Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library) (19/4)

1 & 2 Chronicles is not a book that you will often hear preached expositionally. Part of the reason, I think, is how the book starts with 9 chapters of genealogies! Pastors will definitely not want to attempt to preach through these chapters expositionally.

Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library)Preachers can now reach out to a helpful commentary on the 1 & 2 Chronicles. Eugene Merrill has written a new commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles, a book that has been neglected by commentators for quite some time.

As with every commentary, Merrill starts with the introductory matters and then moves on to the actual commentary of the text. As one who has not studied 1 & 2 Chronicles, I found this introduction helpful in understand the main themes. Through his introduction I am also kept abreast on what has been discussed in the academic circles. Preachers who are not familiar with 1 & 2 Chronicles will find the introduction helpful for their preparatory work.

Merrill uses the NIV text as reference for his commentary, but he always shows his exegesis based on the Hebrew text. Merrill keeps references to the original language to a minimum which will be helpful to preachers who are not that conversant in Hebrew. I personally do not know Hebrew, but I still find the commentary helpful to me

Given that the technical commentaries on 1 & 2 Chronicles has not been as forthcoming as some other old testament book. This commentary will be a helpful addition to the current array of commentaries on 1 & 2 Chronicles.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review – Tough Questions About God and His Actions in the Old Testament (12/12)

Is the Old Testament God a different God from the New Testament God? As a conservative christian, we are quick to say that God is unchanging and has been the same throughout the Old and New Testament, yet many a times we find it hard to explain the differences portrayed in the bible. Furthermore, most the these difficulties surfaces in the Old Testament where christians are often not well verse in.

Tough Questions About God and His Actions in the Old TestamentWalter Kaiser Jr. wants to help rectify this problem in the evangelical world. In this book, Kaiser gives a careful and well-thought through answers to christians. Although the title of the book seems to be apologetics in nature, I have found that the book speaks primarily to bible believing christians, or at least to non-christians who are open to listen what the bible has to say about such issues.

Kaiser tackles some of the most debated questions within this book. For example, he attempts to answer in the first chapter if God is a wrathful God or a merciful God. Or in the following chapter where he answers if God is one that is peaceful, or one that is guilty of ethnical cleaning.

Kaiser answers these questions by engaging the readers to look at what the Old Testament actually has to say about such things. As an Old Testament scholar, Kaiser helps readers interpret and understand the Old Testament passages correctly. What Kaiser really does in this book is he engages the readers with the Old Testament itself, Kaiser rarely veers off from this path. As such, this book is good for those who would like to honestly engage with what the Bible really says.

This book is therefore aimed primarily for those who are keen to seek answers about such questions from the Old Testament itself. College students will find this book helpful to ground their faith on the Word of God, and for those who are interested in what the bible has to say about these questions, this book will be very helpful. Pastor might be able to find this book as a good primer for these questions, and this book should be able to help you answer such questions. However, more in-depth questions might require pastors to seek more materials on specific topics.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith might be another helpful book for you to read on this topic, get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – For the Love of God’s Word: An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (17/10)

Christian are often told to love the Word, but the Word is often a difficult book to read and understand. This book however will be a helpful book for any christian. This book aims to be a substantial introduction for christians teaching them to do basic hermeneutics and exegesis.

For the Love of God's Word: An Introduction to Biblical InterpretationWhat readers should know is that this book is an abridgement of the thicker volume Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature and Theology. This book will help serious christian learnt he nooks and crannies of studying the bible.

First the authors helps readers understand the three perspectives that the authors want readers to understand. These are literature and theology. They showed how each of these topics helps a christian understand the bible better.

The difference between this book and the thicker volume lies is what is being covered in the history section. This book does not elaborate too much on this aspect, however they help readers see how history is important to interpreting the bible.

Next, they move to the literature portion which really helps readers understand the literary aspect of the bible. First they give a rough overview of each of the testament, next they showcase each of the genres found in both testaments, and give pointers on how to read, understand and exegete the different genre.

Lastly, the authors bring in the importance of theology in the pursuit of understanding the bible and shows how our theology should be derived from the Word, and not of anything else.

Having read the thicker volume, seminary students or pastors are certainty recommend to read that volume. However, if you are a lay christian, or someone who is motivated to take up a substantial book, this will be one that you can turn to. The authors are able to explain and distill their knowledge in an easily understandable format, but being a book that is more than 400 pages, you need to be discipline and motivated to make full use of this book. This book is good for those who are new to this topic. For those who are familiar in this area, they are recommended to turn to the larger volume.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook as a companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology (1/10)

Many have approach the psalms as individual trees within a forest. Examining the beauty and wonder of each type of tree. Few however has argued that the book of Psalm as a whole has a flow and structure to it. O Palmer Robertson believes int the latter, and wants to convince readers about that too as well.

The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and TheologyRobertson starts by giving a basic introduction to the book of psalms. Given that this book may be read by readers who are new to psalms, Robertson gives an excellent introduction to the nooks and crannies of the different types of psalms. I have found these introduction to be extremely helpful to anyone who intends to study psalms, and I feel that the introduction is worth the price of the book.

Next Robertson introduces to the reader the Redemptive-Historical Framework of Psalms. This is the first time I’ve read anything like it, and have enjoyed the way Robertson has presented this chapter. As someone who has read through various parts of the psalms, and who holds firmly to the redemptive historical framework of the Bible, I have to say, I have never thought of anything like it. Robertson brings up an excellent picture of how Psalms is able to present the redemptive historical picture to its readers.

The next few chapters then forms the main thesis of the book. Robertson shows how each book within Psalms are connected to each other, and the individual psalms are related within the book. Suffice to say, I’m unable to review all parts of it, you really have to purchase the book to learn from what Robertson has to say.

I have found this book to be very helpful to my own understanding of the Psalms. As Calvin famously said, the book of psalms is ‘the anatomy of all the parts of the soul’. Christians need to be deeply acquainted with the psalms, and this is a great book in aid you in the process. Highly recommended for any christian or pastors who intend to study the book of psalms.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms as a companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook (27/6)

Be a Christian long enough and you will being to realise that the Prophets — though they take up a substantial portions of the Old Testament — are often not preach or studied at within the church. Part of the reason is that the prophets often contain genre that we’re unfamiliar with and are hard to understand. This handbook however will help us in this aspect.

Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical HandbookGary V. Smith has written a handbook that specifically wants to help us understand the prophetic books and he does so in a way that’s easy for anyone to gasp. First, Smith explains the nature or the genre of the prophetic books. This I found was one of the most helpful sections of the book, he shows with examples the different sub-genres you find as you read the Prophets and tell us how to interpret such text and teaches the readers how to read and appreciate the various literary works found in these books.

Next, he gives the readers the “bird’s eye view” of each of the prophet books showing the major themes found in the Prophets and shows the flow of the text within the each book. Next, he presents the historical backdrop of each of the prophets, highlighting that different prophets were prophesying at different eras and that we should be careful to interpret the books according to their historical background. Lastly, he shows the readers not only how to understand the text, but also how to teach it and to gather applications from the Prophets.

As mentioned earlier, having tackled such a difficult genre, Smith does an excellent job in trying to explain it to the lay-people. Most will not have a problem reading this book and it should really help pastors or teachers to be equipped to handle the prophetic books. This handbook will surely be of great use to those who wants to understand the Prophetic books better.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources (24/6)

I’m really out of depth when it comes to the Old Testament, however I am keen to grow in this area, and thus wanted to read this book to help me grow in my understanding of the Old Testament especially of it’s historical context.

Ancient Israel's History: An Introduction to Issues and SourcesThis reference material therefore comes as a very helpful tool in this pursuit. To be frank, having very little exposure to the current research of the Old Testament, this book seemed at first to be an insurmountable task, this was not helped by the introduction which was slightly technical.

However, as I ploughed through the various chapters I found them to be very readable and informative. The authors reviews several scholars on the various books of the bible, bringing to the readers a summary and history of what has been discuss in the scholastic world. Each book of the bible is given an in-depth review and also contains many helpful side-notes that help illuminates various topics that are relevant to the biblical book (e.g.  the ANE city of Alalakh in Genesis or the Role the Sinaitic Covenant played in Israel). What was very helpful was also the fact that each chapter aims to give a rough guide to the whole biblical book instead of just providing the background materials. So as one reads through Genesis, one will be given additional information on the various events in Genesis as it progresses along.

Although it has been very helpful, I do find that this book is meant for Old Testament scholars or seminary students. Lay persons will benefit from this, but will need to be prepared to work through the materials. For pastors who intends to do a preaching series on the Old Testament, they can consider to consult the chapter on the book they are going to preach. As it stands, the book is around 460 pages (not counting the 100 pages of references material) which can be daunting for many. But, for those who really want to grow in their understanding of the Old Testament, or are pursuing a research topic in the Old Testament, it book will be of much value too them.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Jonah: God’s Scandalous Mercy (Hearing the Message of Scripture: A Commentary on the Old Testament) (24/4)

Jonah is a book in the bible that almost everyone can read in one sitting and certainty one of the most read minor prophets. Written in a narrative format, Jonah can be easily understood by the young and the old.

Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy (Hearing the Message of Scripture: A Commentary on the Old Testament)Kevin J. Youngblood has written a commentary to help pastors tackle this minor prophet exegetically. The commentary is spilt into 3 portion, first Youngblood gives us his own translation for the book of Jonah. Next, he gives the customary introductory materials you often see in commentaries and finally, the commentary on the text of Jonah.

What I found helpful within this commentary is how it helps to crystallise the text into a main sentence. I have found that often when I try to exegete a passage, I want to know if I am getting the right picture, and this certainly helps me check to see if I’m a similar path with the author.

A 2nd feature that I found very helpful in this commentary is how they highlight the structure of the book of Jonah. I must say this is one area I often overlook when studying a passage, and I am thankful for Youngblood for pointing out these structure, and highlighting the important points the literary structure wants to bring out.

If you are looking out for a verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Jonah, I would certainly recommend you to take a look at this commentary, or even to buy and use it. Do note that you would need to have a working knowledge of hebrew to be able to fully utilise it. But, even as one who does not have any knowledge of hebrew, I found it helpful in my own study of Jonah.

Rating: 4.25 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Here is the author introducing his commentary:

Book Review – Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library) (8/2)

Currently, my church is doing a series on Exodus, so when I was given a chance to review this commentary, I took up the offer eagerly. And I must say, I am not disappointed with this commentary.

Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Commentary)Daune A. Garrett has written an excellent exegetical commentary on Exodus. In his introduction, Garrett not only goes through the usual issues of authorship and composition, he also highlights to the reader the importance of the geography of the land, and also a in-depth history of the Egyptians. While I found the introduction to be a bit too long, I must say that the introduction was comprehensive, and very accessible even to people who are new to the issues surrounding Exodus.

Two clear strengths can be found in this commentary. First Garrett always deals with the text honestly. Garrett always wrestle with the text iteslf, and at times, is even willing to take the step to disagree with conservative scholars.

An example can be found in Ex 4:24-26, a very difficult passage. Here Garrett sticks to the reading of the hebrew text and shows very clearly that Moses was not mentioned anyone within these verses, only a generic him is used. Having gone through the various views, Garrett comes out with what he thinks should be the most faithful understanding of this passage. I found his answers to be well-articulated and well-thought through.

Do note that as this is a technical commentary, knowledge of both greek and hebrew is required to be able to make full sure of this commentary. Overall, I found this commentary to be excellent and pastors or scholars should add to their collection. This commentaries offers many helpful observations to the readers and should be consulted often.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Ecclesiastes (Reformed Expository Commentary) (4/2)

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” C. T. Studd

Everyone wants to live a meaningful life, even atheists, who believe that man is a product of chance. Yet, too many find their own lives meaningless. Many spend their lives pursing after fame, riches and pleasure. Yet they never seem to give meaning to our lives.

Ecclesiastes (REC)Donald Sean O’Donnell has written an extremely helpful and readable commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes. This certainty is not an easy feat as O’Donnell states in his introduction that Ecclesiastes is not an easy book to understand. Further O’Donnell has also aimed to help the readers read Ecclesiastes christocentrically showing how even in Ecclesiastes, Christ is present.

O’Donnell takes the traditional view that Solomon is the preacher in Ecclesiastes and does not bore the readers with the details about why he thinks it is so. He does however gives some justification on why he think Solomon is the preacher. Next, O’Donnell moves on to preach the text section by section.

In general, I do like O’Donnell’s preaching, he’s uses jokes and illustrations very appropriately, often being able to laugh at himself. But the real stuff that this commentary comes out with is the biblical teachings that comes out from the text. O’Donnell takes the text and explains it to the readers. After explaining, he then brings out the application of the verses. More importantly, O’Donnell consciously always points the text to Jesus, making it thoroughly Christ-centered sermons.

I do encourage pastor to purchase this if they intend to preach through Ecclesiastes. Two benefits can be derived from it, first, it helps you grow devotionally, to mediate on the scripture, next, it helps growing in your preaching, to be better at it, and to bring your congregation to Christ.  Those seeking technical help on Ecclesiastes ought to look at other commentaries to compliment it, but this is still a great standalone commentary on it’s own.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Invitation to the Book of Jacob (22/11)

Invitation to the Life of JacobJacob is a character full of mystery, chief among which is the question why did God decide to give His blessing to the one who acts so deceitfully? Yet as Donald Sunukjian suggests it’s really a picture of us too.

Sunukjian in this book sets out to the readers a series of sermons based on the life of Jacob, from Genesis. It is essentially his sermons on this passages. Sunukjian does not spend much time discussing what he does, or why he does certain things, rather Sunukjian allows the readers to see how he brings across the message to his audience and allow his readers to see the fruit of his labour.

The sermons inside are clear, and expository, that is, they explain the bible text. Sunukjian would always begin the book with a general overview of the passages he will cover. Thereafter for every sermon he will begin with an introduction, and his introductions are alway very varied, not only use one kind of introduction for every sermon. Next, he will move on to the main teaching and also have a few applications within his teaching.

Although I enjoyed reading his sermons, I do find his one of his sermons a rather odd-ball (No. 6, A Good Thing The Right Way) This was pretty much a modernised reenactment of the bible text, which I personally disagree with, but Sunukjian does bring his point clearly across.

Having said that, I find this sermon help for preachers or lay christians, not as a commentary but really has someone else’s sermon (think e.g. Spurgeon’s sermon) you should not expect to find guides or hooks to follow or explaining why these are done. If you’re looking for a place to start reading sermons on Jacob, this is a good place to start.

Rating: 3.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.