The Closing of 2 Corinthians

“The fourth and final major section of Paul’s letters—the closing—is the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ section of the apostle’s correspondence: it doesn’t get any respect,” says Jeffrey Weima in his new book Paul the Ancient Letter Writer (165). Perhaps it’s because pastors, church members, and daily devotional readers are just ready to finish the book by the time they get to the closing section that they don’t want to work at just how the closing section finishes off Paul’s letter. Perhaps.

As he does in the rest of his book, Weima “recognizes that the letter closing, like the other major sections of Paul’s letters, is a carefully and cleverly constructed unit” (165). The closing section intentionally recalls themes and echoes concerns from the letter as one last fitting reminder before Paul finishes his letter. “Consequently, the letter closing potentially has great interpretive value, providing important clues for understanding the key issues and themes addressed in the body of the letter, as well as our understanding of the apostle’s readers and their historical situation” (165).

2 Corinthians 13.11–14

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

v. 11

Finally, brothers, rejoice.

13.9a, “For we are glad [“we rejoice] when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”

Paul rejoices when the corinthians are strong, but this word also rehearses Paul’s earlier statements of joy over the Corinthians (1.24; 2.3; 6.10; 7. 4, 7, 9, 13, 16; 8.2).

Aim for restoration,

Paul prays that his divided congregation would be healed and made a unified community, something that has been a battle for a long time (1 Cor 1.10; 12-14; 2 Cor 5.12; 6.14).

Comfort one another,

This reiterates a host of Paul’s language all throughout the letter. His entire letter oozes of “comfort” and “encouragement” in the face of suffering. George Guthrie cites the following passages (1.37; 2.78; 5.20; 6.1; 7.413; 8.4, 6, 17; 9.5; 10.1; 12.8, 18; 13.11).

Agree with one another, live in peace;

These both repeat the command to “aim for restoration” only at different angles. Living in peace and unity has been almost impossible for the Corinthians, but these relate directly to Paul’s concerns over the “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” among them (12.20).

And the God of love and peace will be with you.

This line is Paul’s regular peace benediction (Rom 16.20; Gal 6.16; 2 Thess 3.16), only now he has included “love” into this benediction (the only other occurrence is in Eph 6.23). Weima says, “It can hardly be doubted that ‘love’ has been deliberately added to the peace benediction so that this closing formula better echoes and reinforces the [entire] letter’s appeal for love and harmony to characterize relations within this fractious church“ (192).

v. 12

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

This greeting, an actually kiss of some kind, was meant to challenge them to lower the defenses they have set up against each other, to remove any hostility, “and to exhibit the oneness that they share as fellow members of the body of Christ” (192).

v. 13

All the saints greet you.

Reminds the Corinthians one last time that they are not the only members of God’s family on the earth. They are not the solo church. They are only one part of Christ’s church. Paul began his letter by saying,
.

1.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

1.11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

9.1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.
.

The Corinthian has a whole family surrounding them. The Corinthian church was an established church (though not without their major problems), and the surrounding churches were looking to them! Paul reminds them, “You’re not alone. Your character is seen by all. If you defect to the false teachers, you will not have these saints as your family (cf. 6.18).”

v. 14

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Weima, “These supplementary wishes of ‘love’ and ‘fellowship’ fit the thrust of the rest of the letter… peace and harmony must exist within the Corinthian church” (192). The repetition of “love,” “comfort,” encouragement,” and “fellowship” would be the final sounding of the gong  in their ears that has been echoing all throughout Paul’s letter.

Conclusion

Will the Corinthians reject Paul’s divisive opponents and seek reconciliation between their own? If they have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and if it was “in one Spirit” that they “were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12.13), there should be harmony among them. But if they don’t separate from the false teachers, and if they have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality they have practiced, if they examine themselves and fail to meet the test, they will no longer have a Father who will welcome them (2 Cor 7.18) nor an apostle to weep for them (2.2, 4).

Buy it from Baker Academic or Amazon!

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Review: Hebrew I (Zondervan Online Lectures)

(See bottom of my review for the Discount Code)

As I’ve mentioned before, I took Elementary Hebrew at SBTS this fall semester. Before I started the course, I knew two things about my teacher, Peter J. Gentry. First, he was brilliant at Hebrew. Second, he was tough. This was a graduate course, and he treats it as such. Zondervan had just begun to have online courses (35 now), so I spent the rest of my summer going through these videos.

The Zondervan Academic Online Course for Hebrew I is taught by Miles Van Pelt. Van Pelt teaches at Reformed theological Seminary, has contributed to the new A Biblical Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, but is most known for his Basics of Biblical Hebrew works.

The course is self-paced, but it must be completed within 12 months. It is 16 units long with each unit following a four-part structure: Overview, Study, Review, and Assess, and ends with a midterm. Hebrew II is also made up of 16 units and ends with the final.

Class Lectures

  1. Alphabet and Vowels
  2. Syllables and Pronunciation
  3. Nouns
  4. Definite Article and Conjunction Waw
  5. Prepositions
  6. Adjectives
  7. Pronouns
  8. Pronominal Suffixes
  9. Construct Chain
  10. Numbers
  11. Introduction to Verbs
  12. Qal Perfect – Strong
  13. Qal Perfect – Weak
  14. Qal Imperfect – Strong
  15. Qal Imperfect – Weak
  16. Waw Consecutive

In these videos, Van Pelt take you through morphology and helps answer the question: “How does this language work?” Rather than rote memorization, he shows how the grammar works. Why do certain vowels change when a word becomes plural? Which vowel does a consonant take? Why? Beginning Hebrew with this understanding makes Hebrew much more possible.

After taking a physical class (50 minutes, 4x a week) with a physical teacher directly in front of me, one value with these videos is that you can replay them as many times as you want. I usually understood what was going on in my class, but there was one particular class (#16) that boggled my mind. After coming home and watching one of the lectures, I saw the subject from a different angle, and it all made sense. 

The red shows you what is new in the lesson.

Time: 30-40 minutes.

The lectures are front-loaded with information so that when you begin learning Verbs you know all of the morphological rules for many of the changes you will see. Working on the nouns will make the verbs easier (as they can look very similar). As you progress, the tiny rules really begin to add up when you start translating sentences and the Bible. Some rules seem too small to deserve any room in your memory, but let me assure you—they are not insignificant. Those initial rules are the most important. If you don’t memorize them in the beginning, when you do realize you were mistaken, you’re going to be in deep (and you’ll have to learn all of those rules anyway). 

I say this because, with Hebrew being my first biblical language, and being the first language I learned where morphological rules were taught to me, I thought, “Big deal? This can’t be too difficult to remember.” Even though I did take the time to learn the rules, I am still constantly having to refresh my memory over these minute details. They are crucial, and Van Pelt is excellent at explaining the rules of Hebrew morphology and grammar.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary program used was developed by Cerego. It shows you the vocabulary word, lets you hear the pronunciation, and it tracks which words you are strong in and which ones you are weak in. I found the system to be pretty fun, actually. Each unit ends with a quiz. There is a keyboard system to know how to type each consonant and vowel, but it has a steep learning curve and is pretty clunky if you don’t know all of the hot keys. 

Audience

Those who will do this will either need to be self-learners or motivated enough to become self-learners. These could be pastors, students, or anybody who wants to learn/re-learn biblical Hebrew. You could use this for yourself, as a group study, or a class at church. Professors could use it and integrate it into their classrooms alongside their courses or as a new online program. As classes are slowly going the way of online learning, schools can implement these courses too. 

Recommended?

  • Pros:
    • You can rewatch the videos, which is helpful when you still don’t understand a topic
    • The examples are written out and explained in front of you
    • There is often a fuller explanation given than what is found in the book 
    • Van Pelt is clear in his teaching, and by teaching morphology, the later grammar makes more sense.
  • Cons:
    • As far as I can tell, you can’t ask questions
    • Sometimes I think they focus more on small matters that may not matter much
    • Costs more than buying the Grammar + Workbook.
    • You have access to the course for only one year.

Van Pelt writes out what changes occur in forms of words (e.g., from nouns to adjectives) and why they occur.

The best way to learn any language is to have a teacher right in front of you who can answer every question you might have, but those who aren’t able to go to seminary have to rely on books to learn Hebrew, and you can’t ask books questions. This is a good midway. Van Pelt writes out rules and words in front of you and helps you see why changes happen. I’ve seen Van Pelt clearly explain an few unclear sections from his book—something I would have remained perplexed on my own. Most of the grammar that you would find in the Grammar book is found here, but you will need the Workbook so that you can practice, practice, practice. The Workbook has helped me immensely in my own class this semester.

Lagniappe

This course discount code will get you 15% of of the course price: SPENCER

Disclosure: I received these lectures free from Zondervan. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Down Time

We just finished our Spring Break, and we only have four weeks to go before finals. Then we’ll be on vacation. Last semester I said I would write up some posts on what I had been learning that semester. That never happened. And… well, no promises. But I did write a paper on 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.1 that I plan to put up in a number of posts, which shouldn’t be too hard to work since it’s already written.

This semester I’m taking four classes: Hebrew Syntax, Old Testament II, Discipleship & Family Ministry, and Worldview & Apologetics. This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Hebrew Syntax is my favorite class. OT II is great too. The other two are, to be honest, just OK. They’re not bad, I’m just not too excited about them. I’ve also been auditing Proverbs with Peter Gentry, and it’s been excellent. It gives me more practice with Hebrew, and with all that I’ve put into it so far I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked for.

At the beginning Spring Break, Mari and I went to the TGC conference which was celebrating 500 years of the Protestant Reformation which had topics on the book of Galatians and various reformers (both familiar and obscure). Besides hearing Piper, DeYoung, Carson, Keller, buying a bunch of books, winning a few books, going to a few great workshops, especially Derek Rishmawy’s talk on reaching Millennials. We were able to stay with great people, and a friend of Mari’s came over from Norway to go to the conference and then travel the US to hang out with friends. Besides having a good time with him, we met two fantastic people who want to move over to Norway and help with a church over there. It was very encouraging to meet them, and we hope to see them in the years to come.

Beyond that, we’ve moved all of our stuff from our friend’s basement in their old house to their garage in their new house. At least that is finished, and we’ll be applying for an apartment this week. We appreciate your prayers that we can get into it and that we can find a used car to buy. We currently have one in our sights, but you never know what can happen. Have you seen Mars Attacks?

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Review: The Apache Wars

After finally being convinced by Mari to watch Dances With Wolves, I became somewhat enamored with wanting to know more about Native Americans. This meant putting every book on Native Americans that I found on an Amazon wish list. When I ran across The Apache Wars, I thought that I should expand my blog a bit and review something in a non-theological category.

This book begins with a young boy (Felix Ward) being kidnapped by a group of Apache Indians, which sets off a chain of events with the US army leading to the longest war in American history. Felix was a half-Irish, half-Mexican who was, basically, adopted by the Apache Indians. Later renamed “Mickey Free,” he often acted as a mediator between his people(s), both the white man and the Apache. This book is comprehensive and extremely detailed (roughly 70 pages of endnotes). There is an impressive amount of names, locations, and people groups in this book. TAW is full of treacherous battles, treacherous attacks, and treachery. Welcome to the 1800s. 

This book is certainly gruesome at times, yet the gruesomeness of the imagery sheds light on how life was back in the mid to late 1800s. And besides a few good representatives, neither side had many admirable heroes. America had political figures who were as corrupt as they come now, but there were those who made a good name for themselves and represented America well. They treated the Indians as humans. This isn’t a retelling of history from the standpoint of white Americans versus Native Americans. Some “white eyes” liked and appreciated the resourcefulness, cleverness, and intelligence of the Indians (some groups at least), and some Indians in different groups did like the “white eyes” too. Unfortunately, those people were few and far between. Most wanted nothing but to exterminate the Apache Indians, which didn’t bode will with the Apache. 

I found the book hard to follow? There is a main story, but there is a smattering of names, tribes, and locations. Every time a new mountain range was introduced, I was impressed at Hutton’s breadth of knowledge, humiliated at my lack of geographical knowledge, and lost within the vase details. Dates and information jump back and forth in order to tell the story in a particular way, but in terms of chronological order, it’s difficult to keep up with . . . unless you know your American history. 

Recommended?

If you are a novice in American history, then this should not be your introduction to it. I found it difficult to keep up with each Indian tribe, what they did, what their routine and lifestyle was, and even with the Americans they dealt with. I also found it difficult to follow the main story because of all the other side stories. However, my Dad, who is a history buff, really enjoyed this book. If you enjoy American and Native American history, then this book is recommended for you. If not, you should start elsewhere and then later make your way over to TAW.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Paul Andrew Hutton
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing; 1st edition (May 3, 2016)

Buy it from Penguin Random House or Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crown Publishing. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: “Theology as Discipleship” & “Biblical Theology”

When I say the word “ice cream,” what comes to your mind? Creamy smooth mint chocolate chip? Graeter’s Black Rasberry chcolate Chip? The feeling when it slides down your throat and cools your insides on a hot summer day? What do you think of when I say “theology”? Desks? Boring classrooms? An old professor talking about Paul’s missionary itinerary at 7 in the mourning?

Keith Johnson wants to put an end to that. God could have created a flat, cream-colored world where we ate creme-colored squares (tofu?) with our cream-colored, blockhead human next to us. Instead he gave us colors, mountains, valleys, blue skies, green grass, yellow perennials, and orange oak trees in the fall. He gave us Hawaii and Alaska; Iceland and Botswana; Germany and Colorado. He created men and women, blondes and redheads, tall and short. If theology is knowing God, and our God is this creative, why does theology often seem like licking dust?

Johnson makes his case from all of Scripture. After spending a chapter recovering theology, Johnson spends the first chapter showing how we serve the God who created the earth, came to earth in the flesh, died for his people, and was raised from the dead in a glorious new body as the first in the new creation. We have a place in God’s eternal plan, and we as Christians are united to this Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Chapter three goes into more detail about how to live in union with Christ by the power of his Spirit.

Chapter four explores God’s relationship to us through the text of the Bible and how we can interpret Scripture within the community of Jesus Christ. Chapter five describes what this kind of interpretation looks like. If it doesn’t lead us to love God and our neighbor more and to humble ourselves more, then we’re doing something wrong. This leads to chapter six which gives us a practical outworking of participating in the mind of Christ: our actions should be defined by obedience and humility.

Chapter seven gives nine aspects which should characterize theologians as they practice theology within the life and community of Jesus Christ.

Recommended?

TAD comes highly recommended, though with a caveat. Johnson hopes his books will be beneficial not only to the academy but also to pastors and laypeople (12). On the one hand, Johnson’s work is so steeped in theology that he draws together many aspects of God word and shows how we can participate in union with Christ while we live in this wilderness. However, for others, this language may not be simple enough for them. That’s the trouble with writing a book both for seminarians and laypeople, the crossover doesn’t always cross over. But, with attention and care, the person in the pew can find much to be pleased about in this book. I hope many will take the time to read this book and can be refreshed and encouraged over the God who we are joined with in Christ through the Spirit.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord (Jer 9.23-24).

Lagniappe

  • Author: Keith L. Johnson
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (December 9, 2015)
  • Book Excerpt: What difference does theology make to our lives?

Buy it from IVP Academic or Amazon!

(Special thanks to IVP Academic for sending me this book!)

bt-goldingay

This is the first book by Goldingay that I’ve ever read. Before this, I’ve heard that he’s an evangelical who sits on the border of the nonevangelical world. Given that, I just never bothered to read him. While I can’t speak for his other works, I was pleasantly surprised with his new Biblical Theology. More often than not I could nod in agreement.

Goldingay reminds me a bit of Leithart in that, even in this academic work, Goldingay really shows in his work. When I read a Leithart book, Leithart’s name wouldn’t even need to be on the cover and I can tell it was written by Leithart. Leithart exudes from his own writing. It looks like Goldingay is the same, and I like it.

This work is a biblical theology, but not in how I expected it to be. When I looked at the Table of Contents, this sure looked like a work of systematic theology to me, but Goldingay assures the reader it is not. “When a theology student in his first term [semester] heard that I was writing a biblical theology, he inferred that it was therefore a systematic theology. It isn’t. Systematic theology works out the implications of the Scriptures in a way that makes sense in it’s author’s own context, using the categories of thought that belong to that context” (15).

Outline

In Goldingay’s Biblical Theology, everything revolves around God.

  1. God’s Person   [his character]
  2. God’s Insight   [his Scriptures]
  3. God’s Creation   [his world and all that is in it]
  4. God’s Reign   [his kingdom]
  5. God’s Anointed   [his Son]
  6. God’s Children   [his people]
  7. God’s Expectations [his people’s way of living]
  8. God’s Triumph   [his story’s fulfillment]

Each chapter has 3-6 sections, each having their own numerous subsections. Each of these sections and subsections don’t give a full-blown look at what all of the Scriptures say, but different from the book-by-book biblical theologies that have been coming out, Goldingay draws together central elements of the story (in a systematic way?) and fleshes out the story (in a biblical theological way). It’s quite interesting, quite different, and I think many could learn from what he’s doing here.

Recommended?

 For those who’ve read enough biblical theologies, this might be handy to pick up I don’t think you’ll learn much “new,” but the way Goldingay writes might be enough to draw you in. This is recommended, but it won’t fall at the top of my list for biblical theologies. I would still assign any of the theologies by Tom Schreiner, Jim Hamilton, Geerhardus Vos, and Graeme Goldsworthy and here (see also Alexander, Gentry/Wellum, Beale, Kaiser) first, because I know more of what they say in general. There was a lot I agreed with, but there were parts of Goldingay’s BT that I didn’t agree with, though generally nothing more than a few sentences were said. The first example isn’t as serious as the other two. For example, he seems to hold to the New Perspective on Paul (pp. 114-118), says that Daniel didn’t author Daniel (pp. 229-230), and says that in God’s house with many rooms we may meet people “who have not believed in Jesus. . . . Perhaps you will, perhaps you won’t; the Scriptures don’t address that question (p. 547).

Still, I was intrigued, and I was glad to learn a bit about Goldingay himself along the way. I hope more authors will take a similar tac(k/t) and show more of themselves in their own writings. Let the reader understand the man behind the curtain.

  • Author: John Goldingay
  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 20, 2016)

Buy it from IVP Academic or on Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from IVP Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom (NSBT)

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6.1-5

Unlike Jeremiah and Ezekiel, why does God not show up in a grand display until Isaiah 6? What does this say about Isaiah’s historical setting? Its literary placement? What does it tell us about God’s kingship, his kingdom, and his people?

As the fifth longest book in the OT, and having been written by an Israelite almost 3,000 years ago, it might be redundant to say that Isaiah is a difficult book to read. The way a book is organized is just as important as what a book says, but for most of us—Isaiah is just too long, and it’s difficult to get a grasp on the entire story and on each section.

Layout

Andrew Abernethy, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, while not refraining from the historical details of Isaiah, focuses on the final literary form to show the reader what the book of Isaiah teaches us today. In doing so, he gives a thematic-theological approach to Isaiah’s varied portraits of God as King in each of the three sections of Isaiah (1–39, 40–55, 56–66), with each of those sections incorporating different aspects of God.

In Chapter 1, he is seen in poetry, narrative, and prose. He is the God who judges (Is 6; 24) and the one who saves (25; 33; 36–37). The book of Isaiah bears a message of judgment and hope from the beginning (1–6) to the end (66). Isaiah 1–12 focuses on how God will judge Israel and Judah through Assyria, while “Isaiah 24–27 looks to an eschatological time when the heavenly king establishes his rule in Zion” (31). In Isaiah 33, God’s reign has implications for his people: they can gaze on the beauty of their Lord and be protected from their enemies. Isaiah 36–37 present a snapshot of the unrivaled King who stands against the mighty Assyrian army. This is the unrivaled king of all ages who is more than able able to stand against all mighty armies.

Chapters 2–3 present God as a saving warring, international, and compassionate King. In Isaiah 40–55 Israel has been led out into the wilderness (40.1), which “symbolizes Zion’s desolation” (57). The “good news” is that God will be the great shepherd King who carries his people close to him in his bosom (40.11).

Chapter 3 covers Isaiah 56–66, represented in by a chiasm. Zion’s glory is the centerpiece of that chiasm (E), and it can only be understood in light of Yahweh’s coming as the warrior king (D/D’) who sees the injustice in Israel and will come to take action. Because of his just and righteous actions, the nations will flock to him and give gifts to him, and he will show compassion on all of his people.

In Chapter 4, Abernethy points us to the “lead agents” in each of the three sections, though he is not certain that these agents (of Yahweh) are understood to be the same individual. “Instead of forcing all of these lead agents into one mould, it is better to allow the uniqueness of each figure to emerge” (120). He examines the Davidic ruler (1–39), the Servant(s) of the Lord (40–55), and God’s messenger (56–66). This does not mean Abernethy doesn’t find these figures fulfilled in Jesus. He says, “The claim here does not undermine the New Testament’s application of all three of Isaiah’s figures to Jesus; instead, it displays the grandeur of Jesus and the surprise of recognizing how one person, Jesus Christ, can take on the role of all three figures, while also being the very God of these agent figures” (169). If Isaiah didn’t express these three figures as being one figure, this helps explain the Second Temple period’s emphasis on the coming Davidic Messiah, their lack of emphasis on a suffering servant, and the Pharisees confusion over Jesus.

Chapter 5 seeks to answer to questions, “Where is God’s kingdom? And, who are the people of God’s kingdom? . . . God’s kingdom is ‘placed,’ if you will, with people in the midst of it” (171). In this reality, God rules the entire cosmos, but he will also rule from Zion. God’s people are a purified, redeemed, obedient, just, national and international community which trusts God.

After each section in each chapter, Abernethy gives a summary and some canonical reflections of the content. The canonical reflections always look forward to Jesus, which is especially helpful when it comes to preaching and teaching through the book of Isaiah. Abernethy draws our eyes from the King who sits above the heavens in Isaiah to Yahweh in the flesh, who preached the kingdom of God, lived the kingdom of God, and was the Davidic king who suffered and died for the people of God. He created the world, commands destinies, and builds his temple brick by brick, person by person. He is the servant king whose glory Isaiah saw (Jn 12.41; Isa 6). 

Recommended?

There is so much more that could be said about these five chapters, and even more to be said about God’s kingship in Isaiah. He is the ruling, judging, warrior, loving, compassionate, caring, shepherd King who is watching out for his people, who will return and care for them, and will dine with them on his great mountain (Is 25.6–8; Rev 21.1–5). Abernethy’s book is recommended for all sorts, especially pastors and teachers. Be warned, this is not light reading. Abernethy’s work is mighty detailed and is best read with your Bible open and a pen in your hand (unless you don’t want to remember pivotal details). Abernethy has written an excellent resource on grasping on of the main themes of Isaiah (if not the main theme), and even provides two preaching outlines in an appendix at the end. You would be well-served in reading this book. Highly recommended.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Andrew T. Abernethy
  • Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 19, 2016)

Buy it from IVP Academic or Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from IVP Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Review: The Message of the Twelve

Who said it first?

  1. “I will make your grave, for you are vile.”

2. “And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.”

3. “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them.”

4. “What’s love got to do with it?”

5. “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”

6. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?”

If you could only answer #4 (Tina Turner), then congratulations(!), you’ve found yourself in the midst of the Minor Prophets. The Book of the Twelve is a wild ride, however, because we are so far removed from this culture and history, even the harshest critiques preached against Israel (see #1, Nahum 1.13) put many right to sleep. What hope is there for the modern day mother with kids to understand the hope found in Zechariah? What conviction is Joel supposed to bring to the busy husband who is tired from a long week of work? Richard Fuhr, Jr. and Gary Yates have written The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets with the purpose of unveiling some of the mystery that shrouds the Twelve from our eyes. Fuhr and Yates aim to present to the reader of the the individual voices that make up the Twelve.

Layout

There are two parts to the book.

Part 1

  1. The World of the Twelve sets the reader within the history of the Minor Prophets. Which kings were in play? Why were they important? Who was the ruling superpower of the day (e.g., Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc)? What was wrong with Israel at this time? The authors give a brief overview of Israel’s history in the promise land after the death of Solomon to the exile of Israel up through to the return to the land. Knowing Israel’s history is pivotal to understanding the Minor Prophets, and the authors do a good job of showing what was going on during the preaching of each prophet.
  2. The Role of the Twelve: The prophets were forth-tellers and foretellers. They taught the heart of God to his people, and, at times, they were given insight into what God would do in the future.
  3. The Words of the Twelve reminds us that the Minor Prophets are poetic texts (with prose included). The prophets’ words can be separated into three broad categories:
    1. Announcements of judgment
    2. Oracles of salvation
    3. Calls to repentance.
      Each of these have their own categories. The prophets were skilled in getting the attention of their audience, and they did so with the use of metaphors, parallelism, repetition, irony, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, and wordplays.
  4. The Book of the Twelve doesn’t always seem to be much of a unity at all, but Fuhr and Yates show the reader that through chronology, catchwords, and themes there is a strong unity between the twelve books. Some of those themes are Israel’s failure to repent in response to the prophetic word, the Day of the Lord, and the broken and restored covenant.

Part 2

The next twelve chapters are summaries of each of the Twelve’s books. After introducing the book and giving some of the historical background information, the authors present the structure of the book, showing that each book was purposefully written. None of them were just thrown together (although Hosea is difficult to outline). The authors then give a brief commentary on each section, ending with a Theological Message and Application of ___ section where the message of the book is condensed into a few paragraphs and its significance throughout the canon of Scripture (and primarily in the NT) is brought to light.

Conclusion

This book is a plea for the church to renew their interest in the Twelve. It remains part of God’s inerrant and inspired word. There are four ways the Twelve continues to speak to the church. (1) It gives a distinctive portrayal of God, (2) it gives an ethical call for God’s people to “act justly, love faithfulness, and walk humbly” with God (Mich 6.8), (3) it shows ways God deals with his people and the nations, and (4) it comforts the church with its message of comfort, restoration, and the kingdom of God that is coming in full.

Recommended?

For twelve books that many of us have a difficult time reading and understanding today, Fuhr and Yates have provided the church with an important work. They provide the literary structure of each book. They show wordplays that we miss in English translations, and connections within the literary structure from from the repetition of certain words. They clearly explain each section of each book, and finish it off with it’s application for believers today. This is a solid work for the student, pastor, and teacher. This is the perfect primer to use when studying the Minor Prophets. This should be read with a Bible on your desk and a pen in your hand.

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Fuhr / Yates
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic (September 1, 2016)

Buy it now from B&H Academic or Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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