Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Renewed – Clothed with the Wealth of Jesus in a Tattered Land by Bruce Morton

renewedI have really been enjoying teaching through Colossians the last few Sunday mornings in my adult Bible class. Paul’s letter is so relevant for us today in helping us understand how the things we believe as Christians are different from the belief systems of the world. There is an analogy Paul uses in Colossians 3 about putting off the old way and putting on the new clothes of the Gospel of Christ.

 

That is the image that Bruce Morton uses to frame Paul’s letters to Colossians and to Philemon (and a few words about the letter to Laodicea) in his book Renewed. Living in the Greco-Roman world as a monotheist was not an easy thing to do. In their world “gods” abounded and to believe in only one God put you in the extreme minority and eventually even opened you up to punishment. It was also a time of syncretization, where people mixed religious practices and popular philosophies together. In other words, there world was similar to our own in many respects and as such we have a lot to learn from what Paul wrote to the Colossians.

 

Renewed works through Colossians. Bruce draws from history and culture in the centuries in and around the first century to develop an adequate background for understanding the world that this letter was written in. Contemporary application is made throughout the book in an attempt to illuminate parallel points of connection between their world and our own. What we find is that the same religious and spiritual dangers that lurked in their day continue to haunt us still today, even across 2000 years of history, changes in language, culture, etc. People are people and people tend to do similar things expressed in different ways over time. This book illuminates many of those things and helps us understand how to find the solution to these issues in looking to Christ.

 

I think Bruce has done his homework in both their world and our own. That is evident in the sheer number of things he references in the book. That is quite helpful and at times provides some very useful information that illuminates the text. The downside to that, which is really my only problem with the book is that in such an extensive effort to make these connections I think there are some times where he overreaches a bit to make connections that probably aren’t really there in the minds of Paul or his readers. It is interesting to consider some of these things but often they are far too distant in time and space for us to have any level of certainty that the connection is solid.

 

Samuel Sandmel called this Parallelomania (see his article here – http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/parallelomania_sandmel.pdf). It is important when we do exegesis to seek out authorial intent and that requires us to highlight the connection points that are likely and to diminish the points that require a high level of speculation. For instance, on page 104 the “Technitai guild” is proposed as a background for Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 5:18-21. This guild existed 300 years prior. This is an example of a connection point that requires too much speculation to include in the discussion.

 

I appreciated how thorough Bruce has been in his research. He has really attempted to leave no stone un-turned into two worlds: ours and there’s and it because of his thoroughness that at times I believe he overreaches. All in all that is not such a bad thing as I appreciate the intent even if I sometimes disagree with the execution. I also appreciate how he includes appropriate songs at the end of each chapter that most of the readers will be familiar with that serve to counter the cultural influences he is combating in each chapter.

 

This book would be helpful for a Sunday school teacher who is teaching through Colossians and is interested in making contemporary application or is looking for contemporary illustrations from Colossians to the 21st century. That is the strength of this book and it serves its purpose there quite well.

 

Last, I think this book will help you appreciate Jesus more and that is always a great thing!

Brief Review of a Not so Brief Book – Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N.T. Wright

I started this book months ago while on jury duty and finally finished it last week. I have a hard copy but decided to read this via the kindle app on my iphone 4S. That was brutal! I think I would have to read this book several times to really get out of it halfContinue Reading

Building a Theological & Ministry Library Part 4 – Bible Background

Learning the background of the world around Bible times is critical to good Bible study. There are a number of excellent books to choose from to get you closer to their world. The better you understand their world the better you hear the words from scripture. So here are a few books to consider inContinue Reading

Logos Review: The Indelible Image By Ben Witherington

Take a New Testament theology and blend it with a commentary on the whole New Testament and then pull out the resulting ethical message of every New Testament writer in nearly every new Testament book and you get a 1700 page, 2 volume book of excellence that is “The Indelible Image” by Ben Witherington. ThisContinue Reading

Supernatural by Michael Heiser

Michael Heiser begins his book “Supernatural” with the question, “Do you really believe what the Bible says?” This is a very important question for us to answer. Most of us would answer quickly in the affirmative. However, in all humility we also understand the Bible says many things that we are not really very awareContinue Reading

Building a Theological & Ministry Library Part 1 – Bible Dictionaries

I am starting a series on what books to buy for various areas of study. I am going to break it down two ways: the list is in order of importance. Second, I realize people are on a budget…maybe you are in school and just getting started and so money is tight. I will pointContinue Reading

The Unseen Realm By Michael Heiser

I don’t usually start off book reviews like this but I want to encourage you to read Michael Heiser’s “The Unseen Realm.” My typical approach to a review is to tell you what I think about it and then leave you plenty of room to decide if it is something you should or shouldn’t read.Continue Reading

Logos Review: Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey

The Theological Interpretation of the New Testament, edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, is an attempt in compiling this collection of writing on the theology of the various books of the New Testament is to get back to a search for God in the scriptures rather than just trying to reconstruct social, historical and religious contextsContinue Reading

Steals and Deals on Theology Books

Every once in a while I run into a great price on a great book on amazon. Typically these are used books at huge discounts to the new price. I wanted to pass on a few of these to you in case any of you are looking for any of these. I won’t put anythingContinue Reading

Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me By Ian Morgan Cron

Reading is one of my passions in life. I usually have half a dozen books going at the same time, each one getting a little space in various corners of my mind at the same time. Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me was an exception. For one book to knock the rest to theContinue Reading

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