Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Review: Unlocking the Bible

Jeff Lasseigne, Unlocking the Bible: What It Is, How We Got It, and Why We Can Trust It. Baker Books, 2016. 315 Pages. 

Jeff Lasseigne has written a one volume introduction to the Bible. The book is arranged in two main parts: 

Part One: The Big Picture
This section really serves as a great overview of the Bible. Here, Lasseigne tells us the story of how we got the Bible and why we can trust it. This is simple, straightforward information that could be found in any reputable Bibliology. Lasseigne's targeted audience, though, isn't for scholars or pastors, but the laymen who probably won't be reading a systematic theology textbook.  Following this theology section, Lasseign shifts to surveying the Old and New Testaments and the period between the Testaments.  I was especially impressed with Lasseigne's ability to clearly and concisely explain the story line of the Bible.  One of the most helpful aspects of Unlocking the Bible is that Lasseigne will pause and explain pertinent, perennial issues that trouble believers.  For example, in his Old Testament survey, Lasseigne answers the question of how Old Testament believers were saved, or what role does the law have in the life of the believer. Following the survey, Lasseigne writes on how to study and teach the Scripture--hermeneutics and homiletics.

There are Seven Chapters in this first section:

1. How We Got the Bible
2. Why We Can Trust the Bible
3. Understanding the Old Testament
4. The Sounds of Silence
5. Understanding the New Testament
6. How to Study the Bible
7. How to Teach the Bible

Part Two: Books of the Bible 
This is exactly how it sounds. Every book of the Bible is treated covered with a few pages each. Each book is arranged the same way: 
  • Important Information (Author, Theme, Category)
  • Fascinating Facts (Unique facts about the book)
  • Quotable Quotes (From scholars, pastors and writers on the book covered)
  • Notable Notes (Additional information about the book)
  • Christ Connections (How Christ can be seen in the book). 
Jeff Lasseigne desired to write a introductory volume that gives us a sound big overview of the Bible. He has succeed. This book is excellent. It is especially helpful for new believers or believers who have no idea what the Bible is about, and how it fits together or where to start reading.  This is a very basic and effective one volume resource to unlocking the Bible. 

Rating: Five Hatch Green Chiles out of Five

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: Greek for Everyone

A. Chadwick Thornhill, Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application. Baker Books. 2016. 252 Pages.

In Elementary Greek, we were told that being able to read the New Testament in its original language,  Koine Greek, would be like going from watching TV in black and white to color. While I loved the idea of studying New Testament Greek, I soon discovered how little equipped I was to engage. Greek was extraordinarily difficult. I struggled. Reading a book like Greek for Everyone before I formally studied would have tremendously helpful.

A. Chadwick Thornhill has written Greek for Everyone to meet a real need not only for college students, but for every student of the New Testament who wants to enrich their study--a introductory volume to Koine Greek.  The book is written at a popular level. It is comprised of 18 short, readable chapters, two appendices and a glossary of key Greek Terms: 

1. Language, Learning, Koine Greek, and the Greek Alphabet
2. The Big Picture of Language
3. Phrases, Clauses, and Conjunctions
4. Resources for Navigating the Greek New Testament
5. Introduction to Greek Verbs and Nominals
6. Nominative, Accusative, and Vocative Cases
7. Genitive and Dative Cases
8. Articles, Pronouns, Adjectives, and Prepositions
9. (Independent) Indicative-Mood Verbs
10. (Independent) Imperative-Mood Verbs
11. (Dependent) Subjunctive-Mood Verbs
12. (Dependent) Greek Infinitives
13. (Dependent) Greek Participles
14. Back to the Big Picture
15. Comparing English Translations
16. Bridging Context
17. Word Studies
18. The Grammar of Theology (Putting it All Together)

Appendix 1: "Your Turn" Answers
Appendix 2: Greek Paradigms
Glossary of Select Greek Terms

Each chapter ends with vocabulary words to memorize. This makes learning key Greek words manageable--by the end of the book the reader may be surprised with how much vocabulary he has under his belt! As well as vocabulary, Thornhill includes a "Your Turn" section where he has the reader apply what he has learned, which is a very helpful exercise. 

Reading through Greek for Everyone, I was impressed with Thornhill's ability to clearly instruct his readers in the basics of the language. I was also surprised to see the wide range of material covered in such a concise volume. Thornhill not only offers us suggestions as to how to study Greek, teaches us the mechanics of the language, but also show us how it applies with a discussion of English translation philosophies, interpretation, and exercises like word studies which help in the understanding of a text. 

A Chadwick Thornhil wrote Greek for Everyone for the purpose of teaching his readers how Greek works and how to use it for better Bible study. He has thoroughly succeeded. Greek for Everyone is a solid one volume introduction to Koine Greek. This work will not make someone a Greek expert but it will orient them to the language enough to understand Greek at a basic level. It lays a solid foundation for further study. Greek for Everyone is a volume I would recommend to anyone looking to further their biblical study skills by getting a taste of Greek. This volume would be especially helpful for undergraduate Greek students to read before formal study. Additionally, reading through it has helpfully freshened up my Greek. I highly recommend this fine work. 

Rating: Five Hatch Green Chiles out of Five 

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Review: What is Reformed Theology?

R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics. Baker Books. 2016.

Calvinism is making a comeback across the Christian landscape. There has been a resurgence of Calvinistic publications, as well as the emergence of large conferences like Together for the Gospel comprised of flagship Calvinist speakers with thousands in attendance.

Calvinism belongs to larger system of theology known as Reformed Theology. R.C. Sproul, founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, is especially qualified to write an introductory volume to reformed theology.

The book is made up of ten chapters and is arranged as following:

Part 1: Foundations of Reformed Theology
1. Centered on God
2. Based on God's Word Alone
3. Committed to Faith Alone
4. Devoted to the Prophet, Priest, and King
5. Nicknamed Covenant Theology

Part Two: Five Points of Reformed Theology
6. Humanity's Radical Corruption
7. God's Sovereign Choice
8. Christ's Purposeful Atonement
9. The Spirit's Effective Call
10. God's Preservation of the Saints

The book is arranged in two main sections. The first section deals with foundations of Reformed Theology, the second the five points of Reformed Theology. For theological novices, Sproul's introduction is especially helpful as he surveys the broad field of theology. Here, he moves past natural theology to the Scriptures, then to theology. In chapter one, Sproul narrows the discussion to Reformed Theology. The remaining chapters describe what Reformed Theology is centered on. These chapters are especially helpful in getting a broad understanding of what Reformed Theology is.  Sproul moves past the foundational elements before proceeding to the Five Points of Calvinism in section two.

While I found much material familiar, the reading itself did not drag.  Sproul's writing style is clear and compelling. He does well bringing theological concepts down to the layman's level. 

One question I've been contemplating lately, is what is my theological heritage? Being a Classical Arminian I disagree with the three middle points of Calvinism's TULIP: Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible grace.Those disagreements however do not, in my opinion disqualify me from being under the broad umbrella of Reformed Theology. I would consider Arminian Theology to be a subset of Reformed Theology, as Arminian Theology is essentially reformed, Reformed Theology. Sproul's book helped me reach this conclusion as I disagreed with very little of section one, the foundations of Reformed Theology.  R.C. Sproul's goal was to write a clear, simple introduction to Reformed Theology. He has succeed.What is Reformed Theology? is an excellent introductory volume to Reformed Theology!

Rating: Five Hatch Green Chiles out of Five 

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255