Monday, July 24, 2017

Received for Review


Tallmon, Jim. Of Rhetoric and Redemption in La Rioja. Eugene: RESOURCE Publications, 2017. 145 Pages. PDF copy received. Paper and Cloth available.

Beckwith, Carl L. The Holy Trinity (Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics Volume III). Fort Wayne: The Luther Academy, 2016. 412 Pages. Paper.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lutheran Book Review: Titles for July 2017


Keating, Ray. Wine Into Water (A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel). Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, 2016. 277 Pages. Paper. $16.99.

Anderson, Fred. R. Singing God's Psalms: Metrical Psalms and Reflections for Each Sunday in the Church Year. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016. 259 Pages. Paper. $24.00. (UN)

Baudler, Kristian. Martin Luther's Priesthood of All Believers: In an Age of Modern Myth. New York: Oxen Press, 2016. 352 Pages. Paper. $15.00.

ESV Pastor's Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 1328 Pages. Cloth. $39.99.

Nau, John F. Nau! Mission Inspired: The Story of Henry Nau. Dancing Pen Books, 2017. 248 Pages. Paper. $12.99. Kindle also available.

Leaver, Robin A. The Whole Church Sings: Congregational Singing in Luther's Wittenberg. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017. 206 Pages. Paper. $22.00. (UN)

Jerome. Michael Graves, Translator. Edited by Christopher A.Hall. Thomas C. Oden and Gerald L. Bray, Series Editors. Commentary on Jeremiah (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove: IVP Academic/InterVarsity Press, 2011. 232 Pages. Cloth. $60.00/$42.00 on sale.

Jerome. Edited by Thomas P. Scheck. Thomas C. Oden and Gerald L. Bray, Series Editors.  Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets, Volume 1 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove: IVP Academic/InterVarsity Press, 2016. 310 Pages. Cloth. $60.00/$42.00 on sale.

This collection of titles dates back to our receipt of them since Reformation Day 2016. We will highly recommend some of these titles. Some others should be examined as you have opportunity. A few can be safely missed.

We get started with a novel by Ray Keating and our mutual friend, Pastor Stephen Grant.


Pastor Stephen Grant?

Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary's Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well.

(Author Website)

Grant is back in the novel Wine into Water, the sixth thriller in this series. We were honored to have a quote from LBR on the cover of this title.

Blood, wine, sin, justice and forgiveness… Who knew the wine business could be so sordid and violent? That's what happens when it's infiltrated by counterfeiters. A pastor, once a Navy SEAL and CIA operative, is pulled into action to help unravel a mystery involving fake wine, murder and revenge. Stephen Grant is called to take on evil, while staying rooted in his life as a pastor. WINE INTO WATER is the sixth thriller in the Pastor Stephen Grant series penned by award-winning novelist Ray Keating. The previous five Pastor Stephen Grant novels are MURDERER'S ROW, THE RIVER, AN ADVENT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, ROOT OF ALL EVIL? and WARRIOR MONK.

(Back Cover/Publisher's Website)

Unlike older episodic television and some novels of similar genres, Wine into Water advances the narrative of previous volumes, creating a new status quo by the end of the book, through character development, flashbacks, and ongoing pastoral care. This title is approachable for a first time Keating/Grant reader, yet more fulfilling for those of us who have been part of the whole journey. This title would generate enough interest in the new reader to go back and absorb the first five novels in the series.

The adventure of this volume is built upon a mystery regarding wine with action ranging from New York, to Lincoln, Nebraska, to California, and even a wedding of dear friends. The title is a reversal of Jesus' miracle in John 2, a Biblical allusion that hints to the Christian worldview in this novel. Threats to life and limb draw Grant and friends old and new into the action. Wine is serious business. A wine expert with SEAL, CIA, and LCMS credentials to the rescue!

What I most appreciate about this series is how grounded the main characters are in a day-to-day practice of the Lutheran confession of the Christian faith. Here pastors and lay Christian readers will experience a confessional liturgical Lutheranism complete with Word and Sacrament ministry, Christians living out their daily vocations in ordinary and extraordinary ways, a pattern of Biblical catechesis, and hope and confidence in Christ Jesus and his Gospel.

We're excited to read the next novel in this series!

Next up, we turn to an unsolicited title of interest from Eerdmans.

Our readers have noted that we at LBR love the Psalter and desire a faithful, accurate, English Lutheran metrical paraphrase Psalter for home, church, and school use today like the Becker Psalter was in German in 1628 and 1640.

Drawing on his decades of experience as a pastor, hymn writer, and hymnal consultant, Fred Anderson here offers pastors and worship leaders a rich treasury of singable psalms — one for each psalm text or canticle appointed in the three-year Revised Common Lectionary.

Anderson renders each psalm into metered text, using contemporary, biblical, inclusive language, and suggests appropriate pairings with familiar hymn tunes. Short pastoral reflections on each psalm text provide background on what is being sung — and are also useful for sermon preparation and personal meditation.

(Publisher's Website)

We received Fred Anderson's Singing God's Psalms in the mail back in December and we have tried to live with it a while. Our optimism about this surprise title soured when we read that he deliberately revised his text to avoid masculine pronouns for God (x) upon the request of the PCUSA. He did continue using King and Lord because they "are so thoroughly biblical that they were not to be avoided" (xi). With respect to all involved, since the Lord Himself self-identifies as masculine (e.g. Father), who are we to contradict Him? Anderson is inconsistent here.

He also aims to participate (32, passim) in the current fad of "inclusive language," a movement that is largely ignorant of the history of language, vocation and the orders of creation, and the sanctity of inspired Holy Scripture. There is JEDP-like doubt in Psalm authorship (e.g. 140/Psalm 95), particularly and personally disappointing because I always search for a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 95,  to use as a Venite Hymn at Matins or Morning Prayer.

I did like his version of Psalm 33, 65, 116, 118, and his canticle attempts. His Psalm 95 has a lot going for it, but my disappointment in his late date for the original text's composition remains.

The author perpetuates the myth of Luther widely using secular tunes (xiv) and omits the Lutheran Becker Psalter from his historical overview (xv).

He does provide the reader/user a chart of appointed psalms for the RCL (xvii), 

I realized after my first reading of this title that I was not the intended audience for it. Nor do I believe are the readers of LBR.

We were encouraged to request a copy of the next title. Here's what we thought.

For the second time in this stack of titles, we decided that we were not fully the intended audience of this book. The following blurb rightly points out the historical revisionism practiced by many mainline Lutherans including the ELCA, but perhaps overstates how significant the title is:

This book is a "must have" in preparation for celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! "Martin Luther's PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS — In an Age of Modern Myth" challenges today's popular myth that Martin Luther was an eager ecumenist, a Roman Catholic at heart who having disrupted church unity for reasons of good faith, was nevertheless eagerly seeking a path home to Rome. Frustrated with the slow pace of visible church unity, some Lutheran ecclesiasts have busied themselves in recent years with creating a more ecumenically friendly Luther — by literally rewriting history! Quoting mostly ecclesiastical agreements rather than original confessional sources, congregations were presented with a Luther who in fact never lived and a Reformation that never occurred. Instead they proffered myths claiming the 16th century Lutheran reformers "deeply desired" the adoption of a historic episcopate, that Luther had a high view of ordination and ecclesial hierarchy, and that the Lutheran Confessions fully support these views. With the aid of original sixteenth century documents—some never before translated into English — Baudler makes the powerful case that the picture of Martin Luther and his role in the Reformation being taught in many American schools, churches, and seminaries today is largely fictional, bearing little resemblance to the actual man of history. By removing layers of mythology applied to Luther in recent decades to make him more episcopally palatable, the author reveals instead the powerful portrait of a reformer who boldly emphasized the simple faith of the laity over the professional clericalism of his day in often shocking, humorous, and irreverent ways. This book challenges historians and theologians of all denominations, both professional and armchair, to reassess what Luther's Reformation means for the church in our time.

(Publisher's Website)

In common with the author we reject apostolic succession as necessary and agree that there is much myth connected to its perpetuation, especially in the Anglican Communion (150ff, et al). Aposolic teaching is essential.

LCMS readers will read and agree with much of what he critiques in Wengert, Jenson, and Braaten. We will gladly give an "Amen" when a theologian, lay or clerical, agrees with what Scripture says. We will reject all teaching contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Sadly, there is much to reject in mainline Lutheranism, hence the formation of the NALC, LCMC, and other groups.

I will take issue with some of what the author claims with regard to ordination, especially a Wengert story that arches from pages 105-113. I too would have a problem with a so-called emergency Communion consecration done by a layman. This issue arises occasionally in the LCMS. Having a layman consecrate when a pastor of our synod is present is confusing to all. We in the LCMS have been largely historically consistent in teaching clearly about emergency baptisms done by anyone and later recognized by the congregation and a reluctance from the time of our first German LCMS constitution to license lay ministers. Our 2016 convention was a positive step in resolving our 1989 Wichita convention "Asterisk" on AC XIV. I am thankful for the clarity C. F. W. Walther provides from Scripture, our Confessions, and our church fathers with regard to the priesthood of all believers and the Office of the Holy Ministry.

The sole reference to the LCMS (294) I found was in a Braaten quote about three kinds of Lutheranism (and a proposal of a fourth kind) with respect to ecumenism the author's warning against a false ecumenism. The author quotes him fifty pages before the end of the book as part of his concluding argument:

It would appear that when all is said and done, today's deep desire to negotiate dogmatic proposals for the reconstruction of visible church unity through the hierarchy of a mythical historical episcopal succession, has very little to do with the confidence in the unifying power of the Holy Ghost--and very much to do with a deep seated, superstitious fear of the Ghost of Speyer (341-2).

Diets were held at Speyer in 1526 and 1529, the latter essentially revoked the anti-Lutheran actions of the former. Charles V and Clement VII were at odds by 1529. The author's reference at the end harkens back to an earlier part in his argument (207) where he attempts to refute Piepkorn with regard to some assertions on ordination and episcopacy.

After skimming, fully reading, considering, and reviewing this title, I became convinced that the intended audience are primarily those formerly associated with or still part of the ELCA. It is comparable to the discussion internal to the LCMS refuting a book like Everyone a Minister by Feucht. It could be helpful to LCMS readers as an encouragement to find unity only in agreement with the mind of Christ, God's Word.

Ever since the 2001 publication of the English Standard Version translation of the Holy Bible, Crossway has been generous in granting use of the ESV and in providing LBR/QBR with review copies of newly-released editions.

This edition, a Pastor's Bible, is designed to last, a boxed hardcover with two ribbons and the ESV 2016 text, a companion to a book we reviewed early last year, The Pastor's Book ( Much of my concern with the present volume was stated in that review:

Books designed to be "seminary in a box" are generally disappointing ( That said, such volumes are not generally intended for an audience of Lutherans. The Pastor's Book is no exception to either rule. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised by aspects of this volume by Hughes and O'Donnell.

There is an intention to focus upon worship and pastoral care and "encourage a thoroughly gospel-centered ministry; refresh the church from the wells of historic orthodoxy; provide many of the best practical examples; and become a go-to resource for busy pastors" (19).

I would offer some pointed critique. There is an overwhelming Calvinist taste to the book. The reference to the rise of the pulpit in prominence is true of the Reformation (41), yet not at the expense of the altar in the Lutheran reformation. The entire chapter on Baptism (373ff) is utterly inadequate for Lutheran use. The "disparate" approach is unhelpful given what Scripture says about baptism, and will be confusing to readers who will likely resonate with their own preconceived perspective. 

My most significant concern with the book is in the Communion chapter (417ff), also inadequate for Lutheran use, unnecessarily inaccurate, and slanderous. Please turn to page 422. "The Reformers rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation out of hand. Luther replaced it with consubstantiation..." The former is true. The latter is not. 

No Lutheran uses the term "consubstantiation." We reject it "out of hand." The term is an attempt by non-Lutherans to describe our understanding of the Sacrament of the Altar as a mere philosophical theory like the rejected philosophical theory of transubstantiation. Authors, editors, and fellow readers, do not insult, offend, denigrate, or misunderstand Lutherans by continuing your use of this term. As a reviewer, I'll bring it up every time I see it. Disagree with us if you must, but do not presume to tell us (and others) what we believe, teach, and confess in a way that we will everywhere and always reject and refute. That's not respectful or fair.  

Turn to Matthew 26:26. Read the whole of Jesus' Words of Institution. What does He take? What does He say it is? What else does He take in the context of the Jewish Seder? (Remember: pasteurized grape juice did not exist yet.) What does He say it is? And for what purpose are we to eat and drink according to His command and invitation? Don't condemn me for taking Jesus at His Word!

As I dismount my soapbox, I must note that I was heartened to see Lutheranism represented in liturgical examples from the 1982 hymnal of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, Lutheran Worship. I would have been more impressed in a 2015 book to see references to our 2006 hymnal Lutheran Service Book. The author/editor was fair in explaining our objection to eulogies at funerals (192-193). I would add that eulogies originated in traditions where works mattered for the deceased's own salvation, contradicting "Christ Alone."

Personally, I also welcomed frequent references to the hymnody of Getty and Townend and the conscious attempt to reintroduce the Church year, historic liturgical forms, and the wealth of Christian hymnody and song to the volumes readers.

We wanted to see what was going on in pastoral care among today's conservative evangelicals. And so we did. There is improvement, room for hope for outside observers like us Lutherans, and perhaps even those who would be willing to listen to and learn from us.

In this Pastor's Bible, Historical Christian Creeds (955ff) are immediately followed by Liturgy for Baby Dedication (959), Liturgy for Infant Baptism (961), and Liturgy for Believer's Baptism (964) as if all three of the former are equally valid practices informed by the former. Particularly disturbing are the words of a man, Tom Buck, "The act of baptism does not save you..." (964) which directly contradict the Word of God from the apostle in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you..." (1261). I'm going with the Lord on this one. In addition, the Dedication rite (959) largely ignores what Jesus teaches in Matthew 28, what Paul teaches in Colossians 2, and elevates reason over Scripture. The Believer's Baptism rite (964 contradicts Acts 2, Titus 3, and ignores Ephesians 5 and Romans 10.

I like and use the ESV as a literal translation in my pastoral ministry. I appreciate much of what Crossway offers us as Lutherans. I appreciate most (including Luther on p. 55) of the 44 articles in this edition (but not all, e.g. p. 1302, 1321).

What is one to do? LCMS seminary-trained pastors are savvy enough to sort wheat from chaff. I wouldn't be personally opposed to removing pages with a razor. I understand the reason a publisher may try to please everyone, but how often does that work? Wouldn't a Baptist like Buck be just as offended by an Infant Baptism liturgy as I am by his? Here's the difference: I'm offended because he denies what Scripture says. His hypothetical objection to the Infant Baptism rite would be a rejection of what the Lord allows and commands in Acts 2 and practices in household baptisms in Acts 16.

For an LCMS Pastor with The Lutheran Study Bible, Lutheran Service Book, and the Pastoral Care Companion, this volume is unnecessary and inadequate.

We turn next to a missionary biography.


The stories of some people's lives read like legends. For some of us names like Stanley Livingstone, T. H. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Sir Ernest Shackleton, Florence Nightingale, Oswald Chambers, and Louis Zamperini may come to mind. Others may think of Martin Luther King, the Apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, Esther (of the Bible). Whoever they may be, their stories have the ability to lift us to a higher plateau, inspire us, thrill us, make us cry, motivate us to search for meaning in our own lives. Nau! Mission Inspired is one of those stories. This is the story of a man of God, a Lutheran missionary and a college president–not always so. Once a profligate–a gambler, a rebel, a duelist, a horseman–then a desperate man, standing on a bridge in New York, without hope, wanting to end it all. Then, a sudden change of course, like Paul on the road to Damascus. Two men emerge from the darkness, save his life, tell him of the love of God. He gives himself to Christ, walks with Him from the rice paddies and temples of India to the battlefields of World War I, from the school rooms of a Black college in the segregationist South to the bush country of Nigeria. He's a passionate man, an imperfect man, an impulsive man, a jar of clay God uses to pour out his grace upon the needy. The brush strokes used to depict this story are bold, sweeping, modern. So vividly are the characters drawn, the atmosphere recreated, the conflict reenacted, the dialogue recaptured, that it seems as though we're watching a film. This speaks volumes to the success of Author John Nau in bringing this inspiring story to life.


I was personally unaware of the mission endeavors of LCMS Pastor Henry Nau until I read this book. I had some familiarity with the mission work of the Synodical Conference in the American South and of LCMS work in India, but nearly all of John Nau's account of his father's life and ministry.

Controversy and disagreement within the LCMS is nothing new. Nau! reminded me of that. The "!" in the title of the book, originally printed in Clayton, MO in 1978 precedes the punctuation of the LCMS Ablaze! emphasis by decades. 

I've met pastors and professors educated by and who have taught at the Nagercoil, India seminary (cf. 48). I commend the battlefield Communion announcements of Rev. Henry Nau (61ff). I was a seminary classmate of a son of Jonathan Ekong (124ff). I am aware of the dangers of colonialism and even the appearance of colonialism (227), desiring to have pastors native to a tribe, people, nation, or language be seminary trained so that they may reach their own folk with the Gospel of Christ.

I hold to the LCMS teaching and practice rejecting all unionism and syncretism (cf. 109, 160), I believe pure teaching and a passion for mission work and evangelism are compatible. I still need more clarity about Chapter Twenty-One's Genesis of mission work among Muslims. Mission work funding (direct/indirect) is still a controverted issue in our Synod. I am pleased that more LCMS missionaries are currently in the field, and that Lutheran missions have led to Lutheran congregations, laity, pastors, and church bodies. 

I will respectfully disagree with some of the subject's strong personal opinions, like regarding the Divine Call (226) and one on marriage and polygamy (227). 

Our congregation regularly hosts missionary pastors and their families so that they can build support and later return to tell of their ministry. Please prayerfully consider offering support for our current LCMS missionaries ( You could even prepare to be an overseas missionary yourself.

The bottom line for me with regard to this biography is that the work of ministry is usually complicated and messy. We leave the comfort zone of the chancel and study to meet sinners where they are to share the law and Gospel of God. Our faithfulness is for the sake of a pure mission message because we love our Lord and the people He has sent us to serve and reach. This title is an inspiration to continue in faithful mission now!

Personally, I read a lot of biographies of Navy SEALS and theologians. I look forward to reading more biographies of LCMS missionaries.  

We now consider another offering provided to us by Eerdmans, the latest by Robin A. Leaver.

What a treat this title is! 

Our 2010 LHP Review: Perspectives on Worship Today ( included a Leaver-edited title, Liturgy and Music: Lifetime Learning. It has been some time since we reviewed one of his titles.

Robin A. Leaver is professor emeritus at Westminster Choir College and visiting professor at Yale University and Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. His previous books include Luther's Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications.
(Publisher's Website)

This reviewer personally appreciated the title mentioned in the publisher's website bio, a Lutheran Quarterly book, now apparently and unfortunately out of print. As of this writing, used copies on are going for $79 and up. In this title, Professor Leaver turns his attention to Luther's hymnody.


Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies

Authoritative study by a renowned musicologist and Reformation scholar

Many scholars think that congregational singing was not established in Lutheran worship until well after the start of the Reformation. In this book Robin A. Leaver calls that view into question, presenting new research to confirm the earlier view that congregational singing was both the intention and the practice right from the beginning of the Wittenberg reforms in worship.

Leaver's study focuses on the Wittenberg hymnal of 1526, which until now has received little scholarly attention. This hymnal, Leaver argues, shows how the Lutheran Reformation was to a large degree defined, expressed, promoted, and taken to heart through early Lutheran hymns. Examining what has been forgotten or neglected about the origins of congregational hymnody under Martin Luther's leadership, this study of worship, music, and liturgy is a significant contribution to Reformation scholarship.

(Publisher's Website)

Not only does Leaver refute the old saw that Luther invented "contemporary worship" by pairing sacred text with "bar songs," (a misunderstanding of "bar form" (15) and a refusal to learn from Luther's bad experience with one reuse of a secular tune with a new text), Leaver lays the historical groundwork to prevent such misunderstandings in the first place. Meistersingers. Pre-Reformation vernacular song. Folk songs over beer (Chapter 2).

Wittenberg Reforms (Chapter 3) necessarily led to the need for churchly song in the vernacular, then German, in addition to Latin. Page 33 gives a great introduction to the Lutheran Reformation. See the last page of the chapter, 64, for a contemporary assessment of Luther's first vernacular hymn.

Collections of Luther's and Lutheran hymns emerge. Metrical psalms are part of those new Lutheran hymns (74ff), including some intended for use with the Daily Office (124ff). A current favorite recently revived in the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod is TLH 260, "O Lord, Look Down From Heaven, Behold." 

The final paragraph of the main text show a dual tradition in formation, song for congregation alongside song for choir (162). 

Yes, this title is worth the list price. Yes, it is worth your time to read. Yes, it is worth the space to store. Finally, yes, it is also worth the effort to teach. This volume (with all of my favorite parts still noted by neon post-it notes) is going on my favorites shelf in my study at church (unless a musician borrows it from me soon). Highly Recommended!

IVP Academic was generous to provide us with two recent releases in the Ancient Christian Texts Series, both authored by Jerome: Jeremiah, and Twelve Prophets-Volume I.

Ancient Christian Texts is a series of new translations of full-length commentaries and sermons based on biblical books or extended scriptural passages by early church leaders like Ambrosiaster, Origen, John of Damascus, Cyril of Alexandria and many others, most of which are presented in English for the first time. With today's best scholarship, the Ancient Christian Texts provides you with the resources you need to study for yourself the key writings of the early church in a way never before possible.

Discover for yourself the wisdom of the ancients.
(Publisher's Website)

Jerome (c. 347-419), one of the West's four doctors of the church, was recognized early on as one of the church's foremost translators, commentators and advocates of Christian asceticism. Skilled in Hebrew and Greek in addition to his native Latin, he was thoroughly familiar with Jewish traditions and brought them to bear on his understanding of the Old Testament. 

Beginning in 379, Jerome used his considerable linguistic skills to translate Origen's commentaries and, eventually, to translate and comment on Scripture himself. Jerome began writing commentaries on the twelve minor prophets in 392 while preparing his Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. After completing Nahum, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Habakkuk, he was interrupted in 393 by the Origenist controversy, after which he became a vocal critic of Origen of Alexandria. He finished his commentaries on Jonah and Obadiah in 396. These seven commentaries are available in volume one. The Origenist controversy and his commentary on Matthew occupied his time for the next several years. He finally completed the rest of the twelve prophets in 406. This Ancient Christian Text volume, edited and translated by Thomas Scheck in collaboration with classics students from Ave Maria University, includes those final five commentaries on Zechariah, Malachi, Hosea, Joel, and Amos. Throughout these commentaries Jerome refers frequently to the work of previous commentators, and his spiritual exegesis relies heavily on the exegetical work of Origen―though he acknowledges that "I have not followed them in everything." Jerome hears in these texts God's judgment and mercy not only on Israel but especially on the Christian community. In Amos, for example, he says that "whatever we have said about Judah refers to the church." He wrestles especially with the scandalous message of Hosea, which he refers to as drowning with Pharaoh during the crossing of the Red Sea. But he trusts that "the ways of the Lord are the reading of the Old and New Testament, the understanding of the holy Scriptures." Jerome's magisterial commentaries help us walk more faithfully in God's ways.

In 405 Jerome completed his Latin translation of the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew text, and not long afterward began to work on commentaries devoted to the major prophets--Daniel (407), Isaiah (408-410), Ezekiel (410-414), culminating with Jeremiah but reaching only through chapter 32 before his death in 419. Throughout the commentary Jerome displays his familiarity with both Hebrew and Greek texts of Jeremiah, often establishing the literal meaning through the Hebrew text and offering a spiritual interpretation that draws on the Septuagint. He frequently interacts with other translations known from Origen's Hexapla. Jerome's extensive education in the classics and Jewish tradition as well as in both Antiochene and Alexandrian exegesis shine through the commentary at every point. Here for the first time Michael Graves supplies readers with a highly readable translation in English, useful textual notes and a helpful introduction.

Jerome's commentaries on the Twelve are presented in this and a forthcoming volume in the order he wrote them, not in the order they are found in the Septuagint nor in that of the Hebrew Scriptures (xvi). Jerome's translation of Origen's Hexpla, or six-column version with the Hebrew, Hebrew transliterated in Greek, and four Greek translations, is simulated on page xix.

Dipping our toes into Micah 4:1-7 will show you the worth of this volume. Following an English version of those verses about the last days (70ff), readers will find five pages of commentary including connections to Old and New Testament books including the Gospel accounts, Acts, Romans, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, Ezekiel, Job, and Isaiah, and references to Josephus, and numerous Greek and Roman authors. Jerome is humorous in his rebuke of critics who apparently objected to him translating the ancients. Sarcasm drips in a way Luther himself would appreciate and emulate:

For if it is a crime to translate all the things well spoken by the Greeks, let them accuse Ennius, and Virgil, Plautus, Statius, and Terence, and also Cicero, and other eloquent men who translated not only verses but many chapters and very long books and whole narratives (75, adapted).

This is a commentary for the pastor, the scholar, and the classical Lutheran educator.

Regarding Jeremiah, one must note again that this is a full translation of a partial work. Jerome ends with Jeremiah 32:44. Again, I must say that this is a volume for a classical Lutheran educator, the preaching pastor, and the scholar who cares about transmitting the heritage of Christian Western Civilization to people today.

Jerome received the best classical education available in his day, and he made constructive use of non-Christian learning in his biblical exegesis, laying the groundwork for much biblical scholarship to follow. Jerome was also unique among preserved Christian writers in his extensive knowledge of Hebrew and his awareness of Jewish traditions. Jerome's contact with Hebraic sources makes his Old Testament exegesis especially valuable today (xxiii; see also xxxvi and ff).

Consider a few examples of the commentary itself.

Regarding 4:5, Jerome writes:

Let this be heard in Judah and Jerusalem, in which there is "confession of faith" and where the "peace" of Christ dwells, to whom it was said through Isaiah: "Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings!" He cries aloud and thus he commands, "Let us go in to the fortified cities!" The wars of the heretics rise up; let the fortifications of Christ hold us fast (27; quotation marks in original).

Commentary on 13:25b-27 shows a thorough understanding of the adulterous nature of idolatry:

Let us petition Jesus, that he not reveal our thighs or our hind parts either in the present age or in the future, but that he may blot out our iniquities and not make evident all our crimes (87).

I also appreciated the rebuke of 23:16-17 for the hearers and supporters of false teachers:

Lest the people think that they are free from any guilt because they simply acquiesced to the corrupt teachers, the prophet says... (142)

Finally, re-reading later sections on false prophets (e.g., Jeremiah 28) with the insight of Jerome really helped me prepare for Bible class on the Old Testament Reading for Proper 8A and our subsequent Bible class on Daniel 3-4 just this morning. The false prophet in question died months after the golden idol was dedicated.


Thomas P. Scheck (PhD, University of Iowa) is associate professor of theology at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida. He is the author of Origen and the History of Justification and Erasmus's Life of Origen. He is also the translator in the Fathers of the Church series of Origen: Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (2 volumes) and St. Jerome: Commentary on Matthew. Recently Scheck published new translations of St. Jerome's Commentaries on Isaiah and Ezekiel in the Ancient Christian Writers series. 

Dr. Michael Graves is Armerding Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College in Illinois. 

Christopher A. Hall (PhD, Drew University) is the director of Renovaré Institute of Christian Spiritual Formation. He is associate editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and his books include Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers, and Worshiping with the Church Fathers. Hall previously served at Eastern University for over twenty years in several roles, including chancellor, provost, dean of Palmer Seminary, dean of the Templeton Honors College, distinguished professor of theology, and director of academic spiritual formation. He and his wife, Debbie, live in Pennsylvania and have three grown children. 

Virtually everything in the IVP Academic collection of "Ancient Christian" volumes is worth having in a Lutheran pastor's library.  Such volumes would be an heirloom for future generations. We would love to see Jerome's Twelve Prophets-Volume II.

Thank you for reading these reviews. We thank the publishers for providing these titles and urge you to thank them as well. 

At this moment, only two titles are left in our pile, a biography of St. Paul by a classical Lutheran educator, and a new dogmatics volume that we have been promised. 

Our reviews may be fewer and farther in between compared to a decade ago, yet we pray they are edifying and useful to you.

Rev. Paul J Cain is Senior Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman/NLSA Commissioner, and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. He has served as an LCMS Circuit Visitor, District Worship Chairman and District Evangelism Chairman. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion volumes, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He is an occasional guest on KFUO radio. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. Rev. Cain is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music. 

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