As I did last year, I am going to give mini reviews of all the books I read this year. Most of these are brief notes. On occasion, I will give more substantive reviews. I will group the books into the following areas:
Biblical Studies - Prolegomena
Biblical Studies - General Old Testament
Biblical Studies - Covenant Theology
Biblical Studies - Septuagint
Biblical Studies - General New Testament
Biblical Studies - Paul
Theology - Christology & Trinity
Theology - Justification
Theology - Christ and Culture
Contemporary Issues - Adam and Evolution
Contemporary Issues - Homosexuality
Here is my first category, books on Biblical Studies - Prolegomena. I am not referring to the doctrine of Scripture but to important preliminary matters such as biblical languages and textual criticism.
If you want to get an overview of the debate on the topic of verbal aspect in New Testament Greek, this is a great place to begin. Con Campbell does have a particular position, but he is also very even handed and fair. Chapter 1 provides helpful definitions of key terms, such as “tense,” “Aktionsart,” and “aspect.” The important distinction in linguistics between semantics and pragmatics is also explained. Chapter 2 is a brief overview of the history of the discussion from Georg Curtius in the 19th century to the present day. While I do not agree completely with Campbell’s atemporal interpretation of the Greek verb system (influenced by Stanley Porter), I appreciate his balanced approach and see the benefit of his approach for exegesis.
This is a helpful little book for those, like me, who are beginners in the area of Old Testament textual criticism. The subtitle is “A Practical Introduction” and it focuses on doing textual criticism using the apparatus provided in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). An entire chapter (Chapter 5) is devoted to explaining how to read the BHS apparatus, and an Appendix is also included that provides an English key to the Latin words, abbreviations, and symbols used in BHS.
Chapter 2 is an overview of the history of the transmission of the Hebrew OT. Chapter 3 deals with the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Targums, the Greek versions, and the Latin versions. Although Brotzman ends up dismissing the Greek and Latin versions has having little value for textual criticism (a conclusion I disagree with), his summary of the issues is valuable. Chapter 4 is on the biblical texts discovered at Qumran. Chapter 6 is helpful in explaining and categorizing the various types of scribal changes, both unintentional errors and intentional emendations. Chapter 7 provides a practical, step-by-step method for doing textual criticism: collecting all the evidence, evaluating the variants, selecting the best reading, and (rarely!) resorting to conjectural emendation when no attested reading makes sense.
Chapter 8 is a running textual commentary on the book of Ruth in which Brotzman applies the principles of textual criticism in order to show the beginner how it is done with real examples. My only criticism is that Brotzman gives far too much deference to the Masoretic Text (MT) and never gives any credence to the ancient versions (especially the LXX) when they depart from the MT. He comes down in favor of the MT in every case, even when the MT is extremely difficult and probably corrupt. There is one possible exception (Ruth 4:5) where Brotzman grudgingly admits that the MT (Kethiv) is “too difficult” and the LXX at least has the virtue of making sense (p. 160). Nevertheless, despite the seeming elevation of the MT to nearly inerrant status, this book is a good place to begin one’s study of textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.