Book Reviews-11/28/11

 

Editor's Note: As we sometimes do, in this issue, due to a recent influx of books (but in the absence of time and energy to read them all in depth) we are offering brief overviews of five noteworthy recent releases in lieu of our usual full reviews.

Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament, Keri Wyatt Kent, 2011, Bethany House, Bloomington, Minn., ISBN 9780764208430, 256 pages, $13.99, softcover.

Kent briefly and insightfully expounds on 100 key terms from the Old Testament, from "altar" to "glory" to "firstfruits" to "wisdom", to help readers grasp more deeply the message of Scripture. Though she brings Hebrew into the discussion, this is not an exegetical work in the strict sense but more of a devotional designed for the average Christian reading the Bible on their own.

 

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple's Guide to Loving God and Others, Greg Ogden, 2011, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., ISBN 9780830810888, 202 pages, $16.00, softcover.

Ogden writes this follow-up to his Discipleship Essentials as a way to help small groups and individuals equip one another for love and good deeds by focusing in on the twin great commandments of Jesus to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. This is designed as a study book, with reflection questions and discussion guides.

 

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, J. D. Greear, 2011, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tenn., ISBN 9781433673122, 266 pages, $14.99, softcover.

Greear, a pastor from the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, offers a powerful challenge to today's Church to remember the Gospel of Christ-that it is the blood of Christ alone that saves us-and to beware the substitution of that message by moralism and legalism. He engagingly urges Christians to rediscover the Gospel message as the heart and only true motivator of good deeds and transformational work in the world.

 

Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles, Karen H. Jobes, 2011, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., ISBN 9780310267386, 496 pages, $44.99, hardcover.

This is a broad but thorough overview of the general epistles of the New Testament (i.e., those not addressed to a specific church in a specific city or region), Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude. Jobes gives a background on the authorship, cultural context, and message of each of these books, showing how they helped shape the early Church and continue to impact Christians today. This reference work is designed as a textbook, complete with charts and illustrations to help students understand these letters.

 

Paul through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians, Kenneth E. Bailey, 2011, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.,  ISBN 9780830833945, 590 pages, $30.00, softcover.

Bailey, author of Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes and other cultural studies books, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to bear on the cultural background to Paul's epistles. While Scripture is plainly understandable to all in its major themes, a cultural hermeneutic such as Bailey's can be immensely illuminating to specific details and difficult passages. This is a thorough, scholarly work, and will serve as a good reference volume for pastors and Bible teachers.

 

Reading Scripture with the Reformers, Timothy George, 2011, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., ISBN 9780830829491, 258 pages, $16.00, softcover.

In this short volume, "George takes readers through the exciting events of the 16th century, showing how this dynamic period was instigated by a fresh return to the Scriptures" (from the cover notes). It is impossible to understand the history of Europe or church polity in the modern era without grasping that the Reformation was driven wholly by the reading and study of God's Word by more people than ever before. George brings a theologian's eye for God's hand to this engaging history.

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