Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two New Book Reviews on RBL

The Review of Biblical Literature has recently added two new reviews on books related to Hebrews.

The first review is by Alan C. Mitchell (who has written his own Hebrews commentary for the Sacra Pagina series) on James W. Thompson's Hebrews commentary in the Baker Paideia series. This review was overwhelmingly positive. Thompson is a leading Hebrews scholar and is currently Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University in Texas. He has written books on Hebrews previously, including The Beginnings of Christian Philosophy: The Epistle to the Hebrews (1982) which is based on his 1974 dissertation with Vanderbilt University; Strategy for Survival: A Plan for Church Renewal from Hebrews (1980); and The Letter to the Hebrews in the Living Word Commentary (1971). He has also written numerous articles on Hebrews, so it is safe to say that this newest commentary is the culmination of numerous years of study on the book.

The second review is on Jason A. Whitlark's Enabling Fidelity to God: Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of Reciprocity Systems in the Ancient Mediterranean World. This book is based on Jason's 2006 Baylor University dissertation. I think the review gives a fair summary of the content of the book.

I read both of these reviews with interest since they both have a "Baylor" connection as well as a personal connection for me. Jason, of course, is one of my predecessors in the Ph.D. program at Baylor. The fact that he was able to do his dissertation on Hebrew was encouraging for me since I also had an interest to do a dissertation on the book. He is currently Assistant Professor of Religion at Baylor.

Thompson's connection to Baylor is by way of the fact that the Paideia commentary series is edited by two of my Baylor professors, Mikeal C. Parsons and Charles H. Talbert. Although I had previously met Dr. Thompson at SBL, I got to know him much better when I went to the Hebrews and Theology conference at St. Andrews University in the summer of 2006. When the conference was over we just happened to ride the same train to Edinburgh. I ended up having dinner with him that evening (along with his wife and another professor). He was willing to talk to me about research in Hebrews and even suggested a dissertation topic to me (I have ended up doing something else, but appreciated his willingness to share his ideas with me). Since he teaches in Texas, I also see him whenever I go to our annual regional SBL meeting in the DFW area.

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