The new April 2023 issue of Themelios has 261 pages of editorials, articles, and book reviews. It is freely available in three formats: (1) PDF, (2) web version, and (3) Logos Bible Software (coming soon).
1. Brian J. Tabb | Editorial: Comments on New Testament Commentaries
Tabb reflects on the purpose, value, and limits of biblical commentaries and provides three commentary recommendations for each New Testament book, with pastors and theological students in view.
2. Daniel Strange | Going Deeper
A central issue facing the church in its third millennium is “What is a human being?” Strange challenges readers to “go deeper” theologically, affectively, historically, and “fellowshiply” as we grapple with the seismic individual, cultural, and political implications of this question.
3. Jonathan M. Cheek | The Individual and Collective Offspring of the Woman: The Canonical Outworking of Genesis 3:15
Studies on Genesis 3:15 often debate whether the seed of the woman refers to an individual or a collective group. The key words and concepts from Genesis 3:15 recur in numerous instances in the Old and New Testaments, which support the idea that the offspring of the woman should be understood both as an individual and as a collective group. Cheek surveys the key arguments for each view and presents four arguments in support of the idea that the intent of Genesis 3:15 is to speak of a collective offspring of the woman in addition to an individual offspring.
4. Paul A. Himes | Failure to Atone—Rethinking David’s Census in Light of Exodus 30
Various interpretations have been offered on how David sinned in taking the census of 2 Samuel 24, but too few have seriously grappled with the implications of Exodus 30:11–16 or the structure of 2 Samuel 21–24. Taking Exodus 30:11–16 as the starting point, Himes argues that David was supposed to take the census and that, as with the situation with the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21, David’s role was meant to be that of one who atones for the nation’s sins, turning away God’s wrath. The final section answers potential objections such as the role of Joab.
5. Greg Palys | Christ’s Surpassing Glory: An Argument for the “Inappropriateness” of OT Christophanies from Exodus 33–34 and 2 Corinthians 3:7–4:6
Did the preincarnate Christ reveal himself in the Old Testament? Many believe that visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament must be manifestations of the Son. Surely if this is true, then we would be able to identify Christ most clearly in the Old Testament’s grandest manifestations of God’s glory. However, Paul’s reflection on the Sinai theophany identifies that which was revealed to Moses as a lesser glory, one we cannot equate with Christ’s surpassing glory. If Christ’s greater glory was inappropriate for the Sinai theophany, then it follows that all other lesser “Christophanies” would be equally inappropriate.
6. Ken Montgomery | “You Are the Salt of the Earth” (Matthew 5:13): Influence or Invitation?
Jesus identifies the disciples as “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13), which many commentators understand as a call for believers to be a part of preserving and influencing human society for the good. Montgomery argues that “salt of the earth” is to be read as the church’s calling to participate in the flavor of the redemptive kingdom of heaven and by extension to invite those outside to share in the feast of the new creation reality. This reading interprets the metonymic “salt” saying in light of the new temple theme in the Sermon on the Mount.
7. Hallur Mortensen | Seeing Is Not Believing: Apocalyptic Epistemology and Faith in the Son of God in Mark’s Gospel
Following recent discussions on the nature of the apocalyptic, Mortensen argues that it primarily has to do with revelation of hidden things. This means that at the core of the apocalyptic is epistemology, and it’s thus argued the Gospel of Mark is apocalyptic essentially in its epistemology rather than eschatology. Mark’s parable theory, and hence the responses to Jesus, are examined in this light. The question as to why some respond in faith in Jesus as the Son of God while others respond with fear, hardness of heart, and unbelief is answered by Mark’s apocalyptic epistemology: Jesus’s divine sonship must be revealed in order to be believed.
8. David Shaw | The Eagle Has Landed: 3 John and Its Theological Vision for Pastoral Ministry
Shaw argues that when 3 John is read in light of John’s Gospel, it can be seen to have rich theological foundations and to offer a vision for ministry that’s the natural and fitting trajectory of the Gospel. These are especially evident in 3 John’s depiction of the ministry of individuals, the conflict their ministry provokes, their practice of hospitality, their rejection of self-love, and the pattern of imitation in the life of the church.
9. Jared M. August | What Shall We Remember? The Eternality of Memory in Revelation
August considers the concept of the eternality of human memory and what the Christian may expect to remember after death. Although numerous resources address the topic of the resurrected life, few consider the Bible’s teaching on the permanence of memory. By considering key passages from the book of Revelation, this study attempts a brief overview of the topic. August proposes that Revelation depicts the believer’s eternal memory as detailed, correspondent to objective reality, experienced communally, and healable by God.
10. Randall K. Johnson | Christological Arguments for Compatibilism in Reformed Theology
Christian compatibilists believe human freedom and moral responsibility are compatible with theological determinism—that is, a robust account of divine sovereignty. Whereas most arguments for compatibilism stem from considerations about divine providence, human nature, or sin, we ought not to neglect christological arguments. Johnson presents the christological arguments for compatibilism from three prominent theologians in the Reformed tradition: John Calvin, Francis Turretin, and Jonathan Edwards. He concludes with some reflections on the power of christological arguments for compatibilism.
11. Stephen Estes | Christ for Us: An Analysis of Bonhoeffer’s Christology and Its Implications for His Ethic
This study analyzes the Christology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German theologian who stood against evil in a day when his contemporaries failed. Estes traces the outline of Christology, including its dual emphasis on the transcendence and the immanence of God in Christ. Along the way, he also contrasts Bonhoeffer’s theology with popular theologies of his day, including those who used the “Orders of Creation” as a theological defense of Nazism and those within the Confessing Church who resisted but nonetheless didn’t recognize the importance of standing with the Jews in their persecution. He concludes that Bonhoeffer’s exceptional ethic was the natural outworking of his robust Christology.
12. Nathan D. Shannon | Genealogy and Doctrine: Reformed and Confucian Sociologies of Knowledge
This article presents comparative textual analyses toward a basic grammar for understanding the interface between Reformed and Confucian sociologies of knowledge. Shannon first proposes a three-part Reformed theology of theological tradition in terms of historically successive communities. He then presents relevant material from the Analects of Confucius, focusing on Confucius’s own sociology of learning and instruction. Striking similarities between these two models come to light, as well as significant differences in the areas of unity and truth, ontology and office, and sin and grace.
13. Kevin DeYoung | The Case for Christian Nationalism: A Review Article
For all the fine retrieval work Stephen Wolfe does in parts of The Case for Christian Nationalism, the overall project must be rejected. DeYoung offers a substantive critique of this book under four headings: nations and ethnicity, the nature of the church, Protestant political thought, and the way forward. While it’s right to pray for a great renewal, we must remember that the most needed renewal in our world and in our land is the restoration of true doctrine, the reformation of our lives, and the revival of that divine and supernatural light shining in our hearts to show us God’s glory in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
Featured Book Reviews:
- Alan J. Thompson, Colossians and Philemon: An Introduction and Commentary. Reviewed by Adam Copenhaver.
- Anne Blue Wills, An Odd Cross to Bear: A Biography of Ruth Bell Graham. Reviewed by Karin Spiecker Stetina.
- R. B. Jamieson and Tyler R. Wittman, Biblical Reasoning: Christological and Trinitarian Rules for Exegesis. Reviewed by Thomas Haviland-Pabst.
- Amy Peeler, Women and the Gender of God. Reviewed by Marcus Johnson.
- Timothy Keller, Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?. Reviewed by Dustin Hunt.
- Jared Kennedy, Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission: Practical Strategies for Discipling the Next Generation. Reviewed by Aaron Rothermel.
- Glen Scrivener, The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality. Reviewed by Rory Shiner.
- A. S. Ibrahim, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel. Reviewed by Duane Alexander Miller.