Diprose, Ronald E. Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic, 2004.
Diprose’s book seems to be a light reworking of his dissertation. As such it retains all the weaknesses of published dissertations. An additional weakness was a seeming conflation of replacement theology and anti-Judaism. These are two different things and ought to be kept distinct. Nevertheless, he does present a good deal of helpful material. Chapter 2 helpfully identifies and evaluates passages which seem to support replacement theology and passages which seem to prohibit it. Chapter 3 surveys Christian theologians’ views of Israel (especially in the early church). The fourth and fifth chapters examine how replacement theology affects ecclesiology and eschatology. These latter two chapters are worth a quick skim. I found Diprose’s work helpful, but pride of place on this topic still goes to Michael Vlach’s Has the Church Replaced Israel?
Carroll R, M. Daniel. Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. Baker Academic, 2008.
After a foreword that explains his own personal background in both the United States and Latin America, Carroll provides a thumbnail sketch of Latin American immigration. He then surveys the concerns that undocumented immigrants (terminology Carroll prefers to illegal aliens) raise among many Americans. He concludes the first chapter with the opportunities the church gains through the shifts of immigration. Chapter 2 looks at the image of God in man and the experiences of Old Testament people as sojourners and exiles. In chapter 3 Carroll examines how the OT law informs the immigration debate. He argues (following Christopher Wright) that Israel’s law serves as a paradigm for the nations. This does not mean that every aspect of legislation should be imitated by them, but that Israel provides a concrete example of God’s moral expectations for the nations. On this basis Carroll believes the OT law mandates Christians to care for and show hospitality to the immigrants among them. The law also expected the immigrants to conform to the law and to assimilate to Israel’s religion. Carroll then turns to the New Testament. Though Jesus never addresses the issue of immigration, his compassion toward outsiders such as the Samaritans provides an example for Christians today. Peter addresses his first epistle to Christians who are spiritually "aliens and strangers." Carroll concludes from this that Christians especially should be sympathetic to the plight of immigrants. He also concludes that Christians should be willing to be out of step with the prevailing culture on this issue. Concluding the chapter on the NT is a brief discussion of Romans 13. Carroll argues that American laws regarding immigration may be unjust and that believers should obey God in these matters rather than man. The correct response of Christians is therefore not simply to submit to the laws but to seek to reform them. Christian undocumented immigrants feel both the problem of violating the law and of feeling its injustices. Carroll holds that they should seek to obey the laws of the land in all other areas and that Christians should be sympathetic to their plight.
Hoffmeier, James K. The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.
Hoffmeier begins with a preface that details his experience as an immigrant as well as his experiences helping immigrants. In his first chapter he sketches the current American situation and discusses how the Bible applies to current concerns. He adopts a combination of Walter Kaiser’s principlization model and Christopher Wright’s worldview model. Beginning with the second chapter Hoffmeier begins his survey of the biblical data. He notes that ancient nations were concerned about the integrity of their borders and distinguished between legal and illegal immigrants. He is able to establish this from archaeological evidence in Egypt, but he also demonstrates it linguistically by the different words used in the Hebrew Bible to distinguish the various kinds of people moving through or living in the land. Hoffmeier demonstrates that the ger (stranger, sojourner) had the status of a legal immigrant. He also notes details from the narratives of the patriarchs that showed the sojourned within the legal frameworks of the peoples among whom they lived. This involved making treaties and agreements with them. In chapter 3 Hoffmeier investigates the enslavement of Israel by the Egyptians. He presents this as a case of legal immigrants who are at first received and then abused. He suggests that the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II provides an analogous situation in American history. Chapter 4 investigates the law’s teaching about the ger under five categories: "1) general ethical considerations, 2) legal protection, 3) treatment of employees, 4) social benefits, 5) religious participation" (72). In this section Hoffmeier treats such things as the equal standing under Israel’s law that the ger was to receive or the fair treatment (including fair pay) of employees. In this section Hoffmeier also looks at the biblical teaching concerning sanctuary cities. He concludes that sanctuary was a mechanism to guarantee a fair trial, not a means for evading the law. In chapter 5 Hoffmeier surveys Israel’s history and demonstrates that the sojourner played an important role throughout Israel’s history. In chapter 6 Hoffmeier looks at the prophets’ call for justice. He notes that justice is to be applied to the ger and to the native-born alike. He especially emphasizes their call for fair pay. Hoffmeier turns toward Israel’s exile in chapter 7, and he emphasizes God’s call for Israel to seek the shalom of the foreign city in which they dwelt. He takes this as paradigmatic for immigrants today. Chapter 8 examines the issue of the immigrant from the New Testament. Hoffmeier opens the chapter by noting the flight of Jesus and his family to Egypt to escape Herod. The emphasis of the chapter, however, rests on the dual citizenship of Christians in the kingdom of heaven as well as in the kingdoms of this world. This means that Christians are bound both to obey God and to obey the governments under which they live. He argues that Romans 13 applies even to laws that are unfair. For Christians to disobey American immigration laws, they must demonstrate that obedience to them violates God’s laws. Hoffmeier argues that Carroll does not do this and is overly dismissive of Romans 13. Hoffmeier also objects to Matthew 25:31-46 as a proof text for receiving illegal immigrants since in context it refers to "the apostles or the disciples whom Christ sent out" and secondarily to Christians generally. He does not believe it refers to all humans (148-49). In conclusion, Hoffmeier believes the Bible gives nations the right to regulate immigration. It does demand however that immigrants be treated equally under the law and be "eligible for social benefits" (though required to work for them) (155). He emphasizes the biblical distinction between foreigners with legal status as immigrants and those without. Given, this he emphasizes that Romans 13 mandates obedience to immigration laws. Hoffmeier then applies Romans 13 to employers, arguing that their exploitation of illegal immigrants violates justice not only toward them but also toward legal immigrants who could fill the job with a fair wage. Churches should not encourage immigrants to break the law, but they can provide financial and legal help to immigrants to enable them to gain or maintain legal standing. Hoffmeier concludes by recognizing that American immigration law may need to be reformed, but he does not go into details about how this should be done.
Hoffmeier does not engage the current political situation as much as Carroll does, but his treatment of the biblical material is more detailed and more careful.
Waters, Guy Prentiss. How Jesus Runs the Church. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2011.
How Jesus Runs the Church is a book about Presbyterian church government. The title may sound a bit cheeky to those, such as myself, who are not Presbyterian. Waters is making a serious point with the title, however. Since Jesus is the Lord of the church, the form of church government is not left to the discretion of the members. Waters therefore seeks to demonstrate how the Presbyterian from of church government is grounded in Scripture. He also acquaints readers with older Presbyterian literature on ecclesiology. Though those with differing denominational convictions will find plenty to disagree with, Waters’s clear writing style and effort to ground his view of church government makes him an ideal conversation partner.
Webb, Barry G. The Message of Isaiah. The Bible Speaks Today. Edited by J. A. Motyer. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1996.
For larger books, such as Isaiah, a brief commentary that orients the reader to the big ideas of the book as well as to its basic structure and flow of thought is very helpful. Webb’s commentary is of this sort. He is readable and insightful throughout. My only criticism is his tendency to spiritualize the eternal state. Why must the nations streaming to Zion simply be a picture of people from all nations being added to the church? If redemption truly extends as far as the Fall, the eternal state will be physical and earthly. And if the eternal state is physical and earthly, why may the nations not stream to Jerusalem? This compliant, however, is minor when compared with the great value of Webb’s comments overall.
Bock, Darrell L. and Mitch Glaser. To the Jew First: The Case for Jewish Evangelism in Scripture and History. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008.
This book is a collection of essays gathered from two conferences on Jewish evangelism. Though published under Kregel’s academic imprint, the essays are accessible rather than technical. I picked up the volume in connection with studies on the relation between the church and Israel. Coming with that aspect of study in mind I found the following essays the most helpful: Walter Kaiser’s essay on Romans 9-11, Craig Blaising’s essay on "The Future of Israel as a Theological Question" (also available in JETS 44.2, pp. 435-50), and Richard Pratt’s article on a Reformed perspective of the relation between Israel and the church. Michael Rydelnik’s essay on messianic prophecy was also informative.
Kaiser provided a helpful overview of Romans 9-11. I especially found his discussion of the olive tree imagery stimulating.
Pratt argued that adherents to Reformed theology are wrongly characterized as supersessionist or replacement theologians. While Reformed theologians object to the older dispensational division of the people of God into an earthly people and a heavenly people, Pratt says they do not claim the church has replaced Israel. Rather, the church and Israel are a unity. Israel is the Old Testament church. Pratt went on to affirm that the land promises would be fulfilled for ethnic Israel on the new earth. He also affirmed the end-time conversion of ethnic Israel. Pratt’s position is an intriguing one, but a few issues should be raised. First, there seems to be greater diversity among Reformed theologians than Pratt concedes. For instance, it seems fair to characterize O. Palmer Robertson as a replacement theologian. Robertson also rejects any fulfillment of the land promises for ethnic Israel and even the future conversion of ethnic Israel. At present, it seems that Robertson is in the minority position on the last point, but it seems that Pratt is probably in the minority position among Reformed theologians on seeing the land promises fulfilled for Israel in the future. Pratt would have been better off arguing that his position is consistent with Reformed theology than that it the Reformed position. More substantively, for Pratt’s position to work he must affirm that the church like Israel is a mixed group in terms of regeneration. This seems to ignore the changes brought about by the New Covenant. The church as a New Covenant institution should be comprised of a regenerated membership insofar as fallible humans are able to determine this.
Rydelink’s essay contained a fascinating survey of the reception history of messianic prophecy from the apostles through to the present.
Beilby, James K. and Paul Rhodes Eddy. Justification: Five Views. Downers Grove, InterVarsity, 2011.
This multi-view book on justification begins with two historical essays followed by two Reformed views, a New Perspective view, a deification view, and a Roman Catholic view. The opening historical essays by Beilby and Eddy do a competent job of providing the historical background and outlining the terms of the debate. In a multiple views book, this introductory material is helpful, especially for those who are using the book as an introduction to this issue.
The essays by Michael Horton, James Dunn, and Oliver Rafferty make this book a worthy read. Rafferty provides a very helpful historical sketch of the doctrine of justification from Augustine through Trent. Though his scope is more limited than the opening historical essay, I found it to be more insightful. A reader would do well to read Rafferty first, though he appears in the final essay in the book. I found his co-author for the Roman Catholic view less satisfying. He gave his own personal journey of understanding justification. His essay would have been stronger if he had dealt biblically with the work of recent Catholic scholars such as Joseph Fitzmeyer and theologically with various ecumenical initiatives that the Roman church has undertaken with the Lutherans and evangelicals regarding justification.
James Dunn is one of the founding and leading proponents of the New Perspective and was therefore a good choice for presenting that view. Furthermore, N. T. Wright seems to get more interaction in the evangelical world, so including Dunn brings in another voice for that perspective.
It is hard to imagine a better representative for the "traditional reformed view" than Michael Horton. He is exegetically, historically, and theologically competent on this issue. His Covenant and Salvation had already provided perhaps the best theological response to the New Perspective yet published, and many of those insights reappeared here (e.g., the similarity of Sanders’s covenantal nomism to the views that Luther and Calvin were combating, the importance of distinguishing between the types of OT covenants, etc.). Horton was also well prepared to respond to Kärkkäinen’s deification view, having also addressed that issue at length in Covenant and Salvation.
Kärkkäinen seemed too motivated by ecumenical issues for me to be truly convinced that his (Finnish school) revisionist reading of Luther even approximated Luther’s actual beliefs. His ecumenical quest also seemed to be something of a fool’s errand. He may have gained something in reaching out the Russian Orthodox, but Rafferty was clear in his response that the deification proposal was not acceptable to Roman Catholics. Nor is Kärkkäinen going to convince the Lutheran orthodox. He may have redrawn the lines regarding who finds his beliefs acceptable, but I’m not convinced any real ecumenical progress was made.
Michael Bird’s essay and responses were similarly unsatisfying. I did not find a clear statement of his position such as could be found in both Horton’s and Dunn’s essays. Furthermore, he seemed to be proclaiming the possibility of rapprochement while the principals of the debate clearly disagreed with one another. Horton, for instance, remained unconvinced that Dunn’s position was in fact compatible with Reformation theology despite Dunn’s recent insistence that the New Perspective stands not in opposition to the Reformation doctrine but as an addition and reorientation. For his part, Dunn seemed positively angry (I believe he used the term "miffed") in his response to Horton. In any event, in reading the positions and responses, I came away convinced of the real differences between the positions.
One last thought. Many of the contributors argued that Paul’s soteriology cannot be reduced to the one metaphor of justification. I’m not convinced that justification is merely one metaphor among many—a metaphor that may be emphasized or de-emphasized as the theological situation demands it. Rather, I think justification is a reality that must be reckoned with as theologians seek to understand God’s work of salvation.
Thiselton, Anthony C. Hermeneutics: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
Thiselton’s Hermeneutics is not a book of Bible study methodologies. It is largely a survey of hermeneutical approaches from early Judaism through to the present. Throughout Thiselton provides incisive evaluations. Though billed as an introduction, some of the discussions can become fairly deep philosophically. Nonetheless, this may be the most useful book for a quick survey of the history of hermeneutics.
Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009.
This is an excellent recent survey of the doctrine of Scripture. Ward is concise, readable, careful, and judicious. He does not simply restate that traditional evangelical doctrine but instead seeks to make explicit its biblical foundations. He also interacts with recent challenges to the doctrine. But this is not to say that Ward is innovative. While he does make use of recent theories about how language works, Ward also appreciatively draws on the work of previous theological giants who have formulated this doctrine: Calvin, Turretin, Warfield, and Bavinck.
I have only one major complaint about the book. In his section on sola scriptura, I find Ward overly dependent on Keith Mathison and Heiko Oberman’s inaccurate handling of the various views of tradition held throughout church history. He would have been better served by the categories found in Anthony Lane’s article, “Scripture, Tradition, and Church: An Historical Survey.” Vox Evangelica 9 (1975): 37-55.
This one complaint, however, should not deter readers from reading this excellent study on the doctrine of Scripture. Ward’s work is probably the best recent survey of the doctrine of Scripture.
Edwards, Jonathan. A History of the Work of Redemption. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Edited by John F. Wilson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. [Read all of Edwards’s text, the back matter and some of the front matter.]
This series of thirty sermons traces God’s work of redemption from eternity past through eternity future. The series is constructed historically, and will therefore remind readers of the kind of biblical theology that traces progressive revelation and the progress of God’s working in the world. But Edwards differs from biblical theology of this sort by being willing to systematically develop doctrines early on in this study. This work also differs from biblical theology by extending beyond the canon. Edwards interprets history from the close of the canon through to his present day by interpreting God’s providential working in the world through the lens of a historicist understanding of the book of Revelation (aided by relevant portions of Daniel). The earlier parts of the series were full of exegetical insights. The later parts, by Edwards’s own admission, were more open to debate, but I found his approach, especially his work with Revelation and Daniel interesting from a historical point of view. Because these were sermons, Edwards also maintains a devotional spirit throughout.
Neusner, Jacob. Judaism: The Basics. New York: Routledge, 2006.
This book provides what the title promises. Neusner defines Judaism through its culture and stories. He explains the basic beliefs of Judaism. Finally, he outlines its history and various subgroups from the Second Temple period through to the present.
Blaising, Craig A. "The Future Of Israel As A Theological Question," JETS 44, no. 3 (Sep 2001): 435-50.
Blaising begins his discussion with a survey of various types of supersessionism. He then surveys Romans 9-11 briefly as the key problem passage for the supersessionist. He also examines recent scholarship that argues Jesus’s mission involved the restoration of Israel. This point can support Blaising’s non-supersessionist approach, but he should have noted that some of the scholars who make this point are supersessionists. Blaising then turns to "Two-Covenant Theology." Though anti-supersessionist, Blaising rejects two-covenant theology as incompatible with the New Testament’s teaching that salvation involves faith in Jesus, whom God has made both Lord and Christ. Blaising calls on evangelical scholars to develop an approach to Israel that says "yes" to the theological significance of its future while rejecting the errors of two-covenant theology. He concludes by examining the significance of his approach to Israel’s future for theology proper, anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, and eschatology.
Theology proper: Blaising argues that discussions of God and his attributes should not be abstract but should be rooted in God’s historical dealings with Israel. He argues that Yahweh’s revelation of himself to Moses on Sinai should be the starting point for theology proper.
Anthropology: Blaising believes that his view gives impetus for seeing the significance of ethnic diversity in God’s plan. Furthermore, the bringing in of the Gentiles in the NT should be viewed not as universalizing OT particulars but as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant’s promise the Israel will be a blessing to the nations.
Christology: Blaising believes that Jesus’s Jewishness, his Davidic descent—the fact that he is the Davidic Messiah—should play a larger role in our Christology. Specifically, the Davidic covenant background to the "Son of God" title needs further acknowledgement.
Ecclesiology: Blaising emphases here that the church is not a Gentile entity. It is a Jewish and Gentile entity. Therefore, the church should not insist that Jewish Christians give up their Jewishness. Blaising also argues that rabbinic Torah observance is not the only kind, and that there is a legitimate way for Christian Jews to observe the Torah. Blaising, however, needs to reckon with the movement from the Mosaic to the New Covenant and its implications. This movement happened for Jews and not for Gentiles only.
Eschatology: Blaising argues that a driving force behind supersessionism is a "spiritual-vision" eschatology that emphasizes the beatific vision. In this eschatology there is little place for physicality and as a nation Israel must be reduced to a symbol. Blaising argues to the contrary for a physical new earth, which provides a place for peoples and nations in the eschaton.
Aune, David E. "The Text-Tradition of Luke-Acts," JETS 7, no. 3 (Summer 1964): 69-80.
Contains some useful information about the carious text types in Luke-Acts. Note especially the discussion of the Western text and his account of the various viewpoints regarding it.
Tolkein, J. R. R. "A Secret Vice." In Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. New York: HarperCollins, 1983.
An interesting lecture on inventing languages.
McClymond, Michael J. and Gerald R. McDermott. The Theology of Jonathan Edwards. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [chapters 1-12]
In part one McClymond and McDermott place Edwards in his context, trace out his life and the development of his thought, and enumerate the themes that will run throughout this study. In part two they begin to look at the major concepts which shape how Edwards approached theology. The authors exhibit good knowledge of Edwards’s corpus and of the vast amount of literature that has been written about Edwards.