While I am sympathetic to the overall thesis regarding the Bible's overarching narrative of cosmic-conflict, this work has significant problems that diminish its value towards understanding that narrative. For the sake of brevity (!), I will outline a few of the major problems: 1. Many reviewers state that this is a very scholarly, academic-level work. Actually, it is not. Although it's very evident that a lot of quality research has gone into the work and stands in its background, Heiser herein neglects one of the most important requirements of academic writing: "show your work." And, the more radical or controversial the conclusions, the more strongly they need to be proven. But little of this is provided here. Some of the necessary work is outsourced to the companion website--which I have not read--and this is not a bad idea for tangential or highly technical matters. However, the major points really needed to be demonstrated clearly, and this was not done, especially for the overall thesis, point #2 below. 2. Heiser's thesis--boiled down--is that Psalm 82 is the hermeneutical key to the Bible. From the beginning, God [YHWH] had a "divine council" of other, created divine beings or "gods." The story of the Bible, especially the OT, is of his conflict with them and how it affects life on earth. The divine council is his first family, humanity is his second, and his goal is to unite the two. ALL OF THIS IS ASSERTED, NOT DEMONSTRATED. Heiser does not, in this work, explain why Ps. 82 is a hermeneutical key, what are the viable alternative interpretations, and why his viewpoint is superior to them. Reading to the end of the book, he never explains what exactly these "gods" are (they are not angels). He also chooses to outsource discussion of John 10.34-35, where Jesus quotes this Psalm, to the website--this being the factor that ultimately made me give the book 2 instead of 3 stars. All of this needed to be explained in the book. It might have taken 100 additional pages, but it would have been worth it. 3. Heiser does not, more than very superficially in a note or two, deal with the literary and critical issues surrounding his key texts--and the issues with them are extremely significant. For example, he jumps from Ps. 82 to Gen. 1.26--the "elohim" of the divine council/family are the "us" of this verse--to Gen. 3.4, and ties them all together in support of his thesis. That involves a huge number of assumptions that need to be listed out, developed, and justified, but again, this has not been done. I suppose such connections can be made under the assumption of a very uniform doctrine of inspiration, that all the authors of the biblical texts use the same words the same way and mean the same thing by them. Ironically, by taking a moderately critical approach that allows prioritization of the Bible's clear teachings and contextual variation from one passage to another, one can arrive at a much more orthodox theology. 4. In the end, I see little difference between the view asserted here and henotheism, the belief in many gods of which YHWH is supreme. (The word "henotheism" only occurs twice, both times in footnotes referencing an article by Heiser, and is never discussed.) I'm sure this would be strenuously denied--okay, deny it in the book! Explain how this is not henotheism, what exactly the "gods" are, how this reconciles with firm biblical monotheism, and what we should do with it in terms of altering our beliefs. Instead, there is silence on all these matters. A radically innovative conclusion that controverts received interpretation has been made, one that has major implications for how we believe, but no help is given for processing that conclusion and making necessary adjustments in theology. I acknowledge that this review has mostly been critical--a necessary counterbalance to others and to the heavy marketing of the book. It's certainly an interesting read and not at all what I expected when I first saw the title. I do want to thank Dr. Heiser & Logos for making this available as a preview in Logos Now. I am glad to have read it, but unfortunately I cannot unreservedly recommend it to others, nor would I use it as a source for exploring, writing, or teaching about related issues.
- Thank you for your reply. Part of my disappointment was in reaction to Faithlife's heavy marketing; when something is hyped very strongly you expect more from it. Please note one of my very first comments: "it's very evident that a lot of quality research has gone into the work and stands in its background," If you're trying to summarize it all for a non-specialist reader, it is all the more important, then, to clearly hit the major questions that might arise rather than assuming the explanation made elsewhere will be read. 1. At least for the Logos edition I was reading, the links to the website didn't work. In a brief visit to the site I could not find any page of linked articles. I stopped digging after that. In any event, a book is reviewed on its own merits. You cannot expect a problem to be overlooked in one work because you wrote about it in another. 2. It is a _fact_ that you did not explain Jesus' use of Ps. 82 in Jn. 10. For Christians trying to make sense of the passage, that is a necessary priority that cannot be overlooked. 3. It is a _fact_ that you did not explore any of the critical and literary issues I raised in my #3. Even though they might not accept it, many people are familiar with the theory that Gen. 1 & 2 were written by different authors, which has implications for how these passages are used in conjunction. Even if not elaborated in detail, it should have been addressed at least in passing, given the importance of their linkage for the entire thesis of the work. 4. It is a _fact_ that the book contains no discussion of henotheism. Again, that is an important question that merited at least a few pages' attention. The book is well-written, engaging, and intriguing; I will repeat that the years of research behind it is quite evident. The lack of address of these serious, central questions I have listed, though, constitutes a flaw in the work--especially in a work aimed at non-specialists who may not be up for wading through academic journal articles, even if they have access to them.
- "HEAVY MARKETING" ? Welcome to Logos and Faithlife!! :)