BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 2, 2014

Cover ArtMichael Bird reviewed Stanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament.

“Porter is a recognized expert on biblical Greek, papyrology, and epigraphy, and therefore, this book reflects his wealth of knowledge in those areas ….[D]efinitely worth reading and to recommend to students.”

At Mundus Reconciliatus Ecclesia, Joshua Luper reflected on Jesus the Temple by Nicholas Perrin.

Stephanie Bliese recommended a number of Baker Academic titles in her Christian Theologian’s Reading List, including:

At Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Nick Norelli reviewed the Logos edition of Craig Keener’s Acts commentary.

Vincent of Lérins and the Development of Christian Doctrine, by Thomas Guarino, was awarded the 2014 Paradosis Center Book Prize.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 7, 2014

Cover ArtTony Campolo reflected on The Early Church on Killing, by Ron Sider.

“The book of Hebrews reminds us that we are ‘surrounded with a great crowd of witnesses’ to which we must be responsible in all that we do, but especially in our interpretations of the Holy Writ. As Ron Sider makes his case against Christians participating in war, supporting capital punishment, or justifying abortion, he supports his beliefs by resorting to the writings of some of the earliest Church leaders, and thus, takes Church tradition seriously.”

At Euangelion, Michael Bird reviewed Craig Keener’s Acts, Volume 2.

Joseph Sherrard, at Transpositions, reviewed The Theology of Augustine by Matthew Levering.

Tim Challies recommended Grant Osborne’s Revelation volume in the BECNT series.

Rod Whitacre’s Patristic Greek Reader was recommended by Ben Witherington.

At The Anxious Bench, David Swartz reflected on Why Study History? by John Fea.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Christian Philosophy, by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

Abram K-J, at Words on the Word, reviewed Steve Moyise’s Jesus and Scripture.

At The Christian Manifesto, Calvin Moore reviewed The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

Phil Long reviewed Darrell Bock’s Jesus according to Scripture.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 24, 2014

Cover ArtJonathan Pennington, author of Reading the Gospels Wisely, was interviewed by Matthew Montonini at New Testament Perspectives.

James K.A. Smith wrote a response to the recent critique of Imagining the Kingdom published in Books & Culture.

Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books included Imagining the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith,  God’s Good World by Jonathan R. Wilson, and Why Study History? by John Fea in his Hearts & Minds Best Books of 2013 – Part One.

Hearts & Minds Best Books of 2013 – Part Two included Journey toward Justice by Nicholas Wolterstorff, Teenagers Matter by Mark Cannister, and Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by David Setran and Chris Kiesling.

At RBL, Teresa Okure reviewed The Christ of the Miracle Stories by Wendy Cotter.

Jackson Watts, of the Helwys Society Forum, reviewed Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

John Walker reviewed Thomas Guarino’s Vincent of Lérins and the Development of Christian Doctrine, at Freedom in Orthodoxy.

At Unsettled Christianity, Joel Watts reviewed Lee McDonald’s The Story of Jesus in History and Faith.

John Cook and Robert Holmstedt’s Beginning Biblical Hebrew was reviewed by Brian LePort, at Near Emmaus.

Scott Klingsmith reviewed James Ware’s Paul and the Mission of the Church for the Denver Seminary blog.

Nijay K. Gupta’s post New Testament Scholarship: 50 Books Everyone Should Read (Part 1: Gospels), included Miracles by Craig Keener.

Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic, edited by John Wright, and Another Reformation by Peter Ochs, were reviewed by Joseph Mangina for The Living Church.

Our monthly newsletter, E-Notes, was released this week.

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eBook Special

Through Thursday, January 30, the eBook of Bonhoeffer the Assassin? by Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony Siegrist, and Daniel Umbel is available for $3.99 (86% off) at participating retailers, including:

Amazon
Apple
Barnes & Noble
CBD

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

Cover ArtAt Euangelion, Joel Willitts reviewed Bonhoeffer the Assassin?, and Scot McKnight named it one of the Jesus Creed Books of the Year.

“[A] book that will surely create conversations for a decade about whether or not Bonhoeffer was involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.”

Brett McCracken, Marc Cortez, and Tim Hoiland all named James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom as one of their favorite books of 2013.

David Firth reviewed Invitation to the Psalms, by Rolf Jacobson and Karl Jacobson, for RBL.

Byron Borger at Hearts and Minds reviewed and recommended Christian Philosophy, by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

Justification and the Gospel, by Michael Allen; Reading the Gospels Wisely, by Jonathan Pennington; and Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy, by David Lincicum were all named in Mockingbird’s list of The Top Theology Books of 2013.

Graham Ware’s Top Reads of 2013 included J. R. Daniel Kirk’s Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? and Craig Keener’s Paul, Women & Wives.

David Moore listed Why Study History? by John Fea  in his Favorite Books of 2013.

Matt Mitchell reviewed Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views, edited by James Beilby and Paul Eddy.

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eBook Special

Through Thursday, January 9, the eBook of Preaching and Teaching the Last Things by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. is available for $3.99 (80% off) at participating retailers, including:

Amazon
Apple
Barnes & Noble
CBD

BA Books & Authors on the Web – November 8, 2013

Cover ArtThis month’s Christianity Today cover article “How Lewis Lit the Way to Better Apologetics” is taken from Michael Ward’s essay in Imaginative Apologetics.

“Lewis’s conversion was sparked (humanly speaking) by a long nighttime conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. They were discussing Christianity, metaphor, and myth. In a letter to Arthur Greeves (dated October 18, 1931), Lewis recounted the conversation. It is clear that questions of meaning—that is to say, of imagination—were at the heart of it.

At that point, Lewis’s problem with Christianity was fundamentally imaginative. ‘What has been holding me back . . . has not been so much a difficulty in believing as a difficulty in knowing what the doctrine meant,’ he told Greeves. Tolkien and Dyson showed him that Christian doctrines are not the main thing about Christianity. Instead, doctrines are translations of what God has expressed in ‘a language more adequate: namely the actual incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection’ of Christ.”

Jonathan Watson at the Logos Academic Blog interviewed Michael Allen, author of Justification and the Gospel.

Larry Hurtado briefly reviewed Craig Keener’s first two volumes on Acts.

Don Garlington reviewed Warren Carter’s Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World, for RBL.

At Near Emmaus, Brain LePort reviewed The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

Byron Borger reviewed Journey toward Justice by Nicholas Wolterstorff, for the Hearts & Minds blog.

At For Christ and His Kingdom, Jordan Barrett reviewed Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology, 3rd edition.

Amanda MacInnis recommended The Suffering and Victorious Christ, by Richard Mouw and Douglas Sweeney.

Trent Nicholson reviewed Why Study History?, by John Fea.

Also, John Fea wrote an article titled “Here’s why we’re losing our democratic soul” for PennLive.

Brian at Right Lane Reflections reviewed Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith.

At NT Exegesis, Brian Renshaw reviewed the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 20, 2013

Cover ArtAlan Thompson reviewed the first volume of Craig Keener’s Acts commentary, for Credo Magazine.

“Keener’s extensive interaction with other views, detailed argumentation for the historical reliability of Acts, and comprehensive treatment of the social historical context for so many topics leaves me profoundly grateful for such a resource.  This is essentially an encyclopedia of information related to Acts and its first century world!”

In his post “The Challenge of Conviction and Openness“, Nijay Gupta reflected on a quote from David Turner’s BECNT volume on Matthew.

At New Testament Perspectives, Matthew Montonini shared endorsements for Francis Moloney’s Love in the Gospel of John.

Brent Newsom, at Relief Journal, used James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom to inform his reflections on his personal liturgy as a writer.

Baker Academic Library: Acts 2:1-4

Acts 2:1-4 (NIV):
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Craig Keener, Acts Vol. 1, pp. 793-94:

Yet Luke reports the Pentecost experience not merely as a matter of historical interest but because for him it set the normative pattern for the church. THis is not to say that all the phenomena of Pentecost would be repeated on subsequent occasions (he never reports the wind or fire again) but to contend that, for Luke, the church’s experiences was (or should be) pervasively charismatic; as Richard Hays puts it, it was to be not so much an expression of “early catholicism” as of “early pentecostalism” [Hays, Moral Vision, 135].

The Pentecost experience is repeated (Acts 4:31-35), including beyond Jerusalem for other groups (8:15-17; 10:44-47; 19:6), suggesting that it is paradigmatic. As Luke repeats the Cornelius story and Paul’s conversion each three times, emphasizing key turning points for the Gentile mission, he repeats glossolalia (a sign useful for Luke’s emphasis on cross-cultural speech, 1:8) three times (2:4; 10:46; 19:6). But whereas the other repetitions allude back to a key event, the repetition of this sign from the Pentecost narrative evokes that narrative through a repeated experience. Luke thus treats the Pentecost experience as paradigmatic (as in 2:38-39).

G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, pp. 594-95:

The appearance of “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3) is an expression of the coming Spirit that reflects a theophany. But more can be said: it appears to be a theophany associated with the descending divine presence of the heavenly temple. A number of considerations point to this.

The report that “there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind” (Acts 2:2), and that there appeared “tongues of fire” calls to mind the typical theophanies of the OT. God appeared in these theophanies with thunderous noise and in the form of fire. The first great theophany of the OT was at Sinai, where “God descended on it in fire” and appeared in the midst of loud “voices and torches and a thick cloud” and “fire”. Sinai was the model theophany for most later similar divine appearances in the OT, and to some degree God’s coming at Sinai stands in the background of the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost.

Mikeal Parsons, Acts (PAIDEIA), pp. 37 -38:

What is the nature of the miracle recorded here in Acts 2:1-4? The coming of the Spirit is joined by two manifestations: a noise in the sky, like a strong blowing wind (2:2), and divided tongues (that looked) like fire (2:3). In describing the event as accompanied by these natural phenomena, Luke is echoing the theophany scenes of the OT, in which God’s presence is accompanied by similiar signs (Exod 19:16; Judg 5:4-5; cf. Ps 18:7-15; 29:3-9).

Luke is also using the rhetorical strategy of ekphrasis, that is, employing language that appeals as much to the eye as to the ear. Theon defines ekphrasis as “bringing what is portrayed clearly before the sight.” What is portrayed could be “of persons and events and places and periods of time” (Prog. 118, trans. Kennedy 2003, 45). An ekphrasis of an event could include a description of “war, peace, a storm, famine, plague, an earthquake” (Prog. 118, trans. Kennedy 2003, 45) […] The function of ekphrasis or ekphrastic language in a narrative is often to draw attention to the significance of the even thus described for the overarching argument of the narrative (Krieger 1992, 7). Such is certainly the case with the use of ekphrastic language in Luke and Acts, in which vivid language is used at key moments in the life of Jesus. […] The ekphrastic language in the Pentecost scene underscores the continuity between the founder of the “Way” and his followers. Significant events in Jesus’ life and ministry were depicted in language that appealed to the eye more than the ear. The beginning of the disciples’ “public ministry” described in similarly vivid language, marking the disciples’ reception of the Holy Spirit.

Darrell Bock, Acts (BECNT), p. 99:

These disciples begin to speak in ἑτέραις γλώσσαις (heterais glossais), which refers to other languages, as verse 8 makes clear. In the OT, the expression appears in Isa. 28:11 LXX in the singular. This one-step understanding differs from the description in 1 Corinthians, where two steps (utterance and interpretation) are required for understanding. In Acts this speaking of tongues in foreign languages is done as the Spirit gives them utterance (so also Jervell 1998: 133-34). The term for “utterance” (ἀποφθέγγεσθαι, apophthengesthai) is relatively rare, appearing only three times in the NT, all in Acts (2:4, 14; 26:25), and six times in the LXX (BDAG 125; 1 Chron. 25:1 [positively of prophecy]; Ps. 58:8 [59:7 Eng.]; Mic. 5:11 [5:12 Eng.]; Zech. 10:2; Ezek. 13:9, 19; five of these six uses are negative, of lies or false prophets). Peter will explain in verses 17-18 that all have received the pouring out of the Spirit as an indication of the arrival of God’s promised new era (see also Luke 3:15-17, where the Spirit’s coming points to the presence of the Messiah, another point Peter makes in Acts 2:36).

An Interview with Craig S. Keener on Miracles

Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University) is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author of many books, including The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver, and commentaries on Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. Last year Baker Academic published the first volume in his 4-volume commentary on Acts.

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts was recently given the ‘Apologetics/Evangelism’ Award of Merit from Christianity Today. It was winner of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship’s 2012 Award of Excellence and named Book of the Year (2011) by Christianbook.com’s academic blog. We recently got a chance to ask Dr. Keener some questions about his award-winning book.

How did your book Miracles originate?

It started as a footnote in my Acts commentary. I was astonished at how often scholars simply dismissed a narrative’s historicity because of miracle claims, when in fact the same kinds of miracle claims abound today. In the footnote I planned to gather several references to works that surveyed many of these miracle reports, but by the time I began finding such works I had encountered so many sources that my footnote had grown into a chapter. When the chapter grew into about 200 pages, I proposed it as a book, unaware that it would further mushroom into five or six times that number of pages.

It is one of the most fascinating studies I have ever undertaken, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.

In the book you engage with David Hume’s argument that uniform human experience precludes miracles. Briefly describe the influence of Hume and how you respond to him.

Most people who discount the possibility of miracles recycle, knowingly or unknowingly, the popular argument of David Hume, who in turn was recycling the arguments of some earlier deists. Scholars understand Hume’s argument in various ways, but a central element of his argument was that we cannot trust miracle claims, because they violate uniform human experience. Of course, that is a circular argument, because it assumes what it hopes to prove—that human experience regarding miracles is in fact uniform. It is that uniformity that miracle claims challenge, so an excuse to dismiss such reports before examining them is very convenient for his case—though it violates his own empiricism.

My primary response to this argument of Hume is to highlight how non-uniform human experience on the matter really seems to be. We know a lot more than Hume knew in his day. For example, in one Pew Forum survey just a few years ago, you find hundreds of millions of people believe that they have witnessed divine healing. You don’t have to agree that all of these are genuine miracles—actually, few of us would make such a sweeping claim—to recognize the problem this raises for Hume’s argument. Hume wants to start with the a priori assumption that human experience uniformly opposes miracles, because, he reasons, there are no credible eyewitness accounts of miracles. When there are hundreds of millions of people claiming to have experienced miracles, you can’t simply dismiss all of them a priori.

Your book details accounts of the miraculous in modern times from a variety of cultures. How does this contemporary evidence impact how we view the biblical accounts of miracles?

Hume rejected vast amounts of evidence; for example, he dismisses all miracle claims from the Majority World, in keeping with some of his assumptions now recognized as racist. There are massive accounts of healings, including instant cures of blindness, raisings from the dead, and so forth, from all over the world today. Again, one does not have to accept all accounts credulously, but neither can one simply dismiss all accounts on the basis of uniform human experience; such a dismissal assumes what it hopes to prove without examining any claims. Historians, journalists and others depend on eyewitness claims all the time; testimony is an epistemological approach appropriate in some disciplines. If these hundreds of millions of eyewitness claims addressed some question other than miracles, there would not likely be much debate, and the witnesses would not be simply dismissed as naïve, deceptive, or the like. Such dismissal of so much testimony seems a high price to pay to maintain an assumption based on the worldview of an eighteenth-century philosopher. Someone making an argument against miracles today would have to come up with an argument different from Hume’s. However people wish to explain miracle reports, experiences such as these plainly do occur, and therefore may have occurred also in the ministries of Jesus and his followers reported in the Gospels and Acts.

How have perspectives from other cultures informed your work?

I have drawn on large numbers of accounts from Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as from the West. Most striking to me were dramatic accounts from people that I know personally. Some involve the instant healing of blindness, for example, the Western witnesses for a case in India, an African friend in Africa, another case where two of my students witnessed it. Some involve raisings from the dead—about ten accounts came from people in my own immediate circle, one the raising of my wife’s sister in Africa after three hours with no detectable breathing. Again, people may choose to interpret these in various ways. Personally I do believe it is noteworthy, however, that all these cases I encountered involved prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

[Watch Dr. Keener discuss his book Miracles in the first of six videos on YouTube]