BA Books & Authors on the Web – April 3, 2015

Cover ArtAt RBL, Bálint Károly Zabán reviewed John Cook and Robert Holmstedt’s Beginning Biblical Hebrew.

On the whole, the kernel of the book is very well and carefully written but equally impressively designed. With its focus on especially pragmatics, the textbook delves into a subject sometimes avoided by other grammars—a joy to read, a joy to use, and a joy to teach from!

Also at RBL, Darian Lockett reviewed the Paideia commentary on James and Jude, written by John Painter and David A. deSilva.

CHOICEconnect reviewed Early Christianity in Contexts edited by William Tabbernee (here), as well as Handbook of Religion edited by Terry Muck, Harold Netland, and Gerald McDermott (here).

Andy Naselli recommended Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God was reviewed at Spoiled Milk.

Engaging the Christian Scriptures, by Andrew E. Arterbury, W. H. Bellinger Jr., and Derek S. Dodson, was reviewed at the Young Restless Reformed Blog.

At Network, Greg Sinclair reflected on religious diversity in light of Our Global Families by Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu.

The Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series was recommended by The Frederick Faith Debate.

At Euangelion, Michael Bird shared a quote from Peter Oakes’ Galatians commentary.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, interviewed Mikeal Parsons about his recent Paideia commentary on Luke.

At Comment Magazine, James K. A. Smith shared two work-in-progress excerpts from his forthcoming third volume in the Cultural Liturgies series, Beyond “Creation” and Natural Law and Rethinking the Secular, Redeeming Christendom.


Exile and Beyond – an Excerpt from Engaging the Christian Scriptures

The following is an excerpt from Engaging the Christian Scriptures, by Andrew Arterbury, W. H. Bellinger Jr., and Derek Dodson.


Cover ArtThe move to monarchy resulted in a profound adjustment for ancient Israel, but the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian armies and the ensuing exile brought major trauma for this community. Life as this community had known it was at an end. Israel had no means of justice (the king) and no means of atonement (the temple). Babylon now controlled the future for this people.

In the course of time, the Persians succeeded the Babylonian Empire in controlling Mesopotamia, and the Persians then took center stage. The Assyrians’ policy of dealing with conquered peoples had been particularly harsh; it blunted the people’s opposition to their overlords by moving and mixing the people. Babylon exiled conquered peoples. The Persians took the view that conquered peoples would be more cooperative in their homelands as part of the broader empire. In 538 BCE the Persian ruler Cyrus issued an edict that allowed the return of Israel to their land.

With that move, we come to the beginnings of Judaism, the remnants of Judah. Some of the people returned to the land. Ezra and Nehemiah came to positions of leadership in the restored community. Although it is difficult to reconstruct the history here, between 450 and 400 BCE, Ezra, a priest and scribe, led the people in religious reform centered on renewal of the covenant and obedience to Torah. Nehemiah, who was governor for two terms, led in rebuilding Jerusalem and the province.

Some people never left the land and were suspicious of the returnees, as were others in the surrounding area. Still, the community worked to rebuild its life. Eventually the Greeks conquered the whole region, which became part of the Roman Empire by way of a rather complicated history. Central to that era is the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE against the local ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes. For a brief period the Jewish community enjoyed independence, but it was short-lived.

©2014 by Andrew E. Arterbury, W. H. Bellinger Jr., Derek S. Dodson. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Engaging the Christian Scriptures, click here.

Andrew Arterbury – Why We Wrote Engaging the Christian Scriptures

Why We Wrote Engaging the Christian Scriptures
Andrew Arterbury

Bill Bellinger, Derek Dodson, and I wrote Engaging the Christian Scriptures to serve as an introductory textbook for students who are engaging in a first informed reading of the Bible within an academic setting. Consequently, our target audiences consist of undergraduate students in a survey of the Bible course, especially at Christian colleges and universities, and seminary students who are just beginning their theological education.

Cover ArtBecause we believe the biblical texts should function as the primary texts in such a setting, we crafted this textbook to function as a supplemental resource. For example, we focused our readers’ attention on the prevailing conversations and leading opinions within the field of Biblical Studies on most subjects. In other words, we did not attempt to provide exhaustive descriptions of every academic conversation about the Bible, but rather we strove to introduce the most important conversations for students who are encountering the field of Biblical Studies for the first time.

In addition, in the textbook we primarily address students, rather than their professors, though we created a bank of possible test questions for professors who desire assistance with assessment. (To request access to the test bank that corresponds to Engaging the Christian Scriptures, professors should click here.

Methodologically, we employed a contextual approach to the Christian Scriptures, giving attention to historical, literary, and theological contexts. Rather than telling students about the Bible, we aimed to help students become educated readers of the Bible. As a result, we journeyed through the major divisions of the biblical canon using that approach. We dealt with historical and literary features of the Pentateuch, the Former and Latter Prophets, the Writings, the Gospels and Acts, Paul and the Pauline Tradition, and the General Letters and Revelation. We concluded each section, however, by describing some of the most prominent theological claims within those texts. For example, before concluding our discussion of the Pentateuch, we paused to reflect upon the importance of Creation and Covenant as major themes in biblical theology.

In the process, we were guided by a handful of motivations. In particular, our overriding concern was and is for our students—past, present, and future. Pedagogically, we wanted to create a manageable and accessible textbook. In essence, we wanted to introduce university or seminary students to the type of thought patterns and questions that are common in the field of Biblical Studies. At the same time, we wanted to maintain a focus on the texts that scholars seek to illumine. In addition, while introducing students to critical perspectives and approaches, we simultaneously attempted to highlight and to underscore the theological claims found within the Christian Scriptures rather than to critique or to deconstruct those claims. While seeking to educate readers about the biblical text, we felt compelled to give attention to the rich theological perspectives within these texts that have functioned and continue to function as inspired Scripture for many over a 2,000- to 3,000-year period—a topic that is frequently missing in academic textbooks on the Bible. Finally, we wanted to partner with Baker Academic to produce an affordable textbook. Asking students to purchase an exorbitantly priced introductory textbook on the Christian Scriptures when an affordable book will do seems contradictory at best.

Ultimately, our title reflects our aim. We hope beginning students will “engage” the Christian Scriptures. Ideally, this textbook will function as the supplemental resource that empowers students to do just that.


Andrew E. Arterbury (PhD, Baylor University) is associate professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

W. H. Bellinger Jr. (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible, professor of religion, and chair of the Department of Religion at Baylor University.

Derek S. Dodson (PhD, Baylor University) is senior lecturer in religion at Baylor University.

For more information on Engaging the Christian Scriptures, click here.

New Release: Engaging the Christian Scriptures

Cover ArtThis readable, affordable, and faith-friendly introduction to the Bible aids students as they engage in their first informed reading of the biblical text in an academic setting. The authors, who have significant undergraduate teaching experience, approach the Christian Scriptures from historical, literary, and theological perspectives.

Engaging the Christian Scriptures is designed for a one-semester course and is meant to be read alongside the biblical text, enabling students to become educated readers of the Bible. In the process, it introduces critical perspectives and approaches without undermining the theological claims found in the Christian Scriptures.


“This new introduction to the Bible is brilliant in clarity and thoroughly engaging. Never before have I read a textbook that is as scholarly, concise, imaginatively written, and artistically laid out as this one. For teachers and students alike, this volume is a ‘pearl of great price.'” – Carol J. Dempsey, University of Portland

“This team of scholars has put together an excellent text for a course covering both Old and New Testaments. Their summaries of the biblical books give a flavor for each book’s contents and the world that influenced the biblical writers. Of particular importance to students is the careful treatment of sometimes controversial materials as the authors demonstrate a moderate and thoughtful consideration of different viewpoints.” – Victor H. Matthews, Missouri State University

“An outstanding resource for guiding the beginning student to become an informed reader of Scripture. The authors present both the content of Scripture and the critical issues of interpretation in a way that is accessible and fair, providing students with the information necessary to form their own judgments. The book satisfies the need for an introductory textbook on the entire Bible that will engage student interest and provide resources for further study.” – James Thompson, Abilene Christian University


Andrew E. Arterbury (PhD, Baylor University) is associate professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

W. H. Bellinger Jr. (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible, professor of religion, and chair of the Department of Religion at Baylor University.

Derek S. Dodson (PhD, Baylor University) is senior lecturer in religion at Baylor University.

For more information on Engaging the Christian Scriptures, click here.