Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Reading List – July 16 – 22

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

One book this time, to slowly get myself back on some sort of discipline, though I definitely felt the effects of Tour fatigue. Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible by Stephen Dempster, in the NSBT series.

This book is basically a biblical theology of the OT, only, brief, and the OT in the MT canonical order, i.e. Tanakh. His basic argument is that the Torah sets up expectations of a dominion (i.e. a kingdom or land) and a dynasty (i.e. offspring or nation), which is then commented, not only by the fact that the rest of the OT talks about it, but also because the canonical order itself represents a structuring intended to further illustrate the point. That is, the placement and ordering of the books is intended to amplify and/or complement the themes of each book and the whole work up to that point as it is read in order. As a ~200 page book commenting on the entire OT, well, its necessarily brief, but his general gist is fairly compelling, and illustrates how much is lost by the modern canonical order and the fact that most of us will hardly ever read the whole Bible in order. However, its brevity means that it makes for a useful summary treatise on OT theology for someone not really wanting to swallow larger works, e.g. Goldingay, Waltke, so on.

The Reading List – Mar 25 – 31

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

This week: Gerald Bray’s Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present. In my quest to understand the historical development of biblical theologies, I turned to this rather comprehensive overview of how the Bible has been interpreted over the ages. It’s broad, covering all of Christian history up to the 90′s (published in 1996). It gives enough information (including bibliographies for each section) so that you can hunt down for more depth later, whilst giving probably enough to give you an idea of what’s going on. It’s easy to read, but it really is only an overview intended to allow one to find the entry points for further research. It’s getting a little dated, and could probably do with an update.

The Reading List – Mar 11 – 17

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Seeing as I’d read biblical theology last week, I figured I’d switch to something systematic this week. So I picked up Gerald Bray’s relatively recent one-volume systematic theology, God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology. Those in the Moore College community will know that Gerald is a frequent visitor to our shores.

This book, despite it’s large size (~740 of text) is relatively easy going. Gerald only quotes from the Bible, minimises usage of technical terms to the point of non-existence, and doesn’t talk at length about historical personae. Whilst this probably lowers the depth of discussion and will be of disappointment to those expecting discussion of any theologian of the last century and a half (e.g. Barth), nevertheless, there is a generally sufficient coverage of all the relevant issues, enough to get someone up to speed on something like the procession of the Holy Spirit.

I’d probably recommend this over Know the Truth or some such as the lay level introduction to systematics, mainly because of the overall better treatment of, well, everything (Know the Truth, for example, is ridic.stupid on the Trinity). Probably a good present for someone about to enter a theological college.

The Reading List – Mar 4 – 10

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

As noted previously, the book is Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical Theological Understanding of the Covenants by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum, both faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Over in America, there are two ends of a ‘spectrum’ of biblical theological approaches – dispensational, and covenant theological, which roughly equates to Reformed. As noted above, these guys are Baptists. Thing is, ‘Baptist’ covers a very wide range of, well, organisations in America, and so, apart from distinctives such as credo-baptism and related ecclesiology, it is not really possible to nail down what Baptist theology in America actually is. So you’ve got Baptist dispensationalists as well as Reformed-leaning Baptists. This book says that it is an attempt at a rapprochement between the ends of the spectrum. It’s probably more right to say that it’s an attempt to have a solid covenant-centred Biblical theology without the bits that Baptists don’t like about Reformed theology, like paedobaptism, and the bits that are just wrong (IMHO) in dispensationalism. The book has had quite a reception. There was some controversy when it came out because the Monergism web shop refused to stock it (use Google if you’re interested in that little dust-up). The Gospel Coalition decided it would have a three reviews – Horton as the reformed guy, Bock as a dispensational guy, and Moo as ‘moderate third party’ I guess. The reaction isn’t that surprising given the environment. It offends quite a few hobby horses – denying the dispensationalist claim about the land promise, rejecting paedobaptism, saying moral/civil/ceremonial is dumb (more or less), and hating on (or more politely, critiquing) Paul Williamson (well, that probably just makes us down here feel for the guy). Unfortunately, all this really clouds what is mostly an interesting read.

There are three sections. The middle section is Gentry basically doing a fairly comprehensive exposition of the covenants in the Old Testament. It’s quite thorough, and others doing study on this topic will find this a useful resource. It’s weakness is it’s lack of explicit New Testament study. There is only one chapter explicitly in that realm, on Ephesians, but the rest is all in the Old Testament. There are references scattered throughout to New Testament passages where appropriate within the discussion, but the Old Testament is where the discussion firmly lies. Not surprising given that Gentry is an OT scholar. As remarked earlier, I disagree regarding an Adamic covenant, and I’m not convinced about his work on Daniel 9 re: the seventy sevens. There are moments of weakness here and there but on the whole it’s good stuff.

Wellum writes the first and last parts. The first is an intro – to covenants, to the current academic milieu, and to the hermeneutics employed. The last part is synthesis and theological outworkings. Of this section, chapter 16 – the penultimate chapter – is basically a “short” summarising of all of Gentry’s chapters. Those who are inexperienced in biblical theology and/or the OT may prefer to read just this chapter to get an overview of this OT biblical theology. The last chapter devotes itself to implications in systematic theology, and thus also to differentiating Wellum and Gentry’s position from dispensationalists and covenant theologians. For example, they make a case for definite atonement based on Christ as the new covenant priest and mediator.

Overall, this is a good book. I’m not sure I can really understand the Monergism hullabulooh without really understanding the North American reformed tradition. The book is easy to read (way, way easier than Greg Beale’s), though in Gentry’s section, a working knowledge of Hebrew helps a bit. I’ve seen According to Plan – a laity level work, from Sydney, being referenced in a semi-academic tome in America! – referenced more times than one might expect anywhere outside of Moore, which probably shows how much we in Sydney would agree with what’s in this volume. Let me put it this way. Ignore what the Americans are saying about this book. Read this thing for yourself if you’d like to know more about biblical theology, the OT, or covenants.

A New Testament Biblical Theology

Monday, July 9th, 2012

By G.K. Beale
Baker Academic


Fruitful Leaders

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Marcus Honeysett
IVP, 2011, $13.95 @ Reformers


The Truth About Leadership

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

James Kouzes and Barry Posner
2010, Jossey-Bass


Brothers, we are not Professionals

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

John Piper, Mentor, 2003


Joined Up Life

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

By Andrew Cameron
IVP, $23.95 @ Moore Books

Keep Your Greek

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

By Con Campbell,
Zondervan, 2010
$12.95 @ Moore Books