BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 13, 2015

Cover ArtJonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely was featured at The Pneuma Review.

Rarely do I read a book that ‘reads me’ so well. I highly recommend this text, especially for those who have been fed a cold diet of higher-critical books and methods. We must develop a “posture” or “habitus” because, “Our goal in reading Scripture is not merely to understand what God is saying … but to stand under his Word” (137).

Byron Borger, at Hearts and Minds, recommended God’s Good World by Jonathan Wilson, God’s Wider Presence by Robert Johnston, and A New Heaven and a New Earth by J. Richard Middleton.

At First Things, John Wilson recommended Mark Noll’s From Every Tribe and Nation as a stand out book in 2014.

The 1-2 Thessalonians BECNT volume by Jeffrey Weima was reviewed at Diglotting.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice.

At The Scriptorium Daily, Fred Sanders reflected on Khaled Anatolios’ discussion of philanthropia in Retrieving Nicaea.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 20, 2015

Cover ArtIntroducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda, was reviewed on Odd Is The New Normal.

What this book does, in its amazing depth of research, is gather together thousands of years of theology and tradition into a single place…You can tell that this book was coauthored by teachers (good teachers) in their ability to organize and present such complicated material in a manner that is approachable and enlightening.

Bob on Books reviewed Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu, co-authors of Our Global Families, wrote a guest post for A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

At Transpositions, Brett Speakman reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

Jordan Hillebert, at Reformation 21, reviewed Atonement, Law and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob Prahlow reviewed Thomas O’Loughlin’s The Didache.

Asbury Journal reviewed The Story of Jesus in History and Faith by Lee Martin McDonald, Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist, Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl, and The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

At Solidarity Hall, John Medaille wrote Pop Culture and Total War, a reflection on Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire.

Andrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed on Dr. Bill Maier Live.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 30, 2015

Cover ArtMathew Sims, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed James K. A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom.

I cannot recommend Imagining the Kingdom highly enough. It’s a much needed corrective for the Church especially in our current climate where secular liturgies often are more formative. Christians have failed to tell and live our story in a way that’s believable and affective.

At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reflected on Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain.

At Books at a Glance, Adam Darbonne reviewed Reading the Historical Books by Patricia Dutcher-Walls.

Jackson Watts, at the Helwys Society Forum, reviewed Beth Felker Jones’ Practicing Christian Doctrine.

Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice was review at Pastor Dave Online.

Gary Ridley, at Send U, reviewed Effective Intercultural Communication by A. Scott Moreau, Evvy Hay Campbell and Susan Greener.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, is looking forward to Mikeal Parsons’ Paideia commentary on Luke.

Justin Taylor shared Thomas Schreiner’s reflections in The King in His Beauty on seeing the Trinity in Genesis 1:26.

At Lingering in Love, Ian McConnell has been working through Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, and Bonhoeffer’s eight theses on youth work. Read posts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The Gospel Coalition shared 8 Lessons from the School of Prayer, an excerpt from D. A. Carson’s Praying with Paul.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 23, 2015

Cover ArtAt Euangelion, Joel Willitts reviewed Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker by Andrew Root. Read part 1, and part 2.

We can’t dream of doing ministry unless we’re first willing to do life together. That’s where it all begins, as well as ends. Along the way, reflecting on a good read like this sure helps to keep a youth worker moving in the right direction.

James K. A. Smith’s The Fall of Interpretation was reviewed at Ellipsis Omnibus.

CHOICEconnect reviewed The Christian Faith by Hans Schwarz here, and For the Glory of God by Daniel Block here.

Peter Goeman reviewed John Dobson’s Learn Biblical Hebrew.

At the Denver Journal, Bruce Demarest reviewed Early Christian Martyr Stories by Bryan Litfin.

In part three of the Hearts & Minds Best Books of 2014, Byron Borger named Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, A. J. Swoboda, as the Best Book of Christian Creation Care. Also Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice was given an Honorable Mention as an Academic Theology Text.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 19, 2014

Cover ArtAllen Mickle Jr. reviewed Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

“Dr. Decker met with me to encourage me to consider using his pre-published Greek text. He gave me a copy to review, and after working through much of the text, I found it a superior version for teaching. Here are my thoughts on why you should consider Decker for first year Greek instruction.”

Seumas Macdonald, at The Patrologist, is working through Reading Koine Greek. You can read his reflections here: Part 1, part 2, part 3.

Chris Woznicki reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

At Unsettled Christianity, Joel Watts reviewed Atonement, Law, and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

Ed Smither reviewed Stephen Hildebrand’s Basil of Caesarea.

At Faith and History, Robert Tracy McKenzie reflected on Mark Noll’s From Every Tribe and Nation.

Bryan Litfin, author of Early Christian Martyr Stories, was interviewed on Chris Fabrey Live!

William Tabbernee was interviewed on The Janet Mefferd Show, about his new book, Early Christianity in Contexts.

Adonis Vidu discussed Atonement, Law, and Justice at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 12, 2014

Cover ArtMark Noll’s From Every Tribe and Nation was recommended by Robert Tracy McKenzie at Faith and History.

“It’s essentially the story of his personal spiritual and intellectual journey, with an emphasis on the way that Noll’s engagement with Christianity in other parts of the world has deepened his faith. But as every historian knows, you can visit foreign countries by traveling through time as well as space. Noll illustrates that truth wonderfully in the book’s second chapter, ‘Rescued by the Reformation.’”

At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner recommended Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, edited by Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry.

Rodney Clapp, at Running Heads, reflected on holistic eschatology and J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Handbook of Religion, edited by Terry Muck, Harold Netland, and Gerald McDermott, was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N.T. Wright, and John Frederick, was reviewed at ἐνθύμησις.

Ed Smither reviewed Scott Sunquist’s Understanding Christian Mission.

Steven Bouma-Prediger, author of For the Beauty of the Earth, wrote the article “Trees, Healing, and Hope” for Sojourners.

David Gowler, who is writing a book on the reception history of the parables, celebrated the one year anniversary of his blog A Chorus of Voices.

At Reformedish, Derek Rishmawy recommended Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice as one of his 5 Best Books of 2014.

At First Things, Wesley Hill recommended Walter Moberly’s Old Testament Theology.

J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth, and Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, were named as Jesus Creed Books of the Year by Scot McKnight.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 8, 2014

Cover ArtAt The Christian Century, Greg Carey reviewed Chris Keith’s Jesus against the Scribal Elite.

“Keith writes with the charm of an excellent classroom teacher: always clear, occasionally hip, and sometimes a little geeky. Any reader who has completed a basic curriculum in the Gospels will enjoy this book, while professional scholars will recognize immediately that Keith is a primary contributor to academic debates. He has earned a reputation as an influential emerging voice in historical Jesus research and an expert on ancient literacy.”

Also reviewing Jesus against the Scribal Elite was Brian LePort.

John Piper reviewed Mark Noll’s From Every Tribe and Nation.

At Reformedish, Derek Rishmawy reviewed Atonement, Law, and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

George P. Wood reviewed Rediscovering an Evangelical Heritage by Donald Dayton with Douglas Strong.

Conrade Yap, at Panorama of a Book Saint, reviewed The Church according to Paul by James Thompson.

At First Things, Peter Leithart reflected on The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, edited by Khaled Anatolios.

The Englewood Review of Books recommended Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At the Bible Gateway Blog, Jonathan Petersen interviewed David Bauer about his book (together with the late Dr. Robert Traina), Inductive Bible Study.

Mark Kiessling, at the LCMS Leader Blog, interviewed Andrew Root and discussed his new book, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.


Adonis Vidu: “Why I Wrote Atonement, Law, and Justice

Why I Wrote Atonement, Law, and Justice”
by, Adonis Vidu

Cover ArtAny textbook is written from a particular angle and with certain interests in mind. This one is no different. My starting point (in the order of research, so to speak) has been the observation that theologians writing on the atonement have been making certain assumptions about the concept of justice. While justice is not the only concept about which such writers were making assumptions, it is certainly a key presupposition. It would not be a stretch to say that debates about the atonement are, in fact, debates about the relationship between divine love and justice, which brought me to the hypothesis behind the book: What if the disagreement about the interpretation of the cross is partly driven by a disagreement over conceptions of justice?

I thus set out to propose a “critical reading” of atonement history, which traces its cross-fertilization with the history of conceptions and attitudes about law and justice. I suggest that we can better understand major historical positions on this doctrine by investigating their relationship to this dimension of their broader cultural setting.

The interdisciplinary nature of the project should be understood. This is neither a thorough history of atonement doctrine nor a complete exposition of atonement theologians. It is a critical questioning of the relationship between law, justice, and the divine forgiveness and love revealed in the ministry and passion of Jesus Christ. While I believe that this account illuminates both the individual contributions to and the historical progress of this doctrine, the focus is on the interlacing of theological and juridical assumptions.

The first five chapters of the book discuss five periods of the theology of the cross. The first looks at two important patristic theologies of the cross, that of Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine, against the backdrop of current thinking about law (Homer, Aeschylus, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, and Roman law). In the second chapter, I situate the thought of Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, and Duns Scotus in relation to the legal revolution taking place in the Europe of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The third chapter, on the Reformation, discusses the differences between Luther’s and Calvin’s doctrines of the atonement, as well as their political and legal theologies. In the next chapter, I tackle modern theories of the cross, focusing respectively on Kant, Schleiermacher, and Ritschl. The modern separation between law and morality—its relaxation of the retributive demands of justice—is reflected in different ways in these authors. Finally, in the fifth chapter, I assess the influence of the contemporary deconstruction of law (Foucault, Levinas, Derrida) on a variety of recent theologies of the cross (Rene Girard, John Milbank, and postcolonial and feminist writers).

What is the moral of this “critical reading” of atonement history? By far the greatest takeaway for me has been the fact that debates about atonement are primarily disagreements about the nature of God. What each of these theologians is trying to do is intrepret the event of the cross and assign actions to various agents: What is Christ doing? How does he understand his own death? Does God (the Father) play any part in these events? Should the death of Jesus be exclusively ascribed to his Roman executioners? This is very clearly a debate over the agencies involved in the passion of Christ. However, in any court of law, any ascription of responsibility for an action needs to be grounded in an analysis of the character of the agent. To take the central example: Is God the sort of agent that might be capable of this kind of responsibility? Could the Father have demanded the death of his Son as a condition of his forgiveness? Considerations about the character of God (divine attributes) will weigh heavily in our interpretation of Easter events.

The final chapter of the book makes a constructive theological argument to the effect that, as we try to figure out God’s role at the cross, we must bear in mind “the perfection of divine agency.” I argue that the concept of divine simplicity qualifies the way in which we may speak about divine character and agency. Implicitly, simplicity qualifies the way we understand God as acting at the cross. In terms of divine character, God never enacts certain traits more than others in various actions. Thus, the language of propitiation does not describe a change in God (but rather in our relation to him), any more than there can be a “strife of attributes” in Godself. Simplicity also has the following implications for the structure of divine action itself: first, the unity of divine actions prevents us from saying that God has to punish Jesus as a causal condition or to be enabled to forgive us. Second, the idea of a direct punishment of the Son by the Father is implicitly foreclosed by the ancient principle of the inseparable works of the Trinity. Third, God is not “moved” from wrath to mercy. And finally, the crucifixion should not be separated from the resurrection, since these are not separable “parts” of God’s action.

Each of these implications, I believe, makes corrections to the otherwise important doctrine of penal substitution, which highlights a necessary (legal) dimension of the unified and simple Triune action.


Adonis ViduAdonis Vidu (PhD, University of Nottingham) is associate professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and is the author of several books, including Theology after Neo-Pragmatism. He previously taught at Emmanuel University and at the University of Bucharest in his home country of Romania.

For more information on Atonement, Law, and Justice, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – October 3, 2014

Cover ArtAt Books & Culture, Brett Beasley reviewed Robert Johnston’s forthcoming book God’s Wider Presence.

Johnston succeeds in carefully analyzing our transcendent experiences while preserving their unpredictability. He shows that, while we can usefully talk about God’s wider presence—we can muse over it like a scientist might muse over a Lichtenberg Figure created by a bolt of lightning—we can’t tame it; where and when it strikes will always surprise us.

At First Things, Peter Leithart reflected on Atonement, Law, and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

Chris Woznicki reviewed Atonement, Law, and Justice.

Eric Covington, at The Two Cities, reviewed Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God.

Also reviewing For the Glory of God were Michael Philliber at Deus Misereatur, and TheGuffmanSmoketh who shared this video review.

From Every Tribe and Nation, by Mark Noll, was recommended by Byron Borger at Hearts & Minds Books.

Aaron, at wrestlinginspiredfaith, reviewed Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker by Andrew Root.

David Haines reviewed Matthew Levering’s The Theology of Augustine.

At Grace for Sinners, Joshua Torrey reviewed The Original Bishops by Alistair C. Stewart.

An Age of Revolutions – an Excerpt from Atonement, Law, and Justice

The following is an excerpt from Atonement, Law, and Justice, by Adonis Vidu.


Cover ArtRevolution was in the air. Within the church, a growing dissatisfaction with the corruption of the hierarchy found its outlet in the Wittenberg theses. Outside the church, the German Revolution drove the first nail through the coffin of the ecclesial institution of the church.

Besides the growth of the nation-state, whose development likely constituted the salvation of a Protestantism that might otherwise have been crushed by the unified Catholic states, there were other factors that influenced to some degree the theological shape of the Reformation. The late medieval critique of the doctrine of inherent merit coincided with the development of a money economy. The invention of money led to the relativization of the worth of goods. The fruit of one’s work was only as valuable as what buyers were willing to pay for it.

Simultaneously, in the world of art, a transition had been taking place for quite some time, away from the honor-based feudalism, with its glorification of social bonds, to an emphasis on individuality and inwardness. The Renaissance portrait and Shakespeare’s and Cervantes’s parodies of the old honor society, among many other cultural shifts, indicated the onset of a new paradigm.

But while it is true that in many ways the Reformation only consolidated a trend away from feudalism toward a Rechtsstaat, and that perhaps every single legal innovation it introduced had some sort of precedent either in Roman law or in the medieval legal revolution itself, the new legal culture was nevertheless new. This is true with regard to the legal philosophy of the Reformation, and Witte goes as far as to call it “the third watershed period in the Western legal tradition.”

The true originality of the Reformational legal philosophy consists in the particular arrangement of the temporal authority in relation to the spiritual authority of the church. I will argue that this distribution of legal power between the two spheres, or as Luther called them, the two kingdoms, can illuminate our understanding of the Reformation doctrines of the atonement.

©2014 by Adonis Vidu. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Atonement, Law, and Justice, click here.