I am always grateful when Eerdmans sends along review copies. Today I received a copy of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures Vol.1. I am excited to work through this. Thanks Eerdmans!
If one comes to think that there may be historical inaccuracies in the scriptural documents, then one is compelled to trudge down the slope, to assess the accuracy of the historical claims of the Bible, not as an apostasy from or assault on Christianity, but in the service of Christianity. This is a labour done through historical criticism; this has been the intention of many historical critics. But the long hiatus of evangelical biblical scholarship from the historical-critical fray means that historical criticism still appears threatening to us. As such, it is the goal of [Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism] to illustrate that historical criticism need not imperil any of the fundamental dogmatic tenets of Christianity.Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, 5.
As a discipline biblical-theology often assumes a wide variety of expressions. Yet at the heart of each of these expressions is the overriding presupposition that the rich diversity of Scripture serves its profound unity. Further, this “diversity within unity” is most clearly seen through a consideration of the historical development of theological themes. And, this historical progression of ideas runs from one end of the Bible to the other. In other words, the entire Bible is moving, growing according to a common purpose and towards a common goal (thus we can say that the whole Bible is “eschatological”).
It looks like Hendrickson will be publishing a well deserved festschrift honoring Dr. Greg Beale. Edited by two former students of Beale—Drs. Ben Gladd and Daniel Gurtner—From Creation to New Creation: Essays on Biblical Theology and Exegesis looks to be a fine tribute to one of the nicest men I have had the privilege met. Look for this to be out just in time for SBL/ETS later this year.
Recently, the kind folks at Christian Focus Publications sent over a review copy of Sam Storms new book on amillennialism, Kingdom Come. While mainstream evangelical eschatology would likely be some form of premillennialism—be it dispensational, progressive dispensational, or possibly classical/historical premillennialism—Sam stands relatively alone among popular pastors/preachers with his belief in amillennialism. I remember watching a panel discussion hosted by John Piper, which included three men discussing various eschatological views. This was my first encounter with Sam, and I remember thinking that he did a good job explaining his views.
In any case, when I heard that Sam was publishing a book on amillennialism I was eager to get my hands on it. As one who holds to amillennialism, I was eager to see how this book would be received within the lager evangelical community. While it is far too early to gauge the influence of this book, I nevertheless wanted to offer some early observations on what I have read thus far.
What I appreciate most about this work is that it is written for the laity. While terms like amillennialism and premillennialism may seem foreign or strange to some believers, Sam has done an excellent job at making these words and other relevant terms accessible for the reader. Eschatology is not an easy filed of theology to jump right into, and Sam has taken great care to make sure that the reader does not get lost.
I would guess that most evangelicals in America are dispensational in their eschatology. Therefore, most of the readers who read this work would identify with the majority. Nevertheless, Sam is gracious towards dispensationalism, always trying to explain their viewpoints clearly and honestly. While I am sure that some would disagree with his critique of dispensationalism, Sam does come across as one who tries to fairly represent his opponents.
While there is much to commend, I still have a few areas I want to highlight. First, I noticed that some of the sources that he cites as support for his case are relatively old and somewhat dated. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just was hoping for more engagement with modern works on the subject. Second, I did notice that on one occasion he makes an assertion but does not reference relevant data to support his claim:
My point is that “seventy years” is an approximate designation of length, such as we find in Jer 27.7 and Eze 4.6-8. In Mesopotamian culture, seventy years refers primarily to a certain period of desolation followed by the visitation of God.
Kingdom Come, 86 (emphasis mine).
I am not saying that Sam is incorrect in his claim regarding Mesopotamian culture—I would just like to see where his evidence for such a claim is based is all. Third, I found some parts to be a bit repetitious. For example, chapter four—Daniel’s Contribution to Biblical Eschatology—dragged on a bit too long and could have ended much earlier. Maybe because I am already convinced by most of his arguments that I felt this chapter repeated some of the main arguments, which in that case I may be too harsh with this criticism.
In the end, I commend Sam for writing a book that offers another perspetive (the right perspective!) on eschatology and the end times. When it comes to eschatology, I have found that instead of reading the works of those who hold another views, most people read a critique instead. Therefore, it is my hope that people who are interested in what amillennialism is will pick up Sam’s book and find out firsthand what amillennialism is from one who is himself an amillennialist.
Over on his blog, Jim Davila shares the sad news of the passing of Geza Vermes.
SAD NEWS: I have just received word from Oxford that Professor Emeritus Geza Vermes died this morning after the recurrence of an illness. I had been corresponding with him recently and knew that he was unwell because he had to miss my lecture last week in Oxford, but I was hoping for good news rather than this.
Geza Vermes was a tremendously influential figure in the the field of ancient Judaism, especially, but by no means exclusively, the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also wrote a great deal about Christian origins and the historical Jesus. In addition to being a scholar he was a true gentleman. I will miss him a great deal. May his memory be for a blessing.
Here is the bereavement notice from David Ariel, which was fowarded by Alison Salvesen:
I am deeply saddened to inform you that our dear friend, Professor Geza Vermes, passed away this morning after a recent recurrence of cancer. Margaret, Geza’s wife, just called with the sad news and asked that I let you know.
Geza was Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at Oxford, a Governor and strong advocate of the Centre, and was recently appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Centre. His scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewishness of Jesus was truly pioneering and transformative. Geza was also a lovely human being and a friend and mentor to many of us. He will be deeply missed.
There are no funeral plans as yet but we will notify you if and when it is appropriate.
May Margaret be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may Geza’s memory be for a blessing.
David Ariel, PhD
Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
May he rest in peace.
(HT: Jim Davila)