- K. Scott Oliphint is Dean of Faculty and Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Oliphint is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and holds a PhD from WTS. Oliphint is a leading voice of Reformed apologetics and the author of numerous publications, including Christianity and the Role of Philosophy (P&R, 2013) and Covenantal Apologetics (Crossway, 2013). Most recently, Oliphint released a fascinating exploration into some of the most shadowy corners of the Christian doctrine of God in hopes of encouraging a celebratory response to the glory of his incomprehensibleness. The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God is comprised of nine chapters that address questions pertaining to the trinity of God, the incarnation of God in Jesus, the relationship of between God and his people, the providence of God and human choices, etc. The book is written with the layperson in mind, and thus should be easily accessible for most to enjoy. Oliphint is convinced that "nothing should motivate true Christian worship more than the majestic mystery of God" (p. 4). It is here that readers get a glimpse into the tone and purpose of the book, and Oliphint does well to bring the readers back to this point over and over again. As Oliphint summarizes, "These are questions that recognize some of the mysterious tensions that Scripture presents to us. They are good questions, but wrong answers to good questions can rob us of a full, and fulfilled, Christian life, and they rob God of His proper glory. Proper answers-answers that allow the mystery of God and His ways to shine brightly-will evoke in us proper worship, preparing us for an eternity of worship with Him, in which, because of the majestic mystery of God's triune character, we will be 'lost in wonder, love, and praise'" (p. 14-15). The strengths The Majesty of Mystery are numerous. First, and probably foremost, Oliphint is a brilliant thinker and a capable communicator. The level of conversation generally exhausted for the topics addressed in this book tend to land outside the realm of the target audience. Oliphint has distilled and packaged an enormous amount of rich theological consideration into a rather small and approachable volume. Second, the tone, as Oliphint has set out from beginning to end, wonderfully complements the material therein. It allows the reader to move beyond the theoretical and into the throne room of God. Third, the scope of the volume is calculated and appropriately organized for a work of this nature. It is clear that Oliphint spent considerable time pondering the most relevant topics that exhibit tension, and the result allows readers to admire the mystery of God while ushering them towards practical means of worship. Much more could be said about the above, but these three, alone warrant acknowledgment here. The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God by K. Scott Oliphint is a wonderful demonstration of how to move beyond theological tension to a formed doxology that stands in awe of the incomprehensibleness of God. Oliphint is clear that his treatment does not attempt to explain "exactly how these mysteries work, or even how they can be!" (p. 207). Still, it is clear, as Oliphint acknowledges, "that they are the sum and substance of our Christian lives and experience" (p. 207). Thus, rather than seek to reconcile the irreconcilable, Oliphint encourages us not simply to ignore or run away from such tensions, but to worship through them as we seek to know and love God more faithfully.
- Eugene Carpenter was Professor of Old Testament, Hebrew, and Biblical Theology at Bethel College. He authored commentaries on Daniel and Exodus, as well as Deuteronomy in the New Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. Carpenter has also written translations for both Exodus and Numbers. Before his untimely and accidental death in 2012, Carpenter completed his magnum opus on the Book of Exodus-a mammoth exploration that took nearly two decades to complete. The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series (EEC) is becoming notoriously known for its consistent academic rigor and practical care. Each volume in the series presents content packed with insight and application and is bound together by a historic affirmation of orthodox Christianity and the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures (xi). Carpenter's volume on the Book of Exodus accomplishes this reality with excellence and provides the reader with a wealth of understanding and insight. Carpenter begins the commentary with a well-informed monster of an introduction (61 pages). It's here that groundwork is established, and the introductory matters are investigated. I really appreciated Carpenter's focus on the theological and practical emphasis of the book. It was a refreshing and holistic overview of the importance of Exodus, and one, in my opinion, deemed necessary before entering into some of the minute details of verbal forms and textual disputes. As the reader enters into the commentary proper, each major unit of the commentary is addressed with a brief introduction, which is then followed by smaller and more detailed discussions around the specific units of text. It is here that the reader will discover the supreme worth of Carpenter's work. Each section contains the original text, textual notes, Carpenter's translation, verse-by-verse commentary, biblical theology comments, application and devotional implications, and a selected bibliography. Carpenter has also included a number of helpful excurses articles on various related topics, such as, the historical Moses, the date of the exodus, and more. The reader will discover the excurses material to be appropriately placed. That is, the articles are more than page supplements to the overall commentary; rather they strategically provide detail around some of the more difficult issues within the Exodus conversation-issues that would not fit within the introduction or commentary proper. Carpenter concludes the volume with an exhaustive 40-page bibliography and a Scripture index. Carpenter is unashamedly conservative in his overall approach to the Book of Exodus. This is praiseworthy for those that stand firmly within that theological circle. However, for those less theologically conservative, some of the statements and conclusions reached by Carpenter will be unwelcomed (e.g. authorship and date). This doesn't mean that Carpenter sidesteps these critical issues, rather his presupposition therein is guided by his belief in biblical inerrancy. I personally found much of Carpenters interaction helpful and his arguments persuasively presented. Exodus: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary by Eugene Carpenter represents the best evangelical scholarship on the Old Testament available today. Carpenter is academically lucid and pastorally sensitive. Exodus is a watershed moment in evangelical scholarship. From the organization of the volume to the riches of its content, it is hard to imagine a commentary more useful for studying a book more central to the biblical narrative than this. It comes highly recommended!
- Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis edited by Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch is a collection of scholarly essays presented at the Tyndale Fellowship 2015 meeting, sponsored by the University of Cambridge School of Arts and Humanities and Lexham Research Institute. Runge and Fresch have brought together a fascinating presentation of forward-moving linguistic research that frames a longstanding conversation around the function and application of the Greek verb. Runge and Fresch help to push the conversation past an aspect-only dialog and into new space with more room for a new paradigm to flourish. As expected, Greek Verb Revisited is academically oriented and probably best situated for intermediate or advance students of New Testament Greek. The volume opens with an excellent forward from Andreas J. Köstenberger, recounting his personal journey and adoration for the work presented. Runge and Fresch have divided the essays into three major sections: (1) Overview, (2) Application, and (3) Linguistic Investigations. The organization of the volume seems somewhat random, but the content therein is magnificent. The first section aims to position the overall conversation, past and present, within the larger framework of the volume. There are four chapters focusing on tense and/or aspect, with no obvious organizational intent, which looks to move the conversation towards new ground. While each of the essays has strengths, the essay by Nicholas J. Ellis, that establishes a cognitive-linguistic framework, is outstanding and Ellis’ use of Matt. 2:20 is appropriate. The second and third sections are where the bulk of the volume is spent. There is much that could be said about the chapters in these sections, but most of which is beyond space here. Runge’s chapter on nonnarrative discourse was fascinating. Runge is easy to follow and he does a great job bringing the reader into his discussion while remaining humble and honest about the need for further research (p. 265). Again, much more could be said about each essay individually, but as a collection of essays this volume is sure to be a staple for further engagement in the years to come. It is both exciting and encouraging to see an unfolding of new movement in research regarding the function and application of the Greek language, especially the Greek verb. Greek Verb Revisited is both up-to-date and academically stimulating. The contributors include, Peter Gentry, Stephen Levinsohn, Buist Fanning, Rutger Allan, and many more names of equal caliber. At nearly 650 pages, this volume is not for the faint of heart. But, those who specialize in or enjoy linguistics will find this volume to be a goldmine of rich discovery. Some essays are more difficult to follow than others, and this varies from topic and author. But, overall those with a preexisting knowledge of the language and a familiarity with the ongoing dialog on Greek verbs will be pleasantly surprised by the tone of this volume. Additionally, for those who love to explore bibliographies for their next research project or “rabbit trail” read, each of the essays include a sizable list of referenced resources that will come in handy. For future exploration, Runge and Fresch have included a detailed subject/author index and an index of ancient sources. This will allow for relevant information to be retrieved as the need arises—an appropriate and welcomed addition. Greek Verb Revisited: A Fresh Approach for Biblical Exegesis edited by Steven E. Runge and Christopher J. Fresch is nothing short of groundbreaking. The essays included are forward-looking and up-to-date with the latest conversations, and, in fact, push those conversations towards a much-needed end. If you are looking for a volume that presents the most recent advances in the Greek language, while remaining academically practical for exegesis and textual analysis, then nothing should stand in the way of this book finding space on your shelf. It comes highly recommended for those engaged or looking to engage in the conversation.