Books

New and Upcoming Books (Quarter 4, 2017)

Releases from the previous post:

Retrieving Eternal GenerationSwain and Sanders

1. Fundamentals of Pentecostal Oneness — Harry L. Herman

Finally a new book on Oneness Pentecostalism by a Oneness author! Until I found this book I honestly hadn’t heard of Harry L. Herman before. It’s possible that this website provides a brief snapshot of who he is and my also explain my unfamiliarity with him: my background is in the UPCI, not the PAW. I couldn’t find any pertinent information on Mr. Herman anywhere else.

Or should I say “Dr. Herman”? According to the cover of this book, Herman has not only an earned doctorate-level degree (a Th.D), but also an honorary doctorate (D.D.). (Maybe this is why it says “Th. D.D”?) Since I don’t know who who Mr. Herman is, nor can I verify who he is or his credentials, I’ll refer to him as “Mr.” Herman (of course, without any disrespect intended).

I think that clear writing is often an indication of clear thinking, and I think that this short book on Oneness ideas is clearly written. Unfortunately, that clear writing is betrayed by a disorganization of presentation. For example, chapter 6 of this books asks “Who is Jesus Christ?” and gives relevant scriptures that refer to Jesus’ divinity and humanity (e.g., John 1:1, 14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Isaiah 9:6, etc.). It isn’t until chapter 10 that we receive a biblical summary of God’s unipersonality (being a single divine Person), and not until chapter chapter 11 that we find a clearer summary of who Jesus is. Mr. Herman does this same thing with regard to salvation: he briefly covers the Oneness Pentecostal view of salvation in chapters 2 through 4, but returns to “Eternal Security vs. Unconditional Eternal Security” in the final chapter.

One thing to appreciate about what Mr. Herman has written is the fact that he makes it absolutely clear that Oneness Pentecostals use the term “Son” equivocally—a fact that I think has confused many onlookers and has actually led to caricatures of the Oneness position. (Mr. Herman, like other Oneness Pentecostals, also uses “Jesus” equivocally, but I’ll save that discussion for some other time.) On the one hand, as modalists, Oneness Pentecostals use the term “Son” to refer to God’s human manifestation in the Incarnation. As Mr. Herman says, the “one God is manifested in a three-fold manner. First a creator (Father), redeemer (Son), and anointing (Holy Ghost)” (Kindle, loc. 518). So “Son” can be used to refer to God—or more correctly, the Father—Incarnate. On the other hand, Oneness Pentecostals use the term “Son” to refer to Jesus’ body. Here Mr. Herman says that “This body was called the Son and had a beginning” (loc. 689) and that the “fleshly body became the Son of God because it was through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost (Father) that it came into existence” (loc. 696).

At a later time I’ll document where other Oneness writers make use of this equivocal use of the word “Son.” But as I say, this has led some (like Bruce Reeves in this debate with Roger Perkins) to caricature Oneness Pentecostals by saying that, to them, only a human body (or “shell”) died on the Cross. More sophisticated Oneness writers don’t claim this; they insist that the Father experienced death on the Cross (see Bernard’s The Oneness of God, pp. 92-95).

I’ve said quite a bit about this book, but I quite honestly don’t recommend it. There’s very little in this book, in my opinion, that isn’t accomplished in two short works by Ralph Vincent Reynolds called Bible Doctrine I (covering the Oneness of God and Jesus’ divinity) and Bible Doctrine III (mostly covering salvation). Both of those books give good summaries of Oneness views and provide the standard proof texts for them.

2. The New English Translation Bible (Second Edition)

Ever since I discovered the New English Translation (NET) at Bible.org, I’ve been trying to get a physical copy the “Full Notes” edition. The first edition had over 60,000 notes. For a long time, there were only a few copies on Amazon by here-and-there sellers who were asking far too much for one (sometimes even $1000 or more). Even though I think that Bible.org and the NET Bible are two of the most valuable resources for Bible students, I wasn’t willing to spend that much.

But now the NET2 has been released, and you can get it at a far more reasonable price. I already have.

This isn’t the place to go into translation methods, but the approach to the NET and the NET2 is somewhat thought-for-thought (functionally/dynamically equivalent) in the translation, while providing translation notes that allow you to simultaneously see a word-for-word (formally equivalent) translation of the text. The NET2, it seems to me, solves this practical Bible translation problem this way, which allows everybody to begin to understand their Bibles better.

There are four kinds of notes that the NET2 provides. I will quote the preface to the First Edition of the NET that explains them:

  1. [TN] Translator’s Note—Explains the rationale for the translation and gives alternative translations, interpretive options, and other technical information.
  2. [SN] Study Note—Includes comments about historical or cultural background, explanation of obscure phrases or brief discussions of context, discussions of the theological point made by the biblical author, cross references and references to Old Testament quotations or allusions in the New Testament, or other miscellaneous information helpful to the modern reader.
  3. [TC] Text-critical Note—Discusses alternate (variant) readings found in the various manuscripts and groups of manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament.
  4. [MAP] Map Note—Gives map coordinates for site within the two map sections, “The Journeys of Paul” and “The Holy Land from the Heavens.”

I think that the NET2 is one of the best Bible translations currently available, and it’s hard to beat the wealth of information that the translators and editors have provided. That’s even more true now that there are so many pseudo-study Bibles available in bookstores.

Still skeptical? You can access the entire translation with its notes with the Lumina Bible Study Suite. It’s the ultimate “try before you buy.” If you take advantage of Lumina, in addition to the wealth of resources at Bible.org, I think you will increase your knowledge of Scripture tenfold (or more!) this year. For 2018 (and probably beyond), the NET2 will be my go-to translation.

3. The Tyndale House Greek New Testament (THEGNT)

A team of scholars at Tyndale House in Cambridge has worked hard to release this edition of the Greek New Testament for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This Greek New Testament is much different from other versions like the NA28 or UBS5 for a number of reasons that I won’t take the time to mention. Take a look at some comments by Dr. Daniel B. Wallace to get a feel for this. It looks like the text will be available online at some point.

At the very least, I would say that this edition isn’t friendly to new Greek students. But it is incredibly valuable for those that know Greek and have an interest in textual criticism.

There will apparently be a textual commentary on the decisions made in this volume, which I’ll announce when it is released. For one thing, I want to know why they chose the reading ὁ μονογενὴς ὑιος instead of μονογενὴς θεὸς in John 1:18. I can already tell that Oneness Pentecostals will capitalize on this fact for decades, seeing how μονογενὴς θεὸς seems to be a challenge to the Oneness of God (hence Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 100).

4. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (2nd Edition) — Richard A. Muller

Originally published in 1985, this highly-valued dictionary is now available in a new edition. Quite simply, serious theological students who want to deepen their understand the Latin and Greek terms used by medieval scholastics and post-Reformation writers should have this book. There are so many theological works from history that are now available to us in English—many of them for free. But what most people don’t realize is the intellectual heritage many of these works have: they borrow from each other, build on each other, and even argue with each other. That intellectual heritage is communicated through centuries of thought packed into Latin and Greek terms and concepts.

So why is a book like this necessary? What people don’t realize today, especially in countries like America where public education in a second language is scarce or non-existent, is that scholars of the past learned other languages and many times read ancient texts as a part of their education. (Perhaps this would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the trivium and quadrivium of the medieval universities.) Even further, scholars for a few centuries after the Reformation were sometimes required to be proficient in Latin. The greatest theological minds have shaped history with their technical Greek and Latin terms. That’s precisely why a book like Muller’s is necessary, and precisely why students of theology should learn from it.

5. Jesus the Lord According to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction — Gordon D. Fee

Oneness Pentecostal scholars have been aware of Gordon Fee for a long time, partially because of his commentary on 1 Corinthians and because he is an ordained minister for the Assemblies of God. That’s right: Dr. Fee is a Trinitarian Pentecostal. (His commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is important, and disagrees with what UPCI authors say about that passage.) But much more than that, Dr. Fee is recognized as a first-rate scholar.

In this book, we have a concise introduction to why Paul was a “Proto-trinitarian” (as the mere title to the conclusion to the book indicates). As the foreword points out, this book is partially a distillation of Dr. Fee’s Pauline Christology. It seems to me that this new book, in addition to Pauline Christology, should be taken into consideration by anybody who wants a Trinitarian perspective on Paul—particularly by a careful exegete. For my part, this will be one of the first books that I read this year.

Honorable Mentions

Credo — Michael R. Burgos, Jr.

A very basic introduction to biblical, confessional, and Trinitarian theology. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that Mr. Burgos is a formidable opponent to Oneness Pentecostalism. Those who want to understand his theology and what motivates him will probably gain a lot from this little book.

The Divine Christ: Paul, the Lord Jesus, and the Scriptures of Israel — David B. Capes

Release date: March 20, 2018

Another book releasing this year on the divinity of Christ in Paul.

Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine — Khaled Anatolios 

Paperback release date: February 20, 2018

This book is already available in Kindle and hardback (released in 2011). This is one resource for the serious student of Christian history who wants to try to understand writers around the time of Nicea in their original contexts. For a Oneness perspective on this period, see David Bernard’s A History of Christian Doctrine (Volume 1) and Glen Davidson’s The Development of the Trinity.

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