The Origin of the Chapters and Verses in the Bible by Laurence M. Vance

Laurence M. Vance’s short but scholarly booklet traces the origin of chapter and verse insertions into the biblical text.  While these divisions have been maligned by some (p. 5), they have proven to be extremely beneficial to the readers of Scripture.  As might be suspected those who first thought of dividing the Bible in this way can be traced to ancient times.  But modern chapter divisions are attributed to Stephen Langton in the early part of the thirteenth century.  Verse divisions, as we recognize them today, stem from Robert Stephanus who apparently created the verse indicators while traveling in the mid-1500s (pp. 26-27) and resting at inns, not while on horseback as legend would have it.  His verse divisions met with wide acceptance and were incorporated into various English Bibles, including the King James in 1611 (p. 31). Vance includes page images from various Bible translations revealing their suggested...

They Knew They Were Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty by John G. Turner

Professor John Turner has written a comprehensive historical account of the early American settlers commonly called the Pilgrims. He begins with the formation of certain separatist groups in England which later moved to Leiden, Holland, to pursue freedom to worship according to their convictions. Not content in Leiden, a minority left for the American Colonies in 1620. Only 102 traveled the eight weeks across the sea on the Mayflower and only half of them were alive a year later (pp. 52-54, 73-74) but the handful who survived founded New Plymouth (p. 72), and established a way of life that still intrigues us today. The essence of the book is stated by the author on the first page: This is a history of the peoples who lived in Plymouth Colony (alternatively New Plymouth, later known within Massachusetts as the Old Colony) from the English and Dutch events that led to...

Forsaking Israel, How it Happens and Why it Matters, Second Edition Editor Larry Pettegrew

Professor Larry Pettegrew, the editor and primary author of this volume, is joined by Tim Sigler, David Burggraff, Douglas Bookman, William Nicholson, and Stephen Davey, to demonstrate how “the Christian church, down through the centuries, has forsaken Israel, and why this is a biblical and theological mistake” (p. 5).  The study answers two questions: (1) How is it that Israel has become so forsaken in the history of the church? and (2) why does forsaking Israel matter biblically and theologically” (p. 8)?  In seeking to provide answers to these questions the authors approach their subject historically and theologically, which provides a thorough understanding of how and why Israel has lost its biblical place among Christians. Pettegrew devotes and writes Part One, exploring the historical dynamics in which the premillennialism of the early Church Fathers slowly morphed into amillennialism that came to dominate church theology.  With this theological transition came...

My Favorite Books Volume 6

Volume 27, Issue 7, August 2021 Since I began writing book reviews a number of years ago, it seemed to some that the majority of these reviews dealt with books that were either errant or at best mixed in their biblical accuracy.  So, in August 2004 I began listing, by category, the better books that I have reviewed to encourage the reading of quality Christian literature. Up until now, I have written five TOTT papers on my favorite books. Volume five added about 30 books and also listed by name all recommended books from the first four volumes. I now add another 32 books to those lists, books I have read in the last 3 years that I believe deserve mention.   Hopefully our readers will recall that just because a book is cited as a favorite does not mean that it is without some problems. Complete reviews of each...

The Old in the New, Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament by Michael Vlach

Since ten percent of the New Testament consists of Old Testament quotes and allusions (pp. i, v), the question arises as to how these quotes are to be interpreted. In particular, when the New Testament authors use Old Testament quotations which are at variance to the apparent meaning of the original texts, how are these quotes to be understood? Michael Vlach, current Professor of Theology at Shepherd’s Theological Seminary, identifies seven key approaches by evangelicals on the use of the Old Testament in the New, and devotes a chapter to each view. They are: Single Meaning – Multiple Implications (or Consistent Contextual Use of the OT by the NT Writers Approach). Human Meaning Plus Hidden Divine Meaning (or Sensus Plenior Approach). Contemporary Judaism/Second Temple Judaism (or NT Writers Used Jewish Interpretive Principles of the Day Approach). Canonical Interpretation (or Broader Canon as Basis for Understaind the OT Approach). Inspired...

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs

The Pleasures of Reading, in short, is a pleasure – if you love to read. Alan Jacobs is a professor of English at Wheaton College, and this book obviously flows out of his passion for literature, but he takes a different approach to reading from that of many others. Where Mortimer Adler, in his classic How to Read a Book, offers a methodical method of reading and provides a list of “must read” books, and Nicholas Carr’s more recent The Shallows laments that few are reading books and even he is losing his ability to do so (p. 104), Jacobs breaks stride and suggests reading at “whim.” Rather than agonizing over reading the classics or reading quickly, or reading for information and out of necessity, he suggests we read what we want to read—that which gives us pleasure and joy (pp. 13-25). The overarching principle for reading is “Whim”—...

How to Eat Your Bible: A Simple Approach to Learning and Loving the Word of God by Nate Pickowicz

Pastor Nate Pickowicz has written a simple guide for reading Scripture that both informs and encourages Bible study. The author claims the discovery of John MacArthur’s Bible reading plan revolutionized his own approach to the Bible (pp. 9, 31-34). Before this discovery his own biblical reading program was virtually nonexistent and, with an aversion to plans tilted toward rapidly going through the Bible in one year (p. 28), he found MacArthur’s approach inviting. Simply stated, the MacArthur plan calls for reading a book of the New Testament 30 times before moving on to the next book and repeating the same approach. Larger books, such as Matthew, could be broken down into shorter sections. Pickowicz eventually modified MacArthur’s program into what he calls the “The Seven Year Bible Plan” (pp. 123-135) which he recommends to his audience. The author states his direction on page 30: Instead of plowing through a...

Book Listing for the Social Justice Movement Articles

Volume 27, Issue 6, June 2021 I have read more than 30 books in preparation for the five-part Think on These Things series on the Social Justice Movement (SJM) and Critical Race Theory (CRT).  Some of the books were read a few years ago, while many others more recently.  Not every volume is directly connected to the SJM or CRT but all contribute to understanding these influences in one way or another.  I thought it might be useful to identify these works including links to my book reviews of each.  This list, with accompanying links will provide a quick, and hopefully valuable reference for those who wish to explore this subject more fully.  As will be noticed, the books are organized alphabetically, rather than by subject. Book Author TOTT web link African Hermeneutics Elizabeth Mburu https://tottministries.org/african-hermeneutics-by-elizabeth-mburu/   Benedict Option Rod Dreher https://tottministries.org/the-benedict-option-a-strategy-for-christians-in-a-post-christian-nation-by-rod-dreher/ By What Standard Jared Longshore https://tottministries.org/by-what-standard-gods-world-god-rules-by-jared-longshore/  ...

The Wisdom Pyramid, Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World by Brett McCracken

The Wisdom Pyramid is modeled after the well-known food pyramid. While the food pyramid was developed as a guide for nutritional eating, the wisdom pyramid offers a plan for a “better diet of knowledge and better habits of information intake” (p. 12, cf. p. 17). The food pyramid suggests a balanced diet by dividing all types of food into five classes based on nutritional contributions, organizes them in a pyramid with the more wholesome food groups at the bottom of the pyramid and those of limited or little value at the top. The wisdom pyramid uses the same structure to identify six contributions to our level of thinking, with the most valuable at the base and those of lesser importance toward the top. Before Brett McCracken, a senior editor for the Gospel Coalition, unveils his pyramid, he spends about a third of the book demonstrating the need for a...

Not by Ignorance, An Explanation of Cessationism by Frank W. R. Benoit

As a longtime missionary in Spain, Frank Benoit has witnessed the encroachment of Pentecostal/charismatic views concerning the sign gifts since 1994. Not satisfied in his efforts to find a readable challenge to these views, nor an approachable explanation of cessationism for the average believer, he decided to write this book to fill the gap (p. 4). He begins with basic definitions (pp. 19-37) such as defining cessationism (which he documents as being the historic view of the church – pp. 34, 40, 62, 85). Cessationism affirms “that some of the gifts (the sign gifts) and other miraculous events ceased after the apostolic age because they had already fulfilled their function, that is, laying the foundation of the church, while the other gifts (the service gifts) are and have been used by God since then to build the church until Christ comes for her.” The author spends considerable time making...