Biblical studies: April 2007 Archives

D.A. Carson has reviewed N.T. Wright's new book on evil and God's justice. You can read the review here. Carson has authored what is hands-down my favorite book on evil from a biblical (as opposed to philosophical) perspective. I'm currently reading through the second edition of that book, but you can read my review of the first edition here. I have read his review of Wright, and it's definitely worth reading whether you've looked at Wright on this issue or not. Beware that it's ten pages long, so reserve some time for it.

For more discussion of Wright, who has been getting some play in the Christian blogosphere lately, see

  • Jollyblogger's post on the penal substitution discussion in the UK (where it's clear that Wright affirms penal substitution and denounces some who are denying it, from Wright's quotes in this article).
  • Adrian Warnock's discussion of Wright's critique of both sides in the UK debate
  • Justin Taylor's post on the Carson review
  • Jollyblogger's followup on Wright and penal substitution
  • Justin Taylor's discussion of Wright's defense of Steve Chalke, whom he amazingly doesn't think denies penal substitution
  • But perhaps the best thing to do is to read what Wright has to say about the penal substitution debate and then to examine the other posts in the light of Wright's own carefully prepared thoughts.
  • Update: Justin Taylor has some choice quotes from Wright very clearly defending something that most people would count as penal substitution (and that Wright himself clearly does count as penal substitution, given some of his above-mentioned quotes against those he does believe to deny it). Perhaps Wink would quibble here on whether Wright's view is truly substitutionary. I suspect Wright would accept substitution and union on that issue. But it's very clearly penal, and that's the main issue under debate here.
  • Update 2: Alastair Roberts has some helpful distinctions between different models of the atonement. One position worth considering is that none of them is wrong, but what would be wrong would be denying any of them. (Or perhaps most of them are correct, and it would be wrong to deny any of those number.) Heresy, of course, is another matter. Being wrong does not always line up with being heretical, and I'm not sure I've thought about this long enough to have a sure view on that.

MeredithKlineFestschrift_op_207x331.jpgTheologian and biblical scholar Meredith Kline died last night, according to Justin Taylor. It seems he had been sick for a while, and he died peacefully. I actually know two of his grandsons, who were both (at different times) part of our congregation in Syracuse when they were in college, but I haven't really been in touch with either since they graduated except at a couple weddings.

I've never had the opportunity to read anything directly by Kline, but I've regularly seen his name in footnotes on all manner of subjects, and his work has influenced a number of people I have read, particularly in understanding the significance of the covenant treaty form of Deuteronomy and in furthering the framework interpretation of Genesis 1. His theopedia entry is currently uneditable, or I would have updated it, but it does have some nice information about his contributions to biblical theology and Old Testament studies, with a few links to further sources.

Update: Some tributes.

Habakkuk Commentaries

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This is part of a larger project reviewing commentaries on each book of the Bible. Follow the links from that post for more information on the series, including explanations of what I mean by some of the terms and abbreviations in this post.

This post in particular is heavily reliant on my earlier review of Zephaniah commentaries, since most commentaries on either of these books include the other. One Habakkuk-specific commentary appears here, just as there were some Zephaniah-specific commentaries in that post. I have tried to key my discussion of each commentary here to the Habakkuk section in the commentaries that deal with more than one book.

Waylon Bailey's NAC is probably my favorite of all the commentaries I looked at. It isn't so detailed that it's hard to wade through, but he addresses most issues most people might ask of the text unless they're working on an academic paper. He deals with historical, theological and linguistic matters fairly well, and he's also concerned about connections with the New Testament. He's coming from a conservative evangelical perspective, but he's also good at presenting various views. This is my all-around recommendation for seeking the best balance of what I look for in a commentary. It doesn't shirk anything I consider truly important.


O. Palmer Robertson's NICOT is probably my favorite Habakkuk commentary in terms of theology. His theological reflections are probing and get enough time to explore the issues, with more time than any of the other commentaries on the list given to the task of simply reflecting on what the text means for Habakkuk's view of God and Habakkuk's view of faith in God. It's much weaker on linguistic matters, sometimes not even addressing important issues that most of the other commentaries will spend some time on. It doesn't get first place primarily for that reason.

His perspective is conservative, evangelical, and explicitly Reformed. His expertise is in covenant theology, and he has a keen eye for seeing New Testament connections, although on occasion I think he reads a NT perspective into a text that may not have originally gone quite so far. I appreciated his willingness to defend Paul's appropriation of the justification by faith text in ch.2, although I found him too eager to rule out the possibility that faith and faithfulness are both in mind. It's a shame that Eerdmans has contracted a replacement for his commentary in this series this early, though Thomas Renz will probably produce a good commentary that will give more detail on the things Robertson doesn't focus much on. See my more detailed review of Robertson here.



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