Book Review: Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism

Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple JudaismReading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism by Ben C. Blackwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book compiles articles from several scholars going chapter by chapter through Paul’s letter to the Romans in light of the literature and historical context of second temple Judaism. The authors compare and contrast the letter with writings from the Qumran community and the Apocryphal books, etc. to see what influence they may have had on Paul’s thinking.

Overall it was a good read. The book is insightful at times and also conjecturing and speculative at others. I don’t agree with the views of some that we have to read Paul through this particular lens in order to rightly understand him. However, this setting was a part of his milieu and does inform our understanding of the socio-historical setting of the New Testament.

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Book Review: Reading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal Identity

Reading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal IdentityReading Romans after Supersessionism: The Continuation of Jewish Covenantal Identity by J Brian Tucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not thrilled with the term post-supersessionism as it could be construed that the non-supersessionist reading of the New Testament is new or more recent. The author acknowledges that supersessionist hermeneutics dominate contemporary scholarship, and I suppose that does give the appearance of being the traditional view. It would have been good to have had some treatment of the historicity of continuist, non-supersessionist hermeneutics.

Tucker focuses on Romans 9-11 and interacts with both the text and scholarship on different sides of this discussion. By the end of the book, he did a good job of bringing out the plural nature of the promises to the fathers, so fulfillment necessarily includes aspects of descendants of Abraham (Israel), land, and Gentiles inclusion.

I’m not entirely convinced by his arguments in Romans 14. He is influenced by the “spheres of influence” view of the continuing relevance of Torah. I personally need to do more work in this area, but it seems that view falls short in its assessment of the old covenant relationship to the new covenant and the extent of old covenant fulfillment. Further, it seems to divide the old covenant law into divisions nowhere made in scripture and doesn’t account for the all-or-nothing view in epistles such as Galatians or James, not to mention the book of Hebrews and the covenants discussion there. However, the continuing relevance of Torah is not entirely germane to his argument for non-supersessionist readings.

I appreciate the book and recommend it for study.

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Book Review: This Do In Remembrance of Me

This Do in Remembrance of MeThis Do in Remembrance of Me by Arie Elshout
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is a Dutch reformed treatment of the Lord’s supper. It’s a blend of introspective, puritanic pietism and expositions of confessions, catechisms, and liturgies of men more so than Scripture. There were some surprising statements here and there, like something about Christ as prophet, priest, and king and how we can receive him as one now and the others later. The Lord’s supper was pushed as a sacrament that confers grace to the partakers. Elshout made a reference to Hebrews 4:16, but slipped “the Lord’s table” in there where “the throne of grace” is, making that quite a different statement. I’m afraid the heavy introspectionist approach has the net effect of making the Lord’s supper more about self-examination than the sacrificial death of Christ. It has some good, but there are better books on the subject.

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Book Review: The Purposes of The Lord’s Supper

The Purposes of the Lord's SupperThe Purposes of the Lord’s Supper by Peter Masters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a clear and concise treatment of the Lord’s Supper. Masters focuses on the central meaning of the Supper. I would sand some points here and there, but found it helpful. I especially appreciate how he focused on the broken body and shed blood of Jesus and didn’t try to artificially enhance the solemnity of the Supper by adding extraneous rules that seem good to man.

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Book Review: The Spirituality of Wine

The Spirituality of WineThe Spirituality of Wine by Gisela Kreglinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a fascinating book. Too many of us have giving too little thought and study about what the Bible says about wine. Regardless of what side of the issue of drinking wine you are on, it can’t be denied that wine is a prevalent theme in Scripture, which needs honest treatment. I disagreed with some of the theology and philosophy in this book, but the biblical passages treated in the book were handled fairly well. The historical and contemporary milieu of winemaking sections in the book were interesting and informative. The book really shines in the artful descriptions of vineyards and the connection between wine in the barrel and the soil of the place. Kreglinger dealt with the delicate balance between artful craft and the role of technology.

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