Posts Tagged ‘Study’
Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches
By D. Jeffrey Bingham
Publisher: Kregel Academic
There is an old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover…” and this is true with Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches. When I ordered this book, it was on the basis of the subtitle with consideration to the words biblical, historical, and practical. While I found this book informative, I did not find it biblical, historical, or practical. I will qualify my findings based on the subjective definition of all those words.
Eschatology by Bingham is one side of a box. The Christian tradition is rich and diverse as is the Jewish tradition from which Christianity is derived. When I considered “biblical” and “historical,” I was expecting a thorough treatment of the subject of Eschatology, which is defined as “The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” I suppose I did get treatment on the subject, but it was very narrowly defined and almost exclusively from one perspective and tradition and that being Protestant and Reformed. While this was not totally unexpected, it was rather disappointing considering again the subtitle. I was hoping for a more inclusive and expansive treatment of the subject. As such, the material was presented in such a way that an unsuspecting reader might assume the dispensational view of biblical “final things” is the only way to understand and interpret the Scriptures.
It was my hope that the presentation of material would be more comprehensive and delivered in an objective manner, allowing the reader to make an informed decision on what theory they might understand as “more practical.” Unfortunately, this is/was not the case.
In fairness, the material, narrowly defined as it might be, was presented well. I appreciated the essay format with multiple authors. Likewise, I appreciated the effort and attempt at including a historical perspective although as a church history buff I noticed immediately how exclusionary the material actually was.
Book Review: Exploring Christian Doctrine
Author: Tony Lane
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
I am always on the lookout for teaching tools that will help me to share What Christians Believe. InterVarsity Press and Tony Lane have worked together to produce what is, in my opinion, an extraordinary systematic study in basic Christian doctrine.
Tony Lane (DD, University of Oxford) is professor of historical theology at the London School of Theology. One might suspect that systematic studies of Christian doctrine can be rather dry and academic, but Tony Lane has broken that stuffy stereotype and written a work that is interesting, edifying, and understandable across a broad range of learning styles and levels of Christian maturity.
One of the many things I appreciated about this compelling study was the theological stance of Tony Lane. He is self-described as “‘eclectic’ rather than ‘confessional,’ writing as an Evangelical Christian, but drawing upon a wide range of Christian traditions—Reformed, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc.—without being tied to any specific one.” This attitude is pervasive throughout the study, from cover to cover; Lane shares insight and knowledge without bias and presents information as objectively and evenly represented between the Christian traditions as any resource I’ve ever come across.
The introduction sets stage for the purpose and format of the book. Lane writes; “This book originated as a series of Lectures for a first-year undergraduate Christian Doctrine Survey module. It is designed to be used by students at that level, either on their own or as a textbook for a whole cohort. It is also written to be accessible to the educated lay person who has no formal theological training.”
The format follows this basic pattern: (1) Chapter—the basic belief found in the doctrinal subject; brief historical account of the doctrine; important texts supporting the doctrine and any creedal support; differences over doctrine between groups and interconnections of doctrine between groups; relationship of doctrine to the contemporary scene in both Church and culture (2) Interactive questions are sprinkled throughout each chapter with “What do you think?” invitations. Lane provides resources for the reader-student to engage and also includes his personal opinion on the subject. (3) Skeptic’s objections are discussed (4) Creedal and Confessional statements related to the doctrine (5) Errors to avoid regarding the doctrine (6) Issues creating tension and speculation are presented (7) Inclusion of aspects of participation in or with worship (hymn, liturgy, ritual) and prayer.
At the end of each chapter study, Lane includes a notes section and resources section that contains bibliographies for further study. Likewise, he provides a “question to answer” and suggests answers be limited to 100-words or less. He makes this recommendation to prepare the student to have a ready answer for man-on-the-street type questions where the listener may not be prepared or willing to listen to an essay styled response.
I have really enjoyed my reading through this presentation of Christian Doctrine. I do not exaggerate when I state it might be one of the finest I have come across in all my studies…especially, when I consider the range, depth, and diversity of presentation that it encompasses. I will likely be using this as a primary textbook for catechism with new disciples and likely engaging “old” disciples as well. As always, I continue to praise the work of InterVarsity Press with their tireless efforts to the ministry and education of God’s people.
Book Review: A Commentary on Judges and Ruth
Author: Robert B. Chisholm Jr.
Publisher: Kregel Academic ISBN: 9780825425561
I have quickly become a fan of “all things Kregel,” at least where it comes to theological resources. I have reviewed, and now use, quite a few books from the Kregel Academic publishing house. I can honestly report that I have not had a single resource that has disappointed me; each and every book has been a very useful and enlightening tool for my Bible studies. This commentary from the Kregel Exegetical Library Series on the Old Testament book of Judges and Ruth is no exception to my report.
This commentary, written by Robert B. Chisholm, follows a bit of a different format than many of the commentaries I most often go to for my Scripture studies. First, Chisholm uses his own translation of the Hebrew texts (he is eminently qualified for the task as department chair and professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary as well as translator and senior Old Testament editor of the NET Bible). Second, Chisholm does not spend a lot of time wrestling with issues of textual criticism. While this might be important at some level of study, I have found it to be mind numbing and tedious when I am more concerned with working with meaning, interpretation, and application of the text. This is where this commentary shines, in my opinion.
There are thorough introductions to both books (Judges, and Ruth), providing expected detail information such as literary structure, chronology, outline, and socio-political landscape in addition to other items helpful in developing a high-level perspective. Included in the introductions, and not familiar to me in other commentaries, is the inclusion of a short section titled “Modern Proclamation of…” where Chisholm makes the effort to connect these ancient manuscripts to contemporary culture. Additionally, he includes preaching ideas for these texts toward the end of the introduction sections and each outline section of the book titled, “Homiletical Vantage Points.” I found these pieces thought-provoking and insightful.
As is expected with most commentaries, this is well-documented with resource references and thoroughly annotated. Concerning resources, a treasure trove bibliography is also included for each book at the end of their respective section. By treasure trove, I mean, the selection for Judges alone is thirty pages of reference titles!
While this is a very academic work, I did not find it “over my head.” I should mention that I am not a language scholar, nor do I hold a seminary degree. I found the commentary very accessible, fairly easy to read and understand (if you’ve had experience working in commentaries), and very practical. I was able to glean and apply information at first glance. This, in my opinion, is a ranking criterion for any “good” resource work and especially a Bible commentary.
As I mentioned at the outset of this review, I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of the works published by Kregel Academic and this Exegetical Library is very exciting to me. There are several other volumes planned in this series with a couple already available. If Kregel is able to maintain continuity of quality as found in this volume for Judges and Ruth, it is likely to become one of my favorite commentary series. This is an excellent choice for studies for these two Old Testament books.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publishing to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Book Review: Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul
Author: Lars Kierspel
Publisher: Kregel Academic ISBN: 9780825429361
This is the first experience I have had with one of Kregel Academic’s Charts books. My cursory description, in a word is phenomenal. Perhaps there are other academic resources that are more comprehensive and/or exhaustive, or at the least, equally comprehensive…but I am unaware of them. This is an indispensable resource when studying the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul or any of his epistles.
There are one hundred eleven charts in the collection arranged in four primary categories: Paul’s Background and Context (9 charts), Paul’s Life and Ministry (25 charts), Paul’s Letters (43 charts), and Paul’s Theological Concepts (34 charts). Kierspel also includes a commentary section, which provides a summary of the information in each chart. I found this commentary very helpful, and in some cases, almost as helpful as the chart itself. The final section of the book is very thorough (thirty pages) bibliography.
As I mentioned earlier, this is my first experience with information of this nature arranged in charts, but it will not be my last. While I have worked with other academic resources and used computer software for study, I found this arrangement of information one of the most intuitive and easy to work with of any method I’ve used to date. This Kregel Chart Book will not be the last I use.
I could share a little more detail about the nature of the charts, but a link on the Amazon.com site provides a look inside the book itself, which will speak much more than what I could here. This will allow you to see for yourself the beautiful functionality of the chart system. I think one of the highlights of this study tool is the objectivity of the presentation. It seems to me that the collection of information is simply “just the facts.” There does not appear to be any bias coloring the presentation of data at all. The great consolation about this detail is that I can enter my studies with a more relaxed attitude, knowing that I do not have to be on my guard filtering opinions or denominational perspective from my research. This alone is a priceless feature in my view.
I am beyond impressed with the book and a little disappointed this is my first exposure to the Kregel Charts Series. I do not know if every book in the genre is as good as this one, but I will be finding out and posting future reviews. If you have never seen or worked with one of these magnificent resources, don’t wait any longer… you won’t regret the investment.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
During the time I am away, I will reposting older entries from the icrucified blog. The following post was an entry from July 18, 2008
I have been troubled over the past few weeks over what I read, observe, and have experienced first-hand in the circles of the Christian fellowship. Do we understand or have a grasp of what it means to love from a Christian perspective? Evidence indicates that we do not. Recent statistics from the Barna Group show that 1 in 3 marriages will fail among the ranks of those professing Christian affiliation of some sort. We continue to see divisions, unforgiveness, slander, and gossip among other unhealthy attitudes within the rank and file of Christian fellowships as well. What is the reason for this unhealthy behavior and anti-Christian attitudes toward one another? I believe it has to do with our lack of understanding of what it means to love. I believe that, first, we do not understand the concept of Christian love; and second, we excuse ourselves from being included in applying that love. What are the repercussions of this “loveless” perception? How does it affect and effect our Christian lifestyle? Is there a Christian lifestyle without this love?
Over the coming days (maybe weeks) I plan to explore love as it is defined in our Bible. I want to know what love means and how it is effectively lived out in our day-to-day life. I don’t know if I’ll be posting daily with regard to this topic, but I will update the blog with its own category listing. If you want to follow this study alone, just search for the category heading of “love.”
Let us begin with the words for love that are used in the Greek Language (the purpose for this is so we can understand the meaning from our New Testament teachings in the Bible).
Storge – meaning “affection” in the Modern Greek language; it is natural affection, like that felt by parents for their children. This is rarely used in ancient works.
Thelema – meaning “desire” in the Modern Greek language; most often used in the context of “desire” to “do something.”
Eros – meaning “passionate” love and relating to sensual desire and/or longing.
Phileo – meaning “friendship” in the Modern Greek language; includes loyalty to friends, family, community, and requires familiarity. In the ancient texts, philia denoted a general type of love. This is the only other word for “love” (phileo) used in the ancient text of the New Testament besides agape.
Agape – meaning “love” in the Modern Greek language; agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one’s children, and the feelings for a spouse. In biblical literature, its meaning and usage is illustrated by self-sacrificing, giving love to all–both friend and enemy. Christian commentators have expanded the original Greek definition to encompass a total commitment or self-sacrificial love for the thing loved.
In the coming studies I plan to ask a number of questions; some will be in search of knowledge while others will be exploring practical answers seeking application of the knowledge. I hope some of you reading along will join in. My primary role in this study is not the teacher; I am merely publishing the works of the student… “me.”