How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman III is a helpful and accessible guide for pastors, students, and lay persons desiring to study the Psalms. T...moreHow to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman III is a helpful and accessible guide for pastors, students, and lay persons desiring to study the Psalms. The book, divided into three parts, begins with an invitation to study the Psalms. Recalling Calvin's words that the Psalms are "an anatomy of all the parts of the soul," Longman urges us to read the Psalms, because they "appeal to the whole person . . . they inform our intellect, arouse our emotions, direct our wills, and stimulate our imaginations."
Part one of the book focuses on "The Psalms Then and Now." The first chapter discusses the genres of the Psalms, dividing the psalms into seven types: the hymn, the lament, thanksgiving psalms, psalms of confidence, psalms of remembrance, wisdom psalms, and kingship (or royal) psalms. Chapter two examines the origin, development and use of the Psalms, including some helpful reflection on the titles, authorship, and historical events behind some of the psalms. Chapter three investigates key Old Testament themes (covenant, law, kingship, blessing and curse, forgiveness etc.) with the assertion that the Psalms are "the heart of the Old Testament," a "microcosm" of the Old Testament's message and theology. Chapter four, on the other hand, focuses on "a Christian reading of the Psalms," thoughtfully exploring how the Psalms relate to Jesus. Longman concludes, that "two errors need to be avoided. The first is that we neglect a psalm's original setting . . . the second . . . is to miss the anticipation, the expectation of the Psalms." The fifth chapter is my favorite: "The Psalms: Mirror of the Soul." In this chapter, Longman discusses how the Psalms function in our lives to inform our intellect, arouse our emotions, and direct our wills.
The second part of the book is about "The Art of the Psalms." These chapters discuss literary issues, such as the characteristics of Old Testament poetry (chapter six), how to understand Hebrew parallelism in the Psalms (chapter seven), and imagery in the Psalms (chapter eight). These are valuable chapters, though a bit more technical than the first five. Part three of the book applies the methodology outlined in the first eight chapters to the study of three psalms - Psalms 98 (chapter nine), 69 (chapter ten), and 30 (chapter eleven).
This is a very good book that will help anyone in their reading and study of the Psalms. Longman is a good teacher and writes well. His book is oriented to the thoughtful layperson rather than the academic professional, though the author's knowledge and expertise in the Psalms are apparent. But the feel of the book is instructive and devotional, rather than dry and technical. In the epilogue, Longman gives this final exhortation, "Go to the Psalms when you are happy and everything seems right with you. Sing laments to God when your life seems to crumble. When God hears your prayer, don't forget to thank him for his kindness. When you are frightened, be encouraged by the psalms of confidence. Heed the psalms of wisdom. Above all, go to the psalms to be honest with God." Wise words, and typical of this helpful book. If you want to grow in your understanding of this crucial genre of Scripture, or more importantly, go deeper in your personal relationship with the Lord through praying the psalms, How to Read the Psalms is a great place to start. I highly recommend it.(less)
This is a difficult book, but worth ploughing through. Gaffin's main thesis is that many Reformed treatments of soteriology have not given sufficient...moreThis is a difficult book, but worth ploughing through. Gaffin's main thesis is that many Reformed treatments of soteriology have not given sufficient attention to Paul's emphasis on the resurrection of Christ. Christ is the one who has accomplished redemption in his death and resurrection. His accomplishments include justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. These are applied to all who are "in Christ" - united to him by faith.
Here's one key conclusion: "Not justification by faith but union with the resurrected Christ by faith (of which union, to be sure, the justifying aspect stands out perhaps most prominently) is the central motif of Paul's applied soteriology."
The benefit of this thoughtful book is its careful exegesis of a lot of Pauline texts. Gaffin makes lots of connections that I had not seen before. His conclusions retain the monergism of traditional Reformed theology, while reconfiguring some elements around the central motiffs of the resurrection of Christ and our union with him. I found it very insightful. Definitely worth reading.(less)
This is a very good book - one of the best books on soteriology I've read. It would be a good companion volume to John Murray's Redemption: Accomplish...moreThis is a very good book - one of the best books on soteriology I've read. It would be a good companion volume to John Murray's Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Murray was also one of Gaffin's teachers), which is an in-depth study of the atonement and the application of salvation to believers from start to finish.
Gaffin's focus is slightly different, and a needed balance to Murray. After carefully defining and distinguishing the terms historia salutis (the history of salvation - salvation accomplished in history) and ordo salutis (the order of salvation - salvation applied in experience) Gaffin sets Paul's soteriological concerns within the context of his summary statements of the gospel and the gospel's nature as solution to the plight of human sin. Gaffin next tethers his comments to "union with Christ" as the center of Paul's soteriology, and then develops Paul's anthropology and eschatology, then reading Paul's soteriology in those contexts, so that salvation is viewed within an already/not yet framework. Then Gaffin starts connecting the dots between sanctification and eschatology, justification and eschatology, etc. in very helpful exegetical theological reflections.
Along the way, Gaffin occasionally interacts with the New Perspective on Paul, usually critically. His primary dialogue partner is N. T. Wright, with whom Gaffin delivered the series of lectures which eventually became this book, at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church a couple of years ago. I am not persuaded that Gaffin fully understands all the nuances of Wright's theology, but some of his criticisms of Wright are probably valid. Very helpful is Gaffin's defense of the imputation of Christ's righteousness as the basis for a believer's justification and his refusal to polarize the individual dimensions of salvation from corporate and cosmic dimensions.
Most helpful to me is how Gaffin masterfully shows the centrality of union with Christ in his death and resurrection and the eschatological impact of those key gospel events on the believer's salvation. Gaffin draws heavily on the work of Herman Ridderbos and has made me want to explore Ridderbos for myself. Mostly, Gaffin makes me want to read Paul more closely and discover the richness of Paul's theological perspectives on Christ's glorious accomplishment in redemption.(less)
George Ladd's contributions to scholarship on the kingdom of God and biblical eschatalogy are simply worth their weight in gold. Ladd survey's recent...moreGeorge Ladd's contributions to scholarship on the kingdom of God and biblical eschatalogy are simply worth their weight in gold. Ladd survey's recent scholarship on the kingdom of God (recent at the time of writing, its a little dated now, but not much) and then dives into the Old Testament, inter-testamental literature, and especially the New Testament in order to understand just what the kingdom of God is and how it frames our understanding of the message of Christ, the mission of the church, and our future hope.
Ladd persuasively argues that the kingdom of God is his dynamic rule and reign expressed through Jesus Christ, rather than the realm over which he reigns. The biblical words for kingdom (Heb. malkuth, Gr. basilea) refer more to king-ship, than to concrete domains. The mystery of the kingdom is that in Jesus, the rule of God dymanically entered into human history, fulfilling but not consummating the Old Testament promises. The kingdom is thus already here, but not yet here in its fullness. The task of the church today is to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom in anticipation of its consummation in the second coming of Christ.
I studied this text in preparing for a class on the kingdom of God that I was teaching in a Perspectives on World Missions class. I found this very helpful and formative in my understanding of this important biblical theme. For a more popular introduction to Ladd's thought, see his shorter book The Gospel of the Kingdom. This more lengthy and scholarly work belongs in every scholar's and preacher's library. Simply excellent!(less)
Dempster traces the twin themes of geneology and geography (seed and land/dynasty and dominion) throughout the Old Testament Hebrew canon (the order o...moreDempster traces the twin themes of geneology and geography (seed and land/dynasty and dominion) throughout the Old Testament Hebrew canon (the order of the books in Hebrew is different from our English canon) and shows them to be the unifying themes of the Old Testament.
Dempster's book did something more for me than even Graeme Goldsworthy's excellent book Gospel and Kingdom (which hitherto has been my favorite book on the Old Testament). Goldsworthy's book gave me an understandable outline of redemptive history in broad brush strokes. And it was invaluable to me, and really the foundation for understanding Dempster's book. But Dempster added to those broad brush strokes color and texture. Whereas Goldsworthy framed the puzzle for me, Dempster started putting significant pieces into place. So, really the two books complimented one another.
Goldsworthy writes for the layman, but Dempster writes on a more academic level. But that doesn't mean his book is boring. Far from it! It really is one of the most compelling books I've read. If you want to read a book that will help you make better sense of the Bible and open your eyes to see just how interwoven the tapesty of the Old Testament actually is, get Dempster. (less)