Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Store Now - A Case for Historic Premillennialism

I'm excited about this new arrival. The market is so saturated with the popular "left behind" theology that few Christians realize there is any alternative. This work is most welcome and long overdue. Roger Olson says "It's about time we had a scholarly presentation and defense of historic premillennialism, which is probably the majority view of the 'end times' among theologically trained evangelicals." (from the back cover) The book is edited by Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, and Sung Wook Chung, associate professor of Christian Theology at Denver Seminary. Contributors include Craig Blomberg, Oscar Campos, Sung Wook Chung, Helene Dallaire, Donald Fairbairn, Richard Hess, Don J. Payne, and Timothy P. Weber. This will go to the top of my reading list and I'll give you my initial thoughts next week. I'm curious to see what kind of response this book may produce. I recall the volley of books between Walvoord, Ladd and Gundry. We probably won't see anything like that but I imagine someone at Dallas Theological Seminary or Moody Bible Institute (my alma mater) won't remain silent for long. If not books then the journal reviews will prove interesting. As a "convert" to historic premillennialism I'm happy to see a work that I'm sure will be current, competent and civil. It is a paperback, 184 pages and sells for $19.99.

Friday, January 30, 2009

2009 Christianity Today Book Awrds

Christianity Today has released its winners of the 2009 Christianity Today Book Awards. Three of my favorites made it. Why We're Not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, and Stories With Intent by Klyne Snodgrass. I have not had a chance to read the winner in the theology/ethics category: People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology by Michael Horton. The award of merit in the category was N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope which I did enjoy. Baker won an award of merit in the Church/Pastoral Leadership category with Ancient-Future Worship by Robert Webber. Congratulations to these authors and publishers.

Coming Soon from Baker Academic: A Reader's Guide to Calvin's Institutes

Baker Academic will be releasing this June A Reader's Guide to Calvin's Institutes by Anthony Lane. This will be perfect for those who are intimidated by the bulk of the Institutes but would like to become at least somewhat familiar with it. Many will already be familiar with Lane's previously published book The Institutes of Christian Religion edited by Anthony Lane and Hilary Osborne. These are not at all the same. The latter is an abridgement of the Institutes put into contemporary English. The former does not contain any text from the Institutes but rather provides notes to help the reader along. The Institutes are broken up into sections and then notes are given to help the reader focus on particular elements (i.e., "skip footnotes 1-3 but read #4). It is based on the Battles translation. Lane is professor of historical theology and director of research at the London School of Theology (UK). The book be a paperback with 176 pages and sell for $14.99. My thanks to Jim Kinney, editorial director for Baker Academic, for explaining the difference between the two works.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coming Soon from Westmister John Knox: Calvin: A Brief Guide to His Life and Thought

Westminster John Knox (WJK) is releasing a new title on Calvin this February. Calvin: A Brief Guide to His Life and Thought by Willem Van 'T Spijker, translated by Lyle D. Bierma. Spijker is a leading Calvin scholar and has served as a theological professor at the University of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. I can't comment on the contents of this book but I can say that I've been reading another book that was translated by Lyle Bierma and the readability is excellent. That one is The Writings of John Calvin by Wulfert De Greef. WJK also publishes another biography on Calvin (John Calvin---A Biography) by T.H.L. Parker which is on my short list to read. His shorter volume, Portrait of Calvin (regrettably out of print), is a great place for beginners to start.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coming Soon from IVP Books: Finding God in the Shack

I thought we'd take a break from books about Calvin. IVP Books is coming out with a book by Roger E. Olson, professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, called Finding God in the Shack: Seeking Truth in a Story of Evil and Redemption. I would have expected something like this to have come out sooner but here it is. Is this the first of many? I don't know. Olson is an Arminian and so I suspect he will have fewer problems than a Calvinist would have. The catalog says, "Roger Olson, who has faced his own Great Sadness, finds a good deal of comfort in this much beloved story." It continues, "Olson views The Shack with a theologian's eye and finds much sound truth. He delves into many of the significant issues raised by the book such as forgiving those who have done us great evil, how God acts in the world, how God is three persons in one and what difference this makes to us. While he offers his own criticisms of the book, he largely finds truth about God in The Shack." It will be 168 pages, paperback and sell for $15.00. Those interested in The Shack will not want to miss this work. You can see the table of contents and an excerpt here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming Soon from Crossway: John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor

The books on Calvin are coming strong. Crossway will release John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by W. Robert Godfrey (president of Westminster Seminary in California and a longtime professor of church history.) The catalog says, "What will surprise the readers of this book, however, is that Calvin did not live primarily to influence future generations. Rather, he considered himself first and foremost a spiritual pilgrim and a minister of the Word in the church of his day. It was from that 'essential' Calvin that all his influence flowed." The book is 192 pages, paperback and sells for $15.99. Look for it this April.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Coming Soon from IVP Academic: John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life

IVP Academic is releasing a new biography on John Calvin this March. Authored by Herman J. Selderhuis, professor for church history and church polity at the Theological University Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and director of the University's Institute for Reformation Research. Now I know what you're thinking--"OK, it's Calvin's 500th birthday but aren't there enough biographies on the guy already?!" If you're not thinking it, I was. Well, here's what Donald McKim says, "One would think that with all the biographies of John Calvin through the centuries there would be nothing new to say. Think again! Veteran Calvin scholar Herman Selderhuis has followed Calvin himself in going 'back to the sources' and provides a portrait of Calvin drawn exclusively from Calvin's own writings." This is only one of a good handful of recommendations from such notables as Timothy George, Frank A. James and Lyle Bierma. So I will add this to my Calvin reading list. I hope you do to. It will be 304 pages, paperback and sell for $25.00. You can see the table of contents and a couple of excerpts here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coming Soon from Eerdmans: Friends of Calvin

This Spring Eerdmans will be releasing Friends of Calvin by Machiel A. van den Berg (translated by Reinder Bruinsma). Since I've been reading about Calvin lately this title interests me quite a bit. The catalog says "We meet his famous Reformer friends, such as Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Theodore Beza, and John Knox, but also friends whose names are more obscure: his cousin Pierre Robert Olivetan, the first translator of the Bible into French; Rene de France of French Royalty; Laurent de Normandie, the mayor of Nayon who later escaped to Geneva; Pierre Viret, his 'best friend of all'; and Idelette van Buren, his beloved wife during their brief but 'blissful' marriage." It continues, "Peppered with quotations from Calvin's voluminous letters, Friends of Calvin abounds with secret court relationships, love affairs, death threats, poisonings, and narrow midnight escapes from the pursuing authorities--showing a full-blooded and dangerous side of the bookish Reformer's life." It will be a paperback and sell for $20.00, 240 pages with 25 illustrations. Machiel A. van den Berg is a Reformed preacher living in the Netherlands and regularly publishes articles about the history of the Reformation and about Calvin in particular.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Baker Book House 3rd Annual Forum: John Calvin

I'm really excited about this year's forum. We've decided to do it on John Calvin. Since it was his 500th birthday he was an easy choice. So far I have two participants for the panel: Michael Wittmer will speak on "The Emerging Church in the hands of John Calvin" and I've asked Richard Muller to speak on "Was Calvin a Calvinist?". We're still working on the other two panel members so stay tuned. The forum will probably be in the Spring (April/May). As soon as more details are known I'll let you know. As always we will have the event recorded so if you are unable to attend you can get a copy of the CDs. I will also be doing a few posts on forthcoming titles on Calvin from various publishers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ESV Bible with Apocrypha has Arrived

We just received the new English Standard Version with the Apocrypha. This is the only ESV with the Apocrypha. It is published by Oxford University Press and sells for $25.00 (hardcover only). The preface notes that it "contains the books of the Expanded Apocrypha (1977), including the additional books of 3 and 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151." (p. 1177) The three scholars who worked on it were David A. deSilva (Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Ashland Theological Seminary), Dan McCartney (Professor of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary), and Bernard A. Taylor (Loma Linda University). "The whole was then edited by David Aiken (Ada, Michigan) to achieve consistency throughout." (ibid)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Craig Blomberg Reviews Two New BECNT Commentaries

Craig Blomberg has reviewed the two newest releases in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. The two are 1 - 3 John by Robert W. Yarbrough and Jude and 2 Peter by Gene L. Green. Blomberg says "In this age of unprecedented proliferation of biblical commentary series, it is an outstanding accomplishment for the Baker Exegetical series consistently to have produced what with only rare exceptions have become the best available commentaries on the Greek text of the New Testament book or books treated. This new volume on the Epistles of John . . . certainly falls into this category." I couldn't agree more with him when he says Yarbrough "has clearly labored at writing well, with frequent turns of phrase that are truly literary in quality." The introduction is so well written that I found myself reading it again just to enjoy the writing. The contribution by Gene is praised for its "clear elucidation of the text's meaning, for his robust defense of traditional authorship and setting, for his command of the rhetorical techniques the inspired authors employed, and for his mastery of primary source material." This series continues to receive high praise from scholars, pastors and students.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Newsweek, Gay Marriage and the Bible

Lisa Miller wrote an article for the Dec 15, 2008 Newsweek issue on gay marriage and the Bible. Her article was short but has sparked sharp criticism from both Darrell Bock and Robert A. J. Gagnon . Gagnon is the author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice . Of the two responses Gagnon goes into more detail at several critical points. Bock's has the advantage of the responses from readers on his blog. The discussion is civil but Bock dosen't pull any punches. Both complain that Miller does not take into consideration any competant conservative voices who have addressed the issue. I agree. Miller's article is sarcastic, shallow and, at the end of the day, does nothing to advance the discussion. Those interested in the issue would do well to read both sides before thinking Miller has settled the debate.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Top 100 Theology Blogs

Christian has listed the top 100 theology blogs. If you enjoy reading blogs this list should keep you going for all of 2009. The blogs are broken up into eight different categories: 1) General Theology, 2) Criticism, 3) Politics, 4) History, 5) Academic, 6) Clergy, 7) Society and Culture and 8) Writings. There is a little something for everybody so give it a visit.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Two New Study Bibles Coming in 2009

Two new study Bibles are coming out this year. Last year we saw the birth of the NLT Study Bible , The Discipleship Study Bible (NRSV), and the ESV Study Bible. First in order of publication is the Wesley Study Bible from Abingdon Press. It is an NRSV and is edited by Joel B. Green and William H. Willimon. You can see more about it here. This will be a real welcome to the study Bible market since there is virtually nothing of study Bibles from a Wesleyan/Arminian tradition. I encourage you to take a look at the sampler. We should see it in bookstores in February or March. Later in the year we will have The Lutheran Study Bible from Concordia. The target date for its release is Reformation Day 2009 (October 31). This is not a new edition of the Concordia Self-Study Bible which was just a NIV Study Bible with modifications for Lutherans. It will be in the English Standard Version but is not a revision or modification in any way of the ESV Study Bible. I look forward to seeing both these study Bibles and already have people in mind I know will enjoy them. Finally, many of you will remember Zondervan's The Spiritual Formation Bible. It has been re-published by Upper Room Books and is called The Meeting God Bible. It has the same content and the same layout as its predecessor. Those interested in spiritual formation will enjoy this Bible.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is Jesus just cut and paste from pagan religions?

I continue to find popular writers saying that Christianity simply borrowed pagan ideas when they wrote about Jesus. In a forthcoming book from HarperOne, Saving Jesus From the Church by Robin Meyers, he notes the similarities between Jesus and Mithras (among others). Meyers comments on how we need to do serious Bible study and he has a serious axe to grind with fundamentalist/conservative writers who apparently aren't serious when doing Bible study(although he cites very few conservative scholars, N.T. Wright is about the only one). William Lane Craig was asked a question on this issue recently and his answer is illuminating. Essentially this is a dead issue in the scholarly community and is only found in popular writers and from those in the Jesus Seminar (as with Meyers above). On Mithras I recommend this page I found online. Also note chapter four in Lee Strobel's book The Case for the Real Jesus, "Christianity's Beliefs about Jesus Were Copied from Pagan Religions." See especially the interview with Edwin Yamauchi (pp. 164-87) who authored eighty-eight papers on Mithraism and was invited in 1975 to deliver a paper at the Second International Congress on Mithraic Studies in Tehran! His assessment is the same as Craig's. The scholars have done the research and the evidence has been found wanting. Christians don't need to fear these kind of allegations.