Tag Archives: baker academic

Upcoming Books of Note from Baker Academic

Receiving new academic catalogues from book publisher’s is always exciting as it is a time to peruse upcoming books in my field and related interests. I just received Baker Academic’s Fall 2015 catelogue and it has several upcoming monographs related to the New Testament. Below is a sampling of a few that I am particularly looking forward to.

Upcoming: New Testament & Hermeneutics

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Joel B. Green: Conversion in Luke-Acts: Divine Action, Human Cognition, and the People of God

Repentance and conversion are key topics in New Testament interpretation and in Christian life. However, the study of conversion in early Christianity has been plagued by psychological assumptions alien to the world of the New Testament. Leading New Testament scholar Joel Green believes that careful attention to the narrative of Luke-Acts calls for significant rethinking about the nature of Christian conversion. Drawing on the cognitive sciences and examining key evidence in Luke-Acts, this book emphasizes the embodied nature of human life as it explores the life transformation signaled by the message of conversion, offering a new reading of a key aspect of New Testament theology. (Amazon) December 2015

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Craig Keener: Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: 24:1–28:31

Highly respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener is known for his meticulous and comprehensive research. This commentary on Acts, his magnum opus, may be the largest and most thoroughly documented Acts commentary ever written. Useful not only for the study of Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.

In this volume, the last of four, Keener finishes his detailed exegesis of Acts, utilizing an unparalleled range of ancient sources and offering a wealth of fresh insights. This magisterial commentary will be an invaluable resource for New Testament professors and students, pastors, Acts scholars, and libraries. The complete four-volume set is available at a special price. (Amazon) October 2015

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Rodney Whitacre: Using and Enjoying Biblical Greek: Reading the New Testament with Fluency and Devotion

Many who study biblical Greek despair of being able to use it routinely, but veteran instructor Rodney Whitacre says there is hope! By learning to read Greek slowly, students can become fluent one passage at a time and grasp the New Testament in its original language. Whitacre explains how to practice meditation on Scripture (lectio divina) in Greek, presenting a workable way to make Greek useful in life and ministry. Ideal for classroom use and for group or individual study, this book helps students advance their knowledge of Greek and equips them to read the original texts with fluency and depth. (Amazon) December 2015

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Craig Bartholomew: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture

Renowned scholar Craig Bartholomew, coauthor of the bestselling textbook The Drama of Scripture, writes in his main area of expertise–hermeneutics–to help seminarians pursue a lifetime of biblical interpretation. Integrating the latest research in theology, philosophy, and biblical studies, this substantive hermeneutics textbook is robustly theological in its approach, takes philosophical hermeneutics seriously, keeps the focus throughout on the actual process of interpreting Scripture, and argues that biblical interpretation should be centered in the context and service of the church–an approach that helps us hear God’s address today. (Amazon) November 2015

Recently Released: New Testament

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Karl Allen Kuhn: The Kingdom according to Luke and Acts: A Social, Literary, and Theological Introduction

This substantial, reliable introduction examines the character and purpose of Luke and Acts and provides a thorough yet economical treatment of Luke’s social, historical, and literary context. Karl Allen Kuhn presents Luke’s narrative as a “kingdom story” that both announces the arrival of God’s reign in Jesus and describes the ministry of the early church, revealing the character of the kingdom as dramatically at odds with the kingdom of Rome. Kuhn explores the background, literary features, plotting, and themes of Luke and Acts but also offers significant, fresh insights into the persuasive force of Luke’s impressively crafted and rhetorically charged narrative. (Amazon)[1]

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Richard Bauckham: Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology

Throughout Christian history, the Gospel of John’s distinctive way of presenting the life, works, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus have earned it labels such as “the spiritual Gospel” and “the maverick Gospel.” It has been seen as the most theological of the four canonical Gospels. In this volume Richard Bauckham, a leading biblical scholar and a bestselling author in the academy, illuminates main theological themes of the Gospel of John. Bauckham provides insightful analysis of key texts, covering topics such as divine and human community, God’s glory, the cross and the resurrection, and the sacraments. This work will serve as an ideal supplemental text for professors and students in a course on John or the four Gospels. It will also be of interest to New Testament scholars and theologians. (Amazon)

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Stanley Porter: Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice

In this volume, a leading expert brings readers up to date on the latest advances in New Testament Greek linguistics. Stanley Porter brings together a number of different studies of the Greek of the New Testament under three headings: texts and tools for analysis, approaching analysis, and doing analysis. He deals with a variety of New Testament texts, including the Synoptic Gospels, John, and Paul. This volume distills a senior scholar’s expansive writings on various subjects, making it an essential book for scholars of New Testament Greek and a valuable supplemental textbook for New Testament Greek exegesis courses. (Amazon)

Upcoming: Old Testament

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Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva: Invitation to the Septuagint 2nd Ed.

This comprehensive yet user-friendly primer to the Septuagint (LXX) acquaints readers with the Greek versions of the Old Testament. It is accessible to students, assuming no prior knowledge about the Septuagint, yet is also informative for seasoned scholars. The authors, both prominent Septuagint scholars, explore the history of the LXX, the various versions of it available, and its importance for biblical studies. This expanded new edition has been substantially revised and updated to reflect major advances in Septuagint studies. Appendixes offer helpful reference resources for further study. (Amazon) December 2015

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Ellen Charry: Psalms 1–50 (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

The biblical psalms are perhaps the most commented-upon texts in human history. They are at once deeply alluring and deeply troubling. In this addition to the acclaimed Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, a highly respected scholar offers a theological reading of Psalms 1–50, exploring the various voices in the poems to discern the conversation they engage about God, suffering, and hope as well as ways of community belonging. The commentary examines the context of the psalms as worship–tending to both their original setting and their subsequent Jewish and Christian appropriation–and explores the psychological dynamics facing the speaker. (Amazon) October 2015


  1. It is interesting to note that this particular book uses the phrasing “Luke and Acts” while a majority of scholars would classify it as “Luke-Acts”. I’ll be interested to see if this has any hermeneutical significance in this work.  ↩

Why Do We Need the Gospels?

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Often times people think about the Gospels as Sunday School stories about Jesus. Rightly, many read them to find out about Jesus but when it comes to actual doctrine and theology people turn to the epistles.

As I’ve learned over the course of my academic career the Gospels are rich theological narrative that not only point one to the Messiah but also guide us how to live. They do this through both positive and negative examples. When you read, place yourself in the characters shoes, especially that of the disciples and Pharisees. The Gospels are inviting us to take part in the story of Jesus.

Jonathan Pennington, in his book Reading the Gospels Wisely, helpfully provides 9 reasons why we should read and study the Gospels. I’ve summarized them below:

  1. They have been central to the church throughout its history.
  2. Paul and the other NT writers presuppose and build on the story and teachings of Jesus.
  3. The traditions behind the Gospel writings are the earliest access we have to the life of Christ.
  4. We get a more direct sense of the Bible’s storyline.
  5. They offer a concentrated exposure to the biblical emphasis on the coming kingdom of God.
  6. They show different languages or discourses of truth.
  7. They are in many ways a more comprehensive and paradigmatic type of map. Story communicates truth most comprehensively and transformatively.
  8. Encountering Jesus in narrative helps us grow in experiential knowledge.
  9. In the Gospels alone we have a personal, up-front encounter with Jesus.

Taken from Reading the Gospels Wisely pp. 38–49.

The Liturgy of the iPhone

In James K.A. Smith’s, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, book he discusses the concept of “liturgy”. In Smith’s definition, liturgy is a ritual that forms our identities. Going against the notion of “worldview” Smith argues that our daily liturgies form and shape us into a new person. He says, “a way of life become habitual for us such that we pursue that way of life—we act in that way of life—without thinking about it because we’ve absorbed the habitus that is oriented to corresponding vision of the ‘good life (140).’” Liturgies don’t just make us view the world differently but we fundamentally become a new type of human being.

He then gives the example of the way the iPhone (and other smartphones) have shaped the way we think and act. Everything is now available to us right now.

How big is the Grand Canyon? Instant answer.

I want to know if we are hanging out with our friends tonight. Instant communication.

Did the St. Louis Cardinals win tonight? Instant updates.

My professor emailed me a question. Instant response.

This friend I haven’t talked to in years is now pregnant. Instant “connection” to others.

We now live in a world where everything is instantaneos. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it has shaped us into a new humanity. Social media is just dangling there begging for our attention. No longer are the days of waking up in the morning to find the sports score, waiting until the next class to ask that professor a question, getting an update in the mail announcing a pregnancy, and so forth.

This also affects our attention to specific activities we are engaged in. Everytime we think of something that we want to know we have a device that can provide instant answers. In a worship service we might love the song but don’t know who wrote it. We can just pause, take our minds off of worshipping our Creator, and check the artist. In that sermon, the preacher says something that we want to fact check we can instantly Google the answer. In class our minds drift because there might be that Twitter mention or Facebook notification. We are now pulled in many directions while our attention is being diverted from the task at hand.

I’ve really begun to think about this in terms of both worship on Sunday mornings and class time. For the past several months I’ve been turning off my phone during worship. Not putting it on “silent” (i.e. vibrate, which the whole row can still here) but actually turning it off. These months I’ve begun to see my attention more focused on worship. I am no longer distracted by the chance that I might have missed some notification or text that family member or friend a question. I can no longer get distracted by surfing the web for a question during the sermon. My attention is focused on worshipping the living God. I have to say, it has been a great blessing these past several months. I’ve also realized that the text message can always wait, that email doesn’t need responded to right away, and the Cardinals score will always be available afterwards.

I want us to think about how we have all been effected by the liturgy of the iPhone. Turn off the phone off during worship these next couple weeks and see if this habit changes who you are and how you worship. My guess is that you will see a wonderful renewed focus on worship.

QOTD: James K.A. Smith on Worldview Approaches

James K.A. Smith on worldview:

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“The argument is not that worldview approaches and intellectual reflection are wrong but only that they are inadequate, and this inadequacy stems from the stunted anthropology they assume. Such a picture of education is insufficiently radical because it doesn’t get to the root of our identity. By fixating on the intellectual aspect, such a model of the person — and its corresponding picture of education — undervalues and underestimates the importance of the affective; by focusing on what we think and believe, such a model misses the centrality and primacy of what we love; by focusing on education as the dissemination of information, we have missed the ways in which Christian education is really a project of formation. In other words, at the heart of the argument is an antireductionism and affirmation of a more holistic understanding of human persons and Christian education (and Christian formation more broadly).” 

James K.A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom, p. 7

Brief Book Review: How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, and Translation

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Stanley Porter makes another excellent contribution to New Testament studies in his most recent book, How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation. The book stems from a series on lectures in the Hayward Lectures at Acadia Divinity College during 2008. The purpose of the book is to serve as an in depth introduction into the origins of the New Testament and its subsequent translations. The book has three chapters, which cover these issues:

  1. The Text of the New Testament
  2. The Transmission of the New Testament
  3. The Translation of the New Testament

Text of The New Testament

The goal of this chapter is to introduce students to the text of the New Testament and the purpose of textual criticism in general. Porter explains the traditional purpose behind textual criticism in finding the original autograph of the authors (12–13). In doing so he introduces the student to the “major players” throughout the history of textual criticism. He then engages with Bart Ehrman’s, Misquoting Jesus, which he concludes “despite the bravado that accompanies his text, [Ehrman] provides lless-than-compelling arguments that the New Testament in fact misquotes Jesus, or any other text, in a way that presents destabilizing textual difficulties.”

I found this chapter particularly helpful in introducing the many aspects of textual criticism. This is a field that I am largely unfamiliar with but after reading I now have a base of knowledge that I can begin to engage in further research.

The Transmission of the New Testament

In this chapter Porter discusses the transmission of the text of the New Testament (hence, the title of the chapter). He does not enter into debates about the dating of specific books but the reader will be introduced to these in the chapter. Porter does believe that all the books of the New Testament were written in the first century. This chapter is helpful because it covers the manuscript evidence in a straight forward and succinct manner. One that has not been introduced to these issues would do well to read this particular chapter.

The Translation of the New Testament

This chapter traces the history of the translation of the New Testament covering the Septuagint (as a backdrop for discussing other issues), Syriac, Latin, and Coptic translations (149). He then begins a discussion on English translations with Wycliff, Tyndale, Authorized version, and others. The most fruitful part of the chapter is his discussion on the major issues in translation. He shows the convuluted history in theories on translation by providing quotes from history showing how many people thought differently of translations. For example, Cicero argues for a more thought for though translation by saying, “I did not translate them (orations) as an interpreter but as an orator…not…word for word, but I preserved the general style and force of the language (174).” Towards the end of the chapter he discusses the ever heated debate of “literal” versus “dynamic” translations. He argues that the formal equivalence method must “be done with the word group (or phrase) as the minimal translational unit-protests regarding the individual words notwithstanding—because it seems to be at this level that much of the translational work is being done.” Therefore, he concludes the “literal” versus “dynamic” debate has much more in common than is commonly purported.

Conclusion

Overall, I found this book extremely helpful. Porter has a knack for presenting difficult and often times confusing topics in a straight forward manner. I especially found his discussion on translation to be even handed. Often times in debates it is “literal” versus “dynamic” and Porter rightly diffuses this by saying that each are closer than they appear. He is open to different translation methods and says that this is an area where scholars can make much ground in the areas of discourse analysis for translation help. Overall, I highly recommend this book.

You can purchase the paperback copy here or the Kindle version here.

Thanks to Baker Academic for this free review copy.

Book Review: Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters

You can purchase the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters: A Historical and Biographical Guide ed. Marion Ann Taylor here.

The study of women interpreters has regretfully been neglected in the recent interest in the history of interpretation. Often this enterprises focus on the ecclesiastical leaders whose writings have been past down. The focus on male interpreters paints an incomplete picture and is a failure to show the full voice of how Scripture has been understood throughout the ages. In the pre-modern period much of women’s influence has been lost because they did not produce formal writings but their influence should not go unnoticed.

One can think of Paula (347–404) who traveled with Jerome and set up a monastery for for women and also a hospice for travelers (400). Through the writings of Jerome we can paint a picture of her hermeneutics focusing both on the spiritual and historical meaning of Scripture. Undoubtably, Paula would have had a major influence on the women of this time in her monastery. There is also Macrina, the sister of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, who was a teacher and leader in female monasticism (338). Gregory calls her “my teacher in all these things” and her influence on him was great. Just a glimpse into the influence these women played in the history of Christianity opens our eyes to a fuller view of history.

These are just two small examples of how this handbook helps give a voice to women throughout history. It is important because many of the overviews of past interpreters of Scripture predominantly focus on male interpreters because they have had the loudest voice throughout history. This collection of entries seeks to remedy this and show the voice of women throughout history in the interpretation of Scripture.

The women included in this handbook are those whose “interpretations were influential, distinctive, or unique in terms of ideas or interpretive genre, or representative of the kind of interpretive writings done by a number of women at a certain period of time (5).” The editor notes that there is a disproportionate amount of women in the post-Reformation period because of the increase of female literacy, education, and access to the Bible. There are 180 entries covering from Faltonia Betitia Proba (ca. 320 – ca. 370) to Elizabeth Rice Achtemeier (1926–2002).

The book is setup in a way to be helpful for a variety of different purposes. If one is seeking the history of interpretation they can go to the Scriptural index or if one is looking for a certain time period they can look at the chronological lists of entries. The bibliography at the end of each entry shows additional resources that one can pursue on each specific interpreter.

The editor, Marion Ann Taylor, is to be commended for putting this volume together. It is a much needed addition to the field of biblical studies and will be especially helpful for anyone interested in the history of reception of the Scriptures. I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to Baker Academic for this free review copy.

You can purchase Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters: A Historical and Biographical Guide here.

Watch the interview with Marion Ann Taylor to hear about how this book came about.

Book Review: James and Jude (Baker Academic)

Many thanks to Baker Academic for providing this free review copy

John Painter and David deSilva contribute to the one of the latest additions to the Paideia Commentary Series. Painter, who wrote the James portion, has written numerous books and articles on the person of James and has also on the Johannine epistles in the Sacra Pagina series. DeSilva has written numerous publications covering the New Testament and other Second Temple Judaism literature.

Goals of the Series

The Paideia Commentary Series is a somewhat newer series that tries that has three goals:

  1. Give contemporary students a basic grounding in academic New Testament studies by guiding their engagement with the New Testament texts
  2. Reflect the facts that the texts of the New Testament are literary units shaped by the educational categories of ancient writers and readers
  3. To form the theological convictions and moral habits of the individual authors

Both Paint and deSilva do a great job of bringing their expertise of the subject to a level that is easy for the beginning student to take in. This is not at all to say that the commentary is “fluffy” or “easy” but it is to say that it is clear and articulate on the issues. Instead of assuming one’s knowledge of “scholarly” terms these are often times defined and described showing the importance of different ideas. Another excellent feature is the use of “mini excursuses” that describe in detail particular ideas. These are excerpted out in an easy to read form that does not take away from the flow of the commentary itself. See image below

Methodology

Each author covers the basics that most commentaries cover (authorship, date, genre, theology etc.) in a compact form that is easy to digest. Painter says that even though there is much connection with early Jesus sayings it does not seem that James, Jesus’ half-brother, did not actually write the letter but is rather a pseudonymous letter written after his death. deSilva posits that the letter of Jude does not “fit characteristics associated with postapostolic writings” and is presumably written by Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, in the latter stage of his life (181–182).

Strengths

One of the strengths of the Paideia series is that it is not a “verse by verse” commentary but rather analyzes larger units together. This serves two useful purposes: 1) it allows the student to easily see the overview and complete message of each book 2) allows the authors to deal more easily with the final literary composition of each book. I found this approach to be well suited for the purpose of the commentary. By doing this it allows the authors to give adequate space to each literary unit and not have to become superficial in its analysis by going verse by verse in a shorter commentary.

Conclusion

Overall, I would highly recommend this commentary to both students and pastors. Any student or pastor that is beginning their study in either one of these books would be well advised to read through this commentary at the start of their study to be able to adequately grasp the books as a whole. The Paideia series is a welcome addition to the plethora of commentary sets out there that helpfully analyzes not only the cultural background and literary devices used but also the themes and theology of each book of the New Testament.

Just in for review

Just in for review from Baker Academic, James and Jude, in the Paideia commentary series. At first glance it looks to be a great addition to the series.

From the back:

In this addition to the well-received Paideia series, two respected New Testament scholars offer a practical commentary on James and Jude that is conversant with contemporary scholarship, draws on ancient backgrounds, and attends to the theological nature of the texts.

This commentary, like each in the projected eighteen-volume series, proceeds by sense units rather than word-by-word or verse-by-verse. Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by:

  • attending to the ancient narrative and rhetorical strategies the text employs
  • showing how the text shapes theological convictions and moral habits
  • commenting on the final, canonical form of each New Testament book
  • focusing on the cultural, literary, and theological settings of the text
  • making judicious use of maps, photos, and sidebars in a reader-friendly format

Students, pastors, and other readers will appreciate the historical, literary, and theological insight that John Painter and David deSilva offer in interpreting James and Jude.