Books I am currently reviewing and reading…

Books I am currently reviewing and reading… April 23, 2008

I returned back home to Durham (England) last week from a two week holiday in the US with my family. While in my hometown (Ashland, Ohio) I like to stop in the seminary (Ashland Theological Seminary) and visit with some of the profs there. Strangely enough, some of them I know because I went to high school with their kids! In any case, one of these profs (David Baker, OT scholar) is also the editor of Ashland Theological Journal and allows me to take back a few books in NT to review for the journal. I thought I would share what I am reading. At first I thought posting on ‘what I am reading’ is a bit self-centered, but I thought, (1) this is a blog based my interests and research, so where else would be better?, and (2) I can offer a brief word about these relatively recent books and why I think they are interesting.

Paul: Missionary of Jesus (Paul Barnett): Intro books on the Apostle Paul are rather plentiful (for a short one I like Horrell, for a longer one M. Gorman), but I am always looking for good potential textbooks. Barnett is a good scholar and we have seen good commentary work from him (2 Corinthians, NICNT). He is critical of the New Perspective, so I am interested to see how he treats the subject. The book is endorsed by Hengel and Carson, but that is not too surprising. Also, Barnett tries to draw from both Acts and the Pauline corpus and sometimes this is done well and sometimes not so much. So, I am eager to see how he works out that approach.

Greed as Idolatry (B. Rosner). Rosner is an excellent exegete and also an expert in Pauline ethics. Interest in how metaphors shape reality is increasing interest among theologians and so this is a timely study as well.

Aspects of the Atonement (I.H. Marshall).  This short book engages in the topics of cross, resurrection, and reconciliation.  I have always enjoyed Marshall’s work (his NT Theology is quite good).  This should be a fun read.  As Mike Bird pointed out on his blog, Marshall rightly draws attention to the significance of resurrection as a theme in NT soteriology.

Central Themes in Biblical Theology (Ed. S. Hafemann and P.R. House). An evangelical project, this collection of essays treats subjects such as covenant, commandments/law, atonement, the ‘servant of the Lord’, judgment, the people of God, and the history of redemption. Contributing scholars include Frank Thielman and Elmer Martens (as well as pieces by the editors). My mentor from Gordon-Conwell, Roy Ciampa, has an excellent piece on heilsgeschichte. I think, though I will confirm after I read it!, that this might make a good textbook for a ‘whole-Bible’ survey class or an intro to biblical theology.

The New Perspective on Paul (Dunn; revised edition). This collection of older essays and inclusion of some new material was previously published by Mohr Siebeck and was unbearably expensive. Luckily Eerdmans picked it up and now it seems very affordable (though I was lucky to get it free for review!). Interestingly he dedicates it to Tom Wright, ‘friend, co-worker, fellow soldier, and bishop’ (the quote is in Greek). The only new piece chapter/essay is one on Philippians 3 – I am very interested to see what Dunn has to say since I have my own thought on 3.2ff.

As a Christmas present, my father-in-law gave me a gift certificate to Borders and I didn’t have an opportunity to spend it until we went to the US, so I also picked up a couple of books for ‘fun’ reading:

The Hauerwas Reader – I really enjoy reading about theology and ethics.  I have only read the first essay so far, but I was very impressed at how readable he is.

Wesley for Armchair Theologians (W. Abraham) – Personal confession – I know very little about historical theology.  I have spent so much time specializing in NT that I barely qualify as ‘armchair’!  So, truth be told, this is about where I need to begin.  I have read about 1/3 and this series is really excellent.  Fun for pastors and a really good starting place for committed laypeople.  Plus, a professional cartoonist does illustrations throughout the book and he is excellent.  I would like to read the volume on Barth next, and Aquinas after that.

The Life and Work of Caravaggio.  I love art (especially paintings) and I really like art that portrays biblical scenes.  Caravaggio has quite a number of ‘biblical’ paintings, his Paul on the Road to Damascus being a well-known piece.  I have only read a couple of chapters, but his life is so fascinating.  He was quite a controversial figure – very anti-estabishment, lived on the street, offended everyone – that sort of thing.

So, I have a lot on my plate, but (for me) it is quite an appetizing plate!

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