Book Giveaway Winner: T. Desmond Alexander, Face to Face with God

Commentary on HebrewsThere were fourteen comments from people hoping to win a copy of T. Desmond Alexander, Face to Face with God (Essential Studies in Biblical Theology). Follow the link to read my review. I copied all the name into a spreadsheet, sorted randomly then used to select a winner. And the winner is….Dwight Gingrich. Congrats Dwight, I have sent an email to what I think is your email (a Canadian Yahoo account?) If you do not see that, contact me at plong42 @ and I will arrange to ship the book out ASAP.

Dwight said his favorite Hebrews commentary is Gareth Lee Cockerill’s NICNT volume, a fine choice indeed. This was not published when I wrote on the best commentary on Hebrews in 2012. There were very few repeats among the fourteen comments; I expected a few F. F. Bruce votes, but only William Lane’s Word commentary scored two votes. But this is not the Jesus Seminar, so voting does not really count.

Big thanks to IVP Academic for sending an extra copy to pass along to readers of this blog. If you don’t win this book, check back soon for another book giveaway.


Book Giveaway: T. Desmond Alexander, Face to Face with God

GiveawayIt has been a while since I gave a book away as a promotion on Reading Acts. Since it is the beginning of a new Academic year, it is time to celebrate by sending out some free books! Really, though, do you need an excuse for a chance at a free book?

I recently reviewed T. Desmond Alexander, Face to Face with God (Essential Studies in Biblical Theology). IVP Academic was kind enough to send an extra copy to pass along to readers of this blog.

Alexander does an excellent job describing the importance of the sanctuary and sacrifices in the Old Testament as well as the role of high priest as intercessor and covenant mediator. He examines these as “shadows of the reality in Christ” through the lens of Hebrews and focuses on that book’s description of Christ as priest, intercessor and mediator of a new covenant. In fact, this book could be considered an introduction to the theology of Hebrews. Go read the review for the rest of my comments.

If you want a free copy of this book, leave a comment with your favorite Hebrews commentary and your name and email (if it is not in your profile already) so I can contact you if you win. I will put all the names in a spreadsheet, randomize them, then use a random number generator to select a winner on September 21.

If you don’t win this book, check back next week for another book giveaway.


Dean R. Ulruch, Now and Not Yet: Theology and Mission in Ezra–Nehemiah

Ulruch, Dean R. Now and Not Yet: Theology and Mission in Ezra-Nehemiah. NSBT 57; Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2021. 184 pp. Pb; $28.  Link to IVP Academic

Dean Ulrich has served both the church and academy. His North-West University (South Africa) PhD dissertation was published as The Antiochene Crisis and Jubilee Theology in Daniel’s Seventy Sevens (Oudtestamentische Studiën 66; Brill, 2016). He has also published a commentary on Ruth (P&R, 2007) and served as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Wexford, Pennsylvania. His experience in both church and academy is clear in his Now and Not Yet: Theology and Mission in Ezra–Nehemiah. In this new NSBT volume, Ulrich shows that participating in God’s mission for his world is a key message of Ezra and Nehemiah.Ezra-Nehemiah

As Ulrich describes in his introduction, there are many reasons for academic and pastoral inattention to the books of Ezra-Nehemiah. For many, Ezra-Nehemiah is a legalistic jumble of sources, lacking a coherent theology and littered with obtuse lists. For others, Nehemiah stands as a model for leadership (usually by contemporary writers looking for proof texts for their leadership principles). Ulrich argues Ezra-Nehemiah is a literary unit with rich missional theology which illustrates how God’s people continue to experience his salvation in the post-exilic world.

After a chapter outlining what he means by biblical theology and Ezra-Nehemiah’s contribution to biblical theology, Ulrich works his way through the books thematically (although this follows the order of the books themselves). The first section of Ezra deals with the return from exile (ch. 3), the rebuilding of the temple (ch. 4), and the security of Jerusalem (ch. 6). Throughout these chapters, he integrates the prophets Haggai and Zechariah in order to offer a narrative of the rebuilding of the early community in Judea after the exile.

Most Bible readers associate Ezra-Nehemiah with rebuilding the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, but Ulrich also points out that the books are interested in rebuilding the people of God (ch. 5). By the time Ezra arrives in Jerusalem, the people have been worshiping in the rebuilt Temple for many years. For most modern readers, the problem of foreign marriage seems strange, and Ezra’s solution seems drastic: divorce foreign wives and exclude them from the people of God! This is even more surprising since there is no evidence the Gentile women were encouraging their Judean husbands to worship idols, as with Solomon. Ulrich admits the measures “may seem harsh, gut the identify and mission of God’s people after the exile were at stake” (94). The new community must take steps to preserve its distinctiveness or it will “transmute into something quite different from the original vision of the founder” (94).

Perhaps another reason for scholarly and pastoral inattention to Ezra-Nehemiah is the books ends unsatisfactorily (156). We know that the post-exilic community continues to struggle, and the tensions present in these books continue through the Maccabean Revolt and into the first century. This is the “now, not yet” from the subtitle of the bool. Although the Temple is rebuilt and the walls of Jerusalem are complete, the people continued to struggle with certain practices such as tithing, Sabbath, and intermarriage. Ulrich draws Malachi into his discussion of the end of Nehemiah, since that late prophet deals with the apathy of the Judeans. The book of Daniel addresses some of these issues from the perspective of those still living in exile. There were faithful Jews living in the Diaspora, even if Judeans struggled with certain practices.

Conclusion. Ulrich’s Now and Not Yet will serve as a theological commentary for both pastors and academics teaching through Ezra-Nehemiah, two overlooked Old Testament books.


NB: Thanks to IVP Academic for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Labor Day Sale at Logos Bible Software

Labor Day Sale Logos

In honor of Labor Day in American, Logos is running a 25% off sale on thousands of resources. If you are outside the US and have no idea what Labor Day is, don’t worry about it. Most Americans think it just means summer. And that yo can’t wear white anymore. I usually celebrate by listening to union songs all day. Logos celebrates by selling their resources cheaper than usual. If you follow that link, you get a list of 31,000 items on sale, which is way too many. I suggest you sort by relevance or best selling and browse, or better use the search criteria on the left sidebar to narrow the list to your interests. You can select by author, publisher, language, etc. One nice bonus: if you own parts of a collection already the store reduces the price even more (they call that “dynamic pricing”). For example, you might have picked up a volume or two in the Anchor series from past Free Book of the Month sales. Since you own the book, they do not charge you for it again and the price goes down.

The Labor Day sale ends September 9, 11:59 PM PST.

And don’t forget there are two Free Books of the Month in September 2022 is Edward Campbell’s Ruth in the The Anchor Yale Bible Commentary series for free. This is the 1975 edition, Logos updated the publication year when Yale bought the series in 2008. The second Free Book of the Month is Luther and Erasmus, Discourse on Free Will (Bloomsbury, 2013). “Comprising Erasmus’s The Free Will and Luther’s The Bondage of the Will, Discourse on Free Will is a landmark text in the history of Protestantism. Encapsulating the perspective on free will of two of the most important figures in the history of Christianity, it remains to this day a powerful, thought-provoking, and timely work.”  Along with the free books are many great deals on other resources from the Anchor Reference Library and T&T Clark/Bloomsbury.

If you visit the Labor Day Sale, sort by price, lowest first. There are dozens of free books available (although you need to scroll past all the Shakespeare plays).

If you do not already own Logos Bible Software, check out the base packages, you should at least get Logos Fundamental ($49.99) or Basic (free) packages and take advantage of the free Logos Book of the Month promotion (check out my review of Logos 9). Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the free / cheap packages. All it takes is a Faithlife account, and you can read your books using the iOS or Android app, the Logos web app, or the (much more powerful) desktop version for both Windows or Mac.

All the links are Logos Affiliate links, so buy a few books and help out Reading Acts.

Labor Day Sale





Biblical Studies Carnival 198 for August 2022

Ben the Amateur Exegete posted the Biblical Studies Carnival for August 2022. He sticks to two broad categories, Hebrew Bible/ANE/LXX and New Testament/Early Christianity to make a really nice list of links to top academic posts this month. One of the things I like about the Carnivals is the host curates the posts to their own interests, this month just happens to coincide with my personal interests so I think it is great. Ben introduces his Carnival this way: “The end of summer means that students are heading back to classes and so teachers/professors are in teaching mode.” This is true, August is a flurry of activity for me, getting syllabi prepped and remembering I have to get up in the morning now for classes.

Christopher Walken Meme


Brian Small added a brief Hebrews Highlights for August 2022. Check out Brian’s blog, he has focused on Hebrews for years and some great resources for studying Hebrews.

I still need a volunteer for September 2022 (Due October 1), November 2022 (Due December 1), and December 2022 (Due January 1).  Jim West has October. Or, if you are into long term planning, any month in 2023.

If you have thought about hosting, now is the time to step up and contact me via email, or DM on twitter (plong42) to discuss hosting a summer Biblical Studies carnival. If you are a new BiblioBlogger, this is a good way to get your blog some recognition. And, to quote Jim West, “They are fun to do!”

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about hosting a Carnival this summer (or fall). Check out the Biblical Studies Carnival Master List at the top of this page to visit past carnivals.