“The New Testament in Color: A Multiethnic Bible Commentary” SHIPPING NOW – and a whole bunch of other (mostly new) Biblical studies titles ON SALE at 20% OFF

The New Testament in Color: A Multiethnic Bible Commentary edited by Esau McCaulley, Janette H. Ok, Osvaldo Padilla, and Amy Peeler (IVP Academic) $60.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $48.00

This extraordinary, brand-new resource, The New Testament in Color: A Multiethnic Bible Commentary has released a month early and we have it here, now, cheaper than other well-known internet suppliers and we’d invite you to order it from us now.

We have cared deeply about questions of Biblical hermeneutics — that is, the philosophy of interpretation, which is a wild and fun and frankly pretty practical thing to consider, actually — and have stocked and promoted books by and about people of color since we opened more than 40 years ago, so I guess I’d say this is in our wheelhouse. When we started writing reviews (decades ago) we routinely highlighted both religious and mainstream titles about racial diversity and systemic injustice, which is only to say that we’ve tried to pay attention to some of this kind of stuff for a long time. And The New Testament in Color, I am here to tell you, is unlike anything yet done and is nothing short of magisterial.

One of the chief editors and curators of this big volume is Esau McCaulley, who I hope you know, produced in 2020 the essential volume Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope (IVP; $22.00 / our sale price = $17.60.)

We will list (below) other recently published Biblical resources, but we will start here as this is truly a watershed release. While The New Testament in Color is not exactly pioneering, it is a landmark.

Without getting into the deep weeds of serious evaluation, I’ll say simply that there are (at least) two things that stand out here, making this a truly major contribution. Firstly, it offers a variety of scholars from a variety of ethnicities and social locations from our diverse North American context. I know of no other book of its kind. Secondly, although it is quite adept at engaging with the latest hermeneutical and critical thinking, it is rooted in a beautiful sort of orthodoxy, with high regard for the author of Scripture as God’s Word as conventional understood. Kudos to IVP Academic and their important, long-standing legacy representing evangelical thinking at its best.

To the first matter: there are a few other outstanding, vital texts which offer an exclusively African American approach to New Testament studies and I’ll highlight them below — see, for instance, True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary edited by the great Brian Blount (published by Fortress) and Race and Rhyme: Rereading the New Testament by Love Lazarus Sechrest (published by Eerdmans.) Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretations is a classic, first released in the early 1990s, edited by the legendary Cain Hope Felder also published by Augsburg-Fortress. The New Testament in Color, insofar as it is multi-ethnic, is just a bit different than these, bringing other voices to the room, so to speak.

Secondly, besides this being more multi-ethnic and multicultural than others that are specifically about Black Biblical studies, it can also be said, I think, that while those particular contributions are unique and radical and shaped by the cultural distinctives of the diverse authors, The New Testament in Color is, perhaps singularly, orthodox in its theological trajectory and is not so race-conscious as to overstate the highlighting of or the role of racism and colonization and the like. In other words, socially-aware ethnic angles of vision are offered so that readers of all sorts (including many whites) can hear how people of color may do their interpretation, but it isn’t so exclusively shaped by the narratives of oppression that it misses the core, liberating gospel message of the Scriptures. These are, broadly speaking, evangelical Christian interpretations. It is, as one reviewer put it, “exegetically precise, theologically orthodox, and prophetically challenging.” Exactly.

This big volume is said to offer “fresh questions and perspectives that would be fruitful for biblical interpretation.” That we dare not rely on only older (white) scholars from older eras — some deeply enmeshed in sinful attitudes and racist practices — and that we always need to consider newly revised interpretive lenses is, for me, a given. As such, this is a necessary treasure, a needed gift. As Nijay Gupta puts it, this volume reflects a “beautiful mosaic” and the “many-colored hermeneutic” is thrilling.

The New Testament in Color starts with six great introductory chapters on African American Biblical Interpretation (by Esau D. McCaulley), Asian American Biblical Interpretation (by Janette H. Ok), Hispanic Biblical Interpretation (by Osvaldo Padilla), Turtle Island Biblical Interpretation (by T. Christopher Hoklotubbe, who is Choctaw, and H. Daniel Zacharias, who is Cree-Anishinaabe) and (perhaps surprisingly, but wisely) Majority-Culture Biblical Interpretation: Reading While White (by Michael J. Gorman.)

These sound, insightful, diverse essays frame the work of more than a dozen men and women of various hues and cultures who then weigh in on each book of the New Testament making this a large, one-of-a-kind resource. I have not dug deeply into the substantive book-by-book commentary, yet, but I am sure these pieces are critically-informed, evangelically-minded, thoughtful but clear, combining some fairly standard exegetical work but colored by the ethnic backgrounds and social locations of the particular scholars and their people-groups. Nobody works in a vacuum, of course, and God will surely use the self-awareness of scholars regarding the needs and biases and angles of insight from those across the multi-ethnic landscape of American culture. What a treasure this is.

Alongside the studies of each book of the Bible, there are even more essays and Biblically informed, general contributions. There is a piece called “Resources for the Mental Health of the Oppressed in the New Testament” by Christian J. Fort; there is a stunning study of “Multilingualism in the New Testament” by Ekaputra Tupamahu; there is a valuable chapter called “Immigrants and the Kingdom of God: Do They Have a Home in God’s City?” by Rodolfo Galvan Estrada III. There is a solid piece on “Gender in the New Testament” as well, by Lisa Bowens & Amy Peeler. I’m glad for that.

There are many other books by minoritized Biblical scholars, many written in recent years, but this is surely the most useful volume I have yet seen. It is a must for serious scholars but I think accessible enough in its nearly 800 pages that many ordinary church folk would appreciate it, too. Thanks be to God.

(Do you have a church library or resource room? This is pricey, even at our discount, so it makes sense to share costs and have one or two on hand in the church or for your study center or fellowship group. How can we help?)

Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible Michael J. Gorman (Baker Academic) $36.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.80

This is not brand new; it came out in late 2020. I wanted to list it here not only because Dr. Gorman did an extraordinary chapter in the above The New Testament in Color but because it is one of my very favorite resources for this sort of topic. It does not have an exegetical, book-by-book approach, however, so it is — as its subtitle says — an introduction. There are twenty-five chapters from authors representing various Christian traditions and perspectives and from every continent, I think. Although most authors are white — N.T. Wright, Edith Humphrey, Craig Keener, Joel Green, Patricia Fosarelli, just to name a few — there are excellent writers with roots in non-US settings such as Bungishabaku Katho of Congo (DRC) and K.K. Yeo (born in China but raised in Malaysia) and M. Daniel Carroll R whose people are from Guatemala. In any case, Scripture and Its Interpretation is a fine text, ecumenical and delightfully useful.

True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary edited by Brian Blount, Cain Hope Felder, Claire Martin, Emerson Powery (Fortress) $35.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

What an amazing work, with essays including slavery in the Scriptures and womanist interpretation and African American preaching and the Bible. There is a section of art that is exceptional. Great scholars from Monya Stubbs to Cleophus LaRue to James Early Massey to Mitzi Smith.  Highly recommended.

 

Race and Rhyme: Rereading the New Testament Love Lazarus Sechrest (Eerdmans) $39.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99

What a remarkable book, provocative, scholarly, maybe a bit eccentric at times, offering a womanist evaluation of some of the “ugly details” of some biblical narratives. As Gay Byron of Howard School of Divinity puts it, “This book shows how critical biblical interpretation leads to responsible acts of leadership and justice.” Highly recommended by the important Brenda Salter McNeil. Dennis Edwards, of North Park Theological Seminary, says her practice of “associative hermeneutics” might prove to be a game-changer. Whew.

With Race and Rhyme, Love Sechrest has addressed a huge problem–how to help people who take their faith seriously to also take seriously how to think about race and Scripture. This is simply the best introduction to biblical hermeneutics that is also an introduction to thinking about racial justice. — Willie James Jennings, Yale Divinity School, author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race and Acts: A Theological Commentary

The Africana Bible, Second Edition: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora edited by Hugh Page, Jr., Valerie Bridgeman, Stacy Davis, Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, and Madipoane Masenya (Ngwan’a Mphahlele)  (Fortress Press) $59.00   NOT YET RELEASED – DUE OCTOBER 2024  / PRE-ORDER NOW  OUR SALE PRICE = $47.20  We won’t process your credit card until we sent the book mid-October.

We used to stock the first edition of this hefty, critical landmark volume, gathering scholarly essays by various African and African-American scholars on the Old Testament. The first edition is out of print and will be seriously revised and expanded in this forthcoming edition.  As the publisher puts it:

The Africana Bible opens a critical window into the world of interpretation on the African continent and in the multiple diasporas of African peoples, including the African American experience, with attention to Africana histories, literatures, cultures, and backgrounds for understanding biblical literature.

The Bible Explained: A College Student’s Guide to Understanding Faith Cyril Chavis (Hides Publishing) $14.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $11.99

I have reviewed this book before but just want to celebrate it now, here, since we’re offering suggestions about serious commentaries that bring forward alternative perspectives by scholars of color. This is a book that just fits in and I’d be remiss not to name it.

Rev. Chavis is a very sharp young man, ordained in the PCA and a RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) campus minister. He works at the mecca of Black higher education, Howard University.  His degree is from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.

This clever book invites intellectually curious Black young adults to check out the possibility that the Bible can be read seriously in a way that can be personally and socially transformative. I like his briefs that we first must present that Bible in a way that is both exciting and understandable, so this is an entry-level apologetic for those in college who are not particularly compelled to read the Bible. It is pretty fun, but not looking for terribly creative or unusual interpretations. He’s doing the yeoman work of standard, evangelical campus outreach. Yay for that.

Although the book is written for Black students, especially those at historically Black colleges and universities, I think the book is ideal for any beginner or seeker. As he says, “Whether you are considering Jesus for the first time or have been a Christian a while, come and see that God is more glorious and enjoyable than you ever knew.”  Highly recommended.

Reading the Bible Latinamente: Latino/a Interpretation for the Life of the Church Ruth Padilla Deborst, M. Daniel Carroll, R. and Miguel Echevarria  (Baker Academic) $19.99 NOT YET RELEASED – DUE OCTOBER 2024 / PRE-ORDER NOW  OUR PRICE = $15.99  We won’t run your credit card until we send the book in October

I have not seen this yet, but simply couldn’t miss this opportunity to name it with these others. We respect Ruth Padilla Deborst immensely (and still am astonished she showed up with her famous father in our store one day years ago) and we love Danny Carroll who we met years ago as well. Echevarria haș a contribution in the above-listed New Testament in Color; his PhD is from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is professor of Greek at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC. He did the recent Engaging the New Testament: A Short Introduction for Students and Ministers published just this Spring, also by Baker Academic.Together they have given us what Justo González has called an “unexcelled” introduction to the topic. Perfect, eh?

Again, to be clear, we list these books not just for, in this case, Latino or Latina readers. No, this is for the breadth of God’s multi-ethnic people.

An unexcelled basic introduction to Latina and Latino readings of Scripture. It tells the church at large that the Bible is still relevant in our day and will be relevant wherever believers are willing to take the risk of reading it with new eyes.” –“An unexcelled basic introduction to Latina and Latino readings of Scripture. It tells the church at large that the Bible is still relevant in our day and will be relevant wherever believers are willing to take the risk of reading it with new eyes. — Justo L. González, author, The Bible in the Early Church

Reading the Bible Latinamente reminds us that the only way to understand the word of God honestly and clearly is to see it through one’s cultural identity and social location. The authors make the case for a beautiful and transformational reading–a reading that liberates rather than discriminates, marginalizes, and oppresses people. This book is not just for the Latino/a church but for the whole of God’s people. — Al Tizon, North Park Theological Seminary, author, Christ Among the Classes: The Rich, the Poor, and the Mission of the Church

Global Bible Commentary edited by Daniel Pattem, José Severino Croatto, Nicole Wilkinson Duran, Teresa Okure, Archie Chi-Chung Lee  (Abingdon Press) $45.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $36.79

Much has rightfully been made in recent years about how the global church is growing and good work has been done on how even church history needs to be understood (and taught) with the awareness of the non-European and North American parts of the Body. We’ve got whole books about global voices and their unique theological angles. (For one great one, see, just for instance, Simon Chan’s Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up or Doing Asian American Theology: A Contextual Framework for Faith and Practice by Daniel D. Lee, both released by IVP Academic.)

Christianity has a big, global story. Here is one example of how this is effecting at least mainline, ecumenical, Biblical scholarship. Here is how the publishing house explains this very diverse volume collection very diverse Biblical scholars:

The Global Bible Commentary invites its users to expand their horizon by reading the Bible with scholars from all over the world and from different religious persuasions. These scholars have approaches and concerns that often are poles apart. Yet they share two basic convictions: biblical interpretation always matters; and reading the Bible “with others” is highly rewarding. Each of the short commentaries of the Global Bible Commentary is a readily accessible guide for reading a biblical book. Written for undergraduate and seminary students and their teachers, as well as for pastors, priests, and Adult Sunday School classes, it introduces the users to the main features of the biblical book and its content.

Yet each short commentary does more. It also brings us a precious gift, namely the opportunity of reading this biblical book as if for the first time. By making explicit the specific context and the concerns from which she/he reads the Bible, the scholar points out to us the significance of aspects of the biblical text that we simply took for granted or overlooked.

NIV God’s Justice Bible: The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil edited by Tim Stafford (Zondervan) $39.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99 

This rather global NIV study Bible has gone out of print but we have a few left. Each book of the Bible has a fine introduction and study notes by exceptional scholars, many from what was once called the Third World. With evangelical voices from every continent who have a good sensitivity to justice issues, these notes, while fairly standard, frankly, do highlight Biblical texts which relate to issues of justice, creational stewardship, peacemaking, human trafficking, poverty, cross-cultural ministry, theodicy, empire, and the like. The graphics are nicely done, the insights useful, the global perspective interesting, making this a reliable, full-on study Bible in the popular NIV translation.

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Here are some mostly new books of Biblical studies that we have on our shelves; I’ll start with some about how to read the Bible and its big picture narrative and list some that are about the Old Testament and some that are about the New Testament. All are 20% off. Enjoy.

Note that a few are PRE-ORDERS. Of course, we can pre-order any book you want to order aheady of time, but these seemed too good to not mention.

INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE

The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story: Third Edition Craig G Bartholomew & Michael W. Goheen (Baker Academic) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

Can you believe that this book, a very big seller in this field, has been out for 20 years? This brand new anniversary edition has been updated and expanded; it remains one of the best college-level, introductory texts about the grand narrative of the Bible we’ve ever seen. As it now says on the back, “The authors explore how the story of the Bible and its account of God’s action in the world give meaning to our lives and provide us with the basis for our actions” This great book carefully points to and explores each section of the unfolding drama of God’s cosmic rescue plan. Congratulations, Craig and Mike!

By the way, just so you know: the abridged version of this, first done for teens, The True Story of the Whole World: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Drama, was updated a year or two ago, expanded just a bit, but remains the very best easy-to-read intro to the Bible we know of and one we most often recommend for small groups or Sunday school classes, young or old.

Listening to Scripture: An Introduction to Interpreting the Bible Craig Bartholomew (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

We have enthusiastically reviewed this before but wanted to highlight it briefly again as it is so, so good. It is accessible and theologically well-grounded, a lovely guide to interpreting the Bible which “helps us read Scripture with an ear toward hearing God’s address.” While this still is a major work and a vital contribution to the field, it is, just so you know, an adapted and somewhat slimmed down version of his magisterial tome, Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture. There are discussion questions and devotional experiences that he expertly offers. Very nicely done in just under 200 pages.

The Bible Reset: Simple Breakthroughs to Make Scripture Come Alive Alex Goodwin (NavPress) $16.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

Are you intuited by the Bible, actually? Maybe you struggle to read it regularly? This book insists that you are not alone. We have been “set up to fail at reading the Bible”, Goodwin suggests. He set up his Institute for Bible Reading to help folks uncover “vital elements about the ancient texts that have been overlooked or forgotten” which can, actually, help us make Bible reading and proper understanding more approachable for anyone.

I have some friends who know this author and who love this book; they’ve enthusiastically commended it to us and I think they are right. There is something fresh and exciting here. It uses helpful illustrations and examples and it is written in everyday language.

I love how he invites us to three major practices that can help. He says to “Read Big” and he says to “Read Together.” The third — “discover the Bible’s world” — is obvious, but he unpacks it helpfully.

And — Goodwin has read Bartholomew and Goheen — he gets the grand story that the Bible is telling and how it invites us to participate in God’s work of restoration and renewal. He has three chapters exploring this big picture stuff about “the story we find ourselves in” and “new creation improv.” Wow.

Nice, eh? This little book could be transformative for many and we are glad to suggest it.

The Light Shines Through: Our Stories Are God’s Stories Carole A. Wageman (Church Publishing) $18.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $15.16

This is such an interesting book it can surely be used for your own reading or daily devotions. It seems to be written as a small group resource, though, a Bible study. Yet, it does a lot more than just offering dry recapitulation of the text or asking self-evident inductive questions. No, this colorful and wonderfully written book invites us to see how a Bible story where a person encounters faith might inform or shape our own. Each chapter is confronted with “uncertainty, anxiety, and the drama of facing an unknown future much like we do in our own life events.” We, too, might be searching for answers, trying to figure out which way to turn, how to make sense of our lives.

This offers “productive connection exercises and pondering questions” to help us relate to our Biblical forebears. The author has worked in the nonprofit world, has been a guide to her Episcopalian colleagues, and has been a parish priest, she knows the role of stories and how Biblical stories might inspire us to ponder our own. Right on.

Each of the almost 20 chapters offers a reflection about our own lives or stories, told with a sweet New England simplicity. Then there is the invitation to read the text, followed by questions she put into the category of “pondering.”  Many of the stories are from encounters in the gospels although a few are from the Hebrew Bible, Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms. This is nicely done.

Liberating Scripture: An Invitation to Missional Hermeneutics Michael Barram & John R Franke (Cascade) $28.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

We have highlighted this recent book before (as we had reason to be with John Franke at an event and came away soooo impressed.) This is the first of a new series which intends to explore the details of a missional hermeneutic as it relates to “theology and praxis.” That is, how do we read the Bible with a vision or assumption that it is to lead us to outreach, service, cultural engagement, prophetic denunciation of injustice and the like. Too many books just tell us to read the Bible so we know God and organize our thoughts about doctrine in proper ways. Fair enough. But what if we opened up the Word in fresh ways to make a difference for our social imagination. What if it really spoke to us, pushing us out, into but not of the world.?

This creative new volume has a serious foreword by Drew G. I. Hart — a black professor from Messiah University who once studied with Franke and now co-teaches a class with him at Fuller Seminary — and a fine afterword by Lisa Bowens.

Co-author Michael Barram, by the way, did a book which I highly recommend called Missional Economics: Biblical Justice and Christian Formation. Anybody that seriously grapples with the Jubilee text from Jesus’ first sermon is on to something in my book.

There is a good study guide in the back that will help you process and apply this fresh take on how to interpret the Bible and is excellent for study groups, small home Bible studies, or adult ed classes…

The Progressives’ Bible: How Scriptural Interpretation Built a More Just America Claudia Setzer (Fortress Press) $29.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

Whew, is this interesting! Whether you see yourselves as progressive, liberal, moderately mainline, evangelical, or conservative fundamentalist, you need this book. It does a couple of things, making it hard to know where to even put it on the shelves of our store — we have one under Bible and one under history — and I needn’t belabor the fascinating details.

Here is what it does: it shows how the so-called “progressive” movements in American history used the Bible. For instance, obviously, the abolitionist movement to abolish slavery was often led firmly by preachers with Bibles in their hands; so, too, often, the suffragist movement to demand that women have the right to vote used Scripture directly. Think of the anti-war movements, or even the temperance movement of the late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s. And, famously, the mid-20th century civil rights movement drew on Biblical faith and Biblical overtures overtly. Not all activists and social reformers were Biblical people but many certainly were. Not all hermeneutical moves made sense, but many did. This fascinating book explores it all, even with a chapter about today’s setting and issues.

By examining the ways in which intelligent, critical, and creative readings of the Bible have played a pivotal role in advancing some of the most significant social reforms in US history, Claudia Setzer offers us a powerful counter to interpretations of the Bible that have served what she calls “the wrong side of history.” The Progressives’ Bible is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking a fuller understanding of American history and a more complete sense of the Bible’s place and role in America. A book I have long needed for my university classroom, it will no doubt be a revelation to all readers. — Mary F. Foskett, Professor of Religious Studies, Wake Forest University, author of Interpreting the Bible: Approaching the Text in Preparation for Preaching

This is a must-read volume for all who are captivated by how the Bible has been interpreted in the (North) American context. From abolitionism to women’s rights to temperance, progressive thinkers grappled with conflicts in light of the wider culture’s investment in biblical interpretation, which became a guide for biblical interpreters in the Civil Rights era. Prof. Setzer navigates these conversations with skill and expertise and allows readers to follow how our nineteenth-century forebears both tackled exegetical quandaries and expressed moral sensibilities in their interpretive strategies.— Emerson Powery, professor of biblical studies, Messiah University, author of The Good Samaritan: Luke 10 for the Life of the Church

Holy Imagination: A Literary and Theological Introduction to the Whole Bible Judy Fentress-Williams (Abingdon Press) $40.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.79

Okay, I admit it: this isn’t brand new; it came out in 2021 we’ve highlighted it before. Still, this is one that deserves to be on any list of fairly recent titles that give us a superb, engaging, and enjoyable introduction to the big picture of the whole Biblical drama. She asserts (as does the back cover) that studying the Bible demands dialogue. That is, we must engage, enter into, interact with, perhaps push back upon, the stories and formulations of God’s redemptive plan in the complicated narratives of hundreds of authors in this library of 66 + books. Hooray. (Ohhh, I wonder what she thinks of Richard Middleton’s Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Isaac, the Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God, for instance? Or, in a somewhat different tone, say, How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns?)

Fentress-Williams is a beloved professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary (and has a commentary on Ruth that was previously published.) As a Black professor for many years and a scholar of African American studies, she has seen a lot and her own experience gives her a certain capacity to see how voices of the marginalized are often included in Scripture. As a Baptist woman at an Episcopal seminary who loves the Word and knows the various genres and literary styles and the rhetoric of it all, she is an expert teacher. Like poetry, she says, “words must be read with attention.” Holy Imagination helps us attend well.

As the great Ellen Davis (of Duke Divinity School) puts it, this is an introduction “that students will enjoy reading, because it is at once engaging, informative, eye-opening, as well as completely lucid.”

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OLD TESTAMENT

The Old Testament as Literature: Foundations for Christian Interpretation Tremper Longman III (Baker Academic) $34.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.99

I knew this was good — I love the work of Longman, have some mutual friends from way back, and think he is simply one of the most important Bible scholars of our generation. It’s nice to know that my layman’s hunch is born out by a wide variety of ecumenical scholars who say as much. Hooray.

For instance, Stephen L. Cook, of Virginia Theological Seminary, says he “unhesitatingly recommends Longman’s masterful new exploration of the literary dimensions of the Old Testament.” Another critic says it is “an essential volume” which another calls it “thoughtful and lively.” It is clear that Longman is widely respected and that this may be the best book of its kind.

Brittany Melton, of Regent College in British Columbia, says, nicely, that Longman has

…returned to his first love, with his Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation (1987) standing at the beginning of a long shelf of his books and The Old Testament as Literature as its complementary bookend. This work offers insight from decades of biblical reflection and foresight from the contemporary field of literary studies.

I love how John Goldingay — himself a thoughtful and prolific scholar/teacher — put it in his rave review. He notes that Tremper has “immersed himself in scholarly study with an open mind but has never forgotten his commitment to the fact that it is the Holy Scriptures he is studying.”

That’s the best sort of authors, I think — those that engage the wildest and most creative of critical readers and interpreters, and yet whose open minded never becomes sloppy or shallow. They know the holiness of God and the denseness of the sacred text. Longman gets all this and more. He understands the latest in literary studies and archeology and cross cultural reading and the rest. In this book he brings us up to date.

Creator: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1 Peter J. Leithart (IVP Academic) $40.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.00

I’m a sucker for studies of Genesis 1 and I’m a sucker for those who argue boldly that there is something more going on than the obvious. When a scholar like Kevin Vanhoozer notes that “Creator is theological exegesis at its finest” and calls it “intoxicating.” I want to take notice.

When a heavy, Reformed/Catholic scholar like Hans Boersma (of Nashotah House) said it is “scintillating” and that his “makes for joyful music, echoing the triune song that sings creation into being” I’m eager to learn more, heady as it may be. Whew.

Who else engages the work of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Sergius Bulgakov, Barth, Robert Jensen, Katherine Sonderegger, Meredith Kline (of course), David Bentley Hart, and Michael Polanyi, and more? I supposed this could be called a “metaphysics of Genesis.”

Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters Carmen Joy Imes (IVP Academic) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters Carmen Joy Imes (IVP Academic) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

Again, these two are not brand new and we have reviewed them more than once. I just have to list them here, as Bearing God’s Image is a personal favorite and Dr. Imes is one of the more energetic and ministry-oriented Biblical scholars I know, doing deep research and serious study — and, man, she is among the best of the best! — and yet so eager to serve the church, campus ministry organizations, conferences and events, even offering informal teaching on her weekly internet thing (“Torah Tuesdays.”) Somewhat mentored by the great Sandra Richter, Carmen is a national treasure, a good friend of Hearts & Minds, and a scholar / teacher your church group should know.

Being God’s Image: Why Creation Matters, like its predecessor, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters, does all of the above just perfectly. Both are rooted in expert scholarship, bringing to the educated lay-person’s view all manner of great background and insight, and then — and here is where she delightfully shines, too — applies it all to nurturing a Biblically-informed worldview and a way of being faithful in the world. In our times. As individuals and communities. To say she helps us “apply” the text may be a bit simplistic, but that’s the trajectory — these Biblical narratives and teachings are God’s “light before our path” and as God’s Word, are to be lived into and out of with faith and joy and courage.

 

If it gives you any sense of her reputation and theological place, the first (on the law) had a great foreword by Christopher J. H. Wright and the second (on creation) by J. Richard Middleton.  I’m praying for her as she writes yet another in this practical, thoughtful series.

Old Testament Ethics: A Guided Tour John Goldingay (IVP Academics) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I can’t say much about this other than to say that I admire Goldingay immensely, appreciate his popular level “Old Testament for Everyone” series, and am astonished by his heavy but fairly readable major works on the likes of Jeremiah and Daniel and Proverbs . I simply adored his must-read The Lost Letters to the Twelve Prophets: Imagining the Minor Prophets’ World which imaginatively conjures up imaginary letters to each of the Minor Prophets so we have some clue about what their context was and what in the world gave them such unction and hope.  I recommend his Reading Jesus’s Bible: How the New Testament Helps Us Understand the Old Testament, among others. Did I mention he was prolific?

This is a very, very useful ethics text, both introducing the field of ethics, but insisting that our ethical systems, applied to our admittedly complex daily lives, can be informed by the Hebrew Bible. Yep, we can learn something from about ethics from the Old Testament. As David Lamb (God Behaving Badly) says, it is “illuminating, challenging, and inspiring.”

He says that “instead of searching for support for our positions or pointing out problems with certain passages” (we should) “let the Old Testament itself set the agenda.” In this volume, readers will encounter what the Old Testament says about relationships, work, Sabbath, character, and more.

It features his own colorful translations and discussion questions for group use.

There are a lot of chapters, grouped under the categories of “Qualities” (like Godlikeness, compassion, honor, anger, trust, truthfulness, etc.) and “Aspects of Life” (in which he summarized stuff about wealth and violence, shalom and justice, reparations and work, animals and rest, and more.) The next section summarizes the complexities of
“Relationships” (which includes friends, neighbors, women, sexuality, marriage, children, nations, migrants, and more.) Part Four is a study of specific passages, listed as “Texts.”  He looks at 8 representative texts, from Genesis 1 to Leviticus 25, from Deuteronomy 15 to the story of Ruth to Psalm 72 and a bit about sex from the Song of Songs.  Curiously, the last section is called “People” and he draws ethical principles from the odd lives of seven key individuals and their ancient stories.

Wisdom for Faithful Reading: Principles and Practices for Old Testament Interpretation John H. Walton (IVP Academic) $26.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80

I’ll admit I have not touched this yet, although I’m itching to. Aren’t you? The very title is inviting — who doesn’t want “faithful reading” and who doesn’t appreciate that this questions of interpreting well is a matter of learned wisdom, not mere technique or strategy. We need “principles and practices” to read wisely and faithfully. One reviewer, from the University of Cambridge, says that Walton’s appreciation for the Bible’s “beauty and richness” shines through.

Walton is one of these very impressive, open-minded but solidly evangelical Bible profs from Wheaton College. He is astute and hard-working, having written bunches of books in recent years, both scholarly ones and those on a more popular level. He’s a quintessential author for us, and we are honored to recommend his work.

You may know his popular six-book “Lost World” series, that includes books like The Lost World of Genesis One, The Lost World of the Flood, and The Lost World of the Torah: Law as Covenant and Wisdom in Ancient Context which offers cultural background of when books of the Bible were written or compiled and how that historical awareness might help us read the Scriptures well. (There’s a new one — see below.) He has done numerous introductory books to various aspects of the O.T.  on

This new one on interpretation is needed. It is reasonable and sound. It seems serious, but I am sure it is quite readable. It may not be the only book you’ll read on how to approach the Old Testament, but, for sure, it should be on most people’s lists. Highly recommended.

The Lost World of the Prophets: Old Testament Prophecy and Apocalyptic Literature in Ancient Context  John H. Walton (IVP Academic) $22.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60

You know the question: Are the prophets speaking about their own times, about our present, or about some still-unrealized future? The publisher explains: “Applying his signature method, John Walton provides a clear, helpful guide to the nature of biblical prophecy and apocalyptic literature that will help us avoid potential misuse and reclaim the message of the prophets for our lives.”

One can hardly understand even a portion of the prophets without knowing which side of the civil war they were one (that is, were they speaking to Judah or Israel) and were they before or after the exile. Were they primarily speaking to kings or to priests or to common people? Where they messengers mostly of doom and judgement or hope and renewal?

Listen to this from a very reliable scholar and friend of Hearts & Minds:

John Walton has distinguished himself as one of the foremost interpreters of the Old Testament for the church today. The Lost World of the Prophets makes accessible serious biblical scholarship on the cultural context of the Old Testament prophets. This book is a superb guide to reading the message of the prophetic literature with integrity and faithfulness to the God of Israel and Jesus Christ. I am deeply grateful for this outstanding work. — J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University, author of The Liberating Image, A New Heaven and a New Earth, and Abraham’s Silence.

Biblical Typology: How the Old Testament Points to Christ, His Church, and the Consummation Vern S. Poythress (Crossway) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

This is a brand new book by an author who is, again, prolific, learned, and (with a couple of different PhDs, in science and theology) who has an amazing gift of doing extraordinary scholarship and yet sometimes making things accessible and useful. This looks very good on this precise topic.

There has been a huge renaissance in this sort of “historical redemptive” reading, and although the narrative of creation-fall-redemption-restoration” and the language of the “unfolding drama of a cosmic redemption” with a Christological reading of it all, is more popular than it used to be (just think of the fabulous The Jesus Storybook Bible:Where Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones) there are still questions. A lot of questions. (And we have a good number of books about this very matter — Christ in the Old Testament.) Is this really the best way to understand the Hebrew Scriptures? How do Old Testament stories point us towards the reign of Christ and the renewal His Kingdom brings? Does it really point to (as the subtitle here puts it) “Christ, His Church, and the Consummation” (by which he surely means the consummation of all things, a la Ephesians 1:10, say)?

This book isn’t simple but it isn’t an arcane academic textbook. It’s pushing towards 300 pages and it offers not only an overview of the storyline of redemption, but shows how there are signs and symbols and pointers and overtures to the person of Jesus.

Richard Pratt writes,

Poythress’s knowledge of the Scriptures and the interpretive principles necessary to handle them responsibly is unsurpassed. He presents the complex topic of biblical types clearly and simply so that laypeople and scholars alike will benefit. This is a book that you will not want to miss.

Solomon: Israel’s Icon of Human Achievement Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press) $39.00  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE JULY 2024 / PRE-ORDER NOW – OUR SALE PRICE = $31.20 We won’t run your credit card until we send the book in mid-July.

How can I list a handful of creative Biblical studies volumes without celebrating a few of Walt’s most recent volumes? There have been several edited collections of his many (many!) short pieces lately, most recently The Emancipation of God: Postmarks on Cultural Prophecy pulled together and edited by Conrad L. Kanagy, Walter’s friend and expert biographer (hisThe Prophetic Imagination of Walter Brueggemann that came out last year is a must-read) and the very new Alternatives to the Bread of Affliction and Other Essays, pieces Walter recently pulled from his many years of writing at the Journal of Preachers. It is dedicated to its editor, who appreciated Walt’s contributions, Erskine Clarke. There is a forward by Theodore J. Wardlaw.

This forthcoming volume, though, is not a collection of pieces, as valuable as those are, but a major, sustained work on the person of Solomon and his expansive role “in the larger consciousness of Israel.” Brueggemann considers what narratives reveal about the ideals of the ancient Israelite people.  As the publisher puts it, “Paying attention to nuances of the biblical text, he exposes the competing voices that claim to offer a reliable rendering of Solomon and invites critique of accepted beliefs.”

I suspect it was from Walt that I first heard point out specific Bible verses that are critical of Solomon. What did I know, having not read the Hebrew Bible and its storyline all that carefully? I hadn’t yet learned to think of prophets as being in the South or the North, before or after exile. I didn’t know Chronicles was a sober re-telling of the era of the Kings, but, well, reimagined after their hard times. And I had no idea that there was an ideological role in Israel’s own songs — Oh say can you see? — and that some are critical of Zion. (I read twice in a row and still recommend his little book from the 1980s, Israel’s Praise: Doxology Against Idolatry and Ideology.) Oh well, I only say this to say that for some of us, there is much to learn to embed ourselves in the nuances of God’s Word as it unfolded through thick and thin without ancient Israel. Who else who looms large alongside Moses and Elijah and David? Yes. Solomon. And while he was praised there is, at least, irony in some of the claims about him, something just below the surface, often.

Hold on: here is what the publisher says is going on here:

The tradition of Solomon becomes an arena for interpretive contestation in Israel, and the text makes available not historical reportage but a conflicted, pluralistic attempt to sort out the reality of human power in the matrix of covenantal faith.

Beyond the primary narrative of 1 Kings 3-11, Brueggemann evaluates the derivative traditions of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the Wisdom of Solomon, and some of the Psalms. He also considers references to Solomon in the New Testament.

Through close attention to nuances of the biblical text, Brueggemann exposes the competing interpretive voices that claim to offer a reliable rendering of Solomon and invites critique of accepted beliefs.

By the way, this cool, contemporary-looking volume is part of a new series Fortress has begun by some classic authors from this fading era of world class Biblical scholars. Job by Samuel Balentine is coming soon; we have Qoheleth: The Ironic Wink by James Crenshaw, Ezekiel: The Prophet and His Message by Ralph Klein, and Abraham: Trials of Family and Faith by Terence Fretheim. I’ve not read any but look forward to the Brueggemann one, for sure.

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NEW TESTAMENT

The Gospel of Peace: A Commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke from the perspective of Nonviolence John Dear (Orbis Books) $34.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20

Rev. John Dear is an internationally known Bible teacher and peace activist, a priest and organizer who served for years as the director of the international Fellowship of Reconciliation. He came to know Thomas Merton, the famous Berrigan brothers and their resistance to nuclear weapons, the black civil rights leader (and proponent of nonviolent direct action) James Lawson, and Cornel West. It is said he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by none other than Desmond Tutu. He has written dozens of books; you should know John Dear.

(I do not know of any other gentle spokesperson for the gospel who, while reading the Sermon on the Mount at an evangelical Christian college chapel, had students loudly stomping their feet in protest on the bleachers where they sat and literally started walking out. While reading the Bible!)

I love these kinds of committed works, like this study of the synoptics, standing on the shoulders of radical commentaries like, say, Binding the Strong Man by his pal Ched Meyers, or Wes Howard-Brook’s Becoming Children of God: John’s Gospel and Radical Discipleship or Howard Thurman’s old Jesus and the Disinherited or Andre Trocme’s older still Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution. Obviously he knows Yoder’s Politics of Jesus and is informed by Walter Wink’s extraordinary volumes on the powers. He likes Sister Megan McKenna’s 1999 book, Blessings and Woes: The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke.

I could go on. It is evident that Dear knows everybody in the global peace movement and is rooted well in progressive Catholic and even some evangelical Biblical scholarship. From the Catholic Pax Christi ministry to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Rev. Michael Curry, there have been great blurbs and heart-felt endorsements. It is unique, though. As Bill Wylie-Kellerman notes, “Reading the Gospels in jail can alter one’s hermeneutic.”  Indeed.

A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Gospels edited by Craig Evans & David Mishkin (Hendrickson) $27.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $22.36

This book is not new but it is new to me; I don’t think we stocked it when it first came out a few years ago and I discovered it a few months back when I was writing a bit about why Christians ought not support the idolatrous and vicious militarism of the current right wing Israeli administration. Which leads, of course (even if one is careful to not equate a critique of the Netanyahu government’s slaughter of the innocents or ongoing Israeli human rights violations with any hatred for Jewish people, as such) to the question of a Christian theology of Israel and even questions about the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. Obviously, one sub-stream here is how to understand the Jewishness of Jesus and the influence of first century Judaism on the entire New Testament. We have long been interested in this — N.T. Wright, just for one, insisted on such things and recent books like the lovely, thoughtful, Finding Messiah: A Journey Into the Jewishness of the Gospel by Jennifer Rosner have driven the point home. In any case, I discovered this fantastic, informative, scholarly collection of world-class authors weighing in on various aspects and specific topics in this on-going learning curve. I haven’t read them all and I am not sure what I think about each.

The authors of these more than 30 pieces, are, we are told, a “who’s who” of eminent scholars. Some names I have heard of — Mark Struass of Bethel University, Andreas Stutz, working on a PhD in Lancaster, then at the Israel College of the Bible, Michael Wilkins of Biola, Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, Catherine Sider Hamilton of Wycliffe in Toronto and Kyung Bake of Trinity Western. Pastors are here, too, such as  Hannah Pachael of Denver and Michael Brown (of the Messianic FIRE School of Ministry.)

Endorsements are from rigorous scholars such as Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Simon Gathercole, a scholar of early Christianity at Cambridge, insisting that this work helps us understand how the New Testament can be read as Jewish literature.

Interpretation Bible Commentary: Matthew Mark Allan Powell (WJK) $45.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $36.00

I’m not going to lie: I’m not sure what the relationship is between this WJK new “Interpretation Bible Commentary” series is to the older classics in the famous Interpretation series. In the series Foreword they say they are intending to “extend and reframe” that series in light of the vast literary and historical insight that has been uncovered in recent decades, not to mention new schools of interpretive and theological thought. It isn’t just a cover design change, but seems to be an inauguration of a whole new series. (The senior editor of this series, we are told, is Brian  K. Blount.) Since this series goes by the same name, I’m guessing it is sort of Interpretation 2.0, with a fresh and updated approach, perhaps by a new generation of writers.  Like that older series it was often esteemed mainline commentators, offering solid scholarship for preachers and teachers. That is, they weren’t super technical or academic, but drawing on the best of mainline Protestant and some Catholic scholarship.

Mark Allan Powell has written a lot, so isn’t exactly a fresh young turk. Marva Dawn told me about him decades ago and he has done commentaries and books about Jesus. His Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey was recently reissued by Baker Academic in a large, lovely second edition.

Kudos to WJK for offering this new, inaugural volume in what we hope will be a useful commentary set developing over the next many years. This one has been described as “masterful” (R. Alan Culpepper of McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University) and “engaging and highly readable” (Cynthia Campbell, President Emerita of McCormick Theological Seminary.)

Engaging Jesus with Our Senses: An Embodied Approach to the Gospels Jeannine Marie Hanger (Baker Academic) $24.99 NOT YET RELEASED – DUE OCTOBER 2024 / PRE-ORDER NOW – OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99 We won’t run your credit card until we send the book in October.

We want to celebrate this and invite you to pre-order it although, truth be told, I have no idea what it will be like. Many of us are fascinated these days with questions of embodiment, both theological questions (we are are not Gnostics, we understand that we are embodied creatures in God’s real world of physical matter, as God intends) and on the ways to use our full set of senses as we read and learn and grow as Christians. So this sounds just tremendous, doesn’t it?

Dr. Hanger has PhD from the University of Aberdeen and is a professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology (at Biola University in L.A.) She invites us to a multi sensual reading, centering Jesus’s own incarnation and his use of physicality in his ministry. I’m excited, and scholars no less than John Barclay of Durham raves about this good effort to draw us in as full-bodied readers.  Here is the table of content. Remember: this isn’t out yet and isn’t due until mid-October 2024. If you pre-order it from us now, we would be grateful.

Introduction: Why the Physical Senses Matter for Reading Texts

  1.  Our Sensory Approach: Reading with Our Senses Intact
  2.  The Focus of Our Sensory Approach: Introducing the Gospels
  3.  Tasting the Good Life: Jesus, Bread for the Hungry
  4.  Seeing and Not Seeing: Jesus, the Light and the Giver of Sight
  5.  Hearing the Divine Call: Jesus Who Speaks and the Sheep That Follow
  6.  Smelling Death and Life: Jesus Makes Scents of Memorable Fragrance
  7. Just a Touch of Love: Jesus and the Potency of Touch
  8.  Sensing Jesus Together: Concluding Thoughts

Proclaiming the Parables: Preaching and Teaching the Kingdom of God Thomas G. Long (WJK) $50.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $40.00

Anytime there is a new book by Tom Long, we rejoice. He’s a good thinker, a very fine writer, and a long-time servant of the church. From his fabulously usable commentary on Matthew to his eloquent work on funerals to his several classic books on preaching he is an ecumenical (but Presbyterian) leader well worth reading.

And now this — over 400 pages of astute, readable, exciting, radical reflections that, as Barbara Brown Taylor notes, “secures his legacies for generations to come.”

Ponder this thoughtful lines which hints at something important about this book; it says a lot:

This book is a literary revelation that intellectual reorientation is possible when one encounters a God with whom nothing is impossible. Tom Long, a major influential theological scholar who taught on the parables for over forty years, demonstrates that scholarship, ministry, and life are nonlinear but can be disrupted through the inbreaking of the kingdom of God from the parables. Long humbly admits his change in perspective on the parables after many years. He awakens to the fact that a parable is not solely a literary device but also a theological reality, a kingdom-of-God event that preachers should proclaim is ‘at hand’ yet not ‘in’ our hands. Parables are more than stories, metaphors, or ideas but are the power of the living God on earth as it is in heaven. Get this book into your hands to be reminded once again that the kingdom of God is at hand!  –Luke Powery, Dean of Duke Divinity School Chapel

And enjoy these:

Be very afraid! While masquerading as a book about preaching and teaching the parables, in this splendid volume, the parables begin to do their work of unsettling, rearranging, and finally inviting. They preach themselves. Tom Long’s extended conversation with Jesus’ teaching has born fruit, thirty- and sixty- and a hundredfold. I, for one, am grateful. — Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Emerita of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, Romans: A Commentary

Every pastor has a favorite class from seminary or divinity school — a class that utterly changed their way of looking at the faith, a class that reaffirmed that ministry is a worthy calling, a delving into meaty and inspiring matters that merits every ounce of energy and creativity a person can possibly muster. For me, that class was Tom Long’s class on the parables. This book is that class. It is one blessing after another, after another. — Scott Black Johnston, pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

The Scandal of the Kingdom: How the Parables of Jesus Revolutionize Life with God Dallas Willard (Zondervan) $29.99  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE OCTOBER 2024 / PRE-ORDER NOW – OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99 We won’t run your credit card until we send the book in October.

Of course we have not seen this forthcoming book yet, but I’m told with confidence that it is carefully crafted from previously unpublished material of the late Dallas Willard. You may know his extraordinary book The Divine Conspiracy and The Divine Conspiracy Continued, among his other excellent works on spiritual formation such as Spirit of the Disciplines, or, my favorite, Renovation of the Heart. He was a philosopher teaching at the University of Southern California’s School of Philosophy but was most known for helping Christian disciples make choices to learn to hear God and allow themselves to be trained in the ways of Christ, to become more like Him. The fantastic, upbeat, readable recent book by John Mark Comer, Practicing the Way is in many ways indebted to Dallas Willard.

In any case, this is the forthcoming volume on how the parables of Jesus can help us in our daily discipleship and help us enter into the process of formational discipleship. We are told it is indeed a serious bit of Biblical reflection but is also a handbook, a manifesto, a call to action. May it lead many to become more passionate about living the gospel in delightful ways in our disenchanted world.

Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist James F. McGrath (Eerdmans) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

I do not want to weight this edition of BookNotes too much towards scholarly and expensive Biblical resources, so I will only note that this brand new book by McGrath is a lay-reader-oriented, seriously abridged version of his forthcoming (October 2024) master-work, John of History, Baptist of Faith: The Quest for the Historical Baptizer (Eerdmans; $59.99 / our sale price = $47.99 — you can PRE-ORDER it now, of course.) That book will surely be considered the primary work on the topic, which takes up an “astonishingly rich and polyglot array of secondary sources” and reads closely reflections and research from across church history. It is this quest for the historical John the Baptizer, that forthcoming volume will be referenced in scholarly circles for years to come.

And this? It may be considered “essential reading for all interested in Jesus’s spiritual formation as well as the later ‘parting of the ways’ between John’s teaching and Jesus’s.”  McGrath, who teaches New Testament at Butler University and proved himself a vastly educated and whimsical writer in his The A to Z of the New Testament: Things Experts Know That Everyone Else Should To. I have not yet studied Christmaker and I am sure I’m not alone in sometimes wondering what the life of John the Baptist would have been like. His influence was obviously far-reaching. Who doesn’t love that painting of John pointing to Jesus?

One reviewer (Edmondo Lupieri of Loyola University) says this fresh approach, which is “readable like a novel”, will create “large and lasting ripples in scholarship as well as the thinking and lives of its readers.”

The Good Samaritan: Luke 10 for the Life of the Church Emerson B. Powery (Baker Academic) $24.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99

Dr. Powery is a professor of Biblical scholarship at Messiah University, near us here in central PA. He has his PhD from Duke and has written any number of academic and serious works. (He also co-edited the aforementioned True to Our Native Lands African American New Testament Commentary.)

This fairly short, fabulously readable, and excellent volume is the fourth in the Touchstone Texts series which addresses key Bible passages “making high-quality biblical scholarship accessible for the church.” (Other volumes include ones on Psalm 23, The Lord’s Prayer, and “The Suffering Servant” text of Isaiah 53 — all “for the life of the church.”)

Along with a vivid introduction, a preamble, so to speak, here are the five chapters of Powery’s The Good Samaritan:

  1.  Who Is My Neighbor? Luke 10 for the Life of the Church
  2.  The Good Samaritan in Christian Tradition: What You See Depends on Where You        Stand
  3.  Mercy and the Neighbor: Reading the Parable
  4.  Samaritan Lives Matter: Is the Church Engaged in Good Trouble?
  5.  Conclusion: Imagining a “Samaritan” for the Life of the Church

I love this nice endorsement by our friend Carol Lytch, President Emerita, Lancaster Theological Seminary:

Those who are seeking a simple explanation of the parable of the good Samaritan should instead be prepared to be stretched by Powery’s analysis. He invites the reader and the contemporary church to experience the transformative power of the parable through the eyes of historical and contemporary interpreters, honoring their many lenses — including those of context, social location, race, ethnicity, religious identity, and politics. Powery is present in his work in a winsome and authentic way and models the best of biblical scholarship and pedagogy in theological education. — Carol E. Lytch, president emerita, Lancaster Theological Seminary

Romans: A Commentary (New Testament Library)  Beverly Roberts Gaventa (WJK) $70.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $56.00

Well, speaking of classic, mainline, critical scholarship published in an earlier era of the great WJK publishing venture, the New Testament Library is nearly as prestigious as it gets. Maybe not as arcane as the Anchor series nor quite like the respected Word Commentary series, this is weighty stuff. Excepting Culpepper’s Matthew: A Commentary contribution a few years ago, there hasn’t been anything updated in this series, which began in the last century, as I recall. This is, for commentary geeks, a major, major cause for celebration.

Gavanta has done some semi-scholarly stuff on several books of the Bible and some academic work on the Apocalyptic Paul. She has served the church by editing several volumes of good lectionary-based commentaries.

And on the epistle to the Romans, I adored her brief but potent, When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel According to Paul (which we gladly still stock; it first came out in 2016 and has endured as it invites readers to see how Romans “reframes our tidy categories and dramatically enlarges our sense of the gospel.”

This new scholarly work has been years in the making, long-awaited by people in the know. For my tastes, I doubt if it will be as lively as Romans Disarmed by Keesmaat and Walsh — few commentaries can match that! — but for those wanting the latest in this sort of ecumenical scholarship, this latest contribution to the New Testament Library will be a must-read.

Commentaries for Christian Formation: Hebrews Amy Peeler (Eerdmans) $39.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99

Above I was speaking of Jewish influences in the first century church and how Jesus’s people then were shaped by the Hebrew Scriptures — wow! Well, who doesn’t love the Epistle to the Hebrews? At least I hope you do.

I also hope you know this fairly new, limited commentary series, designed to bridge the gap of what is often arcane and technical Biblical studies and how the scholarship of commentaries can come to life in shape the actual discipleship of people in the pew.  That is not to say these “Commentaries for Christian Formation” are shoddy or light-weight. They just have this subtle hint that this stuff should help us form our lives of faith. The first two in this series were Galatians by N.T. Wright (2021) and Proverbs by John Goldingay (2023.) We are thrilled to announce the new Amy Peeler one. It is said to be really well written and really, really wise. And she is a fine, fine scholar.

Amy Peeler’s Hebrews is lucidly, beautifully written, excelling especially in rich theological reflection and an uncommon depth of pastoral good sense. Committed followers of our Great High Priest, rejoice! You will find here both an enjoyable read and much encouragement for enduring in the race of faith. — George Guthrie, professor of New Testament, Regent College

Hope Ain’t a Hustle: Persevering by Faith in a Weary World Irwyn Ince (IVP) $18.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

I highlighted this at BookNotes with great verve last winter — I read it almost in one sitting one chilly February day. I was so blessed by reading these upbeat, conversational messages that I wanted others to know. I suspect it was in a list of new books and maybe got lost amidst other more famous releases. In any case, having revisited it, I’m convinced it is a gem, a great read, with as much insight about Hebrews as many might need and good messages about endurance and persistence, and bold faith in a discouraging world. It reminds us, of course, that Christ alone is our great high priest and in Him, we can have a solid hope.

Ince is a vibrant PCA pastor in urban Philly and everybody that knows him and his church knows that, despite grave difficulties these days, his congregation is formed to be a witness, a multi-ethnic light illuminating the goodness and grace of the Kingdom of God. Hooray.

Our world glimmers with false hopes, offering financial gains, political power, and earthly efforts as conduits of blessing that promise much but fail to provide the peace and unity we desire. We need a better hope if we want to persevere. Thankfully, Irwyn Ince’s new book Hope Ain’t a Hustle wisely guides us through the book of Hebrews, reminding us that the object of our hope — Jesus himself — is the power of our endurance. –Melissa Kruger, vice president of discipleship programming at The Gospel Coalition

This wonderful book is a pastoral, homiletical gift to those in need of encouragement. Diagnosing the problem of our era as a failure of hope, Irwyn Ince shares the fruit of his profound meditations, study, and preaching of the book of Hebrews. This is the kind of strong medicine needed to restore hope in a generation that has been disappointed by apathy, injustice, and scandal. He shows us that the hope of the gospel is the secret to joy and endurance. For those who are discouraged, sorrowful, and struggling, this wise book helps us to have eyes to see the beauty of Jesus anew.— Tish Harrison Warren, Anglican priest and author of Prayer in the Night

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Sadly, as of June 2024 we are still closed for in-store browsing. 

We will keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager to reopen. Pray for us.

We are doing our curb-side and back yard customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. We’ve got tables set up out back. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see friends and customers.

We are happy to ship books anywhere. 

We are here 10:00 – 6:00 EST /  Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.