Book reviews 4/21/14

Time again to review this stack of books I’ve read over the past several months so I can finally clear them off my desk to make room for more. :)

jesus_every_pageJesus on Every Page (David P. Murray)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Given my long-term study here of Jesus in the Old Testament, I couldn’t resist picking up this book when I came across it.  I didn’t really catch much new that I hadn’t already in other studies, but I definitely think it would be a great book for anyone who wants a relatively condensed primer on how to see Jesus Christ throughout the entire Old Testament.  Just for a taste, here are the several categories he goes through in chapters throughout the book, titled “Discovering Jesus in…”

  • … the Creation
  • … the Old Testament Characters
  • … His Old Testament Appearances
  • … the Old Testament Law
  • … Old Testament History
  • … the Old Testament Prophets
  • … the Old Testament Types
  • … the Old Testament Covenants
  • … the Old Testament Proverbs
  • … the Old Testament Poems

Of course, checking that book out might also be a nice way to skip to the punchline in some areas and skip all my deep-dive blog posts.  Your call. :)

delighting_trinityDelighting in the Trinity (Michael Reeves)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Here is another outstanding, relatively short book that is not only a primer on the Trinity, but really covers a great deal of material in an easier to read manner than other books on the nature of the one true God.  Reeves does justice to the study of the nature of God, turning what some see as a dry doctrinal subject into something we can simply dwell on and delight in.  I found some of the best parts to be the many sidetracks where he let us hear statements from several early church fathers as well as later reformers.  Another great, quick read you should check out.

christ_covenantsThe Christ of the Covenants (O. Palmer Robertson)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Robertson does a great job working his way through the various covenants throughout Scripture, explaining the distinctiveness of each while always pointing out the unity and continuity of God’s work throughout history.  He additionally throws in a nice chapter discussing dispensationalism and some of the issues with the theological system.  The reason I end up rating this four stars instead of five is that it felt a bit too meaty for much of the book on the earlier covenants, and then ended way too quickly with little material on the new covenant inaugurated with Jesus Christ.

killing_calvinismKilling Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside (Greg Dutcher)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

At barely over 100 pages, this book is a quick read, but it felt like it glossed too much through the issues with Calvinism as it has resurged with the “young, restless, reformed” in recent past.  Much feels filled with caricatures of Calvinists, but it does have enough good points to make it worth the read.  A couple of the chapters I appreciated most were the ways we potentially kill Calvinism “By Loving God’s Sovereignty More Than God Himself” and “By Learning Only from Other Calvinists.”  Oh, and “By Being an Arrogant Know-It-All” had some good points, but I think hit too much on the caricature picture of Calvinists.  If you wanted to learn about various viewpoints on Calvinism, you would do much better with the next two books in my list.

for_calvinismagainst_calvinismFor Calvinism (Michael S. Horton)

Against Calvinism (Roger E. Olson)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

These two books discuss Calvinism in a thorough, yet nicely condensed manner.  They also do well to note the many differences between the modern caricature representations of both Calvinism and Arminianism vs. more historical and reasonable representations of the two sides of the theological spectrum.  Both authors seem to be gracious to the other sides of the argument, though I have to admit I found it quite tiring that Olson continually described the God of Calvinism a “moral monster.”  While I may not agree with all of Calvinist theology, the frequency of that statement pretty much defeated much of his attempts to carefully steer around the caricatures.  Regardless, if you are curious at all about the debate between the two theological systems, or often find yourself in the middle of the debate, definitely check them both out.

zions_sakeFor Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby (Paul Richard Wilkinson)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I’ve linked to a video of Wilkinson’s in a previous post on “Christian Palestinianism,” which I found to be very well done.  That video led me to check out this book, and due to it’s scholarly format (i.e., in-depth and meaty), it sat around quite a while.  I’m glad I finally braved through it, because it was very meaty on the history of the topic.  I had heard of Darby through previous studies of dispensationalism, but this book had far more on his life and in-depth discussions on other theologians throughout history, including their views of God’s plan for Israel as revealed in Scripture.  I would recommend checking out the video first, and then jump at the book only if that piques your curiosity for more information.

jacob_prodigalJacob and the Prodigal (Kenneth E. Bailey)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

I really enjoyed this book.  Bailey has a unique background in that he has spent much of his life living, teaching and travelling in the Middle East.  In his book, he works through Jesus’ parables in Luke 15, including the parable of the prodigal son.  Now, I thought I had heard it all when it comes to that parable, but Bailey’s perspective was definitely a unique one, especially when viewed alongside his discussion of the other parables in the chapter.  It was a joy to read the cultural background of the area as applied to Jesus’ parables.  This is another relatively short book and is a very easy and worthwhile read.

jesus_mideast_eyespaul_mideast_eyespoet_peasantJesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Paul Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Poet & Peasant, and Through Peasant Eyes (Kenneth E. Bailey)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I’m going to group these three books together as they are very similar.  In these books, Bailey continues to bring his unique perspective to bear on far more Scripture than the parables of Luke 15.  In the “Jesus” book, he covers areas such as Jesus’ birth, the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.  In the “Paul” book, he works his way through the entirety of 1 Corinthians.  In the third “two books in one,” Bailey covers much of the same ground as the prodigal book I reviewed above, though in more depth.  I would recommend you first read the prodigal book, and if you enjoy his style, move on to the Jesus book.  Only if you’re aching for more, or really want a decent 1 Corinthians commentary, go with the Paul book next.  Finally, I would actually skip the 2-in-1 book since it is much older material than his updated and nicely concise prodigal book.

dreams_visionsDreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? (Tom Doyle)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

We received this book from one of the missionary families we support, and I will admit I was a bit skeptical what I would find in here before reading.  Normally, I throw out most dream/vision material as possibly demonic in nature rather than from God, especially when you dig just a little under the surface and find things that conflict with God’s Word.  However, in this book, I was nicely surprised that the author provided a good amount of warning against that very thing when dealing with dream/visions.  Along with that, he documented many of those being seen by Muslims who are turning to Christ throughout the Middle East, making it clear that whether or not these are true ones from Jesus Christ, these people are at least turning dramatically to Him… which is the real importance of the events occurring there with increasing frequency.  I did find it interesting that some of these I had actually heard of before through Joel Rosenberg as well as a video from Iran Alive Ministries.


gleanings_genesisgleanings_exodusGleanings in Genesis, Gleanings in Exodus (Arthur W. Pink)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Given my Jesus in the Old Testament study, Pink’s “Gleanings” resources have been priceless.  He has a great wealth of material within these commentaries focused on seeing Jesus Christ as the central figure of the entirety of Scripture.  While I don’t agree with all of his types of Jesus Christ found throughout Genesis and Exodus, I certainly would not have noticed as many in my personal studies that I do agree with.  I’m mentioning these now since I finally completed them as we’re already starting study of the book of Numbers this next weekend.  Perhaps one of these days I will mention all the other various books, including whole-Bible commentaries such as that of Matthew Henry, that are my go-to resources for Jesus in the Old Testament study since it will be years before I’m able to finish up.  We’ll see.  :)

feasts_lordThe Feasts of the Lord (Kevin Howard)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Speaking of invaluable resources in my studies, Howard’s book was quite helpful in providing material beyond what I had gleaned via my own studies of the feasts laid out in Leviticus 23.  If you’ve never studied the Jewish feasts closely from the perspective of how Jesus Christ fulfills the spring feasts and how He will one day fulfill the fall feasts, you really owe it to yourself to dig further.  This would be a fantastic place to start, especially given it will probably be another year or so before I get to blogging that particular study!  :)

christ_passovermessianic_passoverpassover_haggadahChrist in the Passover (Rose Publishing)

Messianic Passover Haggadah (Barry Rubin)

Katz Passover Haggadah: The Art of Faith and Redemption (Baruch Chait)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

As part of our study through the feasts of Leviticus this winter and spring, our Bible study group decided I should perform a major deep-dive into Passover, especially given the approaching Easter season.  I was truly blessed by the study, and these are again three resources that proved priceless (in fact, the first two were quite cheap price-wise).  The first turned out to be a pamphlet on seeing Jesus Christ in the Passover tradition as well as what is found in actual Scripture.  It is small, but very worthwhile as an inexpensive primer on the subject.  The second was a small booklet, but was a great resource to guide one through a Messianic version of the Passover celebration (“Messianic” meaning taking the Jewish tradition and seeing how Jesus Christ shows up through and through).  The third was a resource to guide one through the modern traditional Jewish celebration, and yet one can still see glimpses of Jesus throughout.  The artwork of the Exodus story throughout was also very neat.  Let me know if you’re ever interested, and I will loan these out any time so you can explore the Passover celebration in-depth yourself… again, without having to wait another year for me to get around to blogging my research notes.  :)

tabernaclerose_guide_tabernacleThe Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah (Levy)

Rose Guide to the Tabernacle (Rose Publishing)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Finally we come to two resources that were greatly helpful in my studies of the Tabernacle during the Exodus study of Jesus in the Old Testament.  These proved valuable in covering all the ways Jesus Christ is the true Tabernacle and how that tent of meeting in the wilderness looked forward to Him.  My friend, Bruce Shauger, provided me with a presentation including much material that was also invaluable as well, though I can’t really send you to a link for his material.  :)

Well, thanks for slogging through another set of book reviews with me.  I hope you find something here you might be interested in.  Most of these I will be keeping around, so let me know if you want to borrow any!  Until next time.

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