Another Free Book from Logos Bible Software: Paul Murray, Praying with Confidence: Aquinas on the Lord’s Prayer (Continuum, 2010)

Praying With AquinasIt is a good time to stock up on Thomas Aquinas resources for your Logos library. The “Another Free Book of the Month” promotion offers Paul Murray’s Praying with Confidence for free. This 128-page book is a “stimulating scholarly study and an ideal introduction for the general reader. Never before have the most important reflections by Aquinas on the Lord’s Prayer been drawn together and considered in a single book.”

In addition to the free book, Logos has other Aquinas and Aquinas-related resources at deep discounts. Here’s the list:

  • Paul Murray, Praying with Confidence: Aquinas on the Lord’s Prayer (Continuum, 2010), Free!
  • Peter S. Eardley; Carl N. Still, Aquinas: A Guide for the Perplexed, $1.99
  • Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles (4 vols.), $4.99
  • Daniel A. Keating; John Yocum; Thomas Weinandy, Aquinas on Doctrine: A Critical Introduction (T&T Clark, 2004), $7.99
  • Paul Murray, Aquinas at Prayer: The Bible, Mysticism and Poetry, (Bloomsbury, 2013), $9.99
  • John F. Wippel, The Ultimate Why Question: Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? (Catholic University Press, 2011), $9.99
  • Aquinas, Knowledge & By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas, Aquinas, $9.99

The regular Free Book from Logos had a decidedly Reformed theme for January, featuring books  published by respected Reformed publishers P&R and Reformation Heritage. You can add the Lectio Continua Expository Commentaries (LCEC) on Galatians by J. V. Fesko for free for the month of January. Fesko is a well-known writer in the Reformed community, current he is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to this free resource, there are an additional eight books on deep discount through the end of January:

  • Herman Ridderbos, Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures (P&R, 1998), 99 cents. 
  • J. V. Fesko, Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1–8 (Reformation Heritage, 2014), $1.99. 
  • Ian Duguid, Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (Gospel according to the Old Testament series; P&R 2014), $2.99. 
  • Matthew Barrett, Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration (P&R, 2013), $3.99. 
  • The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1: God, Man, and Christ, $5.99.
  • The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1, (Reformation Heritage, 2014), $7.99.
  • Richard Phillips, John, 2 vols. (Reformed Expository Commentary, P&R 2014), $9.99. 

If you were looking to load up on Reformed Resources, now is the time to head over to the Logos Free Book of the Month page.

These free and nearly free books are only available through January 2021.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: David G. Peterson, Hebrews. Tyndale New Testament Commentary

Peterson, David G. Hebrews. Tyndale New Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2020. xx+332pp. Pb. $30.00   Link to IVP Academic  

David Peterson’s new commentary on Hebrews in the TNTC series is a welcome contribution to the study of this difficult book. The commentary is a model of generally conservative, evangelical scholarship in the tradition of F. F. Bruce.

Peterson, HebrewsPrior to his retirement, Peterson was senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney. He did his doctoral work on Hebrews under F. F. Bruce and has published monographs: Hebrews and Perfection (SNTS Monograph Series 47; Cambridge, 1982), Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness (NSBT 1; IVP Academic 1995) and the Acts volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary. His personal blog collects many of his published articles.

The sixty-page introduction to the commentary covers the usual issues expected in a Hebrews commentary. Peterson begins by examining the character and style of the book. As is well-known, Hebrews balances exposition of Scripture with exhortations. These two threads run through the entire book. Regarding the structure and argument of the book, he briefly notes the contributions of various commentaries which make use of Greco-Roman rhetorical handbooks. But he ultimately rejects rhetorical as helpful for reading Hebrews. Following Lane, he states that Hebrews resists Greco-Roman rhetorical texts and cannot be forced into the mold of classical speech (15). Nor is this commentary overly influence by Philo. (The Tyndale Series does not include any indices so I cannot count the number of times the body of the commentary alludes Philo.)

Peterson argues the audience of Hebrews was a mixed congregation of Christians with a synagogue background, some of whom were in danger of drifting away from the Gospel. The pastor therefore exhorts these believers to encourage them to endure suffering and even martyrdom (19). That “drift away from the Gospel” may be towards the Jewish synagogue, but this is not a major point in the commentary.  The author is addressing a “deteriorating situation” (16) in which some readers are becoming weary of pursuing Christian discipleship and are considering a return to the safer option of the Synagogue. The author’s motivation is this unwillingness to progress in their discipleship, as well as the threat of persecution from Rome. The book is therefore a pastoral exhortation “to run the race set before them with endurance” (12:1-2).

Regarding destination and date, Peterson draws parallels to the situation in the Roman church found in Romans 14:1-15:7. Paul deals with some hostility between two parties over certain Jewish practices, specifically food and holy days. The consensus view is that Romans was written from Corinth in the winter of 57-58 to several house churches in Rome; Hebrews was written after Romans and deals with similar issues on a more serious, detailed way (20). Since the audience has not yet suffered to the point of shedding blood, (12:4), Peterson suggests a date before Nero’s persecution of Roman Christians in A. D. 64.

A major section in any introduction to Hebrews is authorship. Peterson offers a few comments on the usual suspects (Paul, Barnabas, Apollo) and observes the book of Hebrews itself considers human authorship secondary to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of human authors. For example, Hebrews 3:7 quotes Psalm 95 with the introductory phrase “As the Holy Spirit says…”  This is certainly an irenic strategy for stepping back from the usual heated debates about authorship, it may not satisfy those looking for support for their view.

The final section of the introduction offers an outline of the theology of Hebrews. Peterson argues God is central to the argument of Hebrews and the book as an “emerging Trinitarian perspective” (27). This Trinitarian God speaks through Scripture, and no other book of the New Testament makes use of the biblical text like Hebrews. As Caird observed, Hebrews is one of the earliest attempts to define the relationship between the Old and New Testaments (34).

Hebrews begins with the phrase “in these last days” so Peterson includes a section on eschatology and salvation in Hebrews. Hebrews argues “the end” was achieved by Christ and that salvation can be experienced as a present reality. Although there are a few hints of a future salvation (1:14, “inheriting salvation”), believers are encouraged to take part in the New Covenant and experience the fruit of sanctification at the present time. This leads to a major issue in Hebrews, apostasy and perseverance. The so-called warning passages address to the whole church (not just those in danger of drifting away from the Gospel). The author’s point is to encourage his readers to live faithful and fruitful lives and he is confident his readers will persevere (47). Peterson draws a parallel between Hebrews and the Parable of the Sower. There are some who are drawn to Christ but do not persevere. Perseverance is the mark of the genuine believer and warnings encourage the genuine believer to persevere (48).

The body of the follows the pattern of the Tyndale series. Chapters follow Peterson’s outline of the book, broken into shorter sections on each pericope. There is no new translation or textual notes, this sort of information is integrated into the body of the commentary (often in footnotes). Peterson begins each section with a brief paragraph setting the context, then works through the text’s sub-units (sometimes a single verse, but usually several verses at a time). All Greek appears in transliteration in both the body and footnotes, although Greek does not dominate the discussion. Peterson often comments on how major translations render a particular word or phrase. Each sub-unit ends with a brief paragraph, drawing some theological conclusions from the unit. Although he occasionally interacts with other major commentaries on Hebrews, Peterson’s goal is a concise explanation of the text rather than a report on what other commentaries have already said. This makes for a clear, readable commentary.

Conclusion. Peterson’s Hebrews commentary achieves the goal of providing a basis for Christian teaching and preaching of this important book of the New Testament. It will be useful for both Bible students and laypeople who want to study Hebrews closely.

The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series has collected some of the best short exegetical commentaries written by conservative and evangelical scholars. This new volume in the TNTC replaces Donald Guthrie’s 1983 commentary, which replaced Thomas Hewitt’s 1960 commentary. As typical happens, the commentary has expanded from Hewitt’s commentary was 217 pages and Guthrie’s 281 pages to 332 pages in this 2020 commentary. Given some expansive commentaries published in recent years, this commentary on Hebrews is a model of concise exegesis focused on the text itself.

 

Other reviewed commentaries in third Tyndale series:

Thomas R. Schreiner, 1 Corinthians

Ian Paul, Revelation

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.

 

Book Review: Matthew Barrett, Canon, Covenant and Christology (NSBT 51)

Barrett, Matthew. Canon, Covenant and Christology: Rethinking Jesus and the Scriptures of Israel. NSBT 51; Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2020. 357 pp. Pb; $34.00.  Link to IVP Academic 

Matthew Barrett serves as associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is executive editor of Credo Magazine. He has published several books on aspects of soteriology and has a monograph forthcoming from Baker Academic, Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Spirit (March 2021). As expected, this new contribution to the New Studies on Biblical Theology leans towards systematic theology and is thoroughly Trinitarian.

Barett, Canon, Covenant and ChristologyThe earliest Christians saw their movement as the true heir of the Old Testament. They were the “true Jews, true sons of Abraham, even if they were ethnically Gentiles” (200). Barrett argues in this study that Jesus and the early church did not adopt the Old Testament, “the Old Testament Scriptures gave birth to Jesus himself and are the genesis of his church” (197). Jesus and the early church disagreed with other Jews about the fulfillment of Scripture (who is the Messiah?), but not about the canon itself. For the early church, the entire canon of the Old Testament was Christological, giving witness to the incarnation of the Son of God. The Christological interpretation of the Old Testament by the early church is absurd “if the Scriptures of Israel do not have Yahweh as their divine author” (292).  

The first chapter orients the reader to Barrett’s understanding of biblical theology. Underlying the entire argument of this book is Barrett’s firm belief in the inspired character of the whole of the whole of the canon. Since God is the author of the whole canon, there divine authorial intent and unity across the canon. Rather than repeating the usual “drama of redemption,” Barrett’s focus is on Jesus as the “Christological clamp” (following Peter Stuhlmacher). The Old Testament prefigures the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and “when the Son of God becomes incarnate and secures redemption on behalf of the ungodly, any residual canonical ambiguity disappears” (39). Reading from a New Testament perspective, it becomes clear God intended the Old Testament types to testify to his Son. As Barrett makes clear, the primary focus of this book is not the nature of typology, although the second chapter will need to define and clarify what he means by typology. The emphasis in this study is canonical unity from the prefigurement in the Old testament to fulfillment in the incarnation. Barrett says, “Jesus is the canon, for all the Scripture typologically point forward to him” (93).  

Chapter two lays out the thesis of the book. The interpreter’s hermeneutical grid needs to be re-orientated so that Jesus’s understanding of Scripture is not forced through a Pauline grid. Israel’s relationship with God in the Old Testament was covenantal. Barrett mentions covenants with Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David, but in other places he includes Noah, and in one list he ends with “David, and so on” (45). I am not sure what covenant might be after David other than the New Covenant in Jeremiah. The covenantal nature of the God’s revelation to his people was prophetic and eschatological, pointing forward to the ultimate fulfillment in the incarnation. These covenants escalate or progress towards their fulfillment in the person and work of Christ (63). Barrett shows this progression through typology. He tracks the progression of royal, priestly, and prophetic terminology in Isaiah as a typology pointed to an ultimate fulfillment in Jesus (a classic “prophet, priest, and king” typology).

Barrett calls chapters three and four “case studies.” He applies his typological method to the gospels of Matthew and John. But he introduces a familiar term into the study at this point, intertextuality. He states the Gospels employ both intertextual echoes and typological correspondence in order to describe Jesus as the fulfilment of covenants of the Old Testament, producing a canonical unity (98, 107). The relationship between these two interpretive strategies is slippery and usually not well defined. It appears typology refers to something present in the Old Testament text, and intertextuality refers to a New Testament text interpreting the Old. But the difference is not clear as he moves through Matthew and John.

For example, Barrett collects Matthew’s fulfillment statements in order to demonstrate the high view of Scripture Jesus and the evangelists had for the Old Testament. But is Matthew’s claim that Joseph moving to Nazareth fulfils “what was spoken by the prophets” a typology or an intertextual echo? Some might call this midrash, or canonical exegesis, etc. Other examples are more clearly typological, such as the new Exodus motif in Matthew. There are few direct allusions to a particular passage in the Old Testament as “fulfilled,” but Matthew patterns his presentation of Jesus after Moses and the Exodus. Barrett discusses Jesus’s use of Psalm 8:2 in Matthew 21:16, stating “Jesus relies on the typology of the psalm to justify his actions” (139). But he quotes the words of the psalm, so how is this not closer to intertextuality?  

Perhaps typology is better illustrated in Barrett’s chapter on John’s Gospel. He says, for example, John 9-10 is “filled with Christological metaphors, metaphors that build on the typology of Old Testament Israel” (179) and the metaphor of a shepherd is “rich in Old Testament allusions” (182). This is the case because John’s Gospel rarely cites particular texts, but often alludes to metaphors found in the Old Testament. As is clear in Barrett’s presentation, there are many passages which contain the metaphor “God is the good shepherd.” This can be fairly described as a typology since there is no single text in John’s mind.

Chapter five traces how the synoptic gospels present Jesus as obedient to the Scriptures, with an emphasis on what that says about the Scriptures. Barrett moves through each of the synoptic Gospels, examining the mission of the Son. This will reveal Jesus’s attitude toward Scripture. In the Gospels Jesus is the Adamic Son who fulfills all righteousness and attains the redemption of all people because he is obedient to the Scripture (204). Although he uses Adam-language in the introduction to this chapter, much of the typology is built on Moses or Israel. This is likely not a problem since Moses and Israel are presented as a new Adams even in the Old Testament. Luke’s Gospel seems to have the clearest Adam typology, although it receives the briefest coverage in this chapter.

Barrett returns to the Gospel of John in chapter six to argue Christology comes before canon. Where does Jesus get his authority? In John’s Gospel, his authority is a scriptural authority rooted in biblical Trinitarian Christology (249). Jesus is continuing the story of Israel as the long-awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The New Testament is not an illegitimate add-on to the Old, but the completion of the redemption story (283).

The final chapter of the book is in substance a paper on inerrancy read at the 2017 national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. It should have been included as an appendix rather than a chapter.  

Conclusion. Although I have misgivings about the relationship of typology and intertextuality in this study, Barrett certainly achieves his goal by demonstrating both Jesus and the Gospel writers had a high view of Israel’s Scripture and saw Jesus as the fulfillment of those Scriptures. Within the evangelical world, there is little disagreement on inspiration and authority of both testaments, and interpreting the Old Testament Christologically is not particularly controversial. This book argues for a more thoroughgoing canonical view of Jesus and the Gospels, which will focus on the death and resurrection of the Son of God as the climax of the covenant.

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.

 

Logos Free Book of the Month for January 2021 – J. V. Fesko, Galatians (Lectio Continua Expository Commentary)

Logos Bible Software is offering a nice collection of Reformed resources as part of their Free Book of the Month promotion for January 2021. These books are published by respected Reformed publishers P&R and Reformation Heritage.

You can add the Lectio Continua Expository Commentaries (LCEC) on Galatians by J. V. Fesko for free for the month of January. Fesko is a well-known writer in the Reformed community, current he is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. He has a blog, although it has not been updated since April 2020.

This series is edited by Joel R. Beeke and Jon D. Payne and published by Tolle Lege Press and Reformation Heritage, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The series seeks to recover solid biblical preaching in the church, to Provide a guide for uninterrupted, systematic, expository proclamation of God’s Word and to communicate the context, meaning, gravity, and application of God’s inerrant Word. If you are unfamiliar with the Lectio Continua Commentaries, here is a video trailer for series.

In addition to this free resource, there are an additional eight books on deep discount through the end of January:

  • Herman Ridderbos, Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures (P&R, 1998), 99 cents. Ridderbos stresses that the foundation for the canon lies in the history of redemption itself, wherein Christ gave distinctive authority to his apostles. 
  • J. V. Fesko, Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1–8 (Reformation Heritage, 2014), $1.99. This commentary hopes “to awaken the Church to the majesty, beauty, and splendor of Psalms through a devotional exploration of Psalms 1–8, a “grand Christ hymn,” in which David, as the suffering king, prefigures the King of kings, Jesus Christ.
  • Ian Duguid, Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (Gospel according to the Old Testament series; P&R 2014), $2.99. Duguid pulls the reader into the dramatic unfolding of the story of Abraham as a significant stage in the larger story of salvation.
  • Matthew Barrett, Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration (P&R, 2013), $3.99. “Barrett also provides a helpful evaluation of both the Arminian position and contemporary attempts to chart a middle course between Calvinistic and Arminian systems.”
  • The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1: God, Man, and Christ, $5.99. First published in 1700, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (De Redelijke Godsdienst) ran through 20 Dutch editions in the eighteenth century alone.
  • The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1, (Reformation Heritage, 2014), $7.99. This is the first of a projected 10-volume set edited by J. Stephen Yuille. This volume contains three treatise: A Digest or Harmony of the Books of the Old and New Testament; The Combat between Christ and the Devil Displayed. Expounding Matthew 4:1–11; A Godly and Learned Exposition upon Christ’s Sermon in the Mount.
  • Richard Phillips, John, 2 vols. (Reformed Expository Commentary, P&R 2014), $9.99. J. I. Packer described this series as “well researched and well reasoned, practical and pastoral, shrewd, solid, and searching.”

If you were looking to load up on Reformed Resources, now is the time to head over to the Logos Free Book of the Month page. These free and nearly free books are only available through January 2021.

 

 

 

 

Biblical Studies Carnival 178 for December 2020

Peter Goeman rang in the New Year with the Biblical Studies Carnival 178, collecting the best posts from the the best biblical and theological blogs in December 2020. He opens with a list of Top Ten lists for 2020, a staple of the media in the last week of the year. As Peter observed, some of the regular blogs were quiet in December. Brent Niedergall issued a challenge to BiblioBloggers for 2021: Get writing! Collaboration is a good thing and blogging is a chance to interact with others while you hone your research and writing skills. To help you out, Brent made six suggested blogging goals for 2021.

Jim West loves end of year Top Ten lists. Speaking of Jim, he will be hosting the Biblical Studies Carnival #179 for January 2021 (posting on February 1). Jim is occasionally active on Twitter, so you can send him suggestions as the month rolls on at @EmilBrunner1 and he might consider them for the carnival.

I think I missed posting the November 2020 carnival from Bobby Howell at The Library Musings. Apologies to Bobby. Not sure what happened there, I blame tryptophan from excessive turkey consumption on Thanksgiving.

I had a good response to my please for volunteers for 2021, we are covered through June. But there is still plenty of time for you to get your name on the list for hosting a biblical studies carnival in 2021. Here is what I have lined up for 2021:

180 February 2021 (Due March 1) Bob MacDonald at Dust  @drmacdonald
181 March 2021 (Due April 1) – Amateur Exegete,  @amateurexegete
182 April 2021 (Due May 1) –  Ruben Rus, Ayuda Ministerial/Resources for Ministry, @rubenderus
183 May 2021 (Due June 1) – Bobby Howell, The Library Musings  @SirRobertHowell
184 June 2021 (Due July 1) –   Brent Niedergall,  @BrentNiedergall

You can contact me via email, plong42@gmail.com or DM on twitter (plong42) to discuss hosting a carnival in 2021. I would love to see some veteran bloggers step up and cover a month in 2021. If you are a new BiblioBlogger, this is a good way to get your blog’s name “out there.”

Check out the Biblical Studies Carnival Master List at the top of this page to visit past carnivals (or mourn over dead blogs).

Book Review: Scot McKnight and B. J. Oropeza, eds. Perspectives on Paul: Five Views

McKnight, Scot and B. J. Oropeza, eds. Perspectives on Paul: Five Views. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2020. 285 pp. pb. $29.99.   Link to Baker Academic

Some might question whether there is a need for yet another “five views” on Paul. This book is similar to Four Views on Paul edited by Michael Bird, Zondervan 2012), which also included a Reformed (Thomas Schreiner), a Catholic Perspective (Luke Timothy Johnson) a Post-New Perspective (Douglas Campbell) and a “Paul within Judaism” chapter (Mark Nanos). Focusing just on justification, Beilby and Eddy edited a five views book featuring a Roman Catholic view (Collins and Rafferty), two reformed views (traditional by Michael Horton and progressive reformed by Michael Bird), a New Perspective view by James Dunn and a “deification view” from Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (IVP Academic 2011). There are others, including the recent Voices and Views on Paul, edited by Ben Witherington III and Jason A. Myers (IVP Academic 2020).

Perspectives on PaulAs with most “five perspectives” books, Perspectives on Paul is set up like a conference seminar. Each essay is followed by a response from each of the other perspectives. In this book, the original presenter is given a few pages to reply to these responses. The book begins with an overview of the last forty years of Pauline scholarship. All recent books on Paul use E. P. Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism as a convenient watershed since it launched the New Perspective on Paul. For the last several decades, Pauline scholarship has been dominated by those who react against some theological implications or those who seek to push beyond Sanders’s view of Paul and his relationship with Second Temple Judaism.

The introduction to Perspectives on Paul therefore begins with an overview of Sanders’s main arguments followed by a summary of two major proponents of what has become known as the New Perspective on Paul, James Dunn and N. T. Wright. There are six benefits related to studying Paul through the lens of the New Perspective (11): First, the New Perspective provides a better understanding of Paul’s letters. Second, it avoids individualistic readings and western perceptions of Paul’s letters. Third, the New Perspective reduces anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism by studying the literature of Second Temple Judaism closely in order to avoid mischaracterizations of what Jews believed in the first century. Fourth, the New Perspective provides for more continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament than typical of older studies, which saw a decisive break between Paul and Judaism. Fifth, this continuity between the Testaments allows for more continuity between Jesus and Paul. Sixth, the New Perspective also opens up the possibility of continuity between Roman Catholics and Protestants over the doctrine of justification.

This last benefit is often perceived as the greatest flaw for the New Perspective by some Protestants. James Dunn and N. T. Wright are overthrowing the assured results of the Reformation. This perceived attack on the Reformation sometimes results in fiery rhetoric that lacks engagement with the Pauline letters. In November 2010, I attended the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting, which focused on Wright’s view of justification. (Here are my comments on the three plenary addresses by Thomas Schreiner, Frank Theilman and N. T. Wright). One of the parallel sessions claimed to be an answer to the New Perspective, yet the paper did not engage with the New Perspective directly and concluded what was wrong with the New Perspective is it challenges Reformation theology. In fact, the paper concluded with a lengthy citation of the Westminster Confession (as a mic-drop).

The second part of the introduction therefore surveys the reactions both for and against the New Perspective. The editors provide copious footnotes to the avalanche of anti-New Perspective literature. Among the post-New Perspective studies briefly surveyed in this section is the Paul within Judaism” view represented by Magnus Zetterholm in chapter 4, Francis Watson’s Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles (Cambridge, 1986) and revised by adding the subtitle Beyond the New Perspective (Eerdmans 2011), Douglas Campbell’s The Deliverance of God (Eerdmans 2009) as a representative of the apocalyptic view on Paul, and John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans, 2017), also featured chapter five of this volume.

Brant Pitre outlines the Roman Catholic Perspective on Paul. Pitre shows that Sanders’s interpretation of Paul is very close to Catholic soteriology and Sander’s exegesis of Paul unintentionally arrived at the same conclusions as patristic, medieval Catholic interpreters and the Council of Trent (27). He therefore examined several issues in Sanders, in patristic writers, and Trent. In fact, he points out that the Council of Trent’s decree and justification “Paul over fifty times and the Bible over one hundred times. He does not therefore understand statements from N. T. Wright like “the Council of Trent responded by insisting on tradition” (54). Pitre does not see a contradiction between Paul’s doctrine of “initial justification by grace through faith and final justification according to works enough by faith alone” (52)  In Zetterholm’s response, he observes that it is “quite ironic; Paul, the great hero of Protestantism, turns out to have been the first real Catholic (68).

A. Andrew Das gives the Traditional Protestant Perspective on Paul, although Das prefers to call his view a “newer perspective” (85). Das recognizes agrees with Sanders that not all Second Temple Jews affirmed a legalistic approach to salvation. But unlike Sanders, he thinks some Jews were legalistic and Paul responds to that claim. He therefore spends much of this chapter examining Galatians 3 and Romans 4 in order to argue Abraham was a model of obedience for Second Temple period Judaism. Paul demands perfect obedience to the law, but this is “not necessarily a commentary on Second Temple Judaism, but a consequence of his Christological emphases” (94). For Das, following the law is a mere human endeavor which stands in contrast to the gift of justification.

James D. G. Dunn is the obvious choice to present the New Perspective on Paul. Many of Dunn’s ideas are so well known by this point he can summarize briefly his views on Galatians 2:16 and the Antioch Incident. However, he makes the bold suggestion that Luke complicated the history of early Christianity by qualifying Paul’s claim to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Luke shifts the initial preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles to Peter (Acts 10) and omits the details of the Antioch Incident. By glossing over the sharp conflict described in Galatians 2, “Luke the apologist has taken over from Luke the historian” (142). Paul’s gospel of salvation through faith alone “was lost to sight in Luke’s history and in subsequent history that he had in effect encouraged” (145). This view of whether Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith alone was lost is controversial. Pitre claims justification by faith is in the patristic writers (151). Das focuses a broad range of Jewish and Gentile interaction around meals, which “would be perceived by some Jews as a reeking of idolatry if not also law violations” (158). Barclay does not address Luke’s reception of Paul since it is not central to the New Perspective, suggesting that Dunn’s comments on Acts “reflect a strong, subterranean influence of F. C. Bauer” (164). Dunn confesses he has over-written in the topic and should have held the discussion of Luke’s reception of Paul for another time (168).

Magnus Zetterholm lays out the “Paul within Judaism Perspective.” For Zetterholm, the Pauline scholars must determine “what Paul is communicating in the socio-religious-political situation in which he lived, no matter the consequences for normative theology” (66, emphasis his). Torah observance was only a problem for Paul regarding Gentiles. Although he expects non-Jews in Christ to conform to certain moral standards (such as refraining from idolatry), he never expected the Gentiles to keep Torah. Jews who are in Christ should continue to keep the law. Zetterholm observes that Paul is called to be the apostle to the nations, The theological problem Paul faced was not related to how Israel is going to be saved. Of course, Paul touches on Israel’s salvation, but he has far more to say about how the pagans are going to be saved. For Paul, Israel’s salvation was never in doubt (189). Gentiles will be included in the final salvation without giving up their ethnic identity: they do not convert and “become Jews” (whatever that might mean in the context of Second Temple Judaism).   

The “Gift Perspective on Paul” appears in a book on Pauline viewpoints. John M. G. Barclay briefly summarizes his Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans, 2015) and explains how his view extends the insights of the New Perspective. Although it might seem strange to include a recent book on Paul as “perspective,” Brant Pitre suggests Barclay’s book will prove as consequential as Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism (237). As Barclay states, the “Gift Perspective on Paul” perspective is not as much a well-defined school of interpretation, but rather a loose constellation of viewpoints centering on the definition of grace as an incongruous gift illustrated by the wide diversity of use within second temple Judaism. Paul stands within the spectrum and applies the idea of grace to his Gentile mission. It is not whether there would be a mission to the Gentiles, but how the Gentiles would be included. Of importance is for Barclay is Romans 9–11, which “displays a complex dialectic between the Christ event and the scriptural story of Israel” (231).

Conclusion. To a certain extent, the title of this book is misleading. The five perspectives are all more or less in conversation with E. P. Sanders. As the editors make clear in the introduction, even the traditional view has taken new a new shape because of Sanders. Das says he is in “largely in agreement with Sanders” and Barclay’s recent nuanced view of grace (84) despite representing the Traditional Protestant view. Are there other more aggressively traditional Pauline scholars who might have provided more contrast with Sanders? Thomas Schreiner comes to mind, although he contributed to the Four Views on Paul (Zondervan 2012).

One important view missing in this book is the Apocalyptic Paul. Of course editorial choices must be made and keeping these multi-perspective books to four or five is likely the preference of the publishers. In my review of Voices and Views on Paul, I complained there was too much New Perspective and the Paul within Judaism view was missing. Perhaps this book could have been improved by expanding the introduction to include Dunn’s views, allowing for a chapter on Apocalyptic perspective. However, this would deprive the reader from enjoying one of the last essays Dunn wrote. In fact, the book is worth reading, if only for Dunn’s contributions.

Book Review: Richard P. Belcher, Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature

Belcher Jr., Richard P. Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature. NSBT 46; Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2018. 310 pp. Pb; $28.00.   Link to IVP Academic 

Richard Belcher’s contribution to New Studies in Biblical Theology focuses on Wisdom Literature. In the introductory chapter, Belcher observes wisdom literature is like an orphan in Old Testament theology. This is perhaps even more true for biblical theology which interested in the entire canon of Scripture. Part of the problem is the scholarly consensus which dates most of this literature in the post-exilic period. For Belcher, the historical Solomon functions of the second Adam, therefore much of this Solomonic wisdom literature looks back to the early chapters of Genesis (12).

Belcher, Finding Favour in the Sight of the LordThe next three chapters treat the Book of Proverbs. First, he focuses on the message of Proverbs 1-9. After the preamble (Prov 1:1-7), these chapters offer a choice between two ways, wisdom and folly. These chapters alternate between lectures from the teacher or father and the words of Lady Wisdom. In fact, it is this personification of wisdom that is the dominant feature in the first nine chapters of Proverbs. Lady Wisdom is calling God’s people to follow his way, and that way begins with the fear of the Lord (37). Belcher briefly comments on the Christ implications of Lady wisdom. Both wisdom and Christ are like “street preachers” proclaiming their messages in public venues and calling people to follow them. “Both wisdom and Christ are like banquet hostesses sending forth messengers, inviting people to a banquet of substantial food, experiencing opposition from sinners and promising life to those who come to the banquet” (38).

Second, he deals with the hermeneutics of Proverbs. The genre of a proverb and the lack of literary context creates hermeneutical problems for most interpreters. In fact, many Proverbs could be seen as secular statements. Like most introductions to Proverbs, Belcher briefly discuss is whether Proverbs are absolute statements. Most Proverbs can be fairly described as “dependently true.” One can always add “in general” or “in most cases” to the end of a proverb. There are always exceptions. Belcher argues the proverbs that are dependently true now will be universally true in the new heavens and earth (50). What I do not see in this chapter is the effect of sin on the ideal wise life. The reason some proverbs seem “dependently true” results from sin corrupting the created order. This would give Belcher an opportunity to develop a canonical theology of wisdom which considers the corruption of the created order (looking back to Genesis 3) and forward to the restoration of creation in the new creation.

Third, Belcher describes the theology of the Proverbs. Most introductions to wisdom literature, this theology focuses on the sovereignty of God in the goodness of the created order. One lives their life taking into consideration the goodness of the created order, when will have success in life. However, Belcher does not think that life in the book of Proverbs should be limited to this world, as if secular success was the point of the book. The fullness of life associated with the Lord looks forward to a time when the wicked or overthrown and the righteous find refuge (73).

Belcher covers the complex book of Job in three chapters. First, deals with the theological issues in the prologue to the book (Job 1-3). It is Satan that raises the question of the relationship between piety and prosperity, and Job’s wife asks the critical question, “why does Job hold fast to his integrity?” Belcher considers Job a wisdom debate about how to respond to suffering. This may be the case, but I would suggest that job also deals with the failure of wisdom. He has lived out the proverbial wise life, yet he suffered anyway.

The second and third chapter in this section continue a running commentary on Job. After surveying each of the three friend’s speeches, Belcher summarizes their theology as a “mechanical view of divine retribution that leads to a narrow view of God and his justice” (97).  Job 27-42 asks and answers the question “where is wisdom to be found?” in Job’s final words, Elihu’s speeches, and God’s speeches. Since readers of Job are always interested in the two creatures in chapter 40-41, Belcher concludes Behemoth is an animal of the natural world and Leviathan is a supernatural creature (124).

Although he thinks that suffering is integral to the book, he observes that Job never finds out why he suffered. Belcher thinks the book teaches an appropriate response to suffering, either positively through Job, or negatively through the three friends. Part of the teaching of the book, he suggests, is how to counsel someone who is suffering. Although these are fair applications of the book of Job, I question whether suffering is the major theme of the book. Perhaps it is Belcher’s second theological thread in the book of Job, the sovereignty of God and divine retribution.

The final unit of the book is three chapters on the book of Ecclesiastes. Belcher deals with more introductory questions than for Proverbs of Job, partly because there are several difficult problems the interpreter must address before reading the book. Belcher suggests that Ecclesiastes is part of the wisdom tradition, but the writer wrestles with how normative wisdom teaching matches with what he observes in life (145). Ecclesiastes deals with the “breakdown of the deed-consequence relationship” (144). People can live the life of wisdom, yet their life is still futile, “chasing after the wind.” Although Belcher does not make this connection explicitly in the book, this is the same problem Job addresses.

The second chapter of the unit is a brief running commentary on Ecclesiastes and in the third chapter Belcher summarizes the theology of Ecclesiastes. The book presents God’s works is incomprehensible to the human being. The writer presents God as a judge throughout the book, although Ecclesiastes does not suggest a future judgment as a solution to the meaninglessness of life.

The final chapter of the book develops the canonical connections between wisdom literature and Jesus. First, the teaching of Jesus shares some characteristics of the wisdom teacher, including the use of proverbs and beatitudes. There are several themes which appear in both Proverbs and Jesus’s teaching. Belcher has a chart comparing Proverbs to the Sermon on the Mount, for example (195). Much of the comparisons phone into the category of “two ways theology” which was very much a part of Second Temple Judaism, although it goes beyond the scope of this book to explore non-biblical wisdom literature such as Sirach. Second, Belcher explores the humanity and deity of Christ as presented in John 1:1-18 and Colossians 1:15-20 as allusions to the personification of wisdom on Proverbs 8. Third, Belcher briefly discusses Paul’s use of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:24-30. There Paul contrasts the wisdom of the world and the work of Christ.

Conclusion. Richard Belcher’s Finding Favour in the Sight of the Lord is an excellent introduction to the contents and theology of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. He clearly presents the contents and the theology of these three books in a way which will stimulate academic readers but also appeals to the non-academic reader.

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.

Book Review: Brant Pitre, Michael Barber, and John Kincaid. Paul, A New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology

Pitre, Brant, Michael P. Barber, John A. Kincaid. Paul, a New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2019. 310 pp. Pb; $35.00.   Link to Eerdmans 

In the introduction to this volume on Pauline theology, the authors state their modest goal of contributing to a few of the major debates within scholarship, limiting themselves to recent exegesis of Paul’s undisputed letters (6). This requires unpacking Pauline theology in the light of the original context.

Pitre, New Covenant JewThe first two chapters of the book examine Paul’s relationship with Judaism. Would Paul have identified himself as a “former Jew?” For most twentieth century Pauline scholarship, the answer is “yes.” Paul was a former Jew in the sense that he underwent some sort of conversion experience and became, in the view of Rudolf Bultmann, a representative of “Torah Free Gentile Christianity.” Although the authors of this volume do not use the term, this view is the Old Perspective on Paul challenged by E. P Sanders.

Others consider Paul to represent an Eschatological Jew. This view would answer the question, “Would Paul have identified himself as a former Jew?” with a “sort of.” The authors follow Dunn in this section, although they do not refer to this as the “New Perspective on Paul.” Rather than focus on how Paul’s theology cuts across the grain of the Judaism of his day, this position would argue Paul in some ways stays within Judaism. James Dunn argued Paul experienced a conversion, but it was “a conversion to a better, a more correct understanding of [God’s] will and purpose for Israel” (23, citing Dunn’s Jesus Paul and the Gospels, 141). Three things stand out in this perspective. First, the “already” of the new creation began with Jesus. For Paul, becoming a Christian means becoming a new creation. Second, this new creation is to be “in Christ” rather than “under the Law.” This participation in Christ is central to Paul’s theology. Third, the “not yet” of new creation implies an end-time conversion of the remnant (Romans 11:26).

A third view is Paul as a Torah-observant Jew. This is often called the “Paul within Judaism” and is represented by the work of Mark Nanos, Paula Fredriksen, Magnus Zetterholm, and Pamela Eisenbaum This view of Paul would answer the question, “Would Paul have identified himself as a former Jew?” with a resounding “no.” Paul did not convert to Christianity and he never uses the term “Christian” to refer to himself or any other believer in Jesus. Paul continued to observe the Torah and would have told a Jewish convert to continue observing the law. Paul did not require Gentiles to keep the law on order to be right with God. Since the authentic letters of Paul were written exclusively to gentile audiences, modern scholars on;y hear Pau’s argument against Gentiles keeping the law. Regarding Romans 11:26, opponents of this view argue Paul does not say “all Israel will convert to Christianity” but “all Israel will confess Jesus as Messiah.”

On contrast to these three views, Pitre, Barber and Kincaid describe Paul as a “New Covenant Jew” because that is the terminology he uses to describe himself (39). They build on the work of Protestant scholars like Michael Gorman, Richard Hays, N. T. Wright, Michael Bird and Catholic scholars like Joseph Fitzmyer, Frank Matera and Scott Hahn. Since this description is “drawn from the Jewish scriptures (Jer 31:31-34), it has within itself the power to account for elements of both continuity (“covenant”) in discontinuity (“new”) with Judaism on Paul’s theology” (39). Paul understands himself as a minister of this new covenant and that there is always a balance of divine and human actions n Paul’s theology. To argue “the law is not sufficient to save is hardly anti-Jewish” (45). In fact, for Paul, “the new covenant involves emotive faithful obedience that transcends that which was possible under the Torah” (63).

Another aspect of the question “What kind of Jew was Paul?” is the recent trend in Pauline scholarship to describe his theology as apocalyptic. By apocalyptic, some scholars mean radical discontinuity between the ages is often described as a “eschatological invasion” (J. Louis Martyn, Douglas Campbell, for example). Other scholars use the term “apocalyptic” to emphasize continuity between Paul’s teaching and its early Jewish context (N. T. Wright, Michael Gorman, for example). The authors attempt a “both-and” approach which argues Paul’s theology is deeply rooted in early Jewish apocalypses (continuity), but he radically transformed that Jewish theology around the revelation of what God has done in Christ (discontinuity). Jewish eschatology can be described as “two worlds theology,” this age and the age to come. In Paul, these worlds overlap. This world is giving way to the world to come; the old creation is becoming a new creation. The overlap of the ages Paul describes as “in Christ” (73). This is clear in Paul’s contrast between a heavenly citizenship in an earthly citizenship. Yet for Paul, Christians two realms, they are still on earth, yet they are also in the heavens (88). Paul makes claims that are indeed radically discontinuous with the Judaism of his day. But he describes the revelation of Jesus Christ in this new age in ways that are consistent with the Second Temple Judaism.

The next three chapters apply this view of Paul as a New Covenant Jew to three theological issues: Christology, the Cross and the Atonement, and New Covenant justification through divine sonship.  In each Paul’s theology is in some ways consistent with Second Temple Judaism, yet in other important ways it breaks new ground. With respect to Christology, the authors observe that Paul is deeply rooted in first century Judaism. Yet at the same time he goes well beyond early Jewish sources in his messianic claims (96). There is no doubt that Paul understood Jesus as the Messiah. Yet he also clearly teaches that Jesus has equality with God Philippians 2. In 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, Paul inserts Jesus into the Shema, “there is one God and one Lord” (116). Paul describes “Christ’s relationship with believers in terms that Jewish readers would have associated exclusively with the one God of the Shema (Deut 6:4-6)” (123).  

Regarding the cross and the atonement, the both-and approach emphasizes Jesus’s death is a sacrifice of atonement or redemption (continuity), yet Paul insists salvation occurs through a divine gift of love (discontinuity, 130). Atonement, ransom, and redemption are the vocabulary of Second Temple Judaism, yet Jesus’s death is not only a sacrifice. Certainly, Paul presents Jesus’s death is a covenant sacrifice, but he emphasizes that Jesus gave himself for us he underscores the gracious nature of Christ’s work on the cross. This chapter is deeply influenced by John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans, 2015).

This discussion of the atonement leads naturally to Paul’s view of justification. Pitre, Barber and Kincaid observe much of the contemporary debate and Reformation theological disputes neglect the way justification terminology would have been understood in ancient Judaism. They therefore discuss whether Paul’s doctrine of justification brings about a “change in character” or a “change in legal status” (163). Once again, Barclay’s Paul and the Gift influences the discussion. The authors agree with him that “Paul avoids viewing the divine and human actors as somehow in competition with one another” (169). In the old covenant the problem was always the heart of God’s people. The people could not keep the Torah because the Torah could not change the people. The authors conclude “saving righteousness of God in justification is a singular righteousness that concerns both legal standing and the quality of the believer” (179).

Early in the book, the authors observe Paul’s new covenant ministry among the Corinthian’s involved the liturgical celebration of the new covenant in the Last Supper (47). This is developed in more detail in chapter 6, “The Lord’s Supper in the New Creation.” The authors continue to work their both-and method. The Lord’s Supper celebrates the sacrificial death of Christ. As such, there are numerous allusions to Jewish sacrificial tradition in the key passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, especially when read alongside Exodus 24:6-8. Since Paul connects Christ’s death as a covenant sacrifice to the Passover lamb, he emphasizes that Christ’s sacrifice would involve a cultic meal (239). This is the continuity with the old age; the discontinuity is Paul’s insistence that the bread in the cup or a foretaste of the new creation found in the life-giving Spirit (243). By participating in the Lord Supper, “the gathered community becomes what is consumed, the body of Christ” (250).  

Conclusion. Pitre, Barber and Kincaid suggest a slightly new way for reading Paul as a “New Covenant Jew” that take seriously recent studies in both the Apocalyptic Paul and the “Paul within Judaism” view. A “both-and method” stresses Paul’s continuity with his Jewish world, as well as his view of the radical changes to that world caused by the apocalyptic appearance of Jesus “between the ages.” As with most both-and positions, both Apocalyptic Paul scholars and Paul within Judaism” scholars will probably find the New Covenant Paul as familiar, yet not quite satisfying. Nevertheless, this is a stimulating account of Paul’s thought which gives voice to Paul’s roots in the Jewish world without ignoring the radical nature of his thought.

 

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

Book Review: David Burr, The Book of Revelation (The Bible in Medieval Tradition)

Burr, David D. The Book of Revelation. The Bible in Medieval Tradition. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2019. 424 pp. Pb; $65.00.   Link to Eerdmans 

This fifth volume of The Bible in Medieval Tradition series, following volumes on Genesis, Jeremiah, Romans and Galatians. The intent of the series is to “reacquaint the Church with its rich history of biblical interpretation and with the contemporary applicability of this history, especially for academic study, spiritual formation, preaching, discussion groups, and individual reflection.”  Since much of medieval exegesis has yet to be translated these volumes provide a wealth of primary sources previously unavailable to most English readers. David Burr published a monograph on Olivi’s Peaceable Kingdom: A Reading of the Apocalypse Commentary (Penn Press, 1993) and The Spiritual Franciscans: From Protest to Persecution in the Century After Saint Francis (Penn State University Press, 2003) as well as a number of articles on Peter Olivi.

Burr, Revelation medieval commenatryIn the introduction to the book, Burr observes that Petrus Iohannis Olivi wrote his commentary on Revelation with three books open on his desk: the Bible and the commentaries by Richard of Saint Victor and Joachim of Fiore. In fact, this book is a tribute to the long shadow cast by Joachim of Fiore. As Burr states in his Prolegomenon, his self-assigned task was to describe what happened from Richard and Joachim (twelfth century) to Nicholas of Lyra (fourteenth century). Because of an interest in the early church and the Reformation, the medieval period is usually ignored, perhaps considered less interesting than the other periods.

In order to set the stage for his survey of medieval commentaries on Revelation, his Prolegomenon offers a twenty-six-page overview of the contents and theology of Revelation itself followed by a rapid survey of the discussion of the book from the first to the twelfth centuries (following a 1976 article by Robert Lerner). A final section of the Prolegomenon is a short account of the development of the “legend of the antichrist” from 1 John 2:17 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10.

Unlike other ancient commentary series, this book is not a running commentary on Revelation from various sources. Instead, Burr offers ten examples of medieval commentators, offering some background for each and an introduction to their thought. Each chapter begins with a brief biographical sketch and introduction to their contribution to biblical studies. Burr then provides lengthy extracts from the author’s major works on Revelation with some comment. Most chapters include a final section of “Readings,” uninterrupted extracts from the subject of the chapter.

The first chapter discusses Richard of Saint Victor. Burr describes Richard as a new era of biblical scholarship an attempt at an alliance between biblical scholarship and mystical theology.  Three chapters are dedicated to Joachim of Fiore (ch. 2) and his influence on what Burr calls the pseudo-Joachim writers (ch. 3) and Alexander Minorita (ch. 4). Joachim blends Daniel and Revelation into a complex tapestry of historical allusions. Joachim’s God “presides over the vast panorama of historical development, shaping it to his favored ends” (89). Like Joachim, Alexander Minorita “poured into his commentary all the historical the sources at his disposal” (180) and he is often aware of imperial current imperial history (159). For example, he starts his prophetic clock with Pope Sylvester (d. 335) and the opening of the seventh seal is the death of Constantine. Various angels are identified as historical figures leading up to the divine wrath in Revelation 16 (which was still ongoing when Alexander wrote). Like Joachim, he labels Saladin as a beast (159). But this historical reading is often with “Franciscan self-advertisement” (168). The olive tree and lampstand in Revelation 11:4 are “Dominic with innocence and Francis with conversion” (159). His comments on Revelation 22:11 “begins what might just leave be described as a stunning example of smug mendicant self-importance” (163).

The fifth chapter treats the Paris Mendicant Model. Two things are important here. First, the book of Revelation presented seven visions, and second, it portrayed a seven-fold Christian history. This tradition dates as far back as Augustine and Jerome, is a main feature of Joachim ‘s commentary on the Apocalypse and reappears in a group of five Dominican and Franciscan commentaries treated in this chapter. 

Chapter 6 is focused on Bonaventure’s Collationes in hexaemeron, hey speech delivered to the Franciscans at Paris in 1273. Although this is not a commentary on Revelation, it does reflect his reading of Revelation that is an “important contribution to thirteenth-century exegesis of the apocalypse” (231). In this work, Bonaventure pushes the exegesis of Revelation into a whole new phase, not refuting Joachim, but rather by providing a genuine appreciation of him (236). Burr interacts with Joseph Ratzinger’s The Theology of St. Bonaventure (Franciscan Herald Press, 1971). A major interest is whether Bonaventure actually identifies Saint Francis as the sixth angel in Revelation 3:7-13 and the Franciscans as the new contemplative order in the future seventh age. For Bonaventure, the sixth age began around the time of Charlemagne. The Franciscans were, in his day, “recipients of a great call but also notorious back sliders” (249). Following Ratzinger, Francis “anticipated the eschatological form of life which will be the general form of life in the future” (250). 

Seven Headed Dragon Joachim of Fiore

Seven Headed Dragon from Joachim of Fiore, Commentary on Revelation

Chapter 7 discuss the early writings of Petrus Iohannis Olivi and Chapter 8 focuses on his Commentary on Revelation. In the introduction to the book, Burr admits that two chapters on Olivi may be excessive, but he wants to show that Olivi drew on the Gospels for many of his views on the Apocalypse. For example, it his commentary on Matthew Olivi understands the “anti-Christ” in at least three senses: First, all those who impugn Christ, his person, his teaching, and the elect; second, the “mystical antichrist” who works within the faith to subvert Christ life in spirit; and third, the “great Antichrist” who works outside the faith to attack Christianity itself (273). These early commentaries demonstrate Olivi believes prophecy deals with Christ three advance, in the flesh, the spirit, and in judgment (285). Olivi believed he lived in the transition between the fifth and sixth ages. Joachim the sign of the new age and Francis was the key agent of its inception. I believe that the church was suffering through a period of blindness “which will carry it into the temptation of the antichrist in the coming sixth age” (315). He fears that the pope will turn against the Franciscans and will attack faithful observers of evangelical poverty. 

Both Petrus Aurioli (ch. 9) and Nicholas of Lyra (ch. 10) represent the Franciscan order moving away from Olivi’s Apocalypse. Like Alexander Minorita, Aurioli read Revelation as a narrative of Christian history (359). But his commentary is not an “ode to the Franciscans or even the mendicants as it is a triumphalist tribute to the institutional church” (361). Nicholas of Lyra is the first to read Revelation as a story of what will occur in the present and in the future (369). Nicolas used a “double literal sense” of prophecy allowing for one meaning in the prophet’s own time in another meaning for the future. Both can be considered literal.

Conclusion. Although there are few today who would advocate to a return to medieval exegesis of the Apocalypse, there is much in this volume of interest to contemporary readers of the book of Revelation. Each of the voices surveyed in this book read Revelation as applicable to their own day, even if that means interpreting the symbolism of the book as recent historical events and discovering hints of their own theological preferences. Many assumptions about Revelation in both scholarly and popular commentaries have roots in these medieval commentaries.

Although it would have added considerably to the cost of this book, the book needs a section of illustrations, especially for Joachim’s commentaries. Most of this is available online, it would benefit the reader to search for images associated with Joachim, Alexander Minorita, and Nicholas of Lyra.

 

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

Logos Christmas Sale 2020

Logos Christmas Sale 2020

Logos has a nice collection of resources on sale through the end of the month. It does not look like they are doing an “advent calendar” this year where you have to check in every day. But there may be a few surprises, who knows? It’s Christmas!

As expected, a few of these are inexpensive “stocking stuffers” like Morna Hooker’s excellent The Gospel According to Saint Mark in the Black’s series (Free!) or Logos 8 Gospel Studies Library Expansion (72% off). I see a couple of New Studies in Biblical Theology for only a few dollars each. Poke around and see what you can find and stuff that stocking properly.

There are some really deep discounts on larger collections, if you have been waiting for a big sale at the end of the year, this is it:

  • Bible for Everyone Commentary Collection (35 vols.) 62% off, $119.99 sale price
  • Challies Recommends: Best Old Testament Commentaries (55 vols.) 50% off, $442.99 sale price
  • Romans-Philemon, 21 vols. (New Testament Technical Commentary Collection) 65% off, $232.99 sale price
  • New Studies in Biblical Theology Series Collection | NSBT (50 vols.) 52% off, $299.99 sale price
  • NIV Application Commentary: New Testament | NIVAC (20 vols) 55% off, $199.99 sale price
  • New International Commentary: Old Testament | NIC (28 vols.) 51% off, $499.99 sale price
  • Popular Patristics Series  Collection (53 vols) 54% off, $229.99 sale price
  • Ancient Christian Reference Collection (55 vols.) 50% off, $549.99 sale price
  • Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary | SHBC (36 vols.) 55% off, $499.99 sale price
  • Welwyn Commentary Series | WCS (56 vols.) 60% off, $199.99 sale price
  • New Covenant Commentary Series | NCCS (16 vols.) 54% off, $99.99 sale price
  • The Life Application Bible Commentary (17 vols.) 60% off, $49.99 sale price

Maybe it is time to get a base package or upgrade to Logos 9 (check out my review of the new version). All based packages are on sale for 15% off for the month of December. This includes the Starter level up to the the pricier packages like Silver, Gold, Diamond. Follow this link and save some of money and get a few freebies.

Archer Free Stuff Meme

Do not forget about the free book of the month from Crossway, Philip Ryken’s commentary on Exodus, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory. Read my comments on this sale from December 1.  Through the end of December you can also  get Wilfrid J. Harrington’s Reading Mark for the First Time (Paulist , 2014) as well as some discounted Catholic resources.

If you do not have Logos yet, you should at least get the free basic version so you can take advantage of the free book of the month and the other sale resources.

Free Stuff At Christmas Meme