This post highlights three biblical-theological books I read this month, two of which I recommend. I will not review the books, but will provide a brief description and mention each book’s significance.
In The Chosen People: Election, Paul and Second-Temple Judaism (IVP Academic, 2015), Chad Thornhill, chair of theological studies at Liberty University, explores extra-biblical Jewish literature of Paul’s era to answer the question, “How did Paul understand election?” I highly recommend this careful, academic work. Dr. Thornhill has agreed to speak about this book and answer questions at a guest presentation at NOBTS on April 7. More information about that event will be available soon.
John C. Peckham serves associate professor of theology and Christian philosophy at the Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. His book, The Love of God: A Canonical Model (IVP Academic, 2015), presents two theological models (basically classical theism and process theology) then attempts to answer five key questions about the love of God from a third model. Peckham’s alternative is the foreconditional-reciprocal model, which he develops from a “final-canon form approach to systematic theology.” Although I do not affirm every conclusion in his book, I greatly appreciate and endorse his method, which seeks to answer theological questions from the pages of the Bible rather than by presupposing theological frameworks which might or might not accurately reflect the teaching of the Bible.
Bart D. Ehrman’s book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, 2014) inspired a recent point-counterpoint forum at NOBTS, featured in this Baptist Press article. Because it is a New York Times bestseller, this book (or the views it contains) might make it to members of local churches. For that reason, it is important for church leaders and scholars to understand Ehrman’s arguments and prepare a response. The author clearly denies that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who died to provide salvation for sinners. Other examples of Ehrman’s views include: Jesus never claimed to be God, we cannot know what happened to the body of Jesus, and Jesus was eventually “made” God by the embellished stories of his later followers. Although Ehrman is a serious academician and his work deserves a response from both the church and the academy, I cannot recommend this book to readers who are not already familiar with the arguments of scholars such as: Richard Bauckham, James D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright, Larry Hurtado, Simon Gathercole, James McGrath, and Michael Bird.
Note: I received no compensation in any way for mentioning the books in this post.