"Kingdom Rhetoric" Book Included in New Testament Abstracts

The academic journal New Testament Abstracts recently featured an overview/abstract of Kingdom Rhetoric, a publication I edited and contributed to last year. Check out the entry below.


Is "Intimacy With God" A Biblical Idea?

Recently, I had the opportunity to review William Goodman's book Yearning for You: Psalms and the Song of Songs in Conversation with Rock and Worship Songs for the Review of Biblical Literature. I quite enjoyed reading the book and it both touched the nerve of and articulated clearly some of the potential theological problems inherent to modern Christianity's obsession over "intimacy with God," especially within the context of worship. I commend this book to all, especially those interested in worship, worship studies, and/or worship leading. You can get your copy HERE. As a preview, here's a paragraph from the full review, which you can download and/or read HERE.

One of the major insights garnered from this chapter, which is now exegetically sustained, is the reiteration that “The Song presents the delights (and occasionally the challenges) of a human sexual relationship, with no overt reference to God at all” (183), while the “Psalms present a desire for God which is not overly expressed in the language of eros or romance” (184). While placing the texts in conversation with one another shows that throughout the biblical canon “sexuality and spirituality are not divorced or opposed” (183), it also reveals that sexual-intimate language was used by the writers of Scripture to describe human-to-human interactions, not divine-to-human interactions. This insight, in my view, should cause those who compose modern worship songs and lead worship in modern settings, to tread much more carefully in how they describe the type of relationship Christians should seek and have with God today.


My Book "Entering the Fray" Receives Another Very Favorable Review

Recently, my book Entering the Fray was reviewed by Steven Hunter (currently a Ph.D. candidate) and like others who've engaged the book, he gave it another very favorable review. He first posted it on Goodreads.com HERE and then Amazon.com HERE. For the sake of simplicity, I have simply reposted his review below. Have a look and pick up your copy HERE.

Have you ever heard a preacher say one thing and a read a scholar write another only to find that one seems pompous while the other seems ignorant? Entering the Fray is a great book that attempts to bridge the gap between the church and the academy. Halcomb shows the heart of a disciple and the prowess of a scholar. In his unique way, he explains "issues" pertaining to scholarship that both bless and plague the church. 

Each chapter has a link to an online video of Halcomb himself giving a brief synopsis of the material within that chapter. In the book, however, he gives a pithy introduction to draw the reader in, then he "tunes in" to some preliminary notes on what he'll discuss. Thereafter, he "takes note" by expositing the issue and concludes each chapter by focusing his attention on how this information should either be reconciled with the church if it can at all.  

What's remarkable about this book is Halcomb's modesty. He, at times, admits that there are certain problems, but he balances the information and dissemination of it very well. He weighs not only those scholars who would uphold the faith, but also those whom the faithful believer might find threatening. Why? To present all that's been said and what's currently being considered in the academy. Moreover, the reader -- lay or otherwise -- will be introduced into the "evolution" of thought within biblical scholarship.  

Here's something worth noting: some people will pick up this book and be enlightened by the history of theses presented therein. Others will pick it up and think that some of these scholar were desperate for a dissertation thesis. Whatever one might feel while considering this information, they'll not feel as threatened or unsafe when sophisticated people talk about issues with certainty. The reader is left to make up their own mind, but Halcomb does his best to reconcile these two worlds of the church and the academy which may have the opportunity to be one. He does this well on many points, but some may not agree with him on everything.  

I'd recommend this book to serious people within the church who want to dig deeper than what a Sunday sermon or Bible class will offer. You'll certainly enjoy this read if you're serious about the information and about understanding why some things are the way they currently are in commentaries and other biblical study aids.  

The only criticism that I'd offer is that -- considering that there was much to think about -- Halcomb sometimes saturated his chapters too heavily with information. However, the information isn't unimportant, but if he wants to appeal to church-going folk who are ignorant of academic theories, this may be too much at times for some. But, we all know that you can't please everyone. Even in the depth and breadth of information, the reader should understand Halcomb's reason -- he wants to "help congregants, pastors, students of the Bible enter into the fray of the discussions that have shaped the field of biblical studies, and in turn, the church" (p. xii).  

I've had the opportunity to meet and converse with Halcomb on a few occasions. He operates the Conversational Koine Institute (http://www.conversationalkoine.com/) where he offers classes via the internet to those who are interested in learning Koine Greek -- the language of the New Testament. He teaches in a conversational style, and he's great at it. The classes are very engaging. I took one last summer and enjoyed it but was unable to complete it due to my schedule. I'd recommend anyone taking these classes with Halcomb. He's a wonderful person, a thoughtful disciple, and he's talented in many ways as a teacher.  

I want to give a big thanks to WIPF and Stock Publishers who gave me a copy of this book to review.