Category Archives: Book Review

A new study guide for those who wish to understand the overall picture of the Bible

How do we deal with the problem of the person who does not know very much about the Bible and gets lost in some of our classes? I recall one time teaching Romans in a church class. I think we were already in chapter 11. A visitor came to the class. Toward the end of the class when I was entertaining questions, the visitor spoke up saying, “I don’t have any idea what you are talking about.” I sympathized with him and mentioned that we had set the stage for the current class over a period of months.

Marc Hinds, a former student of mine at Florida College, understands that many students need a general survey of the Bible. He has provided a solution for this problem in his newly published book by 21st Century Christian. The full name, The Big Picture: A Guide to Learning the Bible’s Story, explains what he is trying to do with this book. The book is suitable for classes of beginners or more advanced learners who haven’t yet understood the overall picture of the Bible.

The Big Picture, by Marc Hinds.

The Big Picture, by Marc Hinds.

In this book of 15 lessons, you will find a brief survey of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The book is printed in full color with many illustrations, photographs, and maps drawn (by Marc) specifically to illustrate the lesson. This book will be suitable for church classes, or individual home study.

The book may be ordered from 21st Century Christian, other bookstores, or Amazon here: The Big Picture: A Guide to Learning the Bible’s Story.

Limited time bargain on a great Bible atlas is offering Carl Rasmussen’s Zondervan Atlas of the Bible for a limited time at the unusual price of $14.99. Click here.


I can’t promise that it will still be available by the time I get this posted, but you can try.

Update Noon  12-04-12:  I see the price is now $19.99. If you have a a Prime account with Amazon (postage free), or wish to add another item, the price may be better at $22.73 for Zondervan Atlas of the Bible.

This Atlas is an extremely good one. It is well written, accurate, colorful, filled with great photos and helpful maps. Earlier this evening I emailed a notice to folks who have traveled with me recently, or who plan to, with this note:

This is an excellent book for anyone planning a tour to Israel, or anyone who has been. It should be one of your most helpful Bible study tools.

One of the ladies who traveled to Israel earlier this year replied with this note:

That is a great price. I got one before we went. I use it daily as I read and it sure brings the scriptures alive. It is much more so now that we have seen the country.

The Annual Meetings # 1

Each year in November professional meetings pertaining to the field of biblical studies are held in a major U.S. city. The largest meeting is the SBL/AAR meeting. That is the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. Together these organizations attract maybe eight thousand persons who are involved in teaching and researching in the fields of Biblical Studies and Religious Studies.

ASOR, the American Schools of Oriental Research, meets separately a few days ahead of the other meeting. This organization attracts those who are teaching and active in the field of Near Eastern archaeology.

The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) currently meets at the same time as ASOR. I think in some recent years as many as 2000 members attend ETS. This organization attracts scholars who are admittedly conservative in their approach toward the Scriptures. Most of them teach in seminaries or religious schools.

Some international scholars attend each of these meetings.

From time to time I have someone ask me why I attend. I will suggest a couple of reasons based on the current ETS meeting, and these reasons will be true of both meetings.

Books, Books, Books. I do not buy as many books as I once did, but I still like to see what is being published. The ETS book exhibit has grown from a few tables several years back to a large exhibit hall this year. Many of the major religious publishers offer deep discounts to the members. They know that these teachers may use their books, or at least recommend them, in their classes. Only members with the proper ID are allowed in the exhibit hall.

The Crossway display. Crossway is the publisher of the ESV bible.

The Crossway display. Crossway is the publisher of the ESV bible.

The books on display are mainly the current publications along with a few of the previous best sellers.

A portion of the B&H display.

A small portion of the B&H display.

Friends. Another reason I attend the meetings to to see old friends and make new ones. Jack is now a freelance representative. This week he was working for Moody Press.

Promoting Moody Press books at the ETS meeting.

Promoting Moody Press books at the ETS meeting.

For the first time, Todd Bolen had a display of his Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands. We have written about this series here.

Todd Bolen, Bible, talks with a customer.

Todd Bolen (right), Bible, talks with a customer.

A. D. Riddle made new maps for the revised PLBL. He was helping at the booth. A customer is on the right. Bolen is in the background. This was my first time to meet A. D., he has been helpful to me several times via correspondence.

A.D. Riddle, who supplied new maps for the revised series.

A.D. Riddle (right), who supplied new maps for the revised series, takes a break from talking with an ETS member about the PLBL series.

I ran across Mark Wilson, author of Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Mark lives in Turkey part of each year, and has spoken to one of my groups. Everyone who plans a trip to Turkey, or who just wants to know more about the Biblical places in Turkey, should have this book.

Mark Wilson mans the Tutku Travel booth.

Mark Wilson mans the Tutku Travel booth.

Other friends I saw included Steve Wolfgang, former students Rusty Taylor and Randy Murphy.

In another post I will mention some of the papers I heard.

Reformation Day

October 31 is known as Reformation Day because it was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther posted Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The Ninety-Five Theses were issues that Luther thought should be debated by the theologians. These questions were brought about due to the sale of indulgences and general corruption within the Roman Catholic Church.

The term Protestant was not used to describe those who aligned themselves with Luther for another 12 years, but the Protestant movement can be dated the the event at Wittenberg.

There are many issues on which I would differ with Luther, but I admit that I admire the man and the stand that he took against practices of his day which were departures from the Apostolic doctrine.

This statue of Luther stands in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The official name of the town is Lutherstadt Wittenberg.

Statue of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg Castle Church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg Castle Church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The original door of the church was destroyed by fire in 1760. Doors covered with bronze plaques with the Ninety-Five Theses on them were installed in 1858. The door of the church is pictured below.

Door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Free Book. Those who use Logos Bible Software may download a copy of the Ninety-Five Theses under the title Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. For information click here.

Interested in the Reformation? If you have interest in Church History and the place of the Reformation within it, you might enjoy this post on “The background of the Protestant Reformation,” or posts on Zwingli, Tyndale and Knox (and here), Heinrich Bullinger, St. Andrews, and Savonarola.


Max McLean in C. S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters

During World War II when Great Britain was dealing with the threat of extinction,  C. S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters. These letters of unknown provenance are from the senior devil Screwtape to a junior tempter named Wormwood.

Saturday afternoon I saw actor Max McLean in a Broadway-type production, C. S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters. The production begins with Screwtape giving the graduation address at the Tempters’ Training College for Young Devils. After that, everything else takes place in Screwtape’s Office in Hell.

C. S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters

Screwtape writes a series of letters to his nephew Wormwood to help him in working with one of his “patients” – a young Christian man on earth. Wormwood is supposed to keep the patient distracted from serving the Enemy (God), and to deliver him to “our Father below” (the Devil).

In addition to McLean’s superb acting, Toadpipe is a delightful addition to the stage production. She is Screwtape’s secretary in his office in Hell.

Max McLean as Screwtape and his secretary Toadpipe.

Max McLean as Screwtape and his secretary Toadpipe in The Screwtape Letters.

If you have never read The Screwtape Letters, you should do so. The book is available from Amazon in both print and Ebook.

This little except from Letter XII shows us how easily it is for the Devil to distract one from genuine service to the Enemy (God).

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C. S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters is scheduled for several other cities. Take a look at the for details.

If you are interested in C. S. Lewis, take a look at this photo essay about Lewis here.

Two references from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth are appropriate here.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV)

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV)

Thomson’s “The Land and the Book” on Logos community pricing

William Thomson’s 3-volume set, The Land and the Book, is now on community pricing at Logos.

Thomson - The Land and the Book

The Land and the Book

This set of books was published by Harper & Brothers between 1880 and 1886.

Thomson spend many years living in Beirut and traveling throughout the region. This is one of the excellent books telling of travel in those days, and of the then-current understanding of the location of various sites.

I am delighted that this book is now on community pricing for $18. If enough people place a bid the price could be lower. Place your bid today.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Logos Book of the Month — Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts

Pick up almost any book of hymns and you will note several songs by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), a native of Southhampton, England. The Dictionary of the Christian Church says,

Watts deservedly holds a very high place among English hymn-writers. His hymns reflect his strong and serene faith and did much to make hymn-singing a powerful devotional force, especially in Nonconformity… [especially nonconformity to the Church of England at the time, but used of nonconformity to any Established Church]

Logos is offering The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts free to Logos users for the month of September. See details here.

A 1775 edition of a book by Isaac Watts. U. of Otago.

I have Logos Bible Software 4 open now to a hymn based on Galatians 6:14. The title is “Crucifixion to the world by the cross of Christ.” We probably know this song by the first words, “When I survey the wondrous cross.”

Crucifixion to the world by the cross of Christ.
(Gal. 6:14)

 When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown!

[His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er his body on the tree:
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.]

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Watts, I. (1998). The Psalms and hymns of Isaac Watts. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Don’t expect modern shaped notes. And if you know nothing of the Meters that were used in Watts’ time, you may simply use the book for devotional readings.

Notice the vivid fourth stanza describing the dying Christ which is often left out of modern hymn books.

Free Kindle book on the Sermon on the Mount

DeWard Publishing Company is offering a free Father’s Day Kindle download for a limited time.

Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount) by Paul Earnhart is available for free download from this link.

Paul Earnhart has served as minister at the Douglass Hills Church of Christ, Louisville, Kentucky, for many years. He is recognized for both his scholarly and practical approach to Biblical subjects.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is the seminal announcement of the teaching of Jesus.

This is a great book for any father, or anyone else interested in spiritual matters.

Thanks to DeWard Publishing Company for this gracious gift. Take a look at their other publications.

Major revision of the Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands

Todd Bolen announces the release of a total revision of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. This revised and expanded edition is the culmination of 9 years of work. The previous version contained 6000 photographs in 10 volumes. According to the announcement,

This new edition consists of 18 volumes with nearly 18,000 photographs, adding hundreds of new sites and re-visiting the old favorites.

Here are just a few features of the new edition of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

  • Eight new volumes: (Lebanon, Eastern and Central Turkey, The Greek Islands, and more. New subjects include Cultural Images, Signs, and Trees, Plants, and Flowers.
  • New Photos: For example, more than 1000 new photos have been added to the Jerusalem volume.
  • New Photographers. In addition to the photos by Todd Bolen, the work of more than 40 photographers are included in this new set.
  • New Maps. New, original maps have been created to identify the sites.
  • New Indexes. Every photograph is indexed in a list of more than 400 pages.
  • You get the hi-res photos and the photos already in PowerPoint. You can use the presentation as it is or include individual slides in your own lesson.
  • And more…
Pictorial Library Complete Collection. BiblePlaces.Com.

Front cover of the new Pictorial Library Complete Collection.

For those who already own the previous collection, Bible Places is offering the new 18-volume set for the upgrade price of $179. The entire set for new purchasers is $389.

Would you prefer to make your own photos? Try buying a good digital SLR camera starting at about $1500, flying to Israel (not to mention Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, the Greek Islands, Italy, et al.), renting a car for a few weeks, buying the gas. Oh, and don’t forget to hire a private plane for a few hours so you can get some good aerial photos. That might cost at least $389. :-) And what if the lighting conditions were not right for a good photos the day you were at a site? What if you don’t have time to get your photos organized and write a description of each one? Need I go on to make a point? Did I mention that living and teaching in Israel for a decade helps?

Every church should have a set of this material for the teachers to use in their teaching. Over the years I have found that some short-sighted groups (churches) will not make such an expenditure. The other choice is to buy the set for yourself.

I hear several lessons a week, and every one of them could be improved by the use of photos from this wonderful collection.

Learn more about the new Pictorial Library of Bible Lands in the following places:

Charles Savelle has a good interview with Todd Bolen at the BibleX blog here.

I have profited much from the work of Todd Bolen and am delighted to count him as a friend and to recommend this collection of photographs to every teacher of the Bible.

Follow the Blog here.

The Man of Galilee available in Kindle format for 99¢

DeWard Publishing Company announces today that Atticus G. Haygood’s The Man of Galilee in available in Kindle format for 99¢. This, in my judgment, is one of the finest books written, apart from the Bible, to direct people to a proper understanding of Jesus..

The Man of Galilee by Atticus G. Haygood.
I don’t know how long it will be available for this incredibly low price, but I suggest you get it now from this link.