BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 4, 2016

Cover ArtCraig Bartholomew’s Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics was the Book of the Week at Exegetical Tools.

“Truly a tour de force of the many methodologies, historical precedents, and disciplines that are wrapped up in the process of interpreting the Bible.”

Exegetical Tools also featured two posts on specific aspects of Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, Craig Bartholomew’s Philosophy of History Drawn from the Old Testament Worldview and Eight Guidelines for a Trinitarian Hermeneutic.

At Pneuma Review, Amos Yong reviewed Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World by Frederick J. Murphy.

David Wilhite’s The Gospel According to Heretics was reviewed by Nate Claiborne.

Cover ArtThe Gospel Coalition interviewed Bryan Litfin about his book Early Christian Martyr Stories.

“The appetite for these stories was huge. People wanted to learn about their heroes’ adventures, and they wanted to feel close to those heroes and even seek their aid.”

RJS, at Jesus Creed, completed a series on J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Norman Wirzba, author of From Nature to Creation, was interviewed at Christian Humanist Profiles.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 14, 2015

Cover ArtIn the latest issue of Themelios, Christopher A. Beetham reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

“I strongly recommend this book. I agree with Donald Hagner, who, endorsing the book, wrote that ‘it could serve admirably as a basic textbook on biblical theology.’ Yes, and so much more. If every evangelical student from Anchorage to Addis Ababa would pick up and read, it could revolutionize global Christianity.”

Also in Themelios:

Gospel of Glory, by Richard Bauckham, was reviewed at Books at a Glance.

“Bauckham’s new monograph is probably the most important guide to selected Johannine themes and passages since Leon Morris’s Jesus is the Christ. A rich, up-to-date resource that no serious student will want to miss.”

Zen Hess, at Theology Forum, reviewed Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 5, 2015

Cover ArtAt RBL, Sylvie Raquel and Pheme Perkins reviewed Stanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament.

No one will come away from Porter’s treatment of “text, transmission, and translation” without appreciating the extraordinary efforts behind the Scripture we read in church on Sunday.

Erik Raymond, at The Gospel Coalition, reviewed Early Christian Martyr Stories by Bryan Litfin.

In the postBread From Heaven in the Desert” at Jesus Creed, RJS reflected on Walter Moberly’s discussion of manna in Old Testament Theology.

Exodus 16 is a powerful and multidimensional text with a long and powerful interpretative history and many lessons yet for us today. The point isn’t to apply “science” to the story, but to listen and understand.

Everyday Theology, edited by Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson, and Michael Sleasman, A New Heaven and a New Earth by J. Richard Middleton, and Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Stanley Porter, appeared on the “What We’re Reading This Summer” list from the staff of The Gospel Coalition.

A hymn inspired by J. Todd Billings’ Union with Christ, I Stand Forgiven!

Beginning Biblical Hebrew, by John Cook and Robert Holmstedt, was featured at Books at a Glance.


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

Cover ArtAt First Things, Phillip Cary reviewed Reading Barth with Charity by George Hunsinger.

Like all great theologians, Barth stands under the judgment of the tradition, even as he inspires us to new thinking within it. By his resolute insistence on knowing God only in the Word of Christ, Barth reinvigorates a distinctively Protestant witness within the tradition, which those who love orthodoxy would be ill advised to ignore.

Paul Adams, at ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, shared part one and part two of his review of J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At Exegetical.Tools, Warren Campbell reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliot, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

James, at Thoughts, Prayers, and Songs, reviewed Bryan Litfin’s Early Christian Martyr Stories.

Allen Mickle reviewed Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson.

Micha Bales reflected on sustainability and ecological catastrophe in light of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A.J. Swoboda.

Timothy George interviewed Mark Noll about his new memoir, From Every Tribe and Nation.

Richard Hess, co-editor of Ancient Israel’s History, wrote How to Judge Evidence for the Exodus for Mosaic Magazine.

At Bible History Daily, Andrew McGowan, author of Ancient Christian Worship, asked if Jesus was truly a radical and inclusive host.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 27, 2015

Cover ArtSamuel Wells, at The Christian Century, reviewed James K. A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Relativism?

Smith perceives the preponderance of American Christians as people bent on security, comfort, and autonomy….For such Christians, truth is equated with terms like absolute and objective, words that turn Christianity into a mechanism for achieving all-seeing impregnability. In order to preserve the power and privilege such a perspective is designed to secure, it’s necessary—at all costs—to hold on to representational notions of truth.

At Credo Magazine, Jeff Straub reviewed Why Study History? by John Fea (page 58).

Paul D. Adams, at In Christ, reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At Always Have a Reason, J.W. Wartick shared a quote from Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, edited by Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves.

Keith Simon, at Every Square Inch, reflected on Bryan Litfin’s Early Christian Martyr Stories in light of the recent killing of 21 Coptic Christians.

The Gospel Coalition shared an excerpt from D. A. Carson’s Praying with Paul, and released a video promo about the Praying with Paul study curriculum and discussion guide.


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 – October 31, 2014

Cover ArtScot McKnight, at Jesus Creed, continues his reflections on Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

“It may well be that the youth do have the right to protest against their elders. If that be the case, however, the authenticity of such protest will be demonstrated by youth’s willingness to maintain solidarity with the guilt of the church-community and to bear that burden in love, abiding in penitence before God’s word.”

At The Gospel Coalition, Grant Gaines reviewed For the Glory of God by Daniel Block.

The Drama of Scripture, by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, was reviewed by Miguel Echevarria at Books at a Glance, and recommended by Ed Stetzer in a Christianity Today article about Biblical literacy.

Eric McKiddie, at Pastoralized, recommended A New Testament Biblical Theology by G.K. Beale.

At Words on the Word, Abram K-J recommended Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

John Morehead reflected on the Handbook of Religion, edited by Terry Muck, Harold Netland and Gerald McDermott.

Bryan Litfin, author of Early Christian Martyr Stories, and Mark Noll, author of From Every Tribe and Nation, were each interviewed on The Janet Mefferd Show. You can listen to Litfin’s interview here, and Noll’s here.

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

Cover ArtAndrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed by Arni Zachariassen at theologues.

“Dietrich asserts that there is no such thing as “Christian youth.” Ultimately, what he wants to steer away from is an idol he thinks the church bows to often, which is to glorify youthfulness. Dietrich sees a church (and I see a church today) that badly wants a youthful spirit but not the concrete humanity of young people themselves. We want the young around the church because it makes the church seem like a vital/culturally legitimate institution. But we are less willing to make space for the young at the center of our lives together.”

At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight continued his series on Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker in the posts Who Owns Bonhoeffer? and Rethinking “Youth” Ministry.

Also, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker was reviewed by Calvin Park at Random Bloggings and Diane Reynolds at Bonhoeffer: Women, Life, Times, and featured in the New Book Releases at The Englewood Review of Books.

Justin Taylor, at The Gospel Coalition, interviewed Bryan Litfin about his new book Early Christian Martyr Stories.

Peter Enns, author of Inspiration and Incarnation, shared a quote on historical criticism from God’s Word in Human Words by Kenton Sparks.

The Drama of Scripture, by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, was reviewed by Steve Bishop at An Accidental Blog and by Jacob Prahlow at Pursuing Veritas.

Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

Basil of Caesarea, by Stephen Hildebrand, was reviewed by Kyle Hughes at Early Christian Archives.

Kengo Akiyama, at Biblical and Early Christian Studies, reviewed Walter Moberly’s Old Testament Theology.

Bryan Litfin: “Why I Wrote Early Christian Martyr Stories

Why I Wrote Early Christian Martyr Stories
by, Bryan Litfin

Cover ArtIn a time when beheadings of Christians have been making international headlines, a book on martyrdom needs no elaborate justification. The fact of Christian persecution is just as real today as it was in the early church. That said, we can’t assume modern Christians who experience persecution for their faith are processing those events exactly like the ancient believers did. Though certain aspects of martyrdom surely must be universal to all who experience it, we will do well to try and understand what the first Christians thought about their fiery trials.

I wrote Early Christian Martyr Stories to give contemporary readers the chance to encounter the ancient church’s reflection on martyrdom firsthand. The texts I have chosen reflect a variety of genres. The first one isn’t even Christian: it is the story of some Jewish martyrs who stayed true to God’s Law in the era before Christ. This text, which recounts the deaths of a Jewish mother’s seven sons along with a revered scribe named Eleazar, set a martyrological pattern that many subsequent Christian narratives would follow. All the best and most reliable martyr stories are translated in ECMS. We encounter great heroes and heroines such as Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Perpetua and Felicity, and Justin Martyr as they face the ultimate choice: Will they deny Christ and escape? Or will they stand firm for the King who saved them? Sometimes the stories are rather terse. Other times they are full of emotion. But they are always inspiring as we encounter ancient Christians staying true to their beliefs in the face of hideous oppression.

In addition to actual martyr stories, I also tried to capture the early church’s warm devotion to its beloved confessors. Great theologians from the age of persecution such as Tertullian and Origen had many bold words for the martyrs as they urged them to strive for the victor’s crown. Later, after the time when the threat of persecution had passed, eloquent preachers like Augustine of Hippo memorialized the martyrs in praise-filled sermons. In this way the church’s pastors offered to a more complacent generation of Christians a lofty goal to which they could aspire. The martyrs exemplified the way that every believer must die to the world in order to gain Christ.

It’s not as though all these martyrological writings don’t already exist in English translation somewhere. They do—if you know where to look. But that’s just the thing: the average reader wouldn’t know where to find these documents. And even when they can be found, they’re not all collected under one cover. Many of the scattered volumes have intimidating Latin or Greek texts on the facing pages. Or they’re translated in the old-fashioned language of yesteryear’s academia. Or the reader’s knowledge about the historical background is assumed rather than explained. Clearly there was a need for a new book on martyrdom with up-to-date translations and plenty of background information.

In the end, though, ECMS is not simply an academic work of ancient history. If it does not inspire Christian readers to identify with the martyrs’ courage and “count the cost” of true discipleship, it will not have done its job. Of course, most of us won’t have to put our lives on the line for the name of Jesus. We aren’t likely to face the martyr’s ultimate choice, whether by the teeth of lions or a zealot’s blunt knife. Yet all followers of the Risen Lord are called to be “martyrs” in the most basic sense of the word. As I point out in the book, the Greek word martys originally meant someone who gave eyewitness testimony in court or another public setting. Then, in the mid-second century, Christians began using the word to describe those who bore witness to the Lord through their words and deeds before a watching audience in the context of persecution. At this time, martys came to designate a person who died for his or her faith as ultimate proof of firm conviction.

My most basic reason for writing ECMS, then, is not simply to educate readers about an ancient historical phenomenon, nor even to draw comparisons to modern instances of persecution. It is to remind all Christians to step forward as “witnesses” for the name of our Lord. Though bloodshed probably won’t be required of us, steadfast courage in the face of opposition and hostility certainly will (2 Tim. 3:12). In today’s world of ease and comfort, we all need more of the martyr’s willingness to pay a great price and make a big sacrifice. And as we learn to do so, we will come to realize that it is not death by leaping flames or gnashing fangs that binds the modern Christian to the ancient martyr; it is an unshakeable resolve to follow hard after Jesus Christ at any cost.


Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including Getting to Know the Church Fathers, and has written numerous scholarly articles and essays

For more information on Early Christian Martyr Stories, click here.