The Logos Free Book of the Month offer for December is How to Read Proverbs by Tremper Longman III (IVP, 2002). Longman is a well-know Old Testament scholar who has contributed a commentary on Proverbs in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series (2012) and Psalms in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (IVP, 2014). For only $1.99 you can add Longman’s companion volume, How to Read Psalms (IVP, 1988). I have used both of these small volumes on the book of Proverbs as a textbook in an undergraduate Wisdom Literature class.
The book is divided into three parts. First, Longman deals with the genre of Proverbs by defining and clarifying what proverbs are and “how they work.” For example, most readers of the book of Proverbs wonder if proverbial sayings are “always true” since we all know someone who “raised up their child in the way they should go” and the child certainly departed from that part.
In the second part of the book, Reading Proverbs in Context, Longman places the book of Proverbs in the context of the Ancient Near East. Most books on Proverbs deal with potential overlaps with international Wisdom (did Solomon use Egyptian Wisdom?) Longman also deals with the conversation between Proverbs and two other Wisdom books which have a slightly different view, Job and Ecclesiastes. This section also deals with theological aspects of this rather secular of biblical books in a brief chapter entitled “Where is God in Proverbs? Christ, the Treasure of God’s Wisdom.”
The third section traces three themes in the book of Proverbs, money, women, and words. These three chapters demonstrate how to create a thematic biblical theology within the book of Proverbs. I used this model for several assignments the last time I taught wisdom literature.
Logos also has a free book available through their Verbum site. For the month of December they are offering The Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent & Christmas is a collection of 19 sermons, originally given in Latin and translated by John Cuthbert Hedley, the bishop of Newport from 1881–1915. For 99 cents you can add The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, or, The Mysteries of Faith by St. Alphonsus Liguori. This book contains over 70 discourses and meditations on celebrating the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
Wright, Christopher J. H. The Message of Lamentations. The Bible Speaks Today; Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2015. 166 pp. Pb; $16.00. Link to IVP
Wright has already written the volumes on Jeremiah and Ezekiel for The Bible Speaks Today series as well as the excellent Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Intervarsity, 2011) and The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Intervarsity, 2006). His brief commentary on Lamentations is a welcome contribution to the study of this obscure book. Often commentaries on Lamentations are something of an appendix to Jeremiah (with the exception of the strange paring of Lamentations and Song of Songs in the Word Biblical Commentary series). Recently, however, several commentaries Lamentations have appeared: Adele Berlin’s commentary in the OTL series (Fortress, 2002), Dobbs-Allsopp in the Interpretation series (WJK, 2002), and Robin Parry’s commentary in the Two Horizons series (Eerdmans, 2010).
Wright’s thirty-five page introduction to the book of argues “Lamentations is a book for today” (21). This is true despite the fact the book is rarely the subject of preaching and few Christians would think to “lament” as part of Christian worship. Yet there is a great deal which is worthy of lament in the modern world, horrors which are in many ways resonant with the context of Lamentations.
Wright begins by setting lamentations in the context of the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., “unquestionably the most traumatic moment in the whole history of the Old Testament” (25). With respect to authorship, there is nothing in the book that could not be written by Jeremiah and the book “sounds like Jeremiah” (27). Yet the author has chosen to remain anonymous, so Wright simply calls him “the poet” throughout the book. Wright offers a short introduction to the poetry of the book, including the acrostic structure and the form of dirge/lament.
Perhaps the most valuable section of the introduction to the book is Wright’s view how a lament functions. In some ways it is a memorial to the horrors of the fall of Jerusalem, but a memorial gives voice to those who have suffered and cannot cry out for themselves. But there is something more in this lament. Jerusalem suffered greatly because of their sin, but was God’s wrath on this people just? Lamentations can be read as a struggle to find the justice of God in the face of extreme suffering. In this sense, it is a protest against what God has done—but it is a protest that ultimately accepts both God’s sovereignty and his righteous wrath (39). Meditating on Psalm 56:8, Wright suggests Lamentations is something of a bottle for the tears of God’s people. The book is a place where outrage and sorrow can be honestly and safely expressed.
The final two sections of the introduction offers a reading of Lamentations as part of the whole canon of Scripture. In order to connect this book to the rest of the canon, Wright briefly explores the silence of God in Lamentations and the rest of Scripture. But how does a book like Lamentations “fit” into the overall drama of Scripture? He suggests reading Lamentations is like “hitting the pause button, freezing the action of the drama, memorializing that moment in the story when it did indeed seem like the drama was coming to an end” (47). He cites numerous verbal connections between Lamentations and Isaiah 40-55 to suggest the Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is at least theologically linked to Lamentations. But this reading does mean we “jump straight to Jesus” and make Lamentations all about the Cross (52). There is a sense in which God’ is silent in both cases, but his silence in the crucifixion anticipates resurrection and salvation.
The commentary itself proceeds by paragraph, commenting on the English text of the book of Lamentations. Since The Bible Speaks Today series is intentionally brief and aimed at the layperson, there is no Hebrew in the text or notes. The style used for the commentary is very readable and at times convicting. While Wright is offering an accurate exposition of the text, he also wants to challenge his readers with the content of this disturbing book. For example, while discussing the horrors of children dying in the streets of Jerusalem (Lam 2:11-19), he refers to a report from the United Nations Relief and Work Agency which detailed the aftermath of the July 2014 shelling of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force. The spokesperson for the Agency wanted to show there is a human being with a heart behind the people killed. Likewise, Lamentations seeks to “humanizes the statistics” of Jerusalem’s disaster by graphically describing the death of children in the street. This juxtaposition of current events and the distant history of Lamentations brings the text alive for the modern reader.
This commentary is very friendly toward the non-professional reader. It is not an exegetical commentary nor does it intend to deal with all of the complex issues the book of Lamentations raises. While Wright occasionally interacts with other significant commentaries, the bulk of this is relegated to the notes so a layperson will have no trouble reading this book. Each chapter ends with a few “reflections” on the text. These are questions to prompt further discussion, perhaps as a part of a small group or Bible study.
NB: Thanks to Intervarsity Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.
Logos Bible Software partners with Kregel this month to offer Thomas Schreiner ‘s 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law(Kregel, 2010) for their “Free Book of the Month” promotion. Schreiner explains the “interplay between Christianity and biblical law.” Schreiner is well-known for his Baker Exegetical commentary on Romans and the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Galatians. He serves as professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2014.
This book is part of Kregel’s “40 Questions” series. Schreiner therefore follows a Q&A format in order to cover a wide variety of questions about the relationship of Christians and the Law, such as What Does the Word Law Mean in the Scriptures? Does the Old Testament Teach That Salvation Is by Works? Does Paul Teach That the Old Testament Law Is Now Abolished? Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians? Should Christians Tithe?
In addition to this free book, Logos is offering Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews(Kregel, 2007), edited by Herbert W. Bateman IV. Bateman begins the book with a lengthy essay introducing the reader to the Warning Passages in order to set up the debate. The four views covered in the book are the “classic Arminian” by Grant Osborne, the “classic Reformed view” by Buist Fanning, the “Wesleyian Arminian view by Gareth Lee Cockerill and the “moderate Reformed view” by Randall Gleason. As is typical of these four-views books, each author responds to each position, and George Guthrie offers a concluding comment. More than most texts in the New Testament, exegesis of these passages in Hebrews is very much influenced by theological perspectives, so this book offers a balanced survey of the options.
Logos’s Free Book of the Month promotion is offering an excellent commentary once again for the month of June. Until the end of this month, Logos users can download Anthony Tomasino’s contribution on Esther in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC). If you are not familiar with the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary is a 44-volume commentary series published by Lexham Press, a division of FaithLife / Logos. The commentary incorporates the latest critical biblical scholarship” and “a distinctly evangelical perspective” and is in many ways similar to the Word Biblical Commentary or Baker Exegetical Commentary. The series was originally planned as a traditional print series but was dropped by the original publisher. Lexham picked it up a few years ago and has been publishing new volumes in the Logos system as they are released. (See this list of volumes, authors and publication dates.)
Anthony J. Tomasino (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the Director of the Biblical Studies Program and associate professor of Bible, Old Testament and Hebrew studies at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana and is well-known for his Judaism before Jesus: The Events and Ideas that Shaped the New Testament World (IVP, 2003). He wrote the Esther commentary in the Zondervan Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament.
In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is also offering Gary Derickson’s 1, 2, & 3 John commentary in the EEC. Derickson has a Ph.D from Dallas Theological Seminary and is currently Professor of Biblical Studies and Greek and Chair of the Bible and Theology department at Corban University.
This is another great giveaway from Logos I can think of no better use of 99 cents than adding these two resources to your Logos library. In addition to the free and nearly free books, you can enter to win the entire Evangelical Exegetical Commentary Series (a $999.95 value). I think this is the most expensive giveaway Logos has had since the started the promotion.
Just when you though the Logos Free Book of the Month promotion could not get any better, they offer Brevard Childs’ commentary on Isaiah in the in OTL series for free through the month of April. This 576 page commentary on on Isaiah was published by Westminster John Knox Press in 2000. Childs is a one of the major voices in the development of what has become known as “canonical criticism” as early has his OTL Commentary on Exodus (1974) and his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Canonical Criticism means the exegete attempts to read the final form of the text of Isaiah a whole in order to develop theological themes, often listening to how those theological themes resonate in later historical Christian and Jewish interpretations. While the commentary is often not as nuanced in lexical or syntactical issues as some reviewers would have liked, Childs is an excellent expositor of the text and has a broad understanding of Jewish and Christian interpretations of Isaiah. Childs has continued to write on Isaiah, his The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture was published by Eerdmans in 2004.
In addition to the Free Book of the Month, Logos is offering Leslie Allen’s 2008 Jeremiah commentary in the OTL series for only 99 cents. Allen contributed the Ezekiel (1990, 1994) and the Psalms 101-150 (2002)in the Word Biblical Commentary and a Minor Prophets commentary ( NICOT series from Eerdmans). This 656-page commentary replaced Robert Carroll’s OTL commentary in the series and was very well-received in the academic community.
This is perhaps the best giveaway from Logos to date and I can think of no better use of 99 cents than adding these two resources to your Logos library.