Menu

Advertisement
Recent titles
in this section:
A Commentary On The Letters Of John
Understanding The Bible
A Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Reading Luke For The First Time
Interpreting The Prophets
A Lineage of Grace
Wisely, Pray The Psalms
Mary
Surprised by Scripture
Jesus The Storyteller
Deuteronomy
Taking God At His Word
Faith In The Face Of Empire
The Psalms
Bible To Go!
The Song Of Songs
Genesis
King Of The Jews
The Pentateuch
Let's Study Colossians And Philemon
The Christian's Great Enemy
Pauline Perspectives
A Commentary On Romans
NIV Bible Handbook
Simon Peter
By God, I Will
Finding God In The Psalms
Bethlehem To Patmos
How To Like Paul Again
1 John
The Message Of Malachi
Discover Acts
One Bible, Many Versions
1 & 2 Peter and Judah
The Message Of Daniel
A Gospel Pageant
A Rabbi Reads The Torah
Mark
Supernatural Living for Natural People
The Bible As Politics
Global Voices
New Testament Wisdom For Everyone
God in Our Midst
Interpreting the Parables (Second Edition)
The Bible
The Scriptures Testify About Me
Straight to the Heart of John
God's Signature
The Lion Concise Atlas of Bible History
The Jonah Complex
The Power of Parable
A Commentary on the Gospel of John
Walking with Gospel Women
Straight to the Heart of 1 & 2 Samuel
Jesus: Name Above All Names
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi
Joseph - His Arms Were Made Strong
Opening Up Isaiah
Revelation
Kingdom of Fools
A Commentary on Galatians
The Real Lord's Prayer
The Perfect Saviour
WHO?
Is All Scripture Inspired?
Bible Facts
Journeying With Luke (Lectionary Year C)
Christ And The Desert Tabernacle
A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible
James: For Everyone Bible Study Guides
The Letters of John: For Everyone Bible Study Guides
A Commentary on Jude
Whose Who Of The Bible
Philippians - Rejoicing and Thanksgiving
Open Your Bible
Ruth
The Old Testament - Volume 2: The Historical Books
The Old Testament - Volume 1: The Pentateuch
Dying to Live
1 and 2 Chronicles for Everyone
The Four Gospels
Simply Jesus
Bit Part Prophets of the Bible
Win the World or Escape the Earth


Search
Search the site for...  
Containing...

Sort results  by...
 

Bible Background

Commentaries on Bible text, pilgrim guides of Bible places and descriptions of life in Bible times.

A Commentary On The Letters Of John

- Walking in the light

by David Pawson


The three letters of John are possibly the last portions of the Bible written. The apostle wrote 1 John so that Christians might know they are saved, giving us 4 tests. 2 and 3 John are more private but still have direct relevance to Christians today. 

In this commentary Mr. Pawson, the well known evangelical preacher, provides a clear and uncluttered exposition of the apostle John's teaching. As in all his commentaries there is explanation, illustration and application. Mr. Pawson has a gift for good communication and this comes out in this volume.

The book begins with a helpful study outline and then is followed by 10 chapters. He carefully deals with some of the more difficult verses and provides insightful comments to some of the simpler. Inevitably readers will not agree with all his interpretations but will not be able to fault him for seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures.

Apart from the occasional charismatic-inclined comment, my only complaint about this book is the blurb on the back cover. It says in part: "Little did the original authors realise that they were writing scripture for people through all history and all the earth." Yes, they did realise it and the first readers recognised it! (see 2 Peter 3:14-16 for instance). I suspect that Mr Pawson did not write these words and I hope that he does not agree with them. Please don't let this put you off buying what is an edifying read.


 



Review by Alan Hill  (11/01/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-909-88669-8
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Understanding The Bible



by John Stott


I had heard of this author but never read any of his books before.

There are eight chapters in the book and each one of them opens with three question which are answered in the following chapter and aims to give a rounded answer.

The author doesn't jump straight into the Books of the  Old  and New Testaments. He actually starts talking about them in Chapter 3 and 4.   I found the first 2 chapters really helpful to get a " feel " for  the background of the Bible. These 2 chapters were " the purpose of the Bible" and " the land of the Bible"  The second chapter in particular  helped me. It wasn't just about the geography of the land but also about the seasons, the nature e.g weather which helped me understand  some of the parables better.  It was also about the people who lived there, the different tribes etc.

The next two chapters were about the story of the Bible, the Old and the New testament. Again the author takes you through these books   and answeres the questions in a way which is helpful and not too heavy going. For me personally I found the question abut the "Inter-testamental period" really helpful I had never heard this before.He is not afraid to put across a different point of view which even if you disagree with you can see the point.

The final chapters were really useful they answered questions which sometimes are hard to answer e.g authority, Interpretation and use of the Bible.

In summary I was surprised and enlightened by this book. I was expecting a heavy going book which I would find difficult to follow, on the contrary it was thought provoking and helpful. It is a book which I can see myself going back to time and time again.

 

 



Review by Julia Bennett  (09/12/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Scripture Union (SU)
Published: 19 September 2015
ISBN: 978-1-785-06252-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians

- Ready For Jesus' Return

by David Pawson


It is refreshing to read a book on God's word and that treats God's word as God's word. Writing as an evangelical with charismatic leanings, David Pawson has a high view of Scripture. The book reads as a series of sermons and has page after page of explanation and application. The opening chapter on what makes a successful church is particularly strong as is his discussion about divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the last. 

Occasionally Mr. Pawson recounts stories of modern day Christians’ experiences which, in the reviewer’s mind, contradict Bible teaching. For instance he tells of two people who recently saw Jesus walking by a lake. Do not the Scriptures tell us that the next time Jesus is seen on earth is when he returns to bring the world to an end?

Overall, this is a good book that will help you understand 1 and 2 Thessalonians, challenge your Christian walk and prepare you for the Lord's return.




Review by Alan Hill  (08/12/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: 01 February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-909-88673-5
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Reading Luke For The First Time



by Wilfred J Harrington


An excellent introduction to Luke's Gospel. The book is set out in eight chapters and follows the text of the Gospel. The printing is of a good size and the first chapter sets out the outline of the Gospel with some detail of its structure. The subsequent chapters explore the text and events which Luke records, adds a conclusion and provides some useful notes. At the end there is a handy glossary and a select bibliography. This book does not probe any deep theological issues but does provide a useful guide to reading and understanding Luke's Gospel. This is the third volume in a series beginning with Reading Matthew for the First Time and Reading Mark for the First Time. As introductions to the Gospels they will be a reat help to anyone coming new to the Gospels.

Review by Graham Wise  (05/10/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Paulist Press distributed by Columba Press
Published: July 2015
ISBN: 978-0-908-14930-8
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Interpreting The Prophets



by Aaron Chalmers



Matthew Henry brilliantly said it, "God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event."

We tend to think of prophecy as a revealing of future events, but in the New Testament we find that the prophetic gift is second only to that of apostolic ministry and is a special form of the teaching gift. Its about making known of the divine will, so that we might receive His Son, Jesus Christ. Aaron Chalmers offers something really rich and hermetically excellent in this resource. The 'going deeper' and 'considering this' sections are the real treasures in this volume.

Here there is a well thought through methodology which will assist many in the interpretative work on texts. Greatly scriptural confidence will result, from this. Soulish believers are rightly inordinately curious. This is a nourishing, wise and insightful volume that will assist many.



Review by Johnny Douglas  (01/09/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 15 January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-281-06904-0
Paperback
Price: £14.99

A Lineage of Grace



by Francine Rivers


In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary—even scandalous—challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World.

Review by x  (15/06/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers from TMD
Published: October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-842-35632-9
Paperback

Wisely, Pray The Psalms

- A Prayerful Companion To Reading The Psalms

by Ambrose Tinsley


I found this book to be a lovely look at some of the body of the Psalms, giving thoughtful and interesting overviews of the people we meet in the psalms, of the situations we find in the psalms, in the resonances of where the psalms echo our situations today.

Gently read and with thoughtful consideration and questions posed ... and answered to some degree ... the author does indeed lead us wisely into a reading of the Psalms and as such he is indeed, through this book, a prayerful companion with us on this journey.

However even so I'm not sure I find the title quite matches with the book, though perhaps that's more my problem of expecting a book with as much emphasis on prayer as is in the title to be echoed more in the content. I think I thought the book would be a more practical book on using the psalms as prayer, rather than a more devotional style commentaryon the psalms.

This said though this book was still a delight to read and yes did offer insight and reflection that wasvery helpful.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 01 October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-782-18170-5
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Mary

- A Gospel Witness To Transfiguration and Liberation

by Andrew Jones


What a brilliant and beautiful book, a look at the person of Mary in depth and detail that will make a phenomenally different study for churches or individuals that maybe have thought Mary was not so relevant to their traditions or gospel.
Andrew Jones though addresses this and highlights the relevance of Mary for all traditions by not only looking at what the Gospels do, and don't, say about her, but by also holding her up in light of other gospel occurences such as the transfiguration and then reflecting that back to our here and now too and looking at how she is a witness to discipleship and a beacon of liberation.
A very easy to read but detailed book that includes group study or personal reflection question too.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-841-01651-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Surprised by Scripture



by Tom Wright


I am always challenged to think more deeply by Tom Wright's teaching, and this book was no exception. He addresses some contemporary issues from a Biblical perspective in his usual dense but readable style. Each 'chapter' is in fact a reprint of a lecture or sermon or seminar topic which he presented in various places in the States and the UK between 2004 and 2013. He notes in his preface that in almost all cases, he did not take the initiative to write or speak on these subjects but responded to questions that others had raised. 

Given this background and the nature of the topics he addresses, there is obviously some overlap and repetition of material. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. The subjects I found most helpful were 'The Biblical case for ordaining women' and 'Do we need a historical Adam?'. The first because I have thought about it a lot, and the second because it had never before crossed my mind as a question to ask!

Among other questions he tries to answer are 'Is it possible to love the Bible and affirm evolution?' and 'Can a scientist believe in the Resurrection?'. 

You can dip into this book and read the essays that interest you most. But I think you will read it all in the end!



Review by Jackie Rowe  (31/12/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-06985-9
Large paperback
Price: £12.99

Jesus The Storyteller



by Stephen I Wright


One of the most fascinating works of New Testament scholarship to appear  in recent years. Stephen Wright begins with an overview of gospel, and in particular, parable interpretation from Reimarus's Fragments to the present day. His own approach is that of Narrative Criticism. In Part Two he considers how each of the three writers of the Synoptic Gospels present the parables. Then, in Part Three he looks at the Sitz im Leben of the parables divided into those told in Galilee, those while Jesus was travelling and, finally, the stories told in Jerusalem.

The particular approach of this book lifts the veil which sometimes shrouds the parables and obscures their meaning. To read his analysis of difficult parables such as the Tenants in the vineyard is to see the stories in a new light with deeper and sometimes quite different meaning. The author uses all his scholarly skill in doing this yet manages to convey his ideas in highly readable and accessible prose.

If you are only going to read one new book on New Testament theology this year then it should be this one.



Review by Jon Mayled  (17/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-06437-3
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Deuteronomy

- The prophets And The Life Of The Church

by Ed. Jason T Lecreux


This book is a festschrift—is a book honouring a respected person presented during his or her lifetime—dedicated to Dr. Gary Hall on occasion of his retirement as professor of Old Testament at Lincoln Christian University. The book contains 13 essays written by former students and work colleagues.

The first half of the book reflects Dr. Hall's lifelong interest in understanding the Old Testament and especially Deuteronomy. The book opens with an excellent article on how to interpret and apply the Old Testament. Some of the subsequent chapters are highly academic and therefore of limited spiritual benefit.

The second half is focused on preaching from the Old Testament especially Deuteronomy. Here the book comes alive giving teachers and preachers guidance and food for thought. Near the end are the best essays—in effect a clarion call to preach from the Old Testament.

Overall this is a book worth reading, especially for any preacher who hardly ever ventures into the Old Testament. If this book results in more expository preaching from books like Deuteronomy and Jeremiah, then I suspect that Dr. Hall will be very pleased.



Review by Alan Hill  (29/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Mosaic Resources distributed by Alban Books
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-743-24022-9
Paperback
Price: £18.99

Taking God At His Word

- Why The Bible Is Worth Knowing, Trusting And Loving

by Kevin DeYoung


An old Sunday School song says, “The best book to read is the Bible”! ‘Taking God at His Word’ by Kevin DeYoung tells you why. It is a straightforward, clear and short (8 chapters) exposition of the doctrine of scripture.

Scripture has four essential characteristics: sufficiency, clarity, authority and necessity. All of these terms, and other theological terminology used, are explained clearly and simply. What the Bible says about itself is foundational to the book and relevant verses are also clearly expounded. The relationship between Jesus, (the Word) and Scripture, (the word) is outlined along with what Jesus believed about Scripture.

Although there is an element of application (the encouragement to read the Bible pervades the whole book) this is primarily an academic type of book, teaching a particular doctrine.

There is a very helpful annotated bibliography at the back of the book, should you want to read more on the subject.



Review by Heloise Hearn  (05/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-783-59122-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Faith In The Face Of Empire

- The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes

by Mitri Raheb


I am writing this review as the latest Israeli offensive against the people of Gaza is underway. It is a poignant moment to reflect – with the help of Mitri Raheb – on what the Bible might look like through the eyes of the Palestinian people.

 

Raheb’s approach to the politics and theology of the Middle East is intensely personal – he is a Palestinian Christian – yet he succeeds in simultaneously locating the conflict in an historical and contemporary global context. Successive empires have occupied Palestine for almost 3,000 years and this continues today under the guise of Israel. Arguably, resolution of the Middle East conflict is not to be found in the region, but in the politics of Empire that continues to dominate world politics as it has for many successive generations.

 

Enter Jesus, a Palestinian Jew living under Roman occupation and who was eventually killed for challenging both that Empire and the complicity of religious leaders who found power in conniving with their political masters. Raheb draws out the theological questions that current political reality poses for Palestinians – amongst them, where is God? – and suggests a spirituality of response grounded in the non-violence of Jesus.

 

Is it possible to have an alternative vision for the Middle East than the ongoing experience of war and oppression that flows through all of our lifetimes? Raheb believes so and points to faith in God and specifically in the Kingdom.

 

The challenge for Western Christians reading this book is to accept our part in the suffering of the Palestinian people. As beneficiaries of Empire, are we prepared to challenge the politics of Empire upon which our society depends in order to help deliver peace through justice? Donating money to relieve suffering is crucial, but it does nothing to prevent yet more bloodshed.



Review by David Ford  (09/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1-626-98065-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Psalms

- A Commentary For Prayer And Reflection

by Henry Wansbrough


This devotional book contains a short reflection on each of the 150 Psalms.

The advice given in the introduction is to read the Psalm, then to read the reflection, looking up any cross references, then to read the Psalm again and to pray.

The author has also made a note in the introduction about the numbering of the Psalms and also the verses within Psalms where there is a short phrase in italics (e.g. Psalm 13 ‘For the director of music. A psalm of David. ‘) He then applies this numbering system throughout the book. Personally I found this unnecessarily confusing and I couldn’t see that it added anything helpful to my devotions.

The reflections are about a page long. Rather than going through the Psalm verse by verse, they tend to take an overall theme (the title of each tends to give an idea of what this theme will be). This theme is then looked at in a very broad way, across the whole Bible, with cross references given. For example, in the very familiar 23rd Psalm, the theme of the Lord as a shepherd is taken up and the cross references are to the Parable of the Lost Sheep and to Jesus speaking of himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10.

 

 



Review by Heloise Hearn  (07/08/14)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-841-01648-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Bible To Go!

- reading The Bible In Everyday Places

by Sister Elizabeth Pio


 

Reading this delightful book is like jumping into a jacuzzi of bubbling words. Stimulating and refreshing. Sister Elizabeth Pio asks us to imagine ourselves in various locations as we read Bible passages which she has chosen 'at random'. We sit down with her and her faithful Parsons Jack Russell in places including the train station, the pub, the kitchen, a car boot sale and in front of the TV watching some unlikely programmes!

As Sister Pio shares what she thinks God is saying about each passage, we are encouraged to hear for ourselves what God may be saying to us. More than that it inspires us to keep on meditating on God's word in our own unexpected spaces and places.

I love the humour, the insight and the cultural relevance of this book. Miss it, miss out!

 



Review by Jackie Rowe  (19/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07123-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Song Of Songs

- A Contemplative Guide

by Graeme Watson


 

This extremely well-researched books is an absolute gem for anyone who wishes to dig deeply into the Song of Songs (also regularly known as the Song of Solomon). It is accessible and readable, and really does lead into a contemplative appreciation of one of the least read books in the Bible.

 

The author skillfully achieves an intertwining of an explanation of the text with the way in which it impacts our understanding of God in our daily lives. For example, in commenting on chapter 2 verse 6 he writes 'From Origen onwards the verse has been interpreted as an expression of Christ's passionate love for the human soul, wrapping the soul in prayer ...' And the challenge to us is to reciprocate that love in passionate love for Him.

 

Near the beginning of the book Graeme points out that the Song of Songs offers a valuable resource for the prayer of silence and stillness, for contemplative prayer. So, I recommend this book for those who can take time to read it slowly and build the wisdom gained from it into their daily lives.

 



Related website:www.christianmeditation.org.uk

Review by Jackie Rowe  (11/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06690-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Genesis

- The Bibluffer's Guide

by Paul Kerensa


 

If scripture and comedy were to have a child. This would be it. 

Now for some that'll be heretical and problematic. And so for some this title will feel like heresy and be somewhat problematic!

Paul Kerensa has a clear intent to serve up portions of scripture with power, insight and freshness. This is somewhat curiously achieved. Kerensa retells all the best-known stories through all manner of unexpected devices—cartoons illustrations, movie scripts, family trees and even the IKEA instruction manual all get an outing. Puns, riddles, word tricks and more fill almost every line. It's got a twist of Milton Jones' maverick genius and Tim Vine's pace. Jacob’s Creek and Jacobs Crackers wont ever be viewed again in the same light!

Light entertainment it is. Whether there will be sixty-five more, remains to be seen. It's a fresh angle for those who might have grown weary or unwilling with the faithfulness of the text of scripture. Without seeking to caricature this title, it may be ideal for youth workers and others.

Theology, insight and creativity do mix well in this gag-fest but I’m still trying to resolve what to do with the aftertaste.

 



Review by Johnny Douglas  (19/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-232-53075-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

King Of The Jews

- Temple Theology In John's Gospel

by Margaret Barker


 

Margaret Barker really is one of the foremost experts these days on Temple Theology and in this 600+ page book this is largely—for want of a better description—a commentary on the Temple Theology of and in each chapter of John's Gospel. She demonstrates that expertise clearly by picking up and elucidating on key themes and motifs that may as easily be missed if you don't view the work in reference to the fact that only in John's Gospel do we meet 'Jesus the Nazarene' and the supposed gnostic elements of his gospel that actually demonstrate a much stronger reference to the Moses traditions and temple theology.

Barker writes cleanly and with detail, but in a way that though detailed is so easy to understand and read. It is littered with strong references not only to the other scriptures but to the midrash, talmud and other intrinsic deeply jewish understandings that we need to understand to really understand the writing and context of the Gospel.

This is a really insightful commentary but what's so good about this book is that in the first chapters you get a brilliant introduction to Temple Theology—what it is, its themes, motifs and relevance. Thus in the one book you get oversight and detail, almost two books in one.

And there, in part, is the one problem with this book, because you are being charged for two books in one—at £50 this is a hefty price that sadly is going to make it one that only the exceptionally keen are likely to invest in, and that's a pity because there is much here for many people, but they are highly unlikely to pay that price for this book, even if it is worth it.

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (07/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-06967-5
Paperback
Price: £50.00

The Pentateuch

- SCM Core Text Series

by Walter J. Houston


 

The SCM Core Text series is a remarkable collection of authoritative, yet accessible academic studies covering a very wide range of theological topics. These range from Theology to Sexuality to Wisdom Literature. This volume on The Pentateuch maintains the high standards set by previous volumes and is highly recommended for students, preachers and anyone with an interest in the first five books of the Old Testament.

The structure of the book reveals that anyone seeking here a succinct five volume commentary will be disappointed. This is a scholarly work that will support exposition but its objective is much broader. This is not a book about the books but about their significance within the canon of sacred literature.

Divided into three parts, Part A considers the world of the text itself, Part B considers its historical origins and composition and Part C considers the variety of ways in which it has and is read or heard. The book is accompanied by a generous bibliography and detailed indexes.

The first five books of the Bible contain some of the Bible’s greatest stories as well as some of its most turgid laws and regulations. They are not always entertaining reading. Yet these five books are foundational documents for our faith; that so many churches today ignore the Old Testament in its entirety is a great sadness. If you are serious about understanding the scriptural origins of Christianity, the Pentateuch is the best place to start, and this volume is an excellent guide.

 



Review by David Ford  (05/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04385-0
Paperback
Price: £24.99

Let's Study Colossians And Philemon



by Mark G Johnston


This is an excellent addition to Banner of Truth's "Let's Study" series. Like all the others this book seeks to combine explanation of the text with application. Mark Johnson admirably succeeds in this clear and concise commentary. He shows that Paul was writing to a relatively young church that was being destabilised by a mixture of influences. The solution? Paul brings back the focus onto the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is not so much a verse by verse commentary but rather a section by section Bible study. The author is very good at bringing out the key teaching without becoming too bogged down in the minute details of the text. As such the book will benefit individual Christians who like to use such a Bible aid during their quiet times.

This book will also be helpful to those preparing Bible studies on Colossians or Philemon. At the end of the book there is a Bible study programme including suggested questions as well as helpful advice for how to lead a Bible study.  



Review by Alan Hill  (23/06/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-71239-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Christian's Great Enemy

- A Practical Exposition of 1 Peter 5:8-11

by John Brown


This is a wonderful little book that deals with that daily battle against Satan, the enemy of our souls.

John Brown was a faithful preacher of God's word who ministered in Scotland the first part of the 19th century. Whilst in Edinburgh he expounded all of 1 Peter. This took 16 years. This book is an extract from the published version of those sermons covering 1 Peter 5: 8-11.

The book is divided into three chapters covering: the Christian's great enemy, the Christian's duty with reference to his great enemy, and the Christian's encouragement to perform that duty.

This book is a model of clear and uncluttered communication. There are easy to follow divisions and subdivisions. John Brown explains God's word in a straightforward way applying it to our daily walk. I particularly liked his explanation of the meaning of the promises the Lord makes to Christians in verse 10.

As Sinclair Ferguson says in the forward, the book is a pocket manual for spiritual warfare. I cannot think of a more helpful small book on this subject and hope that it will be widely read by both young and mature Christians.

I also hope that it will be so successful that it will lead Banner of Truth to reprint the complete two volume set of sermons on 1 Peter by John Brown!



Review by Alan Hill  (27/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-71308-6
Paperback
Price: £5.99

Pauline Perspectives

- Essays on Paul, 1978-2013

by N.T. Wright


In this volume of previously published or delivered material the formidable NT Wright (known to most of us more familiarly as Tom Wright) presents his most significant articles on Paul written during the past three decades.

Now, everyone interested in theology has their favourite authors and subjects. Whilst I readily acknowledge that neither Tom Wright nor the apostle Paul is in my top five of either category, the magnitude of Wright’s work on Paul is hugely impressive for its scope and longevity. If you are a serious follower of either, then this collection of works is a must. 

The volume is divided into four Parts mirroring Wright’s geographical journey through academia from Oxbridge to St Andrews, and within each section the articles are similarly presented in chronological order. This is undoubtedly helpful for future biographers of Wright but I’m not convinced it is helpful for those of us who might wish to dip into a volume of essays like this to trace the development of a particular Pauline theme such as justification or even trace Wright’s view towards a particular book or letter.

Yet perhaps that simply reveals that I am not the intended audience. This is clearly not a populist work (as indicated by the price, and the fact that the author is listed as NT Wright) but one that will be revelled in by fellow scholars who will devour the intensity of Wright’s writing with as much enthusiasm as the rest of us devour his popular commentaries.

The book concludes with all the bibliographies (one devoted to Wright’s 70 published volumes) and indexes one expects from a major academic work and is the companion volume to the previously published title Paul and the Faithfulness of God.



Review by David Ford  (07/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06366-6
Paperback
Price: £45.00

A Commentary On Romans



by David pawson


Paul’s letter to the church in Rome is one of the most important books in the Bible. In it, Paul explains and expounds the Gospel as it really is. If we want to understand how sinful human beings can get right with God then we must understand the argument Paul uses in Romans. This excellent book helps you do just that.

Mr. Pawson unpacks what Paul says using clear language and helpful illustrations. The author does not shy away from the plain meaning of the text and allows God’s word to be God’s word and speak for itself. The style of the book is less like a commentary and more like a sermon—so do not expect every verse to be explained. This is occasionally frustrating, most notably when he does not explain what “All Israel” means. Instead he refers the reader to another of his books!

Unsurprisingly I did not agree with all his interpretation especially on chapters 7 and 11. I would recommend that the serious Bible student read other commentaries before reaching a conclusion on such matters. Overall, however, this is an edifying and helpful exposition that is well worth reading.    



Review by Alan Hill  (21/04/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-957-52909-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

NIV Bible Handbook



by Alister McGrath


 

 

Perhaps you don't want to carry around a study bible, or just don't like your bible cluttered with study material. But at the same time, if you do want something that has a similar depth and feel about it as you'd find in a study bible for when you do want to do some bible study then you can't really go wrong with this gently comprehensive, intelligible and insightful Bible Handbook to work alongside your own standard NIV bible.

With content written by Alister McGrath, originally back in 1995 but now revised and updated to go along with the updated translation of the NIV and to incorporate any new knowledge within biblical studies, this is a very well presented book indeed with the incorporated maps (line drawn only - no photographs), charts, concordance, commentary, questions and more. And at only £18.99 for this weighty hardback edition you are getting a pretty good deal for your money.

 

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-74985-4
Hardback
Price: £18.99

Simon Peter

- The Reed And The Rock

by David Pawson


This book took me longer to read than most of David Pawson's books of similar length. This was for two reasons.

First, the style is unusual and the author explains right at the beginning that it is based on a series of talks. I wonder if it is even an exact transcript of the talks, because I could 'hear' his voice in every sentence.

Secondly, I found something that grabbed my attention in every chapter. David has done a serious amount of research to bring Simon Peter alive to us. The meaning of the name Simon is 'reed' and Peter means 'rock'.

Throughout the book we watch the transformation that took place as this flawed and shaky disciple, who often opened his mouth and put his foot in it, became a man of God, filled with the Spirit, submitted to the Lord Jesus and utterly bold and fearless as he proclaimed the gospel.

I found the whole book fascinating and inspiring, even the excellent chapter on the Resurrection of Jesus which does not mention Peter at all, except in a footnote.There are useful lessons on almost every page—a remarkable book which is well worth a slow and careful read.



Website:www.davidpawson.com

Review by Jackie Rowe  (08/04/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-909-88603-2
Paperback
Price: £11.99

By God, I Will

- The Biblical Covenants

by David Pawson


A careful reading of the Old Testament soon reveals that the idea of Covenant is foundational for all Old Testament theology, and an understanding of Israel's relationship with Yahweh.

David Pawson has written this study—based on a series of talks—of the five covenants he finds enshrined in Old Testament texts; namely with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and, the Messianic. 

His first chapter is an explanation of the meaning of covenant, and his last chapter is a reflection on the relevance of the earlier covenants for Christians today. It is a fairly short, easily read book, and really only an introduction to the subject.

Pawson writes from an unashamedly evangelical standpoint and the book is aimed at the layperson. Because of that it is decidedly light in content—he encourages the reader to consult Scripture, but gives few Scripture references, seeming to prefer stories which illustrate his point!

However, that ought not to put off anyone interested in exploring the subject and, if you've read this, it should encourage you to look at he subject in more depth. For that a bibliography would have been a useful addition. 



Review by Graham Wise  (25/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-956-93768-1
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Finding God In The Psalms

- Sing, Pray, Live

by Tom Wright


As a Tom Wright fan, and a lover of the Psalms, I came to this book with a great sense of anticipation. I could hardly put it down!

As always, Wright writes passionately and winsomely, with an invitation to embrace all of the Psalms and to put them back at the centre of our prayer and worship.

His three main sections look at the Psalms first, as they stand at the intersection of different layers of time (God's and ours); secondly, as they speak of the intersection of God's space with our space and; thirdly, as they celebrate the sheer physicality of creation. I like the way he ends the book with a chapter called 'My life with the Psalms' a reflective personal testimony, looking back at the many ways the Psalms have impacted his life.

I have underlined many 'quotable quotes' in my copy of the book, but will end with this one from his penultimate chapter. 'The Psalms speak of change, but more importantly they are agents of change: change within the humans who sing them, and change through those humans, as their transformed lives bring God's kindness and justice into the world.'



Review by Jackie Rowe  (15/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-06989-7
Large paperback
Price: £9.99

Bethlehem To Patmos

- The New Testament Story

by Paul W Barnett


This is a very welcome revised and enlarged edition of Paul Barnett's masterly and immensely informative guide to the formation of the New Testament. Written in such a style that once you start reading you don't want to put the book down, Barnett tells the story, not only of the text itself but the social and political background of the time. Here is the storyline of the New Testament written in a highly readable and attractive style. Here is a reliable guide to the documents that eventually became accepted as the canon of Scripture and, equally importantly, a detailed examination of the people and events which shaped it. Barnett presents the facts, shows how they relate to a scholarly understanding of the era, what the early Christians faced in recording them, and why the texts and events continue to be significant. Here is a book that will be a welcome and extremely useful addition to the study shelves of preachers and others.

Review by Graham Wise  (21/02/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Paternoster Press imprint of Authentic Media
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-842-27809-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

How To Like Paul Again

- The Apostle You Never Knew

by Conrad Gempt


As I picked up this book and began to read, I had no idea of the treat that was in store for me. I have never 'disliked' Paul, so on the face of it this book is not for me.

But it turns out to be a fascinating insight into Paul's relationship with two churches—in Galatia and Corinth—and one individual—Philemon.

In his summing up at the end, Conrad Gempf writes "The Bible may not be what you used to think it was. Stop thinking it's about you. God didn't write it about you." You need to read all that precedes that to appreciate what he is saying there.

I can thoroughly recommend this book—not only to help you like Paul better but to better understand God's blueprint for living the Christian life.



Review by Jackie Rowe  (23/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-780-78061-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 John

- The Epistle As A Reflecture Of The Gospel Of John

by Malcolm Coombes


Malcolm Coombes finds the New Testament book we know as the first Letter of John "both enigmatic and exciting". However, his aim in this new book is not to come up with a solution to such enigmas as the question of the genre of the Epistle, but "more modestly" to “offer some new thoughts on old problems”.

 

He does so through the concept of ‘relecture’. 1 John may be regarded as a relecture, or ‘rereading’, of the Gospel of John.

 

What this process did was enable the Johannine community to restructure and reinterpret correctly the Gospel that was already known and accepted, in the light of changed circumstances and the new pressures brought about by division.

 

Motifs or themes are taken from the Gospel and interpreted in new ways in the Epistle, to serve a new context. So Coombes explores many ‘allusions’ from the one document to the other, and much of his book is taken up with comparisons between Gospel and Letter (sometimes in diagrammatical form).

 

It all makes for a refreshing approach to 1 John.

 

 

 



Review by Barry Vendy  (14/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Mosaic Resources distributed by Alban Books
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-1-743-24015-1
Paperback
Price: £29.99

The Message Of Malachi

- The Bible Speaks Today Series

by Peter Adam


This is a helpful exposition of the last book in the Old Testament, the book of Malachi.

In keeping with the approach of other volumes in the Bible Speaks Today series, it is not a detailed verse-by-verse commentary, but contains reflections on the main points of each chapter of Malachi.

One of Peter Adam's priorities is to show how Malachi, (which he understands to be the prophet's own personal name, and dates to somewhere between 460 and 400 B.C., close to the time of the ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah) is addressed to the whole community of Israel, and not just to individuals. He does this well, demonstrating how relevant Malachi is to the contemporary church.

I recommend this addition.



Review by Barry Vendy  (25/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74622-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Discover Acts

- The Adventures of The Early Church

by Stephen Gaukroger


This title will beautify Christ's bride and encourage your confidence in the gospel and the power of our God. Gaukroger offers a great sweep of the dynamic of the early church.

This is a really useful exegetical meander over sixty chapters. There's lots of reference value, biblical sources included as well as provoking questions to the close of each chapter.

An accessible addition to all that resources the unfolding story of God's beloved church.....

Review by Johnny Douglas  (11/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74903-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

One Bible, Many Versions

- Are all translations created equal?

by Dave Brunn


With about eighty new versions of the Bible in English published in the twentieth century alone, we may be wondering, are some of those versions more accurate than others? Dave Brunn, who embraces the Bible's "verbal, plenary, wholly infallible and inerrant inspiration", and who spent twenty years with a translation team in Papua-New Guinea, looks in considerable detail at the work of Bible translation. The book is strewn with tables and charts, some of them several pages long. I can see why he should want to include these, but confess I found them distracting. He focuses primarily on literalness in translation (i.e. generally "word for word", rather than "thought for thought" versions), drawing most of his examples from "literal" versions, such as the ASB, KJV, NKJV, ESV. (I felt the book would have greater immediacy for English readers if the NIV and NRSV accounted for more than just the occasional footnote). Dave is "shocked" to find that literal versions often depart from their own rules by not always translating the original text literally, e.g. when translating idiomatic sayings. "Literalness does not necessarily result in increased accuracy", he concludes. This is a controversial area and Dave asserts that he does not wish to "add fuel" to the debate among Christians, emphasising the importance of unity rather than division, and stressing the "interdependence" between versions, each one of which has "the potential of strengthening and enhancing the other".ť He has never found a version he agrees with 100% nor one that he disagrees with 100%. Despite the reservations I mention above, I saw much in this book to reward the serious Bible student, and I welcome Dave's commitment to unity.

Review by Barry Vendy  (02/10/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74626-2
Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 & 2 Peter and Judah

- For Everyone Bible Study Guides

by Tom Wright


Tom Wright is one of the most impressive and accessible biblical scholars of our day - easily the equal of William Barclay in the authority with which he writes and his passion for communicating the gospel. In this slender volume Tom Wright provides nine Bible studies covering the nine chapters of the books of 1 and 2 Peter and Judah (or Jude as named in many Bibles).

Framed by a very useful overview of the three books at the beginning and some "Guidelines for Leaders" at the end the core of the book comprises the nine studies each of which is split into an opening introduction or story, the study suggestions and notes, and a prayer suggestion with which to close.

As with much of his writing Tom Wright communicates with an immediacy and relevance that is deeply engaging. He draws the reader straight in without delay - the opening reflection leads in to a question for the student and only then does he turn to the passage. In other words our life experience and the gospel are woven together at once.

Equally suitable for personal and group study these brief guides are a superb way to engage with scripture, especially those books we might not get round to reading very often. If using with new Christians or in a non-book culture, thought might be given to adding visual components to the study material so that not everything is focused on words. Suggestions for images and music might help broaden the appeal of these notes for some.



Review by David Ford  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06863-0
Paperback
Price: £4.99

The Message Of Daniel

- Bible Speaks Today series

by Dale Ralph Davis


I like the Bible Speaks Today series of commentaries, they are a good blend of modern insight and "stories" leading into clear well written biblical commentary with good oversight, detail and analysis working through the book being studied. Daniel is no different on this front, clear analysis in intelligent but readable and readily understandable language that really helps draw out the insights and understandings of what is readily acknowledged as one of the most difficult and complex books of the Bible with its deep prophetic elements. Davis manages to work with these difficulties and draws in some very interesting modern facts to help present them in a more understandable way (some interesting modern knowledge on eating dirt and the reasons for it amongst other gems). It helps clear up some of the complexity whilst not entirely removing the wonder and prophetic shadow that is so essential to the book as the basis for much that comes later in revelation. A good commentary that really does help a modern audience deal with a complex biblical book.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74801-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

A Gospel Pageant

- A Reader's Guide to the Book Of Revelation

by Allan Chapple


This small book is a guidebook to those who find the book of Revelation too mystifying to understand. Allan Chapple gives us a bird's eye view of the book, helping us to understand the basic themes and meaning.

His basic premise is that Revelation presents the same gospel we find everywhere else in the New Testament. What is different is not the message but the means of communicating that message.

He shows how Revelation is a series of visions using symbols heavily drawn from the Old Testament. He avoids the trap of taking the symbols literally but rather looks for the spiritual significance. He demonstrates that Revelation gives us several views of the events of the gospel age and the end of the world, but from different angles.

Each chapter covers 3 and 4 chapters of Revelation and to benefit from this book you will need to read the relevant chapters of Revelation first and look up the many Bible references as you read it.

I would recommend this work to the serious minded Christian who wants to understand the wonderful book of Revelation, but who is not yet ready to read a verse by verse commentary.



Review by Alan Hill  (02/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Mosaic Resources distributed by Alban Books
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-743-24012-0
Paperback
Price: £12.99

A Rabbi Reads The Torah



by Jonathan Magonet


Based around a series of radio talks given by Magonet, these short studies are an insightful and refreshing look at the first five books of the Bible - the books of Moses, the Torah. The presentation is down to earth, and at once uncovers the passages for their truths today and also opens up the Bible in a new way for many Christians by reflecting these passages back through the eyes of Jewish understanding, something we frequently manage to overlook with our theology. This makes for a wonderful book that is not only easy to read, but is also a delight to read. It is certainly a book, I think, anyone looking to do a study of the early part of the Bible would do well to read. It would also be an excellent daily studytime companion, as well as being a great tool for preachers looking for some new insights. I heartily recommend this book.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (02/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0-334-04913-5
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Mark

- Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament

by Mary Ann Beavis


The Paideia series of commentaries sets out to pay attention to the rhetorical and narrative techniques of the ancient societies which form the literary context of a particular book of the New Testament. The aim is to recreate the impact of the writings on the original audience which, inevitably, has ears 'tuned' differently to a twenty-first century reader.

Beavis presents the Gospel of Mark as a work in five acts, which correspond to five scenes: Galilee; beyond Galilee; Gentile Regions; Jerusalem; and the Passion. In between these acts there are interludes in which teaching on a particular theme is presented, and it is suggested that the gospel is structured using the act / chorus / act formula of ancient Greek drama. Parables are presented as works of Greek (or Jewish) rhetoric, which yields a fresh aspect, although in places one would like some more detail. Having said that, this might be the price of accessibility.

It is fair to say this commentary does not set out to be exhaustive, nor is it a strongly exegetical work. However, its intent is to place Mark into a literary context and to highlight the insights which this might bring. As such, it is a suggestive work and helpfully sits alongside its larger, hardback cousins.



Review by Chris Moore  (29/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-03437-4
Paperback
Price: £17.99

Supernatural Living for Natural People

- The Life-Giving Message of Romans 8

by Raymond C Ortlund Jr.


This is a series of studies on that wonderful chapter in God's word: Romans 8.

Beginning with "No Condemnation" and concluding with "Love Unending"ť, Raymond Ortland unveils the spiritual riches we find in these verses "peace with God, the work of the Holy Spirit, the glory of our eternal inheritance and the power of God's love in our lives".

The book is written in a sermonic form, full of careful exposition, arresting illustrations and pastoral application. We see afresh the greatness of God and the wonder of his salvation for us. This is a book to revive flagging saints.

Do not be put off by the cover with its strange picture of a man floating in mid air. There is nothing strange about the contents ­it is firmly rooted in God's word.

Review by Alan Hill  (05/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-781-91139-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Bible As Politics

- The Rape Of Dinah and Other Stories

by Andrew Parker


An incredibly deep and rich book that really is a must for anyone that wants to really get to the meaning of politics and to the core concepts of some of the stories we find in the Bible. This is perhaps not a book for the faint-hearted because it does dig deeply at some ideas and stories in the Bible, looking at them from not just a political position but from a point of biblical investigation, digging past the surface meanings and looking at the hidden meanings or the original meanings that may have been lost over time and changing perceptions and idealogies. It's an intense but easily readable book that focuses us on what the Bible is in many ways really about and what it might be calling us to if we really look into it - and that's both from the Old Testament and New Testament perspectives too. For that reason it is in many ways a deeply subversive book in the best way, a political book in the truest sense and an excellent read all round.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (05/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-780-99249-5
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Global Voices

- Reading the Bible in the Majority World

edited Craig Keener and M Daniel Carroll R


"It has become a truism that one's social location shapes one's ability to see what is in a text and to hear what that text is challenging one's community and oneself to desire, to do and to become."ť (David A deSilva ­quotation from page 39). To be able to read the Bible through unfamiliar lenses taken from the "majority world (basically the "Third World", though including poorer migrant communities in richer nations) - that is the theme of this collection of addresses and responses at the Society for Biblical Literature conference in 2011. The 11 eminent contributors bring with them fascinating insights from China and Sri Lanka, the Horn of Africa and the Republic of Congo, India and the Hispanic regions of Latin America. For all this diversity, I couldn't help noticing that all but one of them are professors at North American universities and only 2 are women. I wonder if there is a danger that this exercise, nobly designed to broaden our horizons in the west, may subtly have an American male bias? Be that as it may, I found the reflections on Daniel and some of the Psalms, and on Galatians, Ephesians 6:10-18, and 1 Corinthians 12-14 illuminating. I'm sure that this book has made me aware of insights from other parts of the world, leaves me less inclined to think that only I and those like me have the right reading of the biblical text and will have a positive effect on how I read the Bible in
the future.

Review by Barry Vendy  (03/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-619-70009-3
Paperback
Price: £11.99

New Testament Wisdom For Everyone



by Tom Wright


Here's the brilliant Tom Wright on the timeless wisdom of some of the richest New Testament passages. His five pacey sections offer short, rich expositions. It may be a small title but it packs a big punch! Wright explains a few texts in an expository style with helpful anecdotes, strong word pictures and meaningful applications. They are full of deeper devotional value. He restates the Bible not merely as a rule book but as a way of deepening an already secure relationship with Jesus. This quote in particular is really helpful: "Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs and a rule-book for life, such as anyone could master in a weekend. It is as many-sided as the world itself, full of beauty and mystery and power, and as terrifying and wonderful as God himself. There is always much, much more to learn, to relish, to delight in". My lingering struggle was that this felt like a summer sampler from the thirty-plus titles that N T Wright has already faithfully offered. It isn't a full treatment, for that wouldn't be possible but it remains a rich primer on the wisdom to be found in the New Testament, and the beauty of the good news instituted in Jesus.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (02/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-06937-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

God in Our Midst

- Gospel stories and reflections

by Trevor Dennis


In relishing and taking full advantage of the room the biblical text leaves for the imagination, Trevor Dennis has produced a beautifully crafted collection of poetry and prose that releases the power of the gospel story afresh. Not only does he pay careful heed to the women of the Gospels, he also seeks to enter into the minds of those 'on the other side' in material written from the perspective of Pilate, 'the Jews' and someone who is fighting against the uncomfortable truths of Good Friday.

God in Our Midst contains a small number of pieces from the author's most recent titles, The Christmas Stories and The Easter Stories.



Review by Publisher's notes  (01/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06927-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Interpreting the Parables (Second Edition)



by Craig L Blomberg


Blomberg's book, Interpreting The Parables, is a learned yet accessible work of great value to the serious scholar and of interest to anyone curious about the teaching of Jesus. He has no hesitation in saying that he thinks it likely that the parables go back to the original words of Jesus which were passed on almost verbatim and points out that as well as being allegories these stories related to incidents in everyday life which might escape the twenty-first century reader because of different culture and traditions. He studies each parable in depth and by a series of diagrams as well as clear prose tells his readers how to access the full meanings of mercy, forgiveness and love of God which is shown clearly in the parables. He explains that we cannot grasp the horror, as the original listeners would do, when we read that the younger brother, in the parable of the prodigal son, asks for his inheritance, because to us it is a pragmatic request, to the original listeners he was wishing his father dead.

Blomberg does not flaunt his considerable scholarship and learning before his readers but gently teases out hidden meanings explaining in everyday language how easy it is for real meaning to be lost over time. He illustrates this quite startlingly by the use of a comparatively modern story, The Wizard of Oz. I wonder how many of us fully understand the meaning behind that simple story? Do we realise that it is a comment on social conditions in America at the beginning of the 20th century? If you want to know how to understand that story and the parables of Jesus you can do no better than buy Blomberg's book.



Review by Wendy Lloyd  (18/06/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Apollos imprint of IVP
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74576-0
Paperback
Price: £19.99

The Bible

- (Instant Expert Series)

by Nick Page


OK, I'll say it again, these books in the Instant Expert series will not make you an expert, instant or otherwise. They really are just too short to do that for such complex issues and topics, however they are brilliant overviews that will quickly, easily and clearly help you gain an insight into the key areas they address. With this one Nick Page does an excellent job of distilling an overview of the Bible - namely what it is, why it is and how it is (for want of a better set of terms) into 94 pages of clear bold print. In here are short and insightful paragraphs on the make up of the Bible, the problems that have occasionally occurred (yes even some heretics get a quick mention) and a really good whistle-stop tour through the books of the Bible. As a first introduction to what the Bible is, this is a great little tool to have to hand.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (31/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-745-95575-9
Paperback
Price: £5.99

The Scriptures Testify About Me

- Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament

by D A Carson


There are eight contributors, including the editor, to this attractive publication. All are prominent evangelical pastors and scholars. As the subtitle, Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament, would lead us to think, it is a collection of expositions of various Old Testament texts, especially as they relate to the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is "the written form of the plenary addresses given in April 2011 at the national conference of the Gospel Coalition, in Chicago" (Preface). "What the addresses offer [are] ... some examples of Christian preachers handling a variety of highly diverse Old Testament texts" (Preface). Chapter 1, by R. Albert Mohler Jr., is a kind of introduction to the rest of the book. In it he talks, among other things, about the belief system of many young people in America, which he describes as "moralistic therapeutic deism", a term which he explains. There follow chapters by Tim Keller (on the Exodus) and by Alistair Begg (on Ruth). Then there are chapters by James MacDonald (on Psalm 25), Conrad Mbewe (on the Righteous Branch in Jeremiah 23:1-8) and Matt Chandler (on Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8). Finally, Mike Bullmore writes on Zephaniah and D A Carson on Melchizedek. Highlights, for this reader, were the contributions by Keller, Begg, Chandler, Bullmore and Carson. I think that it is written primarily, though not exclusively by any means, for preachers. The editor's hope is that it will prove to be an incentive for preachers and teachers to keep preaching and teaching Old Testament texts. I recommend it.

Review by Brian Kerr  (21/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 19 April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-844-74628-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Straight to the Heart of John

- 60 bite-sized insights

by Phil Moore


This is the second book in Moore's Straight to the Heart series that I've read, the first being Straight to the Heart of 1 & 2 Samuel. This one was good but, for me, it didn't quite reach the heights of the previous one, which I found excellent. Still there are some great insights here, e.g. that believing in Jesus in John's gospel means believing into Jesus. I really liked some of his insights around Jesus' crucifixtion, e.g. that the blood on the vertical and horizontal beams of the cross should make us cast our minds back to the blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled on the doorposts, and the fact that tetelestai (Jesus cry, "It is finished") also means "paid in full" when used of a debt. Good too is his comment that John 20:23 ("If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven…") isn't telling a few clergymen to absolve their congregations but every Christian to go out and preach the gospel to the world. I was a little disappointed that, in his chapter, 'Why God doesn't heal', he fails to mention that it might not be God's will to heal in every instance, though at least he wasn't suggesting that the fault must be with the sick person, e.g. that they must be lacking in faith or that there must be sin in their lives.

Review by Brian Kerr  (18/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-21253-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

God's Signature

- The Wonders of the Hebrew Scriptures

by Steve Maltz


Steve Maltz achieves the almost impossible in this book: making the study of the Hebrew language lively, interesting and understandable.

The book has two aims: first to explain how the Old Testament came to be written and second to introduce the complete novice to the Hebrew language.

As he traces the story of the writing and preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures we see God's hand at work. We marvel at the extremes that the Jewish scribes went to ensure that no errors crept in to their copies.

The author gives us an insight into the richness and depth of the Hebrew language with dozens of mini word studies throughout the book. He highlights many fascinating facts on key passages.

As an added bonus there are thoughtful reviews of several popular English translations covering not only the quality of the translation but also the original text on which they are based.

Steve Maltz writes in an engaging lively style that makes you want to turn the page. He has a high view of scripture believing that it is 100% inspired right down to the smallest jot and tittle. He provides ample evidence why every jot and tittle matters.

Some may find his style a little jokey at times but do not let this put you off. This will help the layman understand more fully the wonders of the Hebrew Scriptures. Highly recommended.

Review by Alan Hill  (26/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Terra Nova Publications from Anchor Recordings
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-479-31116-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Lion Concise Atlas of Bible History



by Paul Lawrence, R Johnson


Lion have produced an excellent book up to their usual very high standards, which provides a comprehensive guide to the world of the Bible by covering Biblical history from its earliest days to the end of the New Testament period. The book is divided into short sections in historical sequence, each covering a two-page spread including maps, site plans, diagrams, time-charts and photographs. It has a geographical and theological scope as well as historical. The text is well-written and clearly set out, and there is an extensive index together with a useful glossary and bibliography. Paul Lawrence studied Hebrew and archaeology at the University of Liverpool and draws on the latest archaeological and historical research. He has also published The Books of Moses Revisited. As with other Lion publications it is highly recommended.

Review by Graham Wise  (18/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95532-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

The Jonah Complex



by Greg Haslam


The Jonah Complex by Greg Haslam is an excellent book that is both critique and commentary. Critique in some ways of our church and society today – pointing out the similarities between where we are and Jonah's story and time, and commentary that works all the way through the book of Jonah highlighting and upholding the story and its worth for today. I have always been a big fan of the story of Jonah, not so much the fishy tale we get as children but the depth and intricacies that are in it about faith, about choosing to follow, about misunderstanding God's grace, notably though for me the most important part of the story of Jonah is at the end - the castor oil plant episode. To finally find a book that does not ignore or gloss over this section is lovely. Haslam instead uses it to show and hold up "the outrageous Grace of God".

Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39304-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Power of Parable

- How fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus

by John Dominic Crossan


John Dominic Crossan is a name to conjure with, and in this book he gives us his typically challenging view of parables, not just the familiar ones from Our Lord's teaching, but also stories we might not have seen in this way before. The Book of Ruth, for instance, is viewed as a prolonged parable intended to upset the reader's prejudices: the Law says that no Moabite may be part of the People of God; a Moabite woman is shown to be the ancestress of David and indeed of the Messiah himself. So much for Israelite (our) exclusivity!

So, in what he calls 'challenge' parables, as opposed to his other categories of 'riddle' and 'example' parables, Crossan stresses that readers are made to radically re-think their too easily-accepted attitudes.

The subtitle of the book is How fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus. After a central interlude about how Caesar crossing the Rubicon moved from history to myth (parable), Crossan moves on to look at events in Jesus' life which, he asserts, are parable rather than historical fact. He may perhaps over-play his hand at times, but there are fascinating and challenging insights to be found here, not least the changing perspective on Rome through the Synoptic Gospels / Acts. In conclusion, Crossan discusses the evidence available for Our Lord's human existence, showing that he was fact rather than himself a figure in a parable.

Crossan writes in an attractive personal style, with comments from his own life experience, and so makes the book an appealing read for open-minded lay Christians.

Review by Joan van Emden  (09/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06811-1
Paperback
Price: £10.99

A Commentary on the Gospel of John



by David Pawson


This book will help the average Christian to understand at a much deeper level the wonderful gospel of John. Writing from an evangelical position Mr Pawson seeks to open up the word of God to us. In general his interpretation is sound although inevitably not everyone will agree with all his conclusions.

This book is not a verse by verse commentary but rather sermonic in structure. Therefore do not expect to find an explanation of every text. For instance John 3:16 is passed over completely. On the other side there is a great deal of background information that helps us to understand what we are reading.

The sermonic structure is clear in every chapter. Each starts with an introduction and is followed by 3 or 4 points. Each chapter usually has just one main theme. Mr Pawson's writing is easy to read and the book is full of illustrations and applications.

One added bonus is a fascinating introduction in which he compares and contrasts John to the other three gospels.

This book could be used with profit during your daily devotions. Preachers will also find many suggestions for sermon outlines.

Review by Alan Hill  (21/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-957-52903-8
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Walking with Gospel Women

- Interactive Bible meditations

by Fiona Stratta


Fiona Stratta's book aims to help us encounter God, through 'interactive Bible meditations'. Using our imagination, we enter into the lives of many of the women mentioned in the Gospels. Each chapter follows the same pattern. First, one or more suggested readings from the Gospels, and then a 'monologue'. Each monologue is an imaginative retelling of a Gospel story from a woman's perspective. So, for example, the monologue based on John's account of the woman caught in adultery begins like this: "I felt a rough hand on my shoulder, pushing me towards Jesus, causing me to stumble and fall at his feet." Details which are not in the Bible are imagined by the author - so, in this particular story the woman speaks of seeing her husband in the crowd, and of hearing her son cry out. Following each monologue is a set of questions for reflection and discussion. This book is designed for use in small groups, but I found it worked well for me as an individual, too. If you want to learn how to enter imaginatively into the Bible, this book would be a helpful and refreshing place to start.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (30/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46010-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Straight to the Heart of 1 & 2 Samuel

- 60 Bite-Sized Insights

by Phil Moore


On the back cover Michael Green says of this series of commentaries, "Most commentaries are dull. These are alive. Most commentaries are for scholars. These are for you!" I wholeheartedly agree! This, Moore's commentary on 1 & 2 Samuel, scores high on readability (the chapters are short), and holds the reader's interest with great stories and illustrations. The 2 books of Samuel are divided into 5 sections, from each of which we learn a characteristic of those whom God uses, namely, that they are humble, obedient, and pure, that they love God's name, and that they are repentant. There are certainly some marvellous insights. I learned, for example, that the Israelites asked God for a Melek (a term for king previously used only for God) but God gave them a Nagid (a viceroy under God). I like the way David's Psalms are tied in with the events that inspired them. Footnotes are conveniently to be found at the bottom of the page to which they refer. Excellent!

Review by Brian Kerr  (15/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-21252-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Jesus: Name Above All Names

- 32 Bible Studies on the Person and Work of Jesus

by Anne Le Tissier


In this attractive publication, subtitled 32 Bible Studies on the Person and Work of Jesus, Anne Le Tissier looks at names and titles of Jesus. These are arranged alphabetically from our Advocate with the Father to the Word of God. The title itself makes a great statement! As Jackie Harris (editor of Woman Alive) says in the foreword, "studying the names and descriptions of Jesus is not a new idea" but it certainly is a profitable exercise. As we are informed on the back cover, "the material includes extended reflection on the theme, questions for response, prayers and suggestions for further Bible reading". To get most benefit from the book, it would be good to keep a Bible handy and look up these scriptures. Although written primarily for women, most of what is said is of general interest. Sometimes the name for Jesus under consideration leads to a similar name for us, e.g. he is the Light of the world and we are to be the light of the world, and he is the Living stone and we are living stones. Some of the chapters are particularly apt at certain times of the year e.g. the Prince of peace at Christmas and the Lamb of God at Easter. Some chapters struck a chord while others got me thinking.

Review by Brian Kerr  (15/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-857-46085-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi



by Andrew E Hill


These commentaries (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) are designed to help the reader of the Bible understand what the text says and what it means. The Introduction to each book gives a concise but thorough treatment of its authorship, date, original setting and purpose. Following a structural analysis, the commentary takes the book section by section, drawing out its main themes, and also comments on individual verses and problems of interpretation. This, number 28 in the series, is a commentary on the last 3 books of the Old Testament. Despite the return of the Hebrews from the Babylonian exile, selfishness, apathy and despair crippled their community spirit. In response to this distress, God raised up three prophetic voices in Jerusalem. Haggai rallied the people to rebuild the Second Temple, Zechariah was given visions of the return of the glory of God to Zion and Malachi preached repentance, covenant justice and restoration of proper temple worship. This is a scholarly work as attested by the 12 pages of Select Bibliographies. It isn't a commentary, I would suggest, for a general readership, but will prove useful, I’m sure, for ministers, pastors and academics. It is bang up to date, with reference being made to the NIV 2011. It is probably more of a reference work than a book to read from cover to cover as I did.

Review by Brian Kerr  (04/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74584-5
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Joseph - His Arms Were Made Strong



by David C Searle


This is a difficult book to categorize. It is not a commentary and yet it deals with the Joseph saga in its Biblical order (for the most part) and there is much detailed commentary on the text. It is not a fictional account of 'Joseph and his brothers', or even a fact / fictional re-telling. There is much filling in and fleshing out of detail not actually spelt out in the Bible; too much for some readers, no doubt. Each chapter has a certain 'sermon' feel about it, and with little adaptation many chapters could be delivered as sermons. It may in the end be an attempt to return to an older, even patristic, model of commentary. Significantly, the Fathers are quoted alongside the Reformation and modern critics.
Others may follow in the author's foortsteps.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (29/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-71165-5
Paperback
Price: £10.95

Opening Up Isaiah

- Andrew Thomson


This commentary from the Day One group is consistent with the group's first two aims: 'To be faithful to the Bible, God's inerrant, infallible Word; To be relevant to our modern generation'. Readers who can accept these policies may well find much that is helpful here. However, the author goes further and states that the New Testament gives the explanation for difficulties in Isaiah which might otherwise be inexplicable. Thus Isaiah's book is not treated on its own merits, but should be read in the light of the New Testament. Moreover, the widely accepted view that Isaiah is a composite work, containing the prophecies of two prophets and a group of disciples, and these spread over at least two centuries, is simply not acknowledged.
Those who can accept this will want to read on.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (29/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-25352-2
Paperback
Price: £6.00

Revelation



by Alun Ebenezer


For many Christians Revelation is a closed book. This is a great shame as it is the only book in the Bible with a promise of blessing for those who read it. We find wonderful comfort for Christians as we learn that although Satan seems to be triumphant and the church seems to be defeated the opposite is true. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Taking the view that Revelation consists of seven parallel sections covering the Gospel age, the author draws inspiration from other works especially the unsurpassed More than Conquerors by William Hendriksen.

Mr Ebenezer lucidly explains every section never shirking difficult verses. He avoids the trap of taking the myriad of images too literally. He highlights how many of the visions are rooted in Old Testament scriptures and are best interpreted from that standpoint. Each chapter ends with a note of application. I especially liked how he shows that the book is relevant to the Christian today. This book reads like it was originally a series of talks given to young people. Certainly it is easy to understand and written in a non technical way. If you have never read a commentary on Revelation this book would be an excellent place to start. Highly recommended.

Review by Alan Hill  (29/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: EP (Evangelical Press)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-852-34803-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Kingdom of Fools

- The Unlikely Rise of the Early Church

by Nick Page


Nick Page’s books are always thoroughly researched and engagingly written, and this one is no exception. Nick traces the rise of the early church, offering a wealth of information which brings it all to life. It’s packed with details you never knew were there (but they are!) and supported with so much background material that you feel yourself stepping through the pages into the 1st century. Nick takes nothing for granted, and offers a take so fresh that it often seems you are browsing back copies of the local newspapers. How old was Paul when he died? What was the Roman pun on the name Christ? How were the healing miracles which took place in Syria, Egypt and Turkey viewed by contemporary writers? If the Romans didn’t mind Jesus being a god, what was it they did mind? Was it Paul’s personality which got him into so many difficult situations – or was there more to it than that? The blurb says ‘in this fascinating new biography of the early church, Nick Page sets the biblical accounts alongside the latest historical and archaeological research, exploring just why the Romans found this new branch of the Jewish faith so difficult to comprehend’ – and that’s about right. Illustrated with line drawings and photographs, this will transport you to another world.

Review by Alison Morgan  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-0-340-99625-6
Hardback

A Commentary on Galatians



by David Pawson


I must confess that I'm a bit of a fan of David Pawson! I’ve read at least 3 other books by him. This one, as the title suggests, is a commentary on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It is a written transcript of a spoken message and this is apparent sometimes in minor grammatical errors and a lack of punctuation, although this doesn’t detract from the substance of the Biblical teaching and the value of the book. At the outset Pawson asks the reader to compare everything he says / writes "with what is written in the Bible and, if at any point a conflict is found, always to rely on the clear teaching of scripture" (p.6). He has translated the letter himself and his translation reads very freshly. Pawson makes good use of illustrations, both Biblical and from everyday life. There is a helpful diagram in the introduction illustrating the two extremes of legalism and licence which can be avoided by maintaining the middle line of liberty. I found much of interest e.g. the question of whether Christians are obliged to tithe, whether Paul and Jesus preached the same gospel, the purpose for which the law was given and a discussion of Paul’s likely blindness. This book will be helpful to anyone preaching, teaching, leading a Bible study or simply studying Galatians. It is very quotable. Recommended.

Review by Brian Kerr  (27/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: 17 February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-957-52905-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Real Lord's Prayer

- Christ's glory and grace in John 17

by Ian S McNaughton


An accomplished exploration of the essential nature of Jesus and the intended nature of prayer, rich with cross-reference to other parts of the Bible and touching on many and varied contemporary aspects of discipleship. Perhaps not suitable for the brand-new Christian, this rigorous exegesis of Christ's high-priestly prayer is more suited to the believer growing in the faith and looking to delve deeper into God's Word and apply it to his or her own life. The style is somewhat dogmatic – areas off contention and those where interpretations vary (e.g. verses 21-23) are bulldozed over and firmly imprinted with the author's opinion – but some may find this approach preferable to the glossing over, or 'fence-sitting' that can be found in other publications and the book will amply equip discerning readers to meditate upon the text for themselves. Having read it one is left with, at the very least, a renewed sense of gratitude for Christ's faithfulness to us, His undeserving people.

Review by Diane Morrison  (27/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 01 November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-25296-9
Paperback

The Perfect Saviour

- Key themes in Hebrews

by Jonathan Griffiths (Ed)


This volume of eight essays on themes in the book of Hebrews is brought together with the express intent of making valuable New Testament scholarship accessible to the preacher and pastor who might not otherwise readily find useful and needed comment and research on a variety of key issues in the church today. This introduction to Hebrews covers the new covenant; the word of God; suffering; the tabernacle; perfection; access and arrival; Christ's priesthood; and warning and assurance. On the whole, the collection is indeed accessible, with some essays more so than others. But with a bit of time and careful thought, all are invaluable to the pastor and preacher attempting to understand the book of Hebrews for teaching and discipleship purposes. Of significant value are the essays on warning and assurance by Schreiner, Winter’s essay on suffering, and the slightly more academic essay on perfection from Peterson, all of which tackle relevant topics for Christian life in twenty-first century Western culture. This is a valuable book which deserves high readership among pastors and lay alike – thoroughly recommended.

Review by Tim Goodall  (16/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 15 June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74583-8
Paperback
Price: £8.99

WHO?



by Paul Langham


In the 1960s Ronald Allison, a BBC journalist, wrote Dear St Paul…, letters to St Paul prompting his letters to the young churches. In WHO?, Paul Langham "rewrites" the New Testament as it might be written today - more accessible language for a generation not used to even the most modern translation of the New Testament. He tells the life of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke - eliding their accounts and giving a narrative over some 95 pages. It is eminently readable and does not demand pre-knowledge. John's Gospel is treated separately after Revelation because "John takes his own distinct approach to recording the life of Jesus, which offers a complimentary viewpoint to those taken by Matthew, Mark and Luke." A thoroughly appropriate position to take. From Acts onwards, Langham provides us with two introductory paragraphs to each book or letter - Who wrote it? And Why should I read it? Paul Langham is an Anglican Parish Priest in Bristol and I suspect that his pastoral sense has greatly fed his book. I can see this being offered to enquirers and also used by Bible study groups. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Review by Nick Horton  (12/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Bible Society
Published: 22 October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-564-09424-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Is All Scripture Inspired?



by J C Ryle


The short answer to this question is ‘Yes’, says J C Ryle, the well known Church of England minister. In this small paperback, first published in 1877, he gives reason after reason why the Bible is truly the word of God.
Written in a popular rather than academic style he outlines the internal evidence and also the external evidence that God was behind every word and every sentence.
He asks such questions as: What other book has made such an impact on society? What other book, written by over 30 authors over 1,500 years has such a unity of thought?
He also highlights the extraordinary accuracy of the Bible. He says at one point that the Bible ‘stands, perfect, fresh and complete as it did 18 centuries ago’. (As an aside, this is still true today. For instance think of all the archaeological finds since his day.)
The book ends with a brief look at some of the objections to verbal inspiration and the importance of not corrupting the word.
There are other works that cover this subject more fully, but few that are written in such a clear and persuasive way. This would be an excellent book to have on a church bookstall and a good present for a sceptical inquirer.

Review by Alan Hill  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: 2003
ISBN: 978-0-851-51848-0
Paperback
Price: £4.99

Bible Facts

- Candle Discovery Series

by Anne Adams, edited Tim Dowley


At 180mm x 180mm, this is a handy sized reference book with young people in mind but just as useful for those of any age. Many of the illustrations are re-worked from other titles in the Candle Discovery Series) but this is fine, many readers will not have met them before and they are so good that the more people who see them the better!
Arranged in subjects such as Houses: Weddings: Spinning & weaving: Travel and many, many more, you will learn a lot by just browsing through. You will learn much more by carefully reading through, it really is packed full of information to help you imagine life in Bible times. This in turn will bring to life your Bible reading. I am a fan of anything with Tim Dowley’s name attached, and this too is excellent.


Review by Mary Bartholomew  (03/04/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Candle Books imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: Spring 2010
ISBN: 978-1-859-85740-3
Flexiback
Price: £4.99

Journeying With Luke (Lectionary Year C)

- Bringing the Gospel Alive for Groups and Individuals

by James Woodward, Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce


Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce and James Woodward follow up their successful collaboration on Mark’s Gospel with this new volume on Luke, the Gospel for Year C of the Churches’ Lectionary. Once again it will be a useful introduction for individuals, groups and preachers, even those already familiar with Luke. It may be short, compared with many commentaries, but it contains plenty of stimulating material, with six chapters on the main seasons of the year and two more on ‘Ordinary Time’.
Paula, in addition to an introduction on Luke, the writer and the Gospel, then ‘explores the text’ (there are interesting features on such things as temptation, the journey and irony). In each chapter, Mark ‘imagines’ the text (and believe me, his poems and meditations really are imaginative. Look at his ‘out-of-character’ story of ‘shepherds’ in their Portakabin office! Or see Satan’s monologue after the bruising encounter with Jesus in the wilderness! And that’s just a taste.). Finally, James ‘reflects on’ the text, and preachers may find his thoughts especially helpful (for example on the person of Mary, on the nature of faith and on the parable of the Good Samaritan). Each chapter concludes with questions for an individual to mull over and for a group to have a go at, plus a prayer.
This is a book worth using.

Visit the author's website:www.jameswoodward.info

Review by Barry Vendy  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-05902-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Christ And The Desert Tabernacle



by J.V Fesko


Fesko has done the wider church body a great service in writing this short, very readable account of the tabernacle as God relayed to Moses in the book of Exodus. Taking up the challenge that many Christians skip too quickly over the description of the way in which the Israelites were to build the tabernacle and attempts to make the connections clear to the New Testament and to the church today. Fesko largely succeeds in his attempt. Each chapter takes a specific aspect of the building of the tabernacle and tackles it through the original context, through the links and illuminations in the New Testament, to the usefulness and relevant challenges the tabernacle holds for the church today. This is not a book for those looking to really dig deeply into the accounts of the tabernacle building, but it provides a valuable resource for all Christians who want to understand the relevance of the tabernacle today. Fesko impresses with his simplicity and does not hold back from challenging the church at appropriate moments.

Review by Tim Goodall  (27/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: EP (Evangelical Press)
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-852-34781-2
Paperback
Price: £7.99

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible

- Playing by the Rules – Second Edition

by Robert H Stein


That there are rules will came as a surprise to some!
In this second edition of his book the author states his aim early on: ‘the goal of reading the Bible is to understand what the Biblical authors meant by their writings.’ (p.ix) For many if not most readers this would be one among many goals, and perhaps not even the primary one. However, the book’s lively presentation which includes diagrams, questions at the end of chapters (with model answers!), and a real attempt to explain at every stage, is attractive and engaging. There is much to be learned from these pages therefore, but there are also draw-backs. Stein seems at his least convincing in the chapter entitled, ‘The Game of Exaggeration’. As applied to the Scriptures this is controversial enough, but the subtitle is even more problematic: ‘Overstatement and Hyperbole.’ Who decides which is which?

Review by Ian Gibbs  (18/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: 01 June 2011
ISBN: 978-0-801-03373-5
Paperback
Price: £11.99

James: For Everyone Bible Study Guides



by Tom Wright


This Study Guide addresses a study group or an individual approaching the short Letter of James. It opens by summarising the Letter overall as a text concerned to share ideas about patience, wisdom, permanence, faith, and ‘the dangerous power of the tongue’. It then offers ways of reading the text in nine sections, focusing in each section on a specific theme. The sections each offer opening and closing interpretations, detailed questions directed sometimes at interpreting the text and sometimes at inspiring imaginative links to daily life, and suggestions for prayer. Readers or groups might well find this an enlightening route into James.

Review by Su Reid  (16/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06859-3
Paperback
Price: £4.99

The Letters of John: For Everyone Bible Study Guides



by Tom Wright


Formally, this Study Guide is directed to a study group or an individual reading John 1 and 2. Its strategy is evangelical, in that it expects its readers to apply John 1 and 2 to daily life and prayer. Nevertheless, its scholarship is such that it can provide a useful introduction for more academic purposes, or, indeed, when writing sermons. Framed overall by guidelines advising individuals, groups and group leaders, each section focuses on each chapter in turn and follows a single format: an invitation to consider a relevant contemporary experience; detailed specific questions referring to the text; some scholarly notes assisting understanding; suggested prayer; and a summary of the theological import of the chapter. This is informative stuff!

Review by Su Reid  (16/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06861-6
Paperback
Price: £4.99

A Commentary on Jude



by David Pawson


This book is based on a series of talks given by the veteran Bible teacher David Pawson. He explains in the long introduction that Jude is a neglected book partly because the content is unusual and (to use his word) sharp. Mr. Pawson then goes on to show how relevant the book is to the Church in England today.
First the negatives: His analysis of the text is sometimes marred by speculation. There are too many personal anecdotes - they tend to glorify Mr. Pawson rather than illustrate the point. I did not agree with his charismatic slant on one verse and his denial of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints on another. However on the positive side Mr. Pawson writes with a love for Bible truth and passion and directness that is refreshing. In particular I liked his emphasis on the justice of God and the need for believers to stay faithful.
This is a book that will challenge the complacent and make all believers think. For these reasons alone this book is worth reading.

Review by Alan Hill  (02/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-957-52904-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Whose Who Of The Bible

- Everything You Need To Know About Everyone In The Bible

by Martin H Manser & Debra K. Reid


This book is a who’s who of every person named in the Bible. For each person there is a biographical sketch, details of when the person lived and a selection of verses where the person is mentioned.
The biographies stay close to Bible’s account and the Bible’s assessment of a person. They vary in length from one line (son of...) to almost one page depending on the amount of information in the scriptures.
All the dates and ages given are based on the Biblical text. Dates up to Terah are given in years since the creation of the earth; dates after that are based on conservative scholarship.
There are also family trees of key individuals, lists of kings, a timeline and an appendix with selected names from the Apocrypha
This book is well researched and well presented. I particularly liked how the authors have taken all their data from the Biblical text accepting it as accurate.
The strap line of the book (everything you need to know about everyone named in the Bible) is an exaggeration, but it is no exaggeration to say that this book is a helpful, trustworthy resource for Bible students. It is a mine of interesting information.

Review by Alan Hill  (20/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95518-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Philippians - Rejoicing and Thanksgiving

- Focus on the Bible

by David Chapman


This book will be welcomed by the serious Bible student. Written from a conservative evangelical position, this is a verse by verse commentary that seeks to get to the bottom of what Paul was saying to the 1st century church at Philippi. He compares scripture with scriptures. He explores the meaning of key Greek words. He covers more technical aspects in extensive footnotes.
However this is no dry theological tome. Written in an engaging and readable style, Mr Chapman‘s thoughts breath a love for the Lord and his word. He regularly stops to apply the text to our lives today. He provides the occasional illustration. At the end of each chapter there are thought provoking questions for both personal reflection and group study.
The preacher will find this book of great help in preparing for Bible studies. Those who love to delve into God’s word will not be disappointed.
The Focus on the Bible series of commentaries aims to be ‘readable, reliable and relevant.’ This book certainly achieves all three aims.


Review by Alan Hill  (24/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-845-50687-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Open Your Bible

- The All-In-One Bible Guide

by Ed. Martin H. Manser


Open You Bible is a fantastic resource book and best of all it is not massive or heavy, it is compact and comprehensive. The pages are filled with bite size sections and easily digestible chunks that help you get the best taste and flavour of the Bible.
For each book of the Bible there is a summary, an overview, an outline, a look at key themes and then an interesting section that explains that book's relevance for today. In with these are also maps where needed and photo’s to add colour and depth to understanding.
Despite describing it as a guide to the Bible it goes a step further than most do and in it you will also find sections such as dealing with ‘Knowing Jesus’ – which is a comprehensive but easy guide to understanding Jesus and many of the things he taught and teaches. In some ways this in itself is an incredible guide to the Christian faith. However the real guide to the Christian faith is found at the back of the book where you encounter amazing study pages that deal with ‘Living the Christian Life’, ‘Discovering God’s Way’ and ‘Understanding Bible Teaching’. These sections are short enough to be used as daily quiet time studies, but comprehensive enough to be used at group sessions too.
For Ł25 you are getting a bargain with this book because it really will guide you through the bible – and beyond

Review by Melanie Carroll  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: CLC Wholesale
Published: 07 July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-755-48991-6
Flexiback
Price: £25.00

Ruth

- A Devotional Commentary

by Iain D Campbell


Iain D Campbell starts with the story of Ruth then gives the setting and background of the book.
I must admit when I have read The Book of Ruth before, I read it as a book about loyalty, obedience and eventually love. I didn't realise there was so much depth and inner meaning to it.
The author compares the Old Testament person of Ruth with Jesus especially as Ruth was the ancestor of Jesus. If it had not been for Ruth following Naomi, the prophesies would not have been fulfilled. Ruth as a Moabitess was classed as an outsider just as sinners were classed as outsiders. In the Old Testament non Jews could not become followers of God whereas Jesus welcomed both Jews and Gentiles alike. By Ruth following Naomi she was going into hostile territory but she loved Naomi so she followed, everything that happened to Ruth was according to God's plan. It doesn't matter where you are, on your journey with God, if you are a new or a mature believer this commentary will really help you understand The Book of Ruth

Review by Julia Bennett  (09/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-846-25227-3
Paperback
Price: £6.00

The Old Testament - Volume 2: The Historical Books

- A New, Cutting -Edge Translation of the Septuagint

by Nicholas King


This is a new translation of the Historical Books of the Bible from the Septuagint, rather than the Masoretic Text by Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest who teaches New Testament at the University of Oxford. The basis of this approach is that the Greek text is what the writers of the New Testament knew, rather than the Hebrew.
These passages show a comparison: Ruth 1:14b-16 Ruth clung to her. So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (from the NRSV) But Ruth followed her. And Naomi said to Ruth, ‘Look – your sister-in-law has gone back to her people, and to her gods. So, you too must go back, after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said, ‘Don’t urge me to abandon you, or to go back from following you. For wherever you go, I shall go; and wherever you lodge, I shall lodge. Your people [shall be] my people, and your God shall be my God.’ (from the Septuagint) 2 Samuel 1:26 - I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. (from the NRSV) I am in pain for you, my brother Jonathan; you were lovely in my eyes; your love to me was wonderful, beyond the love of women! (from the Septuagint)
‘instantly accessible … hard to beat’ writes Archbishop Rowan Williams

The final two volumes, Vol 3 the Wisdom Literature and Vol 4 Isaiah – Malachi, are to be published in 2013

Review by Jon Mayled  (30/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Kevin Mayhew Publishers
Published: 17 January 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-67459-2
Paperback
Price: £16.99

The Old Testament - Volume 1: The Pentateuch

- A New, Cutting -Edge Translation of the Septuagint

by Nicholas King


This new translation of the Pentateuch takes a relatively unique approach in working from the Septuagint as a basis, rather than the Masoretic Text. The basis of this approach is that the Greek text is what the writers of the New Testament knew, rather than the Hebrew. Also the Septuagint text is earlier than the Hebrew of the Masoretic Text.
The translation therefore provides a very new and fresh way of reading the Pentateuch, some examples of which are shown below: Genesis 1:1-3 - In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. (from the NRSV)
In the beginning God made heaven and earth. And the earth was invisible and unformed; and darkness was on the abyss, and the Spirit of God was rushing upon the water. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ – and light came to be! (from the Septuagint)
Exodus 3:13-14 - But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ (from the NRSV)
And Moses said to God, ‘Look – I shall go to the children of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’ They’re going to ask me, ‘What’s his name?’ What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, ‘I am The One Who Is.’ And he said, ‘This is how you are to speak to the children of Israel: ‘The One Who Is has sent me to you.’ (from the Septuagint) ‘… it hits you between the eyes’ writes Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The final two volumes, Vol 3 the Wisdom Literature and Vol 4 Isaiah – Malachi, are to be published in 2013

Review by Jon Mayled  (30/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Kevin Mayhew Publishers
Published: 17 January 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-67340-3
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Dying to Live

- Lessons From Mark

by John Churcher


It is testament to the gospels as the Living Word of God that theologians can continue to find new ways of approaching well-worn texts and new insights into familiar stories. In Dying to Live, John Churcher has produced an accessible commentary on Mark that – chapter by chapter – will question many of the assumptions we have inherited about this first gospel during the past century of biblical scholarship.
Using Karen Armstrong’s differentiation between logos and mythos, Churcher begins by encouraging the reader to distinguish between two types of truth: the factuality of actual events that took place and stories that reveal truth despite being imaginary. Clearly, a story does not have to be true to reveal truth and the faith of someone who depends on actuality may be immature.
Applied to the Old Testament this distinction may not appear to matter; apply it to the personhood of Jesus and 1600 years of ecclesiology may come crashing down around us. This is the risky endeavour that Churcher bravely embarks upon in the tradition of Bultmann and more recently John Dominic Crossan.
For Churcher the church is not of central importance; the truth about the identity and purpose of Jesus, is. For Churcher Jesus was ‘so uniquely full of humanity that people experienced the fullness of the divine within him’. As a result Jesus lived a heretical or prophetic life (depending on your point of view) that brought with it the inevitability of confrontation with authority. And that, for Churcher, is the life of discipleship we are called to follow.
Dying to Live will comfort progressive Christians and those on the margins of the church cynical and suspicious of the divine claims made in Jesus’ name. For others it may make uncomfortable reading and be dismissed too readily. For all of us though there is truth here we should engage with if our church life is to retain integrity.

Review by David Ford  (30/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Circle Books imprint of John Hunt Publisjing Ltd
Published: 03 March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-94715-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 and 2 Chronicles for Everyone



by John Goldingay


'...Chronicles is an alternative and much shorter version of the story that occupies Genesis to Kings.' (p. 3) which is that '...a community that is faithful to God finds that God is faithful in return.' (p. 5). With the insights of both a Pastor and an academic teacher, Professor Goldingay provides a commentary which is more of an overview of most of these two books of the Old Testament. 'Most' because several parts of the text are summarised - so one needs a Bible at hand. The translation is his own, and reads well.
After 'Contents', which indicate how he has divided the text into fifty-five sections or topics, there are useful maps of the area and of Jerusalem, followed by 'Acknowledgments' and a short 'Introduction'. There is a 'Glossary' of thirty items; e.g. 'authority', 'Torah' & 'Yahweh'. It is surprising to see the Holy Name in print, since, certainly in Britain, the Churches have listened to the request of the Jewish community that it be not used. His explanation for using it repeatedly is not convincing.
Each section invariably begins with the 'I've been reading a novel...' (p. 118), 'Most Sundays I stand...' (p. 72), 'One Mother's Day...' (p.189) 'convention' - which gets both boring and irritating and does not necessarily add anything of value to his following reflection.
In the 'Introduction', he is worried lest 'you may read me instead of the Scriptures.' (p. 2). Used properly, this personal commentary will help one appreciate and understand the Scriptures which were so important for Paul and the members of the Early Church. With the reservations mentioned above, it may be recommended.

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (21/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 03 March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06131-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Four Gospels

- Freshly Translated with a Cutting Edge Commentary

by Nicholas King


‘Congratulations to the poor in spirits – theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Yes – this is the arresting rendition of Matthew ch5 v 1 – the first of the Beatitudes, in this attractively presented 250-page book. Nicholas King says, in his introduction that there is only one gospel – that of Jesus Christ. However it is presented to us in four texts, each with its distinctive approach.
This book, first published in 2004, was the first for generations to be translated by one person rather than a committee. Nicholas King is a Jesuit priest who spent many years in South Africa and now teaches New Testament studies at Oxford University. He freely admits that no translation can be truly ‘successful’, but his aim is to let the reader experience what it was like to hear or read the Gospels for the first time, and to feel something of their raw power.
Keeping as close as possible to the original Greek, this fresh translation is broken into sections with helpful headings (e.g. ‘Squabbles with Jesus’ religious opponents’ and ‘A woman whose retort changed Jesus’ mind’). Each section is followed by an indented and very helpful commentary, sometimes giving background information, often giving an original slant, and always trying to elucidate the text.
The layout is clear and easy to navigate. Those who have found William Barclay’s commentaries useful will find this book similarly so, and it will be welcomed by sermon writers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of this book, ‘This translation hits you between the eyes’. I would add ‘Congratulations to him whose scholarship has produced this cutting edge commentary.’

Review by Margaret Walker  (21/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Kevin Mayhew Publishers
Published: Spring 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-67457-8
Paperback
Price: £15.99

Simply Jesus

- His Life and Teachings in Historical Order

Notes and Commentary by Jonathan Ziman


God’s Word is a new American (but don’t let that put you off!) translation of the Gospels that has been used to produce this new volume, in which all four Gospels have been amalgamated in the chronological order of their events. God’s Word is a translation from the Hebrew and Greek, not a paraphrase. It reads well and would be a good introduction to the Gospels for any new reader. Simply Jesus is divided into twenty-eight short sections of Bible text to which Jonathan Ziman has added very useful but brief background notes. In his Foreword Woodrow Kroll provides an introduction to the uniqueness of Jesus. Also included as appendices are a timeline of Jesus’ life and ministry, lists of Jesus’ promises and parables, and his radical ideas and teaching (all with appropriate Biblical references). There is also a list of all those who encountered Jesus in the Gospel records, together with Biblical references.
All in all this is a most useful book – I wish it had been around in my younger years, or I was at theological college! It would be an excellent gift for a new Christian or to anyone enquiring about the Christian Faith. In fact, it ought to be on everyone’s bookshelf! I cannot commend it too highly.

Review by Graham Wise  (21/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: 23 March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-07247-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Bit Part Prophets of the Bible

- An intriguing Look at Twelve Lesser Known Characters

by Ray Markham


The Minor Prophets are a puzzle for many people. Much of their message seems to be doom and gloom and their background and context seems a mystery. As a result they are a largely neglected part of the Bible. In fact, their messages provide us with some of the Bible’s key images of God, e.g. his love for his wayward people (Hosea), his compassion for the Gentiles (Jonah), and his concern for social justice (Amos). Ray Markham shows the Minor Prophets as real and lively men with a passion for both God and their communities, and in so doing brings them to life for us today.
Markham’s Introduction gives us the background to these men and the societies of their day. Each chapter introduces the individual prophet, moves on to a scholarly analysis of the text and ends with a challenging and thought provoking questions posed by these ancient prophets for us today.
This will be a particularly useful volume for preachers but also for anyone wanting to delve deeper into this section of the Bible. It is written in a clear and readable style and each chapter conforms to a similar pattern, thus making it a very easily navigated and useable book.

Review by Graham Wise  (21/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: CWR (Crusade for World Revival)
Published: October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-853-45634-3
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Win the World or Escape the Earth

- The End Times Controversy

by Ian Rossol and Tony Wastall


Browsing in a Christian bookshop, I would be unlikely to pick up this title as eschatology is not an easy subject to contemplate, but I'm glad that as a reviewer I am challenged to move out of my comfort zone and to tackle different ideas. If this book didn't have a slot in reviews, many people would be missing a good, well argued account of a subject which recently has attracted some dramatic and not always accurate presentations. Drama has been the outcome of titles on the rapture and the tribulation inspiring fear not faith. These authors who both have a respected and long history of teaching and preaching have gone back to the basics and undertaken a deep biblical review coupled with historical and sociological information, to reveal some errors in thought and interpretation. Some perceived truths have been questioned and alternatives offered to give the reader a thorough introduction to eschatology. The authors have also not been afraid to list other titles so that the reader can pursue further study, and been willing to leave space for us to reflect that God is a mystery and His purposes are not there to be rationalised by mankind.

Review by Carole Burrows  (21/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-908-39314-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99