Review Books: Winter 2018

As I am finishing up school, I like to think I’ll have a lot of time to read. And so I ask for books. All of them. Why do I do this to myself? Because I enjoy reading, and reviewing forces me to finish books.

Received Books 

A Hermeneutic of Wisdom – J. de Waal Dryden

As Kelly Kapic notes in her endorsement, “Dryden believe the Bible is primarily meant for spiritual formation, shaping us so that we might faithfully commune with God and neighbor.” The Bible wasn’t written so we could fill our heads with technical doctrines and talking about PhD topics with one another. It was to fill us with wisdom and love for living in God’s world, worshiping our Savior and Creator, and loving our neighbor. The Bible forms us spiritually, which means it shapes our whole selves. The Bible brings together meaning, ethics, application, and doctrine. His central thesis: “The Bible is a wisdom text” (xvi).  

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 2nd ed. – John Walton

John Walton has studied the ancient Near East for over thirty years, and has updated his book on how the Old Testament fits into the ANE culture. People from different countries think very differently from you. Thirty years ago, people from your own state would think different about most things in life than you do today. 3,000 years ago, people on the other side of the world thought about pretty much everything differently than you do today. Walton has tried to understand their world and has written numerous books to reveal how an OT Israelite thought about life. Covering topics such as gods, cosmic geography, cosmology, kingship, law, wisdom, life after death, and more, this will help you to understand you OT better by understanding the ways in which Israel thought like everyone else and the ways their theology differed from everyone else’s. 

Angels – Michael Heiser

After writing The Unseen Realm and Supernatural, Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern scholar Michael Heiser has written a book about the Bible’s commonly misunderstood heavenly host. He looks at the terms the Bible uses for God’s heavenly host. the different capacities in which they serve God, important angels, how the heavenly host is understood in the Second Temple Period and in the New Testament. Heiser also answers important questions and long-held myths about angels. Not many books are written on angels by biblical scholars, so this is an important book. Heiser, like Walton, has studied the Old Testament and its ANE context for a long time, and he wants Christians’ understanding of God’s heavenly host to be shaped by the Bible instead of culture.

Biblical Eschatology, 2nd ed. – Jonathan Menn

I reviewed Jonathan Menn’s first edition a few years ago, having read it from cover to cover during one summer. It was fascinating. He looks at prophecy, apocalyptic literature, eschatology and the Bible’s structure, the significance of christ’s second coming, the millennium, the “rapture,” the “antichrist,” Revelation, the importance of eschatology, and ends his book with seven appendices. Regarding the importance of the “end times,” Menn says, “By understanding eschatology, we can have a well-integrated theology that enables us to live authentic Christian lives with confidence and hope. Such lives will demonstrate the present reality of the kingdom while we look forward to the final consummation in all its glory” (351).

Discovering the New Testament (Vol. I: The Gospels and Acts) – Mark Keown

Having just released a massive two-volume commentary on Philippians, Mark Keown, NT professor in New Zealand, is releasing a three-volume introduction to the New Testament. With Christ at the center, the New Testament letters “show us how to live the ‘in Christ’ life” (1). Keown represents the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts, has two chapters on critical methodologies and how scholars have understood the way in which  the four Gospels were written, and then looks at the content and theology of all four of those Gospel and Acts. He ends with looking at the kingdom of God, miracles, and parables. 

The Elder Testament: Canon, Theology, and Trinity – Christopher Seitz

This book is a “commentary on critical method,” looking at various interpretations of the Old Testament, such as canonical and theological interpretations (4). The “Elder Testament” is made up of 39 books which all tell the story of Israel serving the one true God. The ordering of the OT is important, even though it differs between the Hebrew (MT) and Greek (LXX) texts (think Dempster’s Dominion and Dynasty or Goswell/Lau’s Unceasing Kindness). All the Scriptures, both old and new, both “elder” and younger, speak of Christ. Here Seitz draws together old and new and examines the Trinity, wisdom, time and creation, Christ’s “speaking” in the letter to the Hebrews, and theophany. The Old Testament is not old and outdated, but it is older than the New Testament. Yet this “Elder Testament” still speaks of Christian theology about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the New Testament authors drew upon it. 

Romans, 2nd ed. (BECNT) – Thomas Schreiner

The Baker Exegetical Commentary series aims to be both readable while paying careful attention to important Greek exegetical matters. Each volume is written with pastors and teachers in mind so they can teach God’s uniquely inspired word. Tom Schreiner’s first volume was published in 1998, and has been a massive help for many who have studied, taught, and preached through Romans. Schreiner’s commentary is attuned to understanding Paul’s flow of thought, which is very important to understand anything Paul says in the letter. No verse is an island, and each reflects an aspect of Paul’s theology as shown throughout the full letter. Twenty years later, Schreiner has reworked his commentary, changing his mind on a few bigger issues and on numerous smaller issues. Schreiner has been a NT and Pauline scholar for almost 40 years now, so be sure to pick this one up. I’ve written more about Tom’s commentary here on my blog

Suffering – Paul David Tripp

Paul Tripp is a pastor, author, and biblical counselor. Not wanting to admit it, we have idols, and they live in our hearts. Suffering reveals to us what our idols are: in what do we put our focus, attention, and trust? What are our ordered loves? Is God actually first? Tripp tells of a few years where he had multiple surgeries and treatments for his failing kidneys, which caused him to cut back on his productive ministry. He thought his productive life was from his own hand, forgetting that any success or productivity we have comes from God. There’s more to the book than that, but Tripp shows that we can trust in our loving and faithful Father, who uses our hardships to shape us into the very image of the perfect Christ.

Books on the Way

1 Corinthians – Tom Schreiner
1-3 John – Marianne Meye Thompson
A New Testament Theology – Craig Blomberg
An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. – David deSilva
Conformed to the Image of His Son – Haley Jacob
Romans (ZECNT) – Frank Thielman


Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 


Giveaway: (1) “Reformation Theology” and (2) “Delighting in the Trinity”

This week I’ll be giving away Matthew Barrett’s “Reformation Theology” to one lucky winner and Michael Reeves’ “Delighting in the Trinity” to another lucky winner.

(1) Reformation Theology

Covering the background and theology of the Reformation, this book is a massive undertaking covering the person and work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, baptism, justification, sanctification, what it means to be created in the image of God, and more.

You can read more about it on Amazon.

Click here to enter!

(2) Delighting in the Trinity

Why is God love?  Because God is a Trinity.
Why can we be saved?  Because God is a Trinity.
How are we able to live the Christian life?  Through the Trinity.

Michael Reeves gives a fantastic introduction to Christianity and the Christian life rooted in the Trinity. We don’t need to shy away from talking about our triune God, but, instead, we can delight and rejoice in it. This was, hands down, my favorite book in Bible college. You can read my review here.

You can read more about it on Amazon.

(I can’t get it to show up here, so you’ll have to click the link below. U.S. addresses only. Sorry, international shipping costs a lot!)

Click here to enter!


Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

50th Anniversary of the NIV Bible

50th Anniversary Celebration of the NIV Commissioning Continues with "Made to Share" Quarterly Theme (PRNewsFoto/Zondervan)

Yesterday I talked about the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson, T.D. Alexander, Richard Hess, Doug Moo, and Andy Naselli. This NIVZST comes out just 50 years after the “initial cross-denominational gathering of evangelical scholars who met outside Chicago in 1965 and agreed to start work on what is now known as the New International Version” (read about the anniversary here). It’s easy to think of Bible translators as sitting in their ivory tower, drinking their frappe lattes, and talking about which way a verse sounds better. It’s as if they say, “We pray over it and say amen, but at the end of the day we just flip a coin.”

That sounds quite terrible, actually. Thankfully with the NIV that is not the case. I can tell you just from my small exposure to learning Norwegian, translating the bible is actually much more difficult than that. Try reading every word, sentence, and paragraph Genesis, Acts, or Isaiah over, and over, and over again. You’re parsing the Greek, the Hebrew, or the Aramaic to know what is being said. You then not only have to bring it over into the English language, but into the proper, most widely used colloquial terms. What good is it to translate God’s word into English is the average person on the street can’t understand it? One thing we shouldn’t forget is that the translators of the NIV are also teachers, scholars, authors, pastors, husbands, and wives, etc. They have lives beyond sitting around a table for endless hours trying to choose the perfect word. Yet they take their job seriously so that you can understand the Bible that sits in front of you. 

Making a Translation

Bill Mounce, an expert in Greek who posts about biblical Greek in a series called Mondays with Mounce, said, ”You have to make the translation reflect the actual nature of the author. Paul has a really good command of Greek, and the beauty of that needs to come through in our translation.” And Karen Jobes, commentator on Esther and 1 Peter and the first woman to join the Committee of Bible Translation (CBT), agrees that “We don’t want it to be our voice. We really do want it to be accurate and clear, and that involves facing hard issues.”

The people who work on translating Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts into a coherent and understandable English translation are evangelical Christians who want to spread God’s word in the most understandable way possible. They know that not every Christian will learn Greek and Hebrew, nor will every Christian spend the required hours to dig through the smorgasbord of manuscripts to find the best reading.

As the translators of the King James Version, 1611, said, “But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue?” The NIV Made to Read link reminds us, “Modern people should be able to learn about God’s power, love and redemption from a Bible in up-to-date language.” 

Language Efforts

Language is not static. Life and culture change, as do tastes, likes and dislikes. Metaphors come into being, and words exhale their last breath.

For us English speakers who don’t read Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, we don’t understand the great effort it takes to translate these languages into English. (I’ve quickly learned this fact when it comes to learning Norwegian). Doug Moo, a Pauline and New Testament expert, spent years studying and talking to other experts on the best way to translate the Greek word sarx, which is translated as “flesh.”

In this link Karen Jobes talks about translating Ps 23. Most Christians have Psalm 23 memorized, and the NIV translators didn’t want to make any unnecessary changes. But Psalm 23.4 doesn’t actually refer to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It refers to darkness. “Jobes believes the translators have helped to make the verse more precise than ever before.

‘We may feel we’re in the valley of darkness in lots of different ways other than with impending death,’ Jobes said…. ‘Accuracy and clarity have to trump tradition,’ CBT member Karen Jobes said. ‘Sometimes we ‘ruin’ our own favorite verses for the sake of accuracy and clarity.’

The translators seek to make the NIV relevant, not to people-please, but so more people can pick up the Bible and understand what it is saying.

Gender-Inclusive Language

The Made For You link lets you read about the issues on the use of masculine nouns and pronouns no longer being universally accepted as referring to both men and women. The CBT “commissioned a study by Collins Dictionaries to study the Collins Bank of English, a database of more than 4.4 billion words taken from recordings and publications throughout the English-speaking world.”

“With that data,” said Doug Moo, “we were then able as translators to say, ‘Despite our own personal preferences, this is the English that most people are speaking, and that’s what we need to use in our translation.’”

This data made it impossible to accuse the CBT of bias.

Why can’t the CBT leave the NIV text alone?”

But the answer was obvious: because the text is only as accurate as it is understood. “If we were to use in those contexts, ‘He who takes up his cross, follow me,’” said CBT chair Doug Moo, “it would communicate to a contemporary English audience a masculine sense that the original text did not have in mind at all.”

The translation needed to reflect the English that people were actually speaking. The goal was not to be trendy. The goal was good translation.


Here you can read endorsements from Christian leaders like Philip Yancey,

Pastors like Max Lucado and Rick Warren, 

Biblical Scholars like Darrell Bock, D. A. Carson, Jason DeRouchie, George Guthrie, and more.

The NIV Bible has been around for 50 years, and I hope it will be around for at least another 50. The scholars put in both the time and the effort to make this the best translation it can be for the English-speaking world, and they will never stop seeking to continually refine it as long as it means more people can understand God’s Word.

NIV Timeline



NIV Products Page

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

  • Hardcover: 2912 pages
  • Contributors: 60+
  • Articles: 25+
  • Maps: 90+
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Har/Psc edition (August 25, 2015)


Buy it on AmazonZondervan, or from Logos!

NIV Zondervan Study Bible



Growing up I was a NKJV kid. Not that I read it that often, but all of the Bibles I ever owned, used in school, and brought to church were the NKJV translation. In Bible college I moved to a single column ESV with a good amount of space for notes. I didn’t even have a study Bible until I married Mari. Though I regret not having a study Bible sooner, I honestly doubt I would have used it. Unless, perhaps, I had owned the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible by Zondervan.

It’s similar to the ESV Bible in that there are plenty of maps, pictures, and helpful introductions. Unlike the ESV Study Bible which is geared toward Systematic Theology (what the entire Bible says about a particular topic), the Zondervan NIV Study Bible (NIVZST) is focuses on Biblical Theology. The editors and contributors seek to understand each book on it’s own terms and how it adds to the story and canon of Scripture.

How did the knowledge of God progress from Genesis to Revelation? What is the storyline of the Bible? Questions we might ask about Moses and his writings would be, “What did Moses know about God and his purposes?” or “What didn’t Moses know because it hadn’t been revealed yet?” Ezra knew more about God’s purposes than David who knew more than Moses who knew more than Adam. It’s a story in progress, and the NIVZST helps its readers know what that story is and how it develops.

Managing editor Andy Naselli said this Study Bible “repeatedly makes organic, salvation-historical connections, especially regarding how the Old and New Testaments integrate.”

Thanks to Andra Kee for the picture!

“Charts, maps and photographs also invite readers to visualize the world of the Bible. At the end of the study Bible, 28 articles on everything from creation to justice to worship provide a comprehensive examination of theology from a conservative viewpoint.”

9780310438335_int_06a_rom_2thess_NIV_ZSB_cs6_FIRST PROOFS.indd


9780310438335_int_06a_rom_2thess_NIV_ZSB_cs6_FIRST PROOFS.indd


(The full list of can be found laid out here).

Old Testament

  • T.D. Alexander — Genesis
  • Richard S. Hess — Genesis
  • Paul R. Williamson — Exodus
  • Richard E. Averbeck — Leviticus
  • Jay A. Sklar — Numbers
  • Stephen G. Dempster — Deuteronomy
  • Richard S. Hess — Joshua
  • K. Lawson Younger, Jr. — Judges
  • Robert L. Hubbard — Ruth
  • John D. Currid — 1-2 Samuel
  • Robert L. Hubbard — 1 Kings
  • Todd Bolen — 2 Kings
  • Frederick J. Mabie — 1-2 Chronicles
  • Robert S. Fyall — Ezra, Nehemiah
  • Karen H. Jobes — Esther
  • C. Hassell Bullock — Job
  • David M., Jr. Howard — Psalms
  • Michael K. Snearly — Psalms
  • Christopher B. Ansberry — Proverbs
  • Bruce K. Waltke — Proverbs
  • Craig C. Bartholomew — Ecclesiastes
  • Richard S. Hess — Song of Songs
  • John N. Oswalt — Isaiah
  • Iain M. Duguid — Jeremiah
  • David J. Reimer — Lamentations
  • Donna Lee Petter — Ezekiel
  • Tremper Longman III — Daniel
  • Douglas K. Stuart — Hosea
  • David W. Baker — Joel
  • M. Daniel Caroll R. — Amos
  • David W. Baker — Obadiah
  • T.D. Alexander — Jonah
  • Bruce K. Waltke — Micah
  • V. Philips Long — Nahum
  • Elmer A. Martens — Habakkuk
  • Jason S. DeRouchie — Zephaniah
  • Anthony R. Petterson — Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah
  • Andrew E. Hill — Malachi

New Testament

  • Craig L. Blomberg — Matthew
  • Rikk E. Watts — Mark
  • David W. Pao — Luke
  • D.A. Carson — John
  • Andrew David Naselli — John
  • Mark L. Strauss — Acts
  • Douglas J. Moo — Romans
  • Eckhard J. Schnabel — 1 Corinthians
  • Murray J. Harris — 2 Corinthians
  • Stephen Westerholm — Galatians
  • Te-Li Lau — Ephesians
  • Simon J. Gathercole — Philippians
  • David E. Garland — Colossians
  • Jeffrey A.D.  Weima — 1-2 Thessalonians
  • Robert W. Yarbrough — 1-2 Timothy, Titus
  • David E. Garland — Philemon
  • Buist M. Fanning — Hebrews
  • Douglas J. Moo — James
  • Karen H. Jobes — 1 Peter
  • Douglas J. Moo — 2 Peter
  • Andrew David Naselli — 2 Peter
  • Colin G. Kruse — 1-2 John
  • Douglas J. Moo — Jude
  • Andrew David Naselli — Jude
  • Brian J. Tabb — Revelation


  • D.A. Carson — A Biblical-Theological Overview of the Bible
    •  — The Bible and Theology
    •  — Sonship
  • T.D. Alexander — The City of God
    •  — The Kingdom of God
    •  — Law
    •  — Temple
  • Douglas J. Moo — The Consummation
  • Paul R. Williamson — Covenant
  • Henri Blocher — Creation
  • Philip S. Johnston — Death and Resurrection
  • Thomas R. Wood — Exile and Exodus
  • James M. Hamilton Jr. — The Glory of God
  • Greg D. Gilbert — The Gospel
  • Andrew David Naselli — Holiness
  • Brian S. Rosner — Justice
  • Graham A. Cole — Love and Grace
  • Andreas J. Köstenberger — Mission
  • Dana M. Harris — Priest
  • Moisés Silva — People of God
  • Sam Storms — Prophets and Prophecy
  • Jay A. Sklar — Sacrifice
  • Timothy Keller — Shalom
    •  —The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus Is Central
  • Kevin DeYoung — Sin
  • Daniel J. Estes —Wisdom
  • Christopher W. Morgan — Wrath
  • David G. Peterson — Worship


There are a few sections to this share-able page.

    • 8 almost-tweetable summaries of a few of the articles in the NIVZSB.
    • 12 pictures of different tables with content such as “Major Old Testament Offerings and Sacrifices,” “Major Covenants in the Old Testament,” “Contrasts of Levitical Priesthood and Jesus’ Priesthood in Hebrews,” and more.
    • 8 videos about the NIVZSB, including the scholar team behind the NIVZSB, interviews, and more.


This is not “just another study Bible.” The list of scholars here are top notch. They not only put in the effort to know the Scriptures, but they love the church and want all to grow in the knowledge of God and in his revelation through Christ. This would make for a good Christmas present, but also a good study companion. This is a book I wish I would have had in high school. And college. And Bible college. And now.


  • Hardcover: 2912 pages
  • Contributors: 60+
  • Articles: 25+
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Har/Psc edition (August 25, 2015)


Buy it on AmazonZondervan, Adlibris, or Logos!

D. A. Carson Audio sermons and lectures – Free MP3’s from around the Web

Here is an excellent source of many of D. A. Carson’s sermons and teachings. Most of these files can be downloaded and listened to. If you’ve heard of Carson, you’re going to want these lectures. If you haven’t heard of him, then try one out (Try Section 2 #’s 7, 8, 9, 10, 18, 19, 26, 41, or any other ones that may stand out to you). I don’t know what you like, so you may not find interest in all of these, but I’m sure that whatever you do listen to will be good, enlightening, and encouraging. Carson is a man who loves God and really strives to get to the heart of the text. Enjoy.

PJ's personal blog. For articles see

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Note: SECTION 2, #115 was added on 5/18/10.
D. A. Carson is one of my favorite preachers. I listen to him for his depth, his piercing application, his good exegesis, his biblical theological connections, and his centrality on Christ and the gospel. He has written many articles and books that I’ve found edifying and informative. This picture was taken at the time Don Carson visited Torrance, CA in January 2007.

You can get all D.A. Carson audio that is available on the web at The Gospel Coalition website.The reason I’ll keep updating this page is because the way it is categorized there is topical and textual, not by the occasion where he spoke it.  It is hard to find certain series to listen to…

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