Glanville, Mark R. Freed to be God’s Family: The Book of Exodus. Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2021. 119 pp.; Pb.; $14.99. Link to Lexham Press
Elsdon, Ron and William Olhausen. Transformed in Christ: The Book of 1 Corinthians. Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2021. 96 pp.; Pb.; $14.99. Link to Lexham Press
Flemming, Dean. Self-Giving Love: The Book of Philippians. Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2021. 90 pp.; Pb.; $14.99. Link to Lexham Press
The Transformative Word Series is edited by Craig G. Bartholomew and David J. H. Beldman in association with St. George’s Centre for Biblical and Public Theology. St. George’s Centre has sponsored several seminars (Scripture and Church, Scripture and Doctrine, and Scripture and Hermeneutics) and the annual SBL meeting and most recently hosted by Institute for Biblical Research. There are currently there are fourteen volumes in this series of thematic studies of biblical books. I will briefly review here the three most recent volumes in the series.
Mark Glanville’s Freed to be God’s Family presents the book of Exodus as “all about community.” The book was written to “transform the way people live together in society” (p. 6). Glanville is interested in showing how Exodus can be a model for worshiping communities today. This begins with God redeeming his people from slavery, creating a new community which stands in contrast to society in Egypt. Since the main difference is God’s law and the Tabernacle, Glanville devotes two chapters to the Law (the “Law Collection” and the Ten Commandments). He offers a helpful six-step method for interpreting biblical law (p.31). Since the Tabernacle dominates about one-third of the book of Exodus, Glanville discusses why the sanctuary is so important.
Ron Eldson and Willaim Olhausen begin their discussion of 1 Corinthians with a “guided tour of Corinth.” First century Corinth was dominated by the desire for economic advancement and pervasive Roman entertainment. They therefore argue 1 Corinthians is a “countercultural document” and ask whether the Corinthian Christians were really aware of the pressure they faced from their culture (p. 6). Two factors make 1 Corinthians radical, Paul’s focus on the Holy Spirit (ch. 3) and his focus on the Cross (ch. 4). Centering on the Spirit and the Cross, Eldson and Olhausen then discuss sex and money, two cultural factors which plagued the Corinthian believers. After chapters on worship and resurrection, the authors offer a final chapter on how to read 1 Corinthians as contemporary Christian.
Dean Flemming’s reads the short letter to the Philippians argues the theological center of the letter is 2:6-11, the Christ-hymn. This rich passage describes the self-emptying God which “shatters feeble and misguided understandings of God” (p. 17). Like most studies of Philippians, Flemming observes that Paul calls his readers to live out their heavenly citizenship by living their life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ (ch. 5) and having the same mindset as Christ Jesus (ch. 6) in a mission-oriented Christian community (ch. 7).
Conclusion. These short volumes are idea for both personal and small group Bible study. Chapters are brief, rarely longer than ten pages and conclude with several questions for reflection. Each book is written with the layperson in mind and avoid technical details and biblical languages. Since these books are theological readings of the Bible, they are focus squarely on drawing out biblical themes which are applicable to the missional church today.
NB: Thanks to Lexham Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book, both in print and Logos format. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.