Book Review – The Message of the General Epistles in the History of Redemption (7/10)

The letters of Paul (and perhaps James) can often be found in the preaching of the church. But other letters are sadly mostly “forgotten”. I have found that Brandon D. Crowe has written a helpful book to fill a vital gap.

The Message of the General Epistles in the History of RedemptionWithin this book, Crowe covers the general epistles, the letters of Peter, John, James and Jude. Although these are mostly short letters. Crowe takes time and effort to explain the letters to the readers. I especially appreciated how Crowe allocated one chapter to each letter. This really allows Crowe the space to explain each letter in depth and also allows the readers to have a deeper understanding of each letter.

For each letter, Crowe gives a good introduction for it. Next Crowe brings the readers through guided tour of the letter. He points out the main points of the passages, gives explanation for them and also brings out the relevant application for the readers. I have found the book to be a bridge between introductions to the letters and commentaries. For someone who is interested to study the letters but not keen to explore the technical aspects within a commentary or for those who wishes to work through the passages first before given an exegetical explanation, this will be an excellent choice for you. As I read, I thought that Crow gives a good extended introduction, but as the same time, he does not gives “answers” to the readers. he allows readers to think and examine the text for themselves.

For some time, I have been wanting to study the letters of Peter. This book comes as an excellent help for me and I recommend you to get it too. For pastors, this may be a good you want to recommend to your congregation. It is not as daunting as a commentary, yet it is not a watered down book that does not challenge your members.

Rating: 4.5 / 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 have not read this, but Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by Karen Armstrong will be a good companion to this book, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Book Review – Invitation to James (22/11)

The book of James has often been considered the “proverbs” of new testament since it contains many short sayings. However, is there an overarching topic/theme within this book?Invitation to James

Yes, there is, and that is tightly connected to the context of the letter. Sunukjian aims to show that and does a brilliant job at it. In this book, Sunukjian really helps the reader to be in the context that James was written in, he is able to help readers see and feel the times when christians were persecuted, yet he is able to do it without boring the audience.

As with every book in this series, Sunukjian gives the readers a big overview of the whole book, and from it breaks it down into the different chapters. He repeatedly helps the readers see this overview several times within the different chapters so the readers do not miss either the trees or the forest. Next, he begins every sermons with an introduction, make not mistakes, Sunukjian does an excellent job for introductions and would be a good book for preachers to learn how to do excellent introductions to their sermons. Following which he moves on to the main teaching of the passage. This is does very carefully with one eye in the original context, and other eye with modern application.

Although this will not be a commentary that readers will want to reference for exegetical purpose, it is a good series to read as sermons on the various passages. The sermons handles the passage well and is a model for preachers to be clear in their preaching.

Recommended for preachers, or lay christians who want to read fine preaching on the book of James. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 4 / 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 – James the Just (26/10)

The book of James has often been called the ‘Proverbs’ of the New Testament. This is because of James contains many short sayings similar to the book of Proverbs. Yet too many a times, we read the New Testament totally separated — without any sense of the continuity it brings from the Old Testament.

James the JustIn this book, David Friedman and B. D. Friedman aims just to show the readers how to read the book of James with an eye on the Old Testament, especially on the book on Leviticus. And this is the clear strength of the book, it helps the reader see the link between the old and new testaments.

The authors start very wisely by giving the readers an overview of what the book will cover, a short introduction to the book of James and the purpose of the book of James. Chapter 1& 2 forms the apologetics and defence of this thesis. The authors propose that the book of James is a ‘yalqut ’, “a compilation, collection or compendium of Jewish religious writings.” (p. 10), whilst chapter 2 purposes to the readers that James is actually drawing his materials from Leviticus, and it’s actually a ‘yalqut’ of Leviticus. Within this section, the authors quotes multiple sections where similar ideas are raised both in James and Leviticus to show the connection between the two books.

Chapter 3 introduces the author of James, James the brother of Jesus and talks about how James was a rabbi (teacher) during the earliest church time. And in chapter 4, the authors shows  more evidences of how James actually uses the Torah in his letters. Lastly in the last chapter, the authors tackled the issue between faith and works. In it the authors showed that there was actually no such dichotomy in proper Jewish thoughts since even the Torah supported the idea that real faith is never alive without works, which James is simply reiterating it to the readers once more, that true disciples are not without works.

Having read this book, I must say this book can only be fully appreciated if you are familiar with both Greek and Hebrews (or with their transliteration) since the authors used both quite regularly. Secondly, this book would be far too thin as a real help for any exegetical work although it is under the “Messianic Commentary” series. The book at best serves as an excellent introduction to the book of James. But there is one flaw with the strength of this book. Although the book is great in showing the continuity of how the new testament is with the old, it does not do so well showing the dis-continuity of the old to new. This is one area that is sorely missing.

Overall, I can only recommend pastors to read this, if they want to see things from the “Messianic Jewish” perspective, if not, i would recommend that readers seek out other more substantial commentaries that is widely available.

Rating: 3 / 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.