible and theology.

Anyway, one of the texts we used in that course was a book by Bart Ehrman – New Testament professor, New York Times bestselling author, and one of the most influential voices attacking the Christian faith and the veracity of its foundational truth claims. Just how influential is Bart Ehrman? Well, at the inaugural Cross Conference this past December I got to see just how staggering his influence among Christian college students is. I attended a “Deck” session on apologetics issues with the legendary Darrell Bock, who started the session with a little survey. The result: all of the students who had taken a course related to the New Testament or Christian origins at a secular university used a book by Ehrman in the course.

Prior to that session it had been announced that the first 300 to arrive would receive a free advanced copy of a forthcoming book by Darrell Bock, Andreas Kostenberger, and Josh Chatraw called Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World. Kostenberger is one of my favorite New Testament scholars and Darrell Bock ranks pretty high on my list as well, so I sprinted to that session and got myself the free book.