• As I’ve been considering additions to my library, one of the commentary sets that caught my eye recently was the Poor Man’s Old and New Testament Commentary set by Robert Hawker. The first thing that drew me in was the name. I had never heard of Poor Man’s, but it got me thinking there was going to be a good cost to benefit ratio in there somewhere for a frugal guy like me. The second thing that intrigued me was the endorsements. I highly respect Dr. Joel R. Beeke and a am a fan of Charles Spurgeon, so their words definitely had weight for me. Here’s a bit of what they each had to say about Robert Hawker: “Hawker excels in Christ-centered, experiential divinity. He was taught by the Spirit how to find Christ in the Scriptures, as well as how to present Him to hungry sinners in search of daily communion with a personal Redeemer. For the genuine Christian, here is devotional writing at its best: it is always warmly Christ-centered, eminently practical, personally searching.” —Joel R. Beeke “There is always such a savor of the Lord Jesus Christ in Dr. Hawker that you cannot read him without profit . . . Full of devotion and sweetness.” —Lectures to My Students, vol. 4, by Charles Spurgeon And the third thing that drew me in was the price. Some commentary sets can run you into several hundreds and even thousands of dollars. At the time of this review, Poor Man’s Old and New Testament Commentary is available from LOGOS Bible Software for a mere $126.95, which is a $345.05 savings when compared to buying these twelve volumes in print. Given the strong endorsements from Beeke and Spurgeon, I was curious to find out a bit more about Robert Hawker. Here are some of the things I found particularly interesting about his life: *Lived from 1753-1827. *Married Anna Reins when he was 19 years old. They had 8 children together. *Studied medicine and served in the marines as an assistant surgeon. *Received a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh. *Diligently served the poor and oppressed. I don’t have any major research projects going on right now, so my current regular interaction with LOGOS Bible software is my reading plan to go through the New Testament via The NET Bible in six months. I love the passage guide that shows up to the left of the reading window, allowing me easy access to all of the commentaries in my library that correlate to the verses I’m currently reading. Each day as I’ve been doing my daily Bible reading, I take a few extra minutes to dig deeper into the text using the Poor Man’s Old and New Testament Commentary. As you begin utilizing this commentary, you’ll soon realize there is a consistent layout across the commentary set. As you scroll through a commentary, each section is broken up by the heading of CHAP. 1, CHAP. 2, etc. Following that, the first thing you’ll encounter is CONTENTS, which starts with a brief summary of the chapter. For example, here’s the summary for Matthew 18: “The Lord Jesus is here teaching his disciples humbleness. He speaks of his own, and his Father’s good pleasure, for the salvation of every one of his little ones. The Chapter is closed in a parable.” Next you come to the actual commentary about the verses, sometimes covering one verse at a time and other times a range of verses. For example, here’s the commentary for Matthew 18: 15-20: “15–19. I pray the Reader to remark, the affection Jesus insists upon, to subsist between brethren. And indeed as they are members of Christ’s body; brethren of Jesus, and of each other; one spirit moves in all. 1 Cor. 12 throughout. 20. To the little infirmities, which from the remains of indwelling corruption, may, and will, occasionally break out, how precious is the direction of Jesus. Oh! that it were more generally adopted in the Church of Christ! And what an unanswerable argument doth the Lord here leave upon record, for the constant meeting together of his whole body, both in private and public ordinances. Zech. 2:5, 10, 11. Matt. 20:28.” You’ll notice there are some cross-references in the above quotation. These are hyperlinked in the text, so you can mouse over them to read the verse(s) or click on the link to view that passage in a separate window. Each section comes to a close with REFLECTIONS. The best way I could describe this is part sermon and part prayer. For example, here’s the reflection for Matthew chapter 18: “How truly blessed is it to have our hearts brought under divine teaching, and made like the simplicity of a weaned child. See my soul in the instance of these disciples of Jesus, how much our minds are wedded to the concerns of this world. Oh! for grace to be converted, and become as little children, that we may be truly great in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed Lord Jesus! may I never lose sight of this promise that thy presence is eminently manifested in the assemblies of thy people: for sure I am, that all the beauty and glory; all the power and efficacy; all the success and blessing, which can be derived from ordinances, can only be derived, because Jesus hath assured his Church, that wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them, and that to bless them. Thanks to my dear Lord for this beautiful and instructive Parable. Yea, Lord! my debt was so great, in ten thousand talents as made me insolvent for ever. In vain were it for me to say, Lord have patience with me and I will pay thee all. Never to all eternity, could I have done it. Oh! then add a grace more to the merciful forgiveness of all; and incline my heart to be merciful, even as my father which is in heaven is merciful! Precious Jesus! help me to imitate thee in all things!” That’s the rhythm of things in the Poor Man’s Old and New Testament Commentary set: contents, reflections, repeat…contents, reflections, repeat… What has moved me most about this commentary set is the reverential and worshipful tone in Hawker’s writing. Many of the other reference works in my library have a lot of great information, but at times can feel a bit dry. Hawker’s awe, wonder, and love of Christ and His word drips off of every page. I felt as if Hawker was drawing me into a time of worship and praise each time I read. This was a real first for me while reading a commentary. I would have expected to respond this way when reading the Bible, a spiritual classic, or possibly a devotional book, but certainly not a commentary. This was a welcome surprise. In addition to spending time in the commentaries, I’ve also been making use of the Poor Man’s Morning Portion and Poor Man’s Evening Portion daily devotional readings, which are also included with this set. If you’re familiar with other morning and evening devotions (i.e. Spurgeon), these will feel quite familiar. Since I use my iPhone as my alarm clock, I’ve found the easiest and most consistent way to access these was using the Logos Bible app. I read the morning portion while I’m waiting for my first cup of coffee to finish brewing and I read the evening portion right before I go to sleep. Similar to what you find in the commentaries, the morning and evening portions display Hawker’s love of God and His word. There are many precious gems to be mined here. I have felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to interact with the thoughts and writings of Robert Hawker. Over the past few weeks I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the fuller body of his work, but I know that it has already helped me to grow in my faith. And while Robert and I won’t meet this side of eternity, I have the distinct feeling that he will be mentoring me through his writings for years to come. My overall rating for the Poor Man’s Old and New Testament Commentary set is 5 stars. Highly recommended! Disclaimer: This product was provided by LOGOS Bible Software for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
    1. When LOGOS contacted me about reviewing the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection, I jumped at the chance. I'm a bit of an Old Testament and ANE studies geek, so this collection is right up my alley. The Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection is comprised of three volumes. They are: *Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology by John H. Walton *Sacred Time, Sacred Place: Archaeology and the Religion of Israel edited by Barry M. Gittlen *Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text by Jens Bruun Kofoed Let me take a few moments to briefly comment on each volume. Genesis 1 As Ancient CosmologyGenesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology: If you're at all familiar with the work of John H. Walton, you've not doubt followed the progression of his work on Ancient Near Eastern thought. My first exposure to his work in this area was The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (IVP Academic, 2009) and later Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Baker Academic, 2006). Both of these books were immensely helpful in whetting my appetite for ANE studies and I highly recommend each of them. If like me you've read one or both of the previously mentioned volumes, then picking up a copy of Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology is a bit of a no brainer. The first half of the book is devoted to the ANE texts that are key to informing our understanding regarding the way ANE peoples thought about cosmology. A range of texts are covered, including Akkadian, Egyptian, Hittite, Sumerian, and Ugaritic. Walton strives to demonstrate "that ancient Near Eastern literature is concerned primarily with order and control of functions of the world that exists rather than with speculations about how the material world that exists came into being." (Walton, p. 8). In the second half of the book, Walton offers an analysis of Genesis 1:1-2:4, seeking to show that the "Genesis account pertains to functional origins rather than material origins and that temple ideology underlies the Genesis cosmology." (Walton, p. 198-199). If you're serious about Ancient cosmology and the origins debate, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology is a must have addition to your library. Sacred Time Sacred PlaceSacred Time, Sacred Place: Archaeology and the Religion of Israel: Sacred Time, Sacred Place offers twelve scholarly papers from the American Schools of Oriental Research. The papers are organized into four sections. They are: *Charting The Course: The Relationship Between Text and Artifact *Prayers in Clay: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Figurines *The Mythology of Sacred Space: Structures and Structuralism *Death in the Life of Israel The articles I especially appreciated were Theology, Philology, and Archaeology: In the Pursuit of Ancient Israelite Religion by William G. Dever and Philology and Archaeology: Imagining New Questions, Begetting New Ideas by Ziony Zevit. My interest was largely due to the fact that I'm a bit of a philology nerd. Overall, this volume offers good food for thought on how we can better understand the Israelite religion through the study of both archaeological and textual data. Text And HistoryText and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text: Text and History is a revision of Kofoed's Ph.D. thesis. His goals and intent for the book is summarized best in the following paragraph found in chapter one: "The thesis of the present study is that the texts of the Hebrew Bible contain much more reliable information than the above-mentioned “skeptics” claim—not only for the period of the extant text (i.e., the oldest known [unvocalized] Hebrew or Greek manuscripts) but also for the period it purports to describe—and, consequently, that it must be included in rather than excluded from the pool of reliable data for a reconstruction of the origin and history of ancient Israel. After an introductory survey of important and relevant developments within general historical theory, I will seek to pin down the key problems related to the use or nonuse of the texts of the Hebrew Bible as historical sources and subsequently discuss the possible criteria for determining the epistemological and historiographical value of the texts." (Kofoed, p. 4-5). I feel strongly that the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection will go a long way in helping me to round out the Old Testament resources in my growing digital library. I anticipate turning to Walton's book often in my ANE reading and research. Gittlen and Kofoed's volumes are a bit more academic than many of the resources I've had to date and I think they're going to be useful for diving into broader Old Testament studies and related disciplines. As I consider the range of topics covered across these three books, I'm excited to have them available in a digital, searchable format, because it will allow me to more easily incorporate each of these resources into my Old Testament Studies. At the time of this review, purchasing the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection for LOGOS Bible Software will save you $31.55 off the print price. All things considered, this collection offers three great Old Testament resources at a reasonable price. My overall rating for this collection is 5 out of 5 stars. A few thoughts on digital libraries and LOGOS 5: One of the difficulties faced by every seminary/grad school student, pastor, and self-proclaimed Bible geek is the question of how large to grow our personal library. This is a question I’ve been reflecting on now for over a decade and a half and each year my library continues to grow. As the shelves in my office fill up and sometimes overflow, the idea of adding certain resources into my collection electronically continues to become a more and more appealing option. Now when it comes to deciding which platform is best for expanding your library electronically, you’ll quickly discover that your fellow Bible geek friends have opinions that run as deep as the age old battles of Ford versus Chevy and PC versus Mac. Personally, I use Bible software from all three of the main vendors in this space and when it comes to the largest number of titles available and support for the largest number of desktop and mobile platforms, LOGOS Bible Software has been the standout leader for many years. In the course of getting ready for this review I finally made the leap from LOGOS version 4 to version 5. Other than a brief time commitment for completing the download and installing the upgrade, the whole process was very simple and came off without a hitch. If you’re still on an earlier version of the LOGOS engine, you may want to consider updating to the latest version, which is freely available for download. LOGOS 5 has some significant feature enhancements, but the most noticeable for me was the improved speed of search, which is something I know many of my fellow LOGOS users and I are always looking for in every upgrade and update. Disclaimer: This product was provided by LOGOS Bible Software for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.