Here’s some fairly recent books that my readers might be interested in.
Becky Lynn Black, My Life Story (Gonzalez, Florida.: Energion, 2014)
First off, lets step away from the strictly academic and focus on the practical and spiritually beneficial (not that “academic” and “spiritual” are necessarily mutually exclusive!) My Life Story, by Becky Lynn Black, is a blessing and a challenge to read. Mrs. Black was the wife of my doctoral advisor Dr. David Alan Black, and she recently pass away after a difficult struggle with cancer.
Mrs. Black is a missionary kid from Ethiopia with quite an interesting life story of ministry and struggle (by the way, the book includes full-color photos of ministry in Ethiopia, something which automatically elevates the “fun-factor” of any book, in my humble opinion!) The book is a quick and enjoyable read (I finished it easily in a day, despite having to work), and the frequent pictures are a great bonus. The book is not meant to be an extensive autobiography, but more of a spiritual testimony. It is very exhortational and meant to challenge the reader. Thus chapter 9, for example, deals with the various “myths” that Christians are tempted to believe, myths that Mrs. Black herself had to deal with (e.g., the myth of the “Checklist Methodology that ‘Guarantees’ Positive Results”). Chapter 10, especially, is an important chapter since it provides us with a window into the very real struggle of a Christian dealing with terminal cancer (the last chapter, I believe, was written mere months before Mrs. Black passed away). Thus, although it is a quick read, it is not an “easy” read, nor is it meant to be. Ultimately this is a book that demonstrates the reality of Christian life, both struggles and joys, while challenging the reader to simply trust in Christ throughout it all.
Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, eds. E. Ray Clendenen and Brad J. Waggoner (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2008).
Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue provides the reader with an important conversation between Southern Baptist Calvinists and non-Calvinists, ultimately demonstrating (I hope!) that there is room for both sides within the convention. Various sections showcase the two sides of such issues as the role of Calvinism/non-Calvinism [seriously, we gotta get a better phrase to describe the latter, but rare is the SBC member who wants to be called “Arminian”] in SBC history, the doctrine of election, limited vs. unlimited atonement, etc., as well as concluding with a discussion of how both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can work together within the SBC’s mission.
Some of the essays are better written than others (and no, it has nothing to do with the particular author’s theological position!), and a couple of the essays come across as a bit too “preachy” in their presentation of their particular side, but overall I believe the book serves its purpose. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists have a place within the SBC, and both can contribute to the Great Commission. This is hardly the book that will convince somebody to change sides (or whatever), but if it causes somebody to be less harsh and more humble in the debate, than it has served its purpose. Personally, I wish somebody would write a book like this for my own Independent Baptist brothers and sisters, since we also tend to look down on those who disagree with our soteriological position, and we can definitely be guilty of creating strawmen and overacting (one of the few genuine independent Baptist scholars, Dr. Kevin Bauder, once said in a class I was in that “The problem with Fundamentalism is the shrill Arminians and the snooty Calvinists”; J ).
Two books on 1 Peter
Although I noticed it too late to include in my own published dissertation, I recently purchased and am looking forward to reading Justin Langford’s Defending Hope: Semiotics and Intertextuality in 1 Peter (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf&Stock, 2013). I was able to hear Dr. Langford (adjunct prof. in NT at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) present a paper on this topic at 2013’s ETS meeting in Baltimore, and shortly thereafter I ordered a copy of his book (Wipf&Stock published dissertations are a significantly more affordable than others! My own dissertation is being published by the company’s Pickwick imprint). Langford basically looks at OT citation in 1 Peter, especially the Isaiah quotations, through the lens of “Semitics” (or the study of “signs” within the context of linguistics). This should be a helpful book to those interested in NT use of the OT within the general epistles; I'm hoping to do a full book review later.
Finally, once again too late to be used in my own book, we have a new collection of essays on 1 Peter entitled Bedrängnis und Identität: Studien zu Situation, Kommunikation und Theologie des 1. Petrusbriefes, edited by David S. du Toit (Beihefte zur Zeitschrfit für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft vol. 200; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013). The title roughly translates to Distress and Identity: Studies in the Situation, Communication, and Theology of 1 Peter. This tome, written in memorium of the great Leonhard Goppelt, contains essays by many of 1 Peter’s top scholars, including Karen H. Jobes (“Foreigners and Exiles: Was 1 Peter Written to Roman Colonists?”), Reinhard Feldmeier, (“Basis des Kontaktes unter Christen: Demut als Schlüsselbegriff der Ethik des Ersten Petrubbriefes”/ trans. “The Basis of Contact among Christians: Humility as the Key Concept of the Ethics of 1 Peter”), and David G. Horrell (“Das im Unglauben verharrende Judenvolk: 1 Peter 2:4-10, Its History of Interpretation in Germany (1855-1978), and the Important Contribution of Leonhard Goppelt”). For my personal research at this point, I am also hoping to study the essays by Lutz Doering on the significance of “Israel” in 1 Peter and Thomas Popp on the “Theology of Recognition” (i.e., in regard to the “elect strangers” of 1 Peter 1:1).