Saturday, July 14, 2012

LHP Review: Abraham, Jesus, Paul


 
Perrin, Nicholas and Richard B. Hays, Editors. Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011. 294 Pages. Paper. $24.00. academic.ivpress.com (LHP)

Steinmann, Andrew E. Foreword by Nicholas Perrin. From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 421 Pages. Cloth. $79.99. www.cph.org (P)


When I write a book review, it is often more interesting for me as a review, for you as our readers and for the publishers and authors behind a given book if i am able to pair it up with at least one other book that is similar (or enough different we can do a Contrasts review).

What does Jesus, Paul and the People of God have in common with From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology

Nicholas Perrin.

He used to be a researcher for N. T. Wright and is assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois. 

And he wrote the Foreword by the Steinman book and edited the two-part dialogue with N. T. Wright.




At the 2010 Wheaton Theology Conference, leading New Testament scholar N. T. Wright and nine other prominent biblical scholars and theologians gathered to consider Wright's prolific body of work. Compiled from their presentations, this volume includes Tom Wright's two main addresses, one on the state of scholarship regarding Jesus and the other on the state of scholarship regarding the apostle Paul. The other nine essays critically interact with these two major themes of Wright's works.


Much appreciation is shown, overviews are given, perspective is provided and some pointed questions are also raised. Together these essays represent the best of critical yet charitable dialogue among serious and rigorous scholars on theological themes vital to Christian faith that will propel New Testament scholarship for the next decade to come.
With essays by
  • Jeremy Begbie
  • Markus Bockmuehl
  • Richard B. Hays
  • Edith M. Humphrey
  • Sylvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh
  • Nicholas Perrin
  • Marianne Meye Thompson
  • Kevin J. Vanhoozer
(Publisher's website)
It would be fair to say that I had the same reactions to this book as I have to previous work by Wright: I appreciate much of what he says about Jesus, yet I disagree with him vehemently about Paul.

It appears I am not alone in this. In many ways, it is extremely difficult for Wright to be labeled. That's not all bad.

Wright speaks too much of a collective salvation and too little of an individual salvation for my taste (cf. 113). Wright may help save some Lutherans from themselves (cf. 199).

What I appreciate most about N. T. Wright is the discussion he creates. He challenges our long-held assumptions. Engage with theological dialogue with N. T. Wright yourself by reading Jesus, Paul, and the People of God published by IVP.


We now turn our attention to one of the best resources of its kind, From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology.


FROM THE FOREWORD: Enter Andrew E. Steinmann’s From Abraham to Paul. It is a book which should have been written decades ago. Here’s why. Steinmann not only assumes—quite rightly—that history matters, but he also shows two things about biblical history. First, he shows that in many cases with a little scholarly spadework we can have a pretty good idea as to when key events took place, events like the life of Abraham, the Conquest of the Promised Land, the birth of Jesus, or Paul’s Second Missionary Journey. These events are not the yarn of legend: on the contrary, there is every good intellectually-compelling reason to accept them as history, history that really happened in time and space. . . . The second thing Steinmann shows about history—and this is no less important—is its complexity. Some of the questions which the book takes up are thorny questions indeed, having provoked lots of black ink and fiery debate along the way. The author’s approach is never polemical, but always clear; the positions taken are not necessarily always the standard positions, but they are always defended from the evidence. Indeed, it is precisely this quality that makes the book such a delight to read. . . .

We should be grateful for books like this. We should be grateful, because God made history and history matters. Apart from the conviction that our faith is a historical faith, we are left only to cast about. But, when we are fully persuaded that sacred history meshes with the history in which we live and move and have our being, that is when biblical faith becomes a real possibility. Likewise, every intellectually serious reader of the Bible (pious or not so pious) will learn to think twice before allowing himself or herself to be bullied (happily or anxiously) by the skeptics. True, there is so much we don’t know. But, by the same token, there is much we can know—and know with some confidence.
 ---NICHOLAS PERRIN, Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School

Dr. Andrew E. Steinmann is Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, Chicago, IL. He has over 25 years of experience guiding students into a deeper understanding of biblical history. Among his numerous scholarly and practical publications are the following from Concordia: The Oracles of God: The Old Testament Canon (1999), Is God Listening? Making Prayer a Part of Your Life (2004), and Concordia Commentary Series volumes on Ezra/Nehemiah, Proverbs, and Daniel.
Click to view FREE chronology charts!

(Publisher's website)
Please note the book blurb from Perrin as noted above and do not miss the free downloadable chronology charts (link above)

I wish I had this resource before I went to seminary and while I was at the sem! My other regret is that I missed meeting the author at a recent Wyoming District Pastoral Conference in Laramie because I had a pastoral care issue that needed my attention at home.

History is complex, but we have a really good idea when many important things actually happened.That should be encouraging to you and your congregation. Steinmann builds on the benchmarks of Old Testament chronology (347ff, et al) and shows you his detective work as he makes the case for the chronology he develops (passim).

A New Testament example is highly instructive. Consider the date of the birth of Jesus. As we heard in 2009 (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2009/10/lhp-review-star-of-wonder.html), there is a problem with many translations of Josephus, a textual error in copying. Steinmann independently verifies this, ruling out the 4 BC eclipse, verifying that everything "fits well" with one in 1 BC (234). From here, the author outlines Jesus' ministry (263) as well as Holy Week and Easter (288, 297). Dating Pentecost to the deaths of Peter and Paul (342ff) seems simple in comparison.

This book belongs on your shelf.

We look forward to more from this author. We at LHP QBR have appreciated this book and his Concordia Commentary series contributions very much!



The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.