Reviewed by Ray Van Neste
Dr. Ralph Davis, Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS, has provided yet another fine exposition of an Old Testament book (he has previously published expositions of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel with the same publisher). Davis describes his work in this way: "As with my previous commentaries, I seek to grasp the theological nerve of the text and cast it in expository form, without being allergic to application" (7).
It is apparent that Davis is well informed in the scholarly discussion of First Kings, but his purpose is not to display his learning. Rather, based on a full awareness of the issues in the text, he seeks to expound the text properly incorporating some illustrations and application.
In this way Davis provides a model for preaching from First Kings--a task which often appears quite daunting. On the one hand he does not get bogged down in details failing to get to what God is saying in the text and what we are to do about it. On the other hand he shows that carefully reading of the text is necessary in order to actually grasp what God is saying rather than reading in whatever we want to find. I especially appreciate his sensitivity to structure and flow of thought as well as his careful connections across the covenants.
I think pastors will find this volume very helpful in the task of preaching (as I have). As always, one should read more than one commentary in sermon preparation. So pick a more technical one to get at some more details and then read this one for help in pulling it all together within a sound theological framework and a heart for God and His people.
Scholar's Library, Logos Bible Software, Series X. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2002. Retail: $599.95.
Reviewed by Bill Ascol
What if, with a couple of computer keystrokes, you could search sixteen versions of the Bible in English, several Greek New Testament texts, the Hebrew Old Testament, and/or the Latin Vulgate for the occurrences and contextual uses of a key word or phrase in the Scriptures? What if you could instantly access the tense/voice/mood of any word in the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament? Or what if you could search some 230 sources, from commentaries to theologies, and Bible histories to pastoral ministry tools? Would you be helped in your Bible study if you could instantly have your choice of looking at a particular Scripture passage exegetically, according to commentaries, or through a word study approach? What if you could copy and paste Scripture verses (or whole chapters of the Bible for that matter) into your word processing document? Have you ever wondered how many times a form of the word "covenant" is used in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (205 times in 102 articles), and how it is used? What about the occurrence and use of the word "grace" in Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology (864 times in 303 articles) or Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening (557 times in 319 articles)?
Thanks to the good people at Logos Research Systems, all of this and much more is within your reach for pennies on the dollar when compared to the cost of purchasing the same titles in hard copy as those contained in Scholar's Library. What is more, the software is extremely easy to use--just enter a passage or topic and click "Go!" I have been a Logos user since they came out with version 1.0 many years ago. I still remember loading their bright orange floppy disk demo and being amazed at what could be accomplished with electronic Bible software. The intervening years have been marked by incredible improvement and expansion as far as the Logos Bible Software family of products is concerned. The Logos technicians have developed the premier search engine for Bible software and they have worked diligently over the years to bring some of the best titles imaginable into electronic format for use with their search engine. The newest version of this search engine is styled as "Libronix Digital Library System" and has truly taken the study of the Bible on the computer to a whole new dimension, unlocking a world of possibilities.
Scholar's Library is the "best of the best" in the Logos collections, bringing together a wide array of titles and tools designed to cover every discipline of pastoral and theological study as well as every area of pastoral ministry. Once the collection is installed, the user has access to a half dozen or more commentaries on every verse in the Bible, as well as language and exegetical tools for the study of Bible words and/or passages. Biblical background materials, including maps, are also just a few keystrokes away. Whether you need lexicons and theological dictionaries or resources to help with small groups, you will find a wealth of helpful information in Scholar's Library. This collection sells for $599.95, but Logos is offering a special 25% off discount to Founders Journal readers. You can get Scholar's Library for just $449.96! Order Scholar's Library at www.logos.com/scholars and enter the code FOUNDERS into your shopping cart, or call (800) 875-6467 and mention the same code.
You can see the software in action by viewing their demo at http://www.logos.com/demo. I have tried other Bible software programs, but I keep coming back to Logos because of its ease of use, comprehensive and growing list of titles, and great technical support. If you have a PC (sorry Mac users) and the desire to harvest a wealth of information in such a way that you can spend more time studying and less time searching, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try. With their 30-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Recent Children's Materials from Christian Focus Publications, Geanies House, Fern, Scotland.
Reviewed by Ray Van Neste
Christian Focus Publications is, in my opinion, the leader in producing fine, reliable Bible literature for children. Thus, it may be useful to survey some items they have recently published.
Carine Mackenzie, author of the highly recommended Bible Wise and Bible Time series, has written The Bible Explorer: God's Truth from Genesis to Revelation. This book is essentially a Bible reference tool for children. The book works straight through the canon providing basic summaries of key sections. A two-page spread is devoted to each section, which surveys either a key story or event and, sometimes, an entire book. Each two-page spread then contains several types of information. In addition to a basic summary of the story, event or book there is a "Think Spot" (application), a memory verse and a "Fact File" (more detailed information or definition). Each piece of information is also coded by a certain icon so that one can trace a common theme straight through the Bible allowing children to see how the Bible holds together. There are also useful maps and a timeline before each testament. The book is visually attractive and will be very useful for slightly older children.
Irene Howat has written a series of four books designed to introduce children (roughly ages 7-11) to post-biblical heroes of the faith. The titles are:
• Ten Boys Who Changed the World: George Mueller, Brother Andrew, Nicky Cruz, John Newton, Billy Graham, William Carey, David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, Eric Liddell and Luis Palau
• Ten Girls Who Changed the World: Isobel Kuhn, Mary Slessor, Joni Eareckson, Corrie Ten Boom, Helen Keller, Jackie Pullinger, Amy Carmichael, Evelyn Brand and Catherine Booth.
• Ten Boys Who Made a Difference: Augustine, Knox, Luther, Calvin, Hus, Latimer, Zwingli, Tyndale, Chalmers and Lord Shaftesbury
• Ten Girls Who Made a Difference: Susannah Wesley, Monica of Hippo, Ann Judson, Edith Schaefer, Katherine Luther, Susie Spurgeon, Bethan Lloyd-Jones, Maria Taylor, Sabrina Wurmbrand and Ruth Bell Graham
Books introducing children to people such as these are certainly welcome. The books do not aim to give a thorough introduction to these people but point out their major accomplishment and seek to isolate a specific lesson. In order to start with the childhood of these influential people it appears the data at hand is used to create historical fiction.
For younger children, Penny Reeve, a missionary to Nepal, has written a four-volume Find the Animal series. Each book is 16 pages long with limited text focusing on amazing things about a certain animal. The animal is hidden in each picture with only certain parts visible. The child tries to guess what the animal is as each page is turned. The book concludes by stating that as amazing as this animal is, God is even greater. The book in the series which I have seen is God Made Something Strong. In this book, the animal is an elephant and the characteristics of strength and greatness are emphasized. The book is light and fun and helps describe the strength of God to a child by stating that while an elephant is certainly big and strong, God is even stronger!
Lastly, Catherine Mackenzie (daughter of Carine), has written a wonderful book entitled My God is So Big. The books plays off of the popular chorus by the same name and is entirely focused on the greatness of our God. In a day when the church suffers from a diminished view of God it is exhilarating to read a book to my children which exults in the "big-ness" of God! I hope this book finds wide circulation in homes, children's libraries and Sunday schools. May we raise up a new generation which exults in the glory of our God. Good books like these mentioned here will greatly aid us in the task.