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Reading the Bible Theologically

Since the dawn of the Enlightenment, biblical scholarship has grown increasingly skeptical and specialized. Scholars isolate individual books of the Bible from the rest of the canon, becoming experts in Matthew, Isaiah, or Genesis, rather than Scripture as a whole.

But is this how Jesus and the apostles read the Scriptures?

Taking a cue from the New Testament and such prominent theologians as Augustine, Calvin, and Luther, the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (16 vols.) starts with the premise that the Bible is Christian Scripture. Affirming its divine inspiration and human authorship, each book is interpreted theologically by identifying its place within the canon and how it illuminates the gospel of Jesus Christ. While attention is given to historical and literary context, the primary focus is on each book’s major themes and theological contributions. Like the writers of the New Testament before them, the Brazos commentators are not satisfied with only understanding a book in its own right but also relating it to the redemptive work of the Messiah.

Brazos also frequently interacts with influential interpreters from throughout church history. For example, Robert W. Jenson’s commentary on Ezekiel includes contributions from Origen and Pope Gregory the Great. Likewise, Stanley Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew draws from Augustine, Barth, and Bonhoeffer. This approach recognizes the Spirit’s work in illuminating the Word to the church throughout the ages, giving proper respect to the voices of those who have come before.

This commentary series is especially helpful for pastors, as it provides the canonical context for each book of the Bible and draws connections between the Old Testament and the New. This frees up pastors to spend more time exegeting individual texts and less time analyzing entire books.

The Brazos Theological Commentary (16 vols.) is an important step forward in scholarship, taking the best in modern hermeneutics and combining it with the theological methodology of the New Testament and early church fathers. And for a limited time, it’s on Pre-Pub for 40% off the retail price. Pick it up today and learn how a theological approach brings rich, new insight into studying the Bible.

Patristic Commentaries on Pre-Pub

Today’s post is by Louis St. Hilaire, Content Manager of our Electronic Text Development department.

If you’re interested in the preaching and exegesis of the fathers of the church, there are three important collections available for pre-order that you should know about.

The Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria makes an excellent complement to the Early Church Fathers collection. Cyril was central to the Christological controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries and was well regarded in later centuries, but is oddly neglected in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. This collection closes the historical gap with letters and writings related to Cyril’s controversy with Nestorius, but, just as importantly, it includes Cyril’s massive commentaries on Luke and John.

Very few patristic commentaries on Luke have survived, so Cyril’s commentary on Luke is an important witness to the interpretation of this Gospel in the first millennium. Aside from a few sermons of Augustine, it will be the first from this era to be available for Logos.

John was much more commonly preached and commented on, so the Early Church Fathers already has commentary or homilies on John from Origen, Augustine and John Chrysostom. Adding Cyril’s commentary to this lets you see the development of the Alexandrian tradition of interpretation from Origen to Cyril, or compare, side by side, this tradition in Cyril with those of Antioch and the Latin West represented by Chrysostom and Augustine respectively.

Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary on the Minor Pauline Epistles brings to Logos for the first time the writings of the man who was, in many ways, the mind opposite Cyril’s in the Christological controversies and theological and exegetical rivalry between Alexandria and Antioch. While it’s now acknowledged that the contrast between Alexandrian allegory and Antiochene literalism is not quite as sharp as was once thought, Theodore is perhaps the most typical and famous representative of the Antiochene tradition, and his comments onGalatians 4:21-31 contain an important polemic against the allegorists.

The Medieval Preaching and Spirituality Collection also includes writings of several later writers from the patristic era, including John Damascene, Boethius, and Gregory the Great. Important among these is Gregory the Great’s Morals on the Book of Job. The interpretation of the Old Testament was a pressing problem for the early church, as it engaged in controversies with Gnosticism, Judaism, and pagan critics. Gregory stands near the end of this era, as an heir to the exegetical methods pioneered and developed by men like Irenaeus, Origen, and Augustine, and his commentary on Job formed an important bridge from his own era to later centuries. It was incredibly influential in the Middle Ages, being cited hundreds of times in the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas.

If you’re interested in learning more about the biblical interpretation of the church fathers, take a look at Manlio Simonetti’s Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church or the Historical Interpreter’s Collection.

Helping You Make Sense of the Old Testament

Let’s face it. The Old Testament can be hard to read sometimes. We’re separated by thousands of years and thousands of miles (at least if you’re at our headquarters in Bellingham, Washington). There are difficult-to-pronounce names, complicated rituals, and cultural assumptions very different from our own.

The Handbook on the Old Testament Series is an attempt to summarize and introduce you to every chapter of every book in the Old Testament. It’s part commentary, part textbook, part historical background, and part comprehensive introduction. In other words, it’s the perfect place to start if you’re looking for a solid introduction to the Old Testament.

These handbooks summarize the key issues of each chapter in the Old Testament, provide exposition of the text, and interact with recent commentaries and studies. So if you’re working on a sermon, or writing a paper, these books can help guide you through the vast scholarship on the Old Testament, and help you identify key themes on the text you’re studying. You’ll also get historical background, an introduction to the cultural context, helpful bibliographies of recent research, and lots more.

In the preface to the volume on the Pentateuch, Victor P. Hamilton writes:

As I wrote this book, I had in mind the student not only as a scholar of God’s Word, but also as a proclaimer of God’s Word. Therefore, I have attempted to write something that is as usable in the pastor’s study as it is in the classroom, something that is as devotional as it is scholarly.

These books have gone through multiple print editions and sold tens of thousands of copies in print. Now, we’re pleased to make them available for pre-order at a discounted price. You would normally pay more than $100.00 for these four volumes, even if you searched around and found them on sale. Right now you can get the entire set on Pre-Pub for less than $85. This price will be going up soon, so make sure you pre-order now before it’s too late!

The Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms

If you are looking for trustworthy scholarship pertaining to the Old Testament wisdom literature, you can’t go wrong with the six-volume Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms.

The poetic and distinctly Hebraic nature of the Old Testament wisdom literature can be a challenge to interpreters. With the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, you get access to years of research by respected scholars like John Goldingay and Tremper Longman.

The Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms includes:

Psalms, vols. 1, 2, and 3

In these three volumes, you get  literary, historical, theological, and grammatical insight into the Psalms. Not only will John Goldingay help you plumb the depths of the Psalms within their historical context, you will also learn to draw on the Psalms for their contemporary relevance.

“Once again, John Goldingay has given us exemplary scholarship that will serve both church and academy very well indeed. The commentary is filled with mature theological insights, fresh ideas, and thoughtful reflections for contemporary appropriation. The clear and imaginative introduction alone is worth the price of the book.”

—Terence E. Fretheim, Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary

Proverbs

It doesn’t matter if you are well-versed in Proverbs or are reading it for the first time, Tremor Longman brings fresh insight and meaning to this profound book.

“A very thorough and thought-provoking commentary from an experienced scholar in the field. The scholarly and church audiences are both clearly addressed here in a very readable writing style.”

—Katharine Dell, Review of Biblical Literature

Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes presents interpretive challenges to the most seasoned scholars. Craig G. Bartholomew, professor of philosophy, religion, and theology at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, walks you through Ecclesiastes, maintaining a balance between readability and depth.

“It is a rare commentary that is both readable and learned. Even rarer is one that immerses readers in the deep questions of life. Bartholomew’s new book helps us to think our way through Ecclesiastes and its mazes. More than that, it confronts us anew with the mystery and responsibility of human existence before the face of God.”

—Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, Professor of Biblical Studies, Eastern University

Song of Songs

Richard Hess, professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary, tackles this challenging Old Testament book paragraph by paragraph. With deftness and clarity, Hess makes one of the most demanding books accessible to even the newest exegete.

“An accomplished, celebrative volume. . . . [Hess] provides helpful and extensive analysis of a passage’s poetic structure. . . . Hess’ enthusiastic presentation and obvious labors furnish an undeniable contribution.”
—Jennifer Pfenniger, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures

This collection is currently under development—don’t miss the opportunity to add these amazing volumes to your library at a phenomenal discount! Order your copy of Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms today.

Shipping Soon: Studies in Old Testament Themes (6 vols.)

The six-volume Studies in Old Testament Themes is over 1,500 pages of scholarship and studies that discusses a variety of Old Testament topics. And now, you can grab it for the Pre-Pub price of just $89.99—that’s over 75% off the retail price! All six volumes are valuable for learning more about the Old Testament, but here’s a closer look at just two of the titles included in Studies in Old Testament Themes:

In Can a ‘History of Israel’ be Written? author Lester L. Grabbe takes a look at the long-debated issue of using the Hebrew Bible as a historical source of information to compile a history of Israel. The contents of Can a ‘History of Israel’ by Written? include the papers used to start dialogue addressing this problem at the European Seminar on Methodology in Israel’s History.

Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith and Susanna, edited by Athalya Brenner, contains research and writings that look at these stories from a woman’s perspective. The majority of this book focuses on Esther, but also looks at the lives of Judith and Susanna.

Other titles included in this collection are The Prayers of David: Psalms 51-72 by Michael Goulder, The Leopard’s Spots: Biblical and African Wisdom in Proverbs by Friedemann W. Golka, The Pentateuch: A Social-Science Commentary by John Van Seters, and The Prostitute and the Prophet: Reading Hosea in the Late Twentieth Century by Yvonne Sherwood.

Be sure to get Studies in Old Testament Themes (6 vols.) for the Pre-Pub price of just $89.99 before it ships!

The BECNT Upgrade Is Shipping Soon!

Over the years, Baker has published a number of must-have commentaries. Among these is the eight-volume Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT).

The scholars in this series are experts on the books they have commented on—Darrell Bock on Luke is a perfect example.

Logos is set to release the second installment of the BECNT series for Logos 4. The seven-volume BECNT upgrade includes first-rate exegetical commentaries from some of evangelicalism’s finest New Testament scholars. For only $199.95, you’ll get commentaries from the likes of Darrell Bock (Acts), Robert Stein (Mark), Frank Thielman (Ephesians), and Gene Green (Jude, 2 Peter). If you were to buy these seven volumes in print you would pay more than $300.

This Pre-Pub price is ending soon, and you do not want to miss out on this fantastic deal. Once we begin shipping the second installment of the BECNT, the price will go up—so order now. You will not be disappointed.

Now on Pre-Pub: Women’s Bible Commentary

Do you ever wonder what it was like for women in Bible times? What did the writings of Moses, David, and Paul mean for women of God? The Women’s Bible Commentary provides a female perspective on the Bible’s characters, contexts, and principles, which makes it perfect for answering these questions.

Over 40 woman scholars have contributed to the 500-page Women’s Bible Commentary, including editors Carol Newsom and Sharon Ringe and authors Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Gail R. O’Day, Jouette M. Bassler, and many more. What sets this commentary apart from others is that the authors also address specific issues that are particularly significant to women, such as marriage and family. You’ll also find insights on Bible characters, symbols, life situations, and more.

And this expanded edition is full of extra features! There are 14 chapters on the Apocrypha and two chapters on the life of women during Old and New Testament times. By looking at the women’s lives, opportunities, and hardships, you’ll gain new perspective on applying the Scripture today.

Women’s Bible Commentary has received a lot of praise through the years. Here’s what others are saying about Women’s Bible Commentary:

“A remarkable volume that is fresh, provocative, and faithful. It is as faithful as Jacob is faithful in wrestling with the angel. Sometimes you can only know the truth by fighting back.”
—Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary

“This welcome and daring book has much to teach us that we cannot safely ignore. . . . A landmark in interpretation.”
Walter Brueggemann, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

“With the Women’s Bible Commentary, careful and critical feminist biblical interpretation is made accessible for preaching, study groups, and seminary courses.”
—Letty M. Russell (1929–2007), Professor of Theology, The Divinity School, Yale University

Check out Women’s Bible Commentary while it’s on Pre-Pub for just $24.95—that’s almost 40% off of the retail price!

5 Things You Didn’t Know about John Calvin (and Should!)

1. Calvin suffered.

He was in constant pain: “headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath (probably due to advanced tuberculosis), coughing fits, hemorrhages, fevers, colitis, kidney stones, hemorrhoids,” according to Alexandre Ganoczy, and “bleeding from the stomach, fever, muscle cramps, nephritis, and gout” to name just a few. Calvin was more than a preacher and theologian—he was a pastor, too. He knew what it meant to suffer, and his writings bear this out.

2. John Calvin and Ignatius of Loyola were classmates at the University of Paris.

Why is this interesting? Because Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus—more commonly known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits were the driving force behind the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that, as the Reformation unfolded, no group opposed Calvin and his successors more than the Jesuits.

3. Calvin had a religious conversion.

Everyone knows the story of Luther’s conversion—his near-death experience and his commitment to a life of study. But did you know Calvin had a conversion experience, too? Calvin famously wrote in the preface to his commentary on Psalms:

“God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, yet I pursued them with less ardor.”

4. Calvin was deeply influenced by Augustine.

Some have claimed that Augustine was the first Calvinist! B. B. Warfield wrote:

“The system of doctrine taught by Calvin is just the Augustinianism common to the whole body of the Reformers—for the Reformation was, as from the spiritual point of view a great revival of religion, so from the theological point of view a great revival of Augustinianism.”

Spurgeon wrote:

“Perhaps Calvin himself derived it [Calvinism] mainly from the writings of Augustine.”

Calvin himself wrote:

“Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.”

The data are pretty interesting, too. In the 1536 edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin quotes Augustine 24 times. By the 1559 edition, he quotes Augustine 400 times. Here’s just a snapshot:

  • 68 citations about the sacraments
  • 54 citations about the church
  • 34 citations about God’s will
  • 34 citations about sin
  • 28 citations about grace
  • 17 citations about predestination

5. Nobody knows where Calvin is buried.

Calvin wanted no veneration after he died. He didn’t want pilgrims to travel to Geneva to find his grave. In fact, even today it’s difficult to find many monuments to his life at all. James Rigney has written that “unlike other reformers. . . Calvin is represented in Geneva only by traces and shadows and by the diffused voice of his writings.” Hugh Y. Reyburn wrote in 1914 that “The spot where he was laid is now uncertain. . . . But he needs no stone. His indestructible memorial is his works.”

Calvin’s most important work is the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This book has enjoyed a prominent place on the reading lists of theological students and scholars around the world, and has left its mark in the fields of theology, philosophy, social thought, and legal theory. It has been republished and translated nearly 100 times in dozens of languages.

The most authoritative English edition is the translation by Ford Lewis Battles of the 1559 Latin edition, which is newly available for pre-order. If you’re a scholar of the Reformation, you already know this edition is a must-have. And if you’re new to Calvin but not sure where to begin, you couldn’t do much better than the Battles translation of Calvin’s Institutes. But the price is only available for a limited time, so pre-order it now!

Add Insight to Your Library with Baker Collections

For over 70 years, the Baker Publishing Group has carried out their mission to publish “high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers.” If you were to look at the four Baker collections currently on Pre-Pub, you’d see that Baker is living up to their goal.

Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament Upgrade (7 vols.)

This 7-volume upgrade to the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (8 vols.) proves that you don’t have to sacrifice readability for scholarly depth. Whether you’re a pastor, professor, student, or church leader, you’re going to benefit from both the scope and the accessibility of this series.

Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (16 vols.)

The church has a strong history of interpreting the Bible theologically. In an effort to recreate this tradition, Baker has put together the 16-volume Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. If you’re looking for commentaries which draw from a wide range of traditions, while expounding upon Scripture from a distinctly theological viewpoint, the Brazos Theological Commentaries are for you.

Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (6 vols.)

When it comes to interpretation, the Old Testament’s poetry and wisdom literature provide very unique challenges. The Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms meet these challenges with exegetical precision. Let authors like Tremper Longman and Craig G. Bartholomew help navigate the literary and structural devices in these books by incorporating linguistic, historical, and canonical insights.

Handbook on the Old Testament Series (4 vols.)

Are you interested in Old Testament exegesis? The Handbook on the Old Testament is definitely for you.  These 4 volumes cover:

You will get remarkable insight into the Old Testament’s content, structure, and theology with this collection. You’ll also benefit from a bibliography of recent, relevant scholarship to help guide your future studies.

All of these collections are currently under development, so there isn’t much time to get them at their current Pre-Pub prices. Pick one (or all!) of these great collections up for your library today.

And check out the rest of our Baker resources while you’re at it!

Love Alone is Credible: Communio Theology on Pre-Pub

Two of the most important theologians of the 20th century now have collections on Pre-Pub! Joseph Ratzinger (now pope Benedict XVI) and Hans Urs von Balthasar were founding members of the Communio school of theology, which has become dominant in the Catholic Church and has had major influence on Protestant thought. Indeed, the great Swiss Reformed thinker Karl Barth once said of his life-long friend von Balthasar that no one understood his thought better.

The Communio School of Theology

Like the Protestant neo-orthodox theologians, the Communio school denies the validity of “natural” theology, emphasizing that all creation, and most significantly all of human experience, finds meaning and truth only in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no neutral ground, no realm where reason functions “unencumbered” by revelation: grace abounds. What this means is that reason and revelation, nature and grace, are not sealed off from each other, but find fundamental unity within the Trinitarian God and within mankind, made in his image. This reality finds perfect expression in the Incarnation. Man’s encounter with Christ is the content of the Communio approach to theology, which von Balthasar described as “essentially an act of adoration and prayer.”

Within Ratzinger’s Christocentric thought, the Incarnation is the only source for what is true about God and about man: love is the ultimate reality of the cosmos. Von Balthasar is perhaps best known for his aesthetics, for his contention that beauty reveals God and that beauty itself is defined by the Incarnation: Christ is beauty and what is beautiful is Christological. Both thinkers work within the paradigm of “ressourcement”—a return to the sources of the faith: Scripture and the Church Fathers. In doing so, they opened up new (or old) avenues for Christian theology.

Communio Opens Doors to Ecumenical Dialog

Both von Balthasar and Ratzinger encountered stiff resistance within the Catholic hierarchy and the academy, sometimes even being accused of heresy. But their theology was so powerful and subtle that it slowly won adherents and had a direct effect on the theology expressed at Vatican II. Through the pontificates of John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) the Communio approach has become dominant in the Church. What’s more, the emphasis on “ressourcement” has opened new opportunities for ecumenical dialog. Indeed, Joseph Ratzinger himself suggested that the Augsburg Confession might be accepted by the Catholic Church, and the Communio approach has underwritten the fruitful Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue of recent decades.

Communio theologians have re-shaped Catholic thought and have built bridges—between modern Christianity and the ancient Church and between contemporary denominations. Add this powerful and profound perspective to your Logos library. The Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Collection ships tomorrow, so place your pre-order now. The Hans Urs von Balthasar Collection is almost through Pre-Pub and will ship soon, so keep an eye out for this too.