In my ongoing, irregular series of shorter book reviews, I offer another batch of volumes I happen to be reading at the moment and wish to recommend. Since they reflect my usual interests, you will find books on theology, apologetics, ethics, current events and the like. The 13 books mentioned here are arranged roughly by subject order. All are important new volumes which should rightly grace the shelves of all discerning readers. Happy reading!
Witherington, Ben, The Indelible Image, vol. 1. IVP, 2009.
In the first of a projected two-volume set, the prolific New Testament scholar looks at “The theology and ethical thought world of the New Testament” as the book’s subtitle states. In well over 800 pages this first volume is an extensive and detailed examination of theological ethics in the New Testament. It is a masterful treatment which covers all the bases, and will be a standard in the field for years to come. Highly recommended.
Sailhamer, John, The Meaning of the Pentateuch. IVP, 2009.
Sailhamer is a leading Old Testament scholar who has extensively majored on the Pentateuch for many decades now. In this 600-plus page study he looks at all the important issues such as authorship, integrity, composition, themes and genres. A masterful interaction with all the relevant scholarship, this is a major contribution to this field from a first-rate OT expert.
Oswalt, John, The Bible Among the Myths. Zondervan, 2009.
What is the relationship between myth and history? Is the Bible to be understood mainly as historical or mythological? How reliable is the Old Testament? What do we really know about ancient Israel? These and other important questions are capably dealt with by a leading Old Testament professor. He takes head on the claims of critical scholarship, and shows that the OT is far more reliable, authoritative and historically accurate than its critics claim.
Meadors, Gary, ed., Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology. Zondervan, 2009.
Everyone who reads the Bible does so with some cultural baggage and with some preconceived ideas. None of us come to it with a blank slate and complete objectivity. And there are plenty of difficult passages which require careful exegesis and interpretation. Here four evangelicals offer differing perspectives on how we should rightly interpret and apply Scripture. Their presentations and the ensuing debate makes for an important contribution to a vexing and complex issue.
Richter, Sandra, The Epic of Eden. IVP, 2008.
Sadly most Christians suffer from biblical illiteracy, especially when it comes to the Old Testament. This helpful volume introduces us to the OT, its themes, its storyline, and its importance. While a number of good books already exist doing similar things, this is a scholarly yet easy to read look at the OT which discusses a number of perplexing and difficult issues along the way. Well worth getting.
Moreland, J.P., The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism. SCM, 2009.
One of the finest Christian philosophers around today is J.P. Moreland. He has written extensively on numerous issues in the philosophy of religion. In this scholarly volume he looks at what it means to be human, and how philosophical naturalism cannot give us an adequate account of or rationale for the human person. An invaluable contribution to this crucial topic.
Ganssle, Gregory, A Reasonable God: Engaging the New Face of Atheism. Baylor University Press, 2009.
With the huge impact of the new atheists, a number of books written in response have appeared over the last few years. Indeed, there are around 50 of them now, with this being one of the newest. In it, the philosophy professor looks at a number of key issues: the relationship between science and faith; the role of reason and evidence; various arguments for God’s existence; the Darwinian explanation of religion; and so on. A most welcome addition to the ongoing debate.
Berlinski, David, The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays. Discovery Institute, 2009.
David Berlinski has for years been a fiercely independent thinker and analyst. He is often willing to go against the grain as he takes on the foibles and deficiencies of many modern day orthodoxies. Darwinism is one prime example of this, and Berlinski has been fearless in his criticisms of it. This volume is actually a collection of his writings extending back nearly 15 years, covering all sorts of topics, from the nature of science to the new atheism. A welcome volume from a leading thinker and writer.
Sowell, Thomas, Intellectuals and Society. Basic Books, 2009.
Thomas Sowell is one of our leading conservative thinkers and commentators who has penned many dozens of very important books on economic, social and political themes over the years. Here he looks at the role of public intellectuals and elites who have so much influence – usually negative influence – over so much of the Western world. In a wide-ranging yet detailed work, he covers all sorts of topics as he discusses the inordinate power and influence these elites have. Another first class book by a first class scholar.
Woods, Thomas, Meltdown. Regnery, 2009.
Almost everyone is aware of the global financial turndown and many have been affected by it. Why did it happen? What are its causes? Are government bailouts and more regulation the best way to remedy these problems? How should we think about the Great Depression? Woods offers a careful and detailed examination of these and related issues from a free market perspective. A good antidote to so much mainstream media commentary on all this.
Goldberg, Arthur, Light in the Closet. Red Heifer Press, 2008.
The issue of homosexuality is a major social and ethical hot potato. Here the head of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) provides us with the most complete, most thorough and most informed discussion of homosexuality to date from the orthodox Jewish perspective. In nearly 600 pages all the important facets of this debate are covered: religious, medical, pastoral, sociological, political and cultural. A first class work by a leading expert and practitioner in the field.
Nolland, Lisa, Chris Sugden and Sarah Finch, eds., God, Gays and the Church. The Latimer Trust, 2008.
In this very important volume a number of top-notch essays by experts in their fields address a number of issues concerning homosexuality. Questions addressed include: Are homosexuals born that way? What does Scripture have to say about homosexuality? How does the homosexual agenda put us all at risk? The book also offers powerful testimonies of homosexuals who have been set free from their lifestyle by a life-changing encounter with Christ. A very useful and vital volume.
Sayers, Mark, The Vertical Self. Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Young Melbourne-based cultural commentator Mark Sayers is a step above many Christian youth workers. Instead of wanting to entertain and coddle young people, he wants to challenge them to go against the tide, and rise above the surrounding culture, offering something better and more Christlike. Here he contrasts the biblical view of who we are and what we are meant to be with the secular versions of self, self-esteem, self-glorification, and selfishness. A vibrant call to live a radically different sort of life than what the world expects of us.