Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Structure of Romans

The Structure of Romans Romans: Letter or Letter-Essay? Once in awhile a book comes along that revolutionizes your understanding of a particular subject. Such is the case with The Structure of Romans by Paul B. Fowler. Fowler’s thesis is that Romans is a letter, not a letter-essay as is commonly assumed. The difference lies in the interactive nature of the correspondence. Simply put, a letter-essay is an essay framed as a letter. While the outer material may interact with the readers circumstances (chs. 1 and…

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Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: 1&2 Samuel

Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: 1&2 Samuel The 1&2 Samuel Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) is the final work of beloved and renowned scholar Harry A. Hoffner Jr. Hoffner, before his recent death in March 2015, was John A. Wilson Professor of Hittitology Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He was an expert on the ancient Near East and, as the above title suggests, specialized in the language, history and civilization of the Hittite empire. One of his greatest achievements was co-editing The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of…

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Are the Seven Days of Creation Literal?

Are the Seven Days of Creation Literal? The more I study Genesis, the more I am convinced that we often come to the Creation story (and other biblical texts) with the wrong questions. How one answers the question, “Are the seven days of Creation literal?”, can determine in some people’s minds whether a person is orthodox or not. To some it is a question of believing or not believing in the authority of the Bible. Perhaps “wrong” is too strong a word in my above…

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Symbolic Numbers in the Old Testament

Symbolic Numbers in the Bible Does the number 3 represent the Trinity whenever it is found in Scripture? How about the number 40? Does it represent judgment because it conjures up images of the Flood (40 days and nights) or the Wilderness Wanderings (40 years)? Where do we get the notion that the number 7 represents completeness or perfection? These are important questions because we sometimes hear Bible teachers and preachers speak about biblical numbers with the assumption that particular numbers carry certain inherent ideas…

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Large Numbers in the Old Testament

Large Numbers in the Old Testament The use of numbers in the Bible is both fascinating and problematical. In the first post of this series “Biblical Numbers or Numerology,” we examined John J. Davis’s book Biblical Numerology and learned how biblical numbers were written and what can be learned from this observation. Another important issue concerns the use of large numbers in the Old Testament. For some, the numbers found in the account of the Exodus, or certain battle accounts or census figures, seem impossibly…

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God’s First King: The Story of Saul

God’s First King: The Story of Saul In God’s First King: The Story of Saul, author Shaul Bar, seeks to “rediscover Saul,” and “to have a better understanding of his achievements and failures as the first king of Israel” (p. xvii). Being a professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Memphis, one of the unique features of Bar’s approach is “to look at the subject from additional perspectives including those of the Talmud and the Midrashim [ancient Jewish commentaries] and the Jewish medieval commentators”…

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Biblical Numbers or Numerology

Biblical Numbers or Numerology Does the Bible contain a secret code using numbers? If we count up numbers of words in a sentence, or add together the numerical values of a word or sentence, is there a hidden message contained in it? No doubt you have heard a pastor or Bible teacher say that the number 7 represents completion or perfection, or perhaps that the number 40 represents judgment (e.g., the Flood, the Wilderness wanderings). Where do such interpretations come from? Do biblical numbers such…

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Brazos Theological Commentary: 2 Samuel

Brazos Theological Commentary: 2 Samuel The Brazos Theological Commentary Series takes a different approach from most Bible Commentaries. Commentators are chosen on the basis of their knowledge and acquaintance with Church Doctrine over the past two thousand years. They are theologians (hence the title of the series), not necessarily historians or language experts, as is frequently the case with other commentary series. This does not mean that authors in this series are unfamiliar with the ancient languages or history, only that their expertise lies in…

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Is King David A New Adam?

Is King David A New Adam? “David is indeed a cagey and capable new Adam, both tending and defending the new Eden,” so Robert Barron contends in his recent commentary on 2 Samuel (2 Samuel, Brazos Theological Commentary, p. 24). According to Barron, David is a new Adam, Israel is the Garden of Eden, and David’s enemies (e.g., the Amalekites, and even Absalom) represent the serpent. This typological approach is an interesting perspective from which to view 2 Samuel. It definitely causes one to think…

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NIV Application Commentary: 1&2 Samuel

NIV Application Commentary: 1&2 Samuel The NIV Application Commentary series is aimed at providing the best scholarly insights into the text, while also providing contemporary application. To accomplish its purpose, The NIV Application Commentary series divides comment on the text into three parts: 1) Original Meaning (“All the elements of traditional exegesis–in concise form–are discussed here,” p. 9); 2) Bridging Contexts (distinguishing the timeless message(s) of the Bible from the time-bound text); and 3) Contemporary Significance (do I need to explain this one?) Arnold’s 1&2…

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