BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 4, 2015

Cover ArtIn the Southeastern Theological Review, Jonathan Pennington, author of Reading the Gospels Wisely, dialogued with James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom.

Smith’s insight into the power and importance of story made me sing here and he does a great job of articulating this. I want to affirm wholeheartedly with Smith that narrative/story/poetic/artistic truth is powerful and essential to our human existence. As Smith and I have both argued in our own way, there is an irreducibility to poetic or narrative truth. One cannot just take a story or poem, getting its “meaning”—defined as the propositional truth contained within the supposed husk of the story— and then discard it.

Yet—and this is a big part of my whole goal in writing RGW—this is precisely how we have often read and interpreted and preached the Gospels, as if their narrative form is at best something to get through to the real, meaty, doctrinal truth, and at worst is an embarrassment and inferior form of truth-telling.

Cover ArtKevin Vanhoozer wrote The Pastor as ‘Organic Intellectual’ for Leadership Journal, in which he drew from his recently released The Pastor as Public Theologian.

“On a regular basis pastors address the big questions – questions of life and death, meaning and meaninglessness, heaven and hell, the physical and spiritual. To be sure, no church wants a pastor to be an intellectual if this means being so cerebral and preoccupied with ideas that one cannot relate to other people. This kind of intellectual is so theoretical as to be practically good for nothing. However, the kind of intellectual I have in mind is a particular kind of generalist who knows how to relate big truths to real people.”

Matthew Montonini, at New Testament Perspectives, is looking forward to Francis Watson’s The Fourfold Gospel.

At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner discussed his work with Nijay Gupta on a forthcoming Baker Academic title.


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 6, 2015

Cover ArtThe Christian Century featured an excerpt from Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

Bonhoeffer reminds us that we must form our ministries around explorations of the living Christ. He also points us to the practical dispositions of doing youth ministry. He encourages us to do ministry through stories of our own faith life and to prayerfully seek composure, a spirit of calm. A calm disposition, coupled with narration, creates fertile ground for a depth of relationship (what Bonhoeffer called Stellvertretung or “place-sharing”) that mediates the presence of the living Christ..

Also, Root discussed Bonhoeffer and youth ministry in this month’s Christianity Today cover story, and Mark Husbands reviewed Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker for the Hope College blog.

Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain, was reviewed by Gavin Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition, and by Derek Rishmawy at Reformedish.

At Don’t Stop Believing, Mike Wittmer reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Steve Bishop , at An Accidental Blog, also reviewed A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At Reformation 21, Jon Coutts reviewed James Skillen’s The Good of Politics.

D. A. Carson’s Praying With Paul was reviewed at Treasuring Christ.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

Caleb Spindler praised Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely.

The Etownian reported on a lecture by Mark Nation on key themes in Bonhoeffer the Assassin?


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.


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:

Barnes & Noble

BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 10, 2014

Dr. David Gowler started A Chorus of Voices, a blog which chronicles his writing of a forthcoming book on the reception history of the parables.

“[T]he “meaning” of the parables does not reside alone in the creative genius of Jesus and/or the Gospel authors; it exists in a relation between creator and contemplators. We stand, therefore, on the shoulders of centuries of conversations; our own interpretations are never independent of the reception history of these parables”

Cover ArtNijay Gupta listed Donald Hagner’s The New Testament, and Walter Moberly’s Old Testament Theology, as two of the Best Biblical Studies Books of 2013.

Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by David Setran and Chris Kiesling, and Imagining the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith, made the College Transition Initiative’s Top 10 Books of 2013.

The Aqueduct Project interviewed Jonathan Pennington about his book Reading the Gospels Wisely.

Bob Trube at the InterVarsity Emerging Scholars blog reviewed James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom here, and Imagining the Kingdom here.

Larry Hurtado discussed The Apostolic Fathers ed. Michael W. Holmes, and Clayton N. Jefford’s Reading the Apostolic Fathers, in a post about publications on the Apostolic Fathers.

At Servants of Grace, Dave Jenkins reviewed The King In His Beauty by Thomas Schreiner.

Daniel Siedell’s God in the Gallery inspired Derek Rishmawy’s theological reflection on the modern art collection at LACMA.


eBook Special

Through Thursday, January 16, the eBook of Steven Mathewson’s The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative is available for $3.99 (84% off) at participating retailers, including:

Barnes & Noble

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.


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:

Barnes & Noble

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 13, 2013

Cover ArtSteve Bishop, at an accidental blog, reviewed James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom.

“In the first volume, Desiring the Kingdom, Smith posed an exciting and outrageous question: “What if education wasn’t first and foremost what we know, but about what we love?” In this second volume he follows this up by suggesting that “our actions emerge from how we imagine the world: “What if we are actors before we are thinkers?” (p 32). Smith’s thesis is that we are defined more by what we worship than by what we think or believe. Thus we need to see more clearly how the affective affects the cognitive: to displace functional intellectualism, where what we do is the outcome of what we think”

Jamie Smith was also featured in the Calgary Herald article Faith Takes Practice, and Byron Borger recommended The Fall of Interpretation, Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom in a post about a new collection of Smith’s essays.

At Unsettled Christianity, Joel Watts reviewed Duane Watson and Terrance Callan’s Paideia commentary on First and Second Peter.

Cornelis Bennema reviewed Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely, for RBL.

Jeff Borden, at iCrucified, reviewed Classical Christian Doctrine by Ronald Heine.

Larry Hurtado recommended The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

Francis Moloney, author of The Gospel of Mark and the soon-to-be-released Love in the Gospel of John, was featured in two videos about Mark on Matthew Montonini’s blog,  New Testament Perspectives. reviewed Invitation to the Psalms, by Rolf and Karl Jacobson.

J.W. Wartick reviewed For the Beauty of the Earth, by Stephen Bouma-Prediger.

Charles Clark reviewed Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire, for Fare Forward.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 23, 2013

Through August 29, you can get 46% off the Baker Academic Biblical Studies Bundle from Logos Bible Software. This collection contains 85 volumes, which provide insight into the historical, cultural, social, religious, literary, and theological contexts of the Old and New Testaments.

Cover ArtAt NT Exegesis, Brian Renshaw reviewed the new Paideia commentary on James and Jude, by John Painter and David DeSilva.

“I would highly recommend this commentary to both students and pastors. Any student or pastor that is beginning their study in either one of these books would be well advised to read through this commentary at the start of their study to be able to adequately grasp the books as a whole.”

Phillip Long reviewed Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely, for Themelios.

Robert Cornwall reviewed God’s Good World, by Jonathan Wilson, at Ponderings on a Faith Journey.

Derek Melleby recommends Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood, by David Setran and Chris Kiesling.

James K.A. Smith, author of Imagining the Kingdom, was interviewed on the White Horse Inn blog Out of the Horse’s Mouth.

Dayton Hartman reviewed Classical Christian Doctrine, by Ronald Heine.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 16, 2013

Cover ArtConrade Yap reviewed Myron Penner’s The End of Apologetics on his blog, Panorama of a Book Saint.

“Penner weaves in the perspectives of Alistair MacIntyre, Soren Kierkergaard, and to some extent, John G Stackhouse, and slowly builds up his case to argue for a new form of Apologetics. This form will be a shift away from epistemological paradigms toward a hermeneutics of faith.”

Jonathan Pennington, author of Reading the Gospels Wisley, addressed the question What Is the Unforgivable Sin?

In the latest issue of Themelios, Christopher Beetham reviewed Markus Bockmuehl’s Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory.

David Horrell reviewed Moral Formation According to Paul by James Thompson, and Stephen Moyise reviewed G.K. Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology, both for RBL.

Bob Trube reviewed Inspiration and Incarnation, and The Evolution of Adam, by Peter Enns.

At The Reformed Register, Don Haflich reviewed The Theology of Augustine by Matthew Levering.

Josh Hayes reviewed Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty for the Southern Resources Blog.

“My Journey- ‘Revelation and Identification'” by Jonathan Pennington

My Journey— “Revelation and Identification”
by Jonathan T. Pennington

Each year at Christmas time a distant aunt would send my family a box of goodies which always included some interesting game. One that we played for many years and which I remember very distinctly was the classic French card game called Mille Bornes. This translates “1000-mile journey” and the goal is to be the first to reach 1000 miles by laying down mile-marker cards. All the while, each player is seeking to hinder their opponents from doing the same by placing upon them “flat tire” and “empty gas tank” cards. (Our old version was diglot, with both the English explanations and delicious French phrases such as “Creve!” and “Panne D’Essence.”) There was always something very satisfying about laying down the mile-marker cards which recorded how far one had traveled – 50 miles sometimes, 100 miles or more at others, all moving me toward the goal of 1000.

My book Reading the Gospels Wisely is a significant mile marker on my own journey toward understanding how to be a faithful reader of Holy Scripture. I have traveled down many roads over the years that have led me to my current understanding – roads that include the history of interpretation, theological hermeneutics, philosophy of language, Gospels studies, and others. The writing of this book was my own attempt to think my way through various issues that kept bubbling to the surface in my reading, lecturing, pondering, and conversing. It is a happy place now to look back and sense that I have made at least some progress in laying down a few mile-marking cards on this long journey.

But I’ve certainly not arrived. As I continue to teach and dialogue, some of the topics I discuss in the book keep resurfacing through student questions and in my own mind, reminding me that I still have much to learn and consider on these issues – more miles to go, more journeying to be done. These topics include further exploration of the implications of my arguments that the Gospels should be understood as the center of the whole canon (see Chapter 12). Also, I am painfully aware of how underdeveloped the notion of “virtue formation” is in the book. In both cases I am seeking to advance my journey a bit with some further writing – an article in the case of the former and for the latter, a book-length treatment of the Sermon on the Mount and human flourishing.

And yet another matter from the book that continues to re-surface in my teaching is the notion of “Revelation and Identification.” I use this phrase to describe the pairing of two key ideas that I believe should guide our reading of the Gospels. I suggest that to read any Gospel pericope well is to ask how each story both reveals to us who God is for us in Christ and how each story calls us to identify with the characters in the story – bad and good, Pharisees, disciples, and Jesus – as models of virtue and vice. I believe that when we seek to read each Gospel story with this paired set of tools or lenses, we will be reading Holy Scripture according to its God-given purpose and we will grow as wise readers.

This issue continues to surface for me because of how different it is from much of evangelicalism – maybe especially the Reformed permutation of which I am apart – which strongly emphasizes the christo-centric revelatory function of the Gospel stories, but either ignores or even opposes any kind of reading that calls us to learn morality and virtue from the characters in the story.

There is a fear among many evangelicals that if we speak about virtue and moral lessons from narratives that we will somehow lose the gospel of grace. On the one hand virtue and moral lessons sound to many evangelicals scarily “Catholic,” and on the other hand, they often sound equally scarily “liberal.” Indeed, for some conservative evangelicals too much emphasis on the Gospels (rather than the Epistles) is the sign that one is going “liberal” and losing the gospel. It’s no small irony that one could be concerned about too much of the Gospels in our understanding of the gospel!

But it’s a false and dangerous dichotomy to pit against each other Epistles versus Gospels, or teaching versus example, or revelation versus identification. Within a thorough-going, grace-saturated understanding of the gospel we can and should understand that we need both doctrinal revelation and exemplars to follow. We need the example-inspiring Gospels and the instructional Epistles.

The Bible not only gives us revelation but it also calls us to moral transformation. We are not only given a new being by our union with Christ, we are also invited and exhorted, through examples, to a new becoming through Christ. After all, Paul not only describes the gospel in terms of justification, but also with the language of transformation, as being transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18).

There is more pondering to be done here and there are more connections to make on this titanic issue. I raise it here briefly because I think we are getting to a place where faithful, gospel-believing evangelical Christians can and should rediscover the dual role of Scripture – particularly the Gospels – in calling us to be not only believers in the truth of Jesus but also followers of his example (and of his disciples). “Imitate me as I imitate Christ,” as none other than the justification-by-faith-preaching Apostle says (1 Cor 11:1; note also 1 Cor 4:16; Eph 5:1; 1 Thes 1:6; 2:14; Heb 6:12; 13:7; 3 John 11).

I believe it is time for us to place down another mile-marker card in our communal ecclesial journey toward faithful and wise reading of Scripture by recognizing that at its core the Bible presents itself as offering both Revelation and Identification.

[For more discussion and application of revelation and identification, see Reading the Gospels Wisely, 159–65.]
Jonathan T. Pennington (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is associate professor of New Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew and has published a number of biblical language learning tools, including New Testament Greek Vocabulary and Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary.