Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review – Choosing a Translation for All Its Worth

How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Mark L. Strauss

This book is a helpful introduction to the subject of Bible Translation, the difficulties involved in translating 2,000 year old manuscripts into understandable English, and the philosophies behind various translations. While this is technically a reference book, it is clear that the authors favor a “dynamic equivalent” translation philosophy. The authors remind the reader, throughout the book, that all translation is interpretation. This fact will have some bearing on the translation one chooses.

The authors of this book do an excellent job explaining the concepts behind translation – whether formal or functional (dynamic). Formal equivalent translations focus on retaining the form of the original language. As the authors say, when the Greek uses a prepositional phrase, so will the English. Formal equivalent versions also try to translate words as consistently as possible. The result is a word-for-word (or “literal”) translation that may not always be the most readable.

Function equivalent (or dynamic equivalent) versions focus on the meaning of the original text. Such versions are freer with wording and grammar in order to convey the meaning of the text. The result is a very readable translation that is highly dependent on the interpretation of the translators.*

The book spends a great deal of time discussing the difficulties in translation such as translating idioms, metaphors, and euphemisms. The writers cover these difficulties in various chapters. Extensive examples are provided for each. These issues alone could explain the need for multiple translations. Some of the examples provided to support the authors’ preference for functional versions are a bit inflated – they try to make a bigger issue than is there. Many such examples would be classified under “clarity”. However, for most English speaking, Bible readers these examples would be non-issues. But to the authors’ credit, they do address the issue of reading levels and the fact that some Bibles might be better suited for children or for those who is English is a second language. It just seems that in certain cases, the authors prefer versions that simply “dumb down” the text.

The book is an appropriate length and covers the needed subjects with quality examples. One negative might be the amount of examples, but one could simply move to the next section. As stated earlier, the authors are clear supporters of dynamic equivalent versions and this plays into their comments of formal equivalent versions. As with my stated biases, this got old.

For those who have never considered the differences between various translations, this book would be very helpful. There is also a chapter that deals with textual criticism. Textual criticism plays a part in the discussion of the KJV/NKJV versus other translations. The book ends with a short history of the English Bible. This history does a good job of showing the relationship between various translations and the impact of the King James Version.

*To be clear about my biases, I am a proponent of formal equivalent versions. I understand the need for and use of functional equivalent versions, but for Bible study, one will do better with a formal equivalent translation. In my opinion, dynamic equivalent versions rely too much on the interpretation of the translators. For the student, it seems more beneficial to stay as close to the words, grammar, and form of the original text. This enables readers/students to work out the meaning for themselves.

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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Book Review


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Witherington on 1 Corinthians 1 and Baptism

I was very disappointed with *Ben Witherington’s comments on 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 in his commentary A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1st and 2nd Corinthians. His comments are the best example of the problems with theology (specifically systematic theology). He seems to ignore the context in favor of his theology.

Systematic Theology is, basically, a reference to various systems of doctrine. I find it interesting that in the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms by Donald McKim, the definition for Systematic Theology says, “it MAY be based on scripture…” (emphasis mine). To boil it down, systematic theology is when you take your doctrines and beliefs and make a pair of glasses and then sit down and read the Bible through those glasses.

Back to Dr. Witherington – he says that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17, is saying that baptism is obviously not that important (obviously I am summarizing). To argue that Paul is saying baptism is not important is to ignore completely the context. The Corinthians were attaching themselves to various teachers. It would make sense for some to attach themselves to the one who baptized them. Paul is saying that he is glad that he, that is Paul, did not baptize many of them himself (i.e. Paul did not dunk them in water). He is NOT saying that he is glad they were not baptized. David Garland’s commentary on 1 Corinthians understands this point! Garland says that Paul talks like he cannot remember if he baptized certain ones in order to make a point – it doesn’t matter if Paul baptized them or if Joe Schmoe baptized them.

If Dr. Witherington would like to argue against the necessity of baptism, he should really choose another passage from which to make his point, but I would find problems with those arguments as well.

I chose “In the context” as the name of this blog for a reason – a word or statement finds its correct meaning in the context. You can prove any doctrine you want when you ignore the context!

* Dr. Witherington has written some great material. His emphasis on Rhetoric, especially in Paul’s epistles, has shed some great light on New Testament studies. I have read and own many of Dr. Witherington’s books and commentaries. His commentary on Acts is magnificent. We are simply light-years apart on what we think the Bible teaches about certain subjects (especially baptism). My main problem is the manner in which he seems to ignore the context.


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Book Review: “Hard Core” by Jason Hardin

As most of you know I, periodically, do book reviews for DeWard Publishing. While at lectures last week, I was able to pick up a few of their newer releases. The most recently published is a book by Jason Hardin (who also wrote Boot Camp) entitled Hard Core: Defeating Sexual Temptation with a Superior Satisfaction.

I think this book is a timely book. The amount of pornography on the internet is unbelievable. Furthermore, sexual immorality is creeping into television shows a little more every week. Addiction to pornography is now as much a problem as alcoholism and drug abuse. And just like those addictions, pornography will destroy the relationships you have with others.

What I like most about this book is its focus on changing your desire. Hardin does not spend a great deal of time explaining how watching pornography is a sin. There is no need to explain that. If you are reading the book, you already know that and are probably looking for help not condemnation.

He does take some time to talk about the consequences. Chapter 10 is entitled “Counting the Cost” and Hardin lists two pages worth of his personal consequences should he let his like be consumed with such sinful activity.

Most people enjoy stats and this book does not disappoint. Chapter 4 goes through the various stats associated with the pornography industry. These stats range from income for the companies to the percentages of people who are actively looking for porn. The numbers on Christians and pornography may surprise you.

He encourages those who struggle with this to emulate the behavior of Joseph, to learn from David’s sin, and to follow Samuel’s example in “hacking [sin] to pieces.” This book is not just what Hardin thinks should be said about addiction to pornography, but an explanation and organization of what the Bible says about purity, righteousness, and a desire to serve God above all other things. He turns to Psalms 51 and 32 for their practical advice in dealing with sin, repentance, and forgiveness.

The main focus of the book is learning to crave God the same way we crave sexual satisfaction (or any other addiction).

One of the greatest tools in this book is the poem included on page 89 entitled, “There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson. It is a great wake-up call!

The scriptures that are used in this short, but useful book  are in the text making this a more convenient read. This book can be read in about an hour or two, but it can help for a life time.

I highly suggest this book to anyone who is tempted to watch, addicted to watching, or knows anyone who is fighting this battle. This book can help. You can purchase the book for $7.99 here or here.

I also wanted to share two short stories about this book. This first is simply hysterical. After I bought this book, I walked outside and ran into a preacher that I have a great deal of respect for – Floyd Chappelear. As we are talking he says, “I see you bought that hard core porn book…all these preachers running around with porn books!” Classic!

This second story is a little more serious and I hope you give glory to God for it. When I purchased my books from DeWard, somehow I ended up with two copies of Hard Core. The next morning I went to take it back and Dan DeGarmo (the De of DeWard) told me to hold on to it and give it to someone else. The following Sunday I called a friend of mine who has wrestled with this subject and told him I wanted to give him a book. He came and picked it up and not 15 minutes later I received a text message from him – “God is awesome. I have been noticing certain thought patterns and temptations to start watching again. And literally 30 minutes ago, I prayed that God would help me. You called to give me the book about ten minutes later.” God is, indeed, Awesome!


Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Book Review


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Book Reviews

I had done a number of book reviews for DeWard Publishing on my previous blog ( I wanted to move them here to keep them in the public eye. They are located below this post. If you are interested, please go to DeWard’s site at

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Book Review



The Churches of the New Testament

In Churches of the New Testament, Ethan Longhenry discusses the individual congregations that are mentioned in the Book of Acts and to whom the epistles were written. For anyone who desires to follow the pattern laid out for churches in the New Testament, this is a great book to go to (aside from the Bible).

For those who are curious about some of the background issues relating to each congregation, the history and geography sections provide that information. Mr. Longhenry then moves on to the beginning of the church and moves from its establishment through what we know of the church’s existence. At that point, the author focuses on some specific issues (i.e. support in Philippi, endurance in Thessalonica). It is with these issues that the author draws the application. The end of the book contains an overview / summary of what God does and does not approve in local churches. This is simply of grouping together of everything learned from each congregation.

If you are wanting and in depth study of the epistles, this is not the book you are looking for. But if you want a book that can be of a real benefit to your knowledge of what Christ wants in His local congregations, this is a book you should read. Each chapter is well organized and easy to read. It is not filled with church or academic language, but a clear and precise summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the churches mentioned in the New Testament.

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Book Review


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Beneath the Cross

The Lord’s Supper has been grossly underserved in terms of literature and emphasis within church services. This is sad given the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Not only is it the memorial of Jesus Sacrifice, but traces of its meaning can be found throughout the entire Bible. Beneath the Cross has put some emphasis back where it belongs. The book is a compilation of essays giving more meaning to and providing greater understanding for the Lord’s Supper.

The book is divided into four sections. The first part of the book deals with the general nature and background of the Lord’s Supper. The second section (my personal favorite) looks at various passages from the Old and New Testament and discusses their relationship with the sacrifice on cross; the theme being that Jesus’ sacrifice was God’s plan from the beginning and is traceable through the entire Bible. The third sections deals with the individual and the cross – how does it affect me? And the final section looks at a number of hymns which are typically associated with the taking of the Lord’s Supper.

Over 40 authors from across the country have contributed to this book. Some of which are considered “scholars” in the area of Biblical studies, while others have devoted themselves to a better understanding of the Bible. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is some little “devotional.” Some of the essays in this book will challenge you academically and some will challenge you emotionally.

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Book Review


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The Man of Galilee

Too often circular reasoning is used in order to defend the divinity of Jesus. A conversation might resemble the following.

How do you know Jesus is the son of God? Because the Bible says so.
How do you know the Bible is accurate? Because Jesus said it was inspired.
Why should I trust what Jesus had to say? Because Jesus is the son of God.

I think the problem of logic is fairly obvious.

Over the past few years there have been some great books written that help people with their faith on the subject of who and what Jesus is. Most notably might by Lee Strobel. His “Case for…” books are very helpful and well written.

However, I have never been as impressed with the flow of an author’s argument as I was when reading Atticus G. Haygood’s The Man of Galilee. The book does not exercise the common arguments of modern defenders. Though the book is over 100 years old I found its arguments and logic fresh and convincing.

Haygood starts with the gospels as historical documents, as opposed to starting with them as inspired documents. From there he discusses the claims they make of Jesus against the culture and society of Jesus’ day. The conclusion is that not only was Jesus not an invention of gospel writers or, simply, a good man, He was in fact the Son of God!

*This book has received an award since its republishing with DeWard!

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Book Review


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