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 – 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.

 

Genesis and History – an Excerpt from Ancient Israel’s History

The following is an excerpt from Ancient Israel’s History, edited by Bill Arnold and Richard Hess.

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Cover Art

The first book of the Bible presents several challenges when approached from the perspective of history and historiography. First and foremost among those problems is that the opening chapters describe characters and events in a world dramatically different from our own: a world with talking serpents, with life before cities, before agriculture, before music or metallurgy; a world in which humans were unified with one language; and more.

We cannot begin to locate these characters and events in a particular time or place, which is, of course, one of the tasks of any study of history. These chapters are, in fact, presented from a perspective before history, if we assume that history is properly understood as a time when humans began to write accounts of the past (a definition that itself is difficult to refine). And so we will need to start by asking how these materials in the early chapters of Genesis may be examined, or even if they may be examined at all, from the perspective of history and historiography.

Second, and closely related to this first challenge, is the realization that the genre or type of literature that we find in the book of Genesis is unlike others, with its own subset of characteristics raising numerous questions when examined, again, from the perspective of history and historiography. We will need to explore the specific characteristics and qualities of these literary types and how exactly they speak to issues of history, or whether they in fact speak to issues of history at all. And as we will see, these distinctive literary features relate to the ancestral accounts of Genesis 12–50 as much as they do to the so-called Primeval History of Genesis 1–11.

Third, in the case of Genesis we are left with even less evidence from the ancient Near East than usual when studying the Old Testament and its parallels with the surrounding environment. We famously have literary parallels in creation accounts (especially from Mesopotamia), comparative materials in creation concepts (including from Egypt), and cultural features from the ancient world that are suggestive as parallels to certain elements in the ancestral narratives. But in terms of archaeological context, or extrabiblical confirmation of the characters and events of Genesis, we are left completely without trace.

©2014 by Bill T. Arnold and Richard S. Hess. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Ancient Israel’s History, click here.

Bill Arnold and Richard Hess: “Why We Wrote Ancient Israel’s History

Why We Wrote Ancient Israel’s History
by, Bill Arnold and Richard Hess.

Ancient Israel’s History grows out of a need we noticed many years ago when we were students together at Hebrew Union College. We benefitted from handy up-to-date resources incorporating current research on multiple fronts related to the study of ancient Israel. We especially appreciated scholarship that adequately considered the evidence of the biblical text itself. In our days as students, works by Albright, Bright, Hayes and Miller, and others fulfilled this role with varying degrees of success.

More recently the challenge has grown exponentially. Not only have there been huge amounts of information appearing on every front in the related fields of social sciences and literary studies, but the various theories of interpretation have also grown in number and diversity. Recent years have witnessed the publication of some outstanding resources that survey the field at the introductory level. Many dictionaries and some multi-volume reference works have sought to detail the information available to the scholar.

Cover ArtHowever, little has been produced that attempts to dig more deeply into the historical questions relevant to specific areas of Israel’s history, to make full use and evaluation of the relevant evidence, and to do so within a handbook that surveys that entire history.

When we agreed to do this project, we recognized the difficulties, even the impossibility, of one or two scholars writing an entire work that would succeed in this endeavor. We decided to enlist scholars of the highest academic quality; we knew that their expertise included the areas we asked them to address in this book. We believe that this work will accomplish three goals.

First, it will provide a comprehensive survey of the field for the advanced undergraduate student and for the graduate student. Rather than merely retelling the stories of the Bible, our book attempts to survey the major events in and outside the Bible and to introduce and evaluate the variety of sources outside the Bible that become relevant. At the same time, we attempt to provide a review of the major issues that scholarship has identified for each period and to draw reasonable conclusions based on the evidence.

Second, Ancient Israel’s History attempts to provide a useful resource for the scholar who wishes to understand the diverse perspectives in historical questions of this period and related issues of culture. While each writer presents the evidence from their period, we also do not pretend a total objectivity. The book does not try to demand complete uniformity with respect to directions and possible solutions for various problems of interpretation. However, it does begin with the overall premise of a respect for the various witnesses of the biblical text as well as the contemporary written and material remains from each period. Recognizing that complete objectivity is impossible, we attempt to address the subject with integrity and to appreciate the variety of views that we survey in the book.

Third, our book attempts to provide prolegomena, or preliminary steps, to the study of Israel’s history. In the introductory chapter, Rick traces the contributions of others in the field and explains our goal of striking a balance between biblical and extrabiblical sources. In the next chapter, Bill uses the narratives of Genesis to explain that scholars working on historical realities of the ancient world must be willing to discern between conclusions that are proven, those that are probable, others that are plausible, and finally, conclusions that are merely possible. It is in this assumed context that we attempt to make a contribution that steers a via media between, on the one hand, the retelling of the biblical account with some interesting archaeology thrown in for good measure and, on the other hand, a reconstruction of the Holy Land in the second and first millennia BC that avoids or ridicules the biblical source altogether.

We hope Ancient Israel’s History will provide readers with a valuable guide to this most important story of the people, society, and events that shaped the faith, the culture, and the values of their time and that have informed our history and have formed who we are today. In this respect we invite you to undertake the serious study of the history of ancient Israel and to use this text as a guide and resource in your exploration of one of the most fascinating and significant periods in human history. Personally, this is the book we wish we had read as students and in our early days of research and writing. It would have introduced us to the scholars, the questions, and the evidence most necessary to understand and evaluate the field.

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Bill T. Arnold (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including Encountering the Book of Genesis, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and a commentary on 1 and 2 Samuel.

Richard S. Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and editor of the Denver Journal. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including Israelite Religions, Song of Songs in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, and the commentary on Joshua in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series.

For more information on Ancient Israel’s History, click here.

New Release: Ancient Israel’s History

Cover ArtThis substantive history of Israel textbook values the Bible’s historical contribution without overlooking critical issues and challenges.

Featuring the latest scholarship, the book introduces students to the current state of research on issues relevant to the study of ancient Israel. The editors and contributors, all top biblical scholars and historians, discuss historical evidence in a readable manner, using both canonical and chronological lenses to explore Israelite history.

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“An excellent new resource for those interested in taking seriously all the evidence, both biblical and extrabiblical, bearing on the history of ancient Israel and in thinking carefully about how to weigh that evidence and integrate it into a coherent account.” – Iain Provan, Regent College

Ancient Israel’s History finely balances the biblical text and extrabiblical sources while exploring critical interpretive issues and methodological questions….A valuable addition to the library of students and researchers alike.” – Lissa M. Wray Beal, Providence University College and Theological Seminary

“In this incredibly thorough volume, an international and esteemed team of contributors offer us exactly what was promised: a state-of-the-art review of research relating to the history of ancient Israel….The result is a copiously documented, user-friendly, and up-to-date treatment that will prove to be a most useful textbook for both introductory students and seasoned teachers alike. I plan on having it close by.” – Brent A. Strawn, Emory University

“A superb collection orienting readers to historical data and debates relevant to ancient Israel–judiciously weighed, accessibly presented.” – Mark J. Boda, McMaster Divinity College

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Bill T. Arnold (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including Encountering the Book of Genesis, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and a commentary on 1 and 2 Samuel.

Richard S. Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and editor of the Denver Journal. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including Israelite Religions, Song of Songs in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, and the commentary on Joshua in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series.

For more information on Ancient Israel’s History, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 14, 2014

Cover ArtWhy Study History? by John Fea was reviewed by John G. Turner in The Christian Century.

“[Christians] should follow Fea’s advice to examine aspects of the past that initially repel them. Fea tells of a student with progressive views who chose to write a thesis about Jerry Falwell and the rise of the Christian right. He also recounts the reactions of students who read the diaries and sermons of slaveholding American Christians. It is easier to devote ourselves to historical subjects that we like or imagine to be more like us. Fea reports that his students have cultivated their capacities for empathy and compassion and became “better Christians.” Such encounters, Fea maintains, remind us that we are “imperfect creatures in need of improvement and redemption.”

At Euangelion, Michael Bird reviewed R. Michael Allen’s Justification and the Gospel.

David Gowler recommended the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi.

Richard Beck, at Experimental Theology, reflected on Christian formation in light of James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.

Tim Meadowcroft recommended John Goldingay’s three volumes on Psalms in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, along with Richard Hess’s work on Song of Songs in the same series, in the Catalyst article “Building an Old Testament Library: Psalms — Daniel.”

James K. A. Smith recently spoke on Imagining the Kingdom at Spring Arbor University. You can watch his presentation here.