What follows are some brief reviews of books suggested as "worth having." This is not to suggest that the book should be read uncritically, nor that I endorse or agree with all of its content. I recognize that it is always risky to suggest reading or viewing material. Perhaps the only volume ever produced that can be recommended without equivocation is the Bible, and even there, we sometimes must offer reservations about versions and supplements.


February '01 Book Review

Men With A Message
John Stott
Eerdmans, 1994

Men With A Message highlights particular points emphasized by each of the writers of the New Testament as they present the story of Jesus and the church, and does so very effectively. The book is well written and provides valuable insights that will certainly heighten the appreciation of most students of the Bible for the way in which each part of the New Testament gives vital and exciting perspectives on God work and message. Though currently out of print, the book is still available (see CenturyOne Bookstore, listed under catalog links, for example).

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February 2k Software Review

Paul was still a "young man" (Acts 7:58) when he became a bitter enemy of the gospel of Christ and a persecutor of the church. He evidently pursued that course for a few years, before having his heart_breaking confrontation with Jesus along the way to Damascus and reconsidering his purposes in life. When Paul was persuaded that Jesus is indeed the living Christ he threw himself totally into the proclamation of that message. Over the next fifteen to twenty years Paul preached wherever he went, and won many hearts to Christ. But the aspect of Paul’s ministry that we appreciate the most did not begin until after he had been preaching for fifteen to twenty years.

During the first half of Paul’s "career" as an apostle of Jesus Christ we have no record of anything he himself ever wrote. However, by about 50 AD the changing situation of the growing church, particularly the far flung gentile congregations, made it necessary for Paul to reach out to distant brethren in writing when he could not be with them in person. Pen and paper became the new tools of apostleship, and vital tools for the long term growth and stability of the churches. We know that Paul continued to both write and work with the writings of others until the end of his days (2 Tim. 4:7, 13). He did not start writing his letters (that we know of now) until he had already been an apostle for many years, but he continued to use these very useful tools until the very end of his "race."

In Paul’s day the tools of writing were a piece of leather or parchment and an ink_dipped pen, and perhaps a scribe or secretary. The tools of study were books or scrolls. Today, the same tools are still available, and so are newer variations, which can be great aids as well.

Among the tools that are available today for Bible study, besides the great abundance of books on every imaginable topic, many Christians and scholars have easy access to computers. Of course software that handles words and printing (such as the software that produces this newsletter) is very useful, and there are now many useful software offerings designed for Bible study, giving Bible students access to the scriptures in ways many couldn’t have even thought about just a few years ago.

A program I use regularly, and find very useful, is PC Study Bible, by Biblesoft. The Windows version includes several translations (KJV, NIV, NAS, NKJV) and others; Exhaustive Concordances; Nave’s Topical Bible; Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; Nelson’s Bible Dictionary and other dictionaries; Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary; Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; Thayer’s Greek Lexicon; an Interlinear Bible; Matthew Henry’s Commentary and several others; Bible Maps and Outlines, and several other books.

Brother Craig Hensley wrote the following about his experiences with another Bible software tool.

"I purchased the CD upgrade of Logos Bible Software. It is absolutely amazing and extremely useful. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for good Bible reference software."

"The new CD_ROM version of Logos comes in four levels. The first level is the most basic and each level gets more comprehensive, with level four including several original Greek and Hebrew texts. I have level two which features: four English translations (KJV, NIV, NAS, ASV) as well as the KJV Apocrypha; The Confessions of St. Augustine; a basic set of Maps; The Pilgram’s Progress; New Bible Dictionary; Devotional Thoughts; New Nave’s Topical Bible; New Topical Textbook; Cross References; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Matthew Henry’s Commentary; 100 MIDI Gospel Hymns; and has the capability of running several add_on books that can be purchased at additional cost."

"Logos is for those that enjoy Windows. If you didn’t know better you would think that Bill Gates designed the software. It is easy to copy verses to Word, and I’m sure any other Windows based word processor."

"When you are studying, you can access the Greek or Hebrew words easily with one or two mouse clicks. And you can have several Windows open at one time, so comparing translations and reviewing commentaries is easy."

"If anyone has questions, Logos has a web page at http://www.logos.com."

Besides these two products from Logos and Biblesoft, both of which continue to grow, there are numerous competing tools, several of which appear to be excellent. The major Bible software systems now in publication include the Logos format the Step format, and the PC Study Bible format, all of which are expandible (for a price).

If you have a favorite computer related Bible study tool we’d like to hear about it, and with your permission may pass your experiences and recommendations along to others.

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May '99 Video Review

Movie Brief: Faith Lessons

A video tour of the land of Israel hosted by Ray Vander Laan Originally published as "That The World May Know" by Focus on The Family, this series features video made in Israel with Ray Vander Laan as tour guide. The background story is that Dr. James Dobson was so impressed with Vander Laan's presentation during a tour of Israel he commissioned the filming of this series (10 lessons on 4 video cassettes) which follows Vander Laan as he leads another group on tour through Israel. The series is very good, being enjoyable and informative and encouraging. Vander Laan mostly dwells on the settings and history on display in Israel, not particular doctrinal themes that might involve interpretation of scripture, but on all points viewers are of course best advised to verify references and interpretations with their own Bibles and careful consideration.

Some Christian book stores will probably have this series available to rent. The four tapes can be purchased individually (suggested retail $34.99) or as a package (suggested retail $139.96) from many Christian bookstores.

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February '99 Movie Review

Movie Brief: The Prince of Egypt
Reviewed by Joshua Asahel Fry

The Prince of Egypt is a well made movie about the people of Israel and their freedom from captivity. It focuses on the character of Moses and his conflicts to become the leader of his people and God's servant. The movie has an opening disclaimer that all should heed who plan to see the movie. It takes certain liberties with the Biblical story and advises that you should read the real story found in Exodus. Those planning to see this movie should read the Exodus account before or after seeing the movie so they can recognize the departures from scripture. Some of the characters’ roles in the story are changed and there are certain historical discrepancies. That aside, the movie includes some amazing special effects that will awe audiences. It gives perspective to the daunting power of God. At the same time the movie adds an element often overlooked in reading the Bible, the emotions and personalities of Bible characters. They were real people. That fact is brought out through Moses' character and the reactions he has to various trials and tasks he is given. There is also the point of how the Egyptians would react to a man like Moses. The point is also made that the Israelites may not have appreciated Moses stepping in on their behalf. Over all Prince of Egypt is a movie full of action and drama. It has a few one-liner jokes thrown in, but is by no means a comedy. There is a lot of valuable information for Christians to gather from this movie. Whether you are looking for a movie worth seeing or just like movies, Prince of Egypt is an excellent choice. Just in case you weren't sure by now, I liked this movie very much.

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September '98 Book Review

Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
W. E. Vine
Rown Publishers, Inc., NY 1995

Vine's dictionary is a study tool for English speakers who want to be able to look up Greek words and learn their meanings and usages, but don't know Greek. Several different editions of Vine's dictionary are available, including a somewhat less complete Old Testament Hebrew dictionary, combined Old and New Testament editions, and editions that include the numbering system used in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Several of the study Bibles available for computers include Vine's as a Greek reference tool. Vine's is easy to use, and is a useful tool for many Bible students.

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July '98 Book Review

Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest by David M. Rohl
David M. Rohl
Rown Publishers, Inc., NY 1995

Pharaohs and Kings is a reexamination of the chronology of ancient Egypt as it relates to the Bible, particularly the stories of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, and Solomon. Rohl documents a number of serious errors Egyptologists in the 19th century made in establishing a chronology for Egypt and relating it to the Bible, which has affected scholarship and research ever since, and he clarifies a more likely relationship between Biblical history and history as revealed in the research of archaeology. The problems of synchronizing the ancient history of Egypt, the archaeology of Canaan, and the Bible have long been evident to students of the Bible who look seriously at published research, and Rohl not only confronts the problems but offers a number of excellent and well documented solutions, primarily in the form of a long overdue new chronology for the history of ancient Egypt. This book will prove very useful and informative for Bible students who are also interested in archaeology and history. Though initially skeptical of some of Rohl's conclusions, following his reasoning step by step proved to be both exciting and exasperating exciting because so much of his reasoning makes sense, and exasperating because it has been so long in coming.

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May '98 Book Review

God's Smuggler
"Brother Andrew"
Signet Books, NY, NY, 1968

God's Smuggler is the autobiography of "Brother Andrew" who has dedicated his adult life to taking Bibles (in native languages) into places where they are restricted, and giving them encouragement to believers isolated from the outside world. This book is not a doctrinal treatise, but is an encouragement to faith and commitment and self-sacrifice in the great cause of Christ.

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February '98 Book Review

The King James Version Debate, A Plea for Realism
D. A. Carson
Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994

For those who wonder about differences in Bible translations, including why some translations include a few verses and phrases that other translations omit, Carson provides brief but very helpful answers about the kinds of decisions translators necessarily make, and some of the reasons they make the decisions they do, and the resources they have to work with.

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September '97 Book Review

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Roland H. Bainton
Currently published in paperback, large format by Penguin USA or small format by Abingdon Classics.

What does it mean to take a stand for conscience and for truth? Martin Luther is a towering figure in the history of Europe and America because of the way to stood for his convictions at all costs. Bainton’s biography provides a readable and informative account of Martin Luther’s life and work, well worth reading.

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July '97 Book Review

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster, NY, 1989

Being generally skeptical about "self help" books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a pleasant surprise. While not a religious book, and not preachy, much of what the author says reflects his own acceptance of Biblical principles. He says, "I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they renew my value system. As I read and mediatate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered, and recommitted to serve." Covey does not encourage selfishness or taking advantage of others as a means of success, but ideas that promote the welfare both of the reader and of those the reader works or lives with. The book is also available on audio-cassettes.

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May '97 Book Review

The Apostolic Fathers
J.B. Lightfoot
Baker Bookhouse, Grand Rapids MI, 1987

The Apostolic Fathers is a collection of surviving nonBiblical writings from the first two centuries of the church. The paperback edition includes Lightfoots introduction to each of these historical documents and his English translation of them, but does not include the scholarly Greek text and critical apparatus. For those who have an interest in early church history, Lighfoot presents in translation several of the primary documents historians rely on and draw conclusions from about early post-apostolic practices and beliefs among the churches.

Part II

The paperback edition of Lightfoot’s classic work contains his translations of and introductions to the writings of the "apostolic fathers," the oldest surviving documents about church and doctrine from the century that follows the close of the New Testament. The writings Lightfoot translates and introduces give historical insight into the thought and circumstances of the visible church during that early era, and supply evidence for the certainty of the Biblical canon of scripture. This is not so much a book about history as a collection from history, a gathering of "primary sources."

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March '97 Book Review

History of The Church Through The Ages
Robert H. Brumback
Available from Select Books, 106 Karla, Lufkin, TX 75901-6421
Ph. (409)639-4017, $17.95 + 10% SH

Brumback’s history follows a timeline approach, presenting selected major events in western religion and emphasizing some of the struggles of those who have tried to uphold individual faith in the face of institutional suppression. His emphasis might be described as a review of departures from Biblical Christianity.

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February '97 Book Review

Zerr’s Bible Commentary
E. M. Zerr
Available from Gospel Advocate Bookstores
(800)251-8446, $63.95/set or $21.95 per volume (3 volumes)

I mention this set because many do not realize it is still in print. Zerr’s commentary is basically a word study approach to the Bible with brief comments on every verse. To date it is the only commentary on the entire Bible produced by anyone from the "Churches of Christ."

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January '97 Book Review

The Bronze Bow
Elizabeth George Speare
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1961

The Bronze Bow is a novel set in the times and places of the gospels. The major character is a young Jewish man, 18 years old, struggling with his anger against the Romans, his family responsibilities, and the message of a man called Jesus. Written for a juvenile or young adult audience, the book is a good read for both youth and adult - entertaining, moving, and reasonable in its treatment of real history. This is good fiction, pleasant reading, and a winner of the Newbery award.

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September '96 Book Review

Songs of Faith and Praise
Howard Publishing Co., 1995

Alton Howard has produced an impressive collection of songs, more than 1,000, including lots of traditional favorites and many of the better songs produced in recent years. Designed for congregational use, this book is an excellent resource.

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August '96 Book Review

Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts
Thomas Nelson Inc., 1993

Nelson's Complete Book of Maps & Charts has nearly 500 pages of reproducible maps, charts, and outlines touching on every book of the Bible. The volume also includes introductions to each book of the Bible, including brief background material. Since the maps and charts are reproducible for handouts or overhead transparencies the book is a useful resource for the teacher wanting visual aids as well as information.

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July '96 Book Review

Hollywood Vs. America
Michael Medved
Harper Collins, Zondervan; 1992

Movie critic Michael Medved presents a strong analysis of the anti-family and anti-religious emphasis of products from Hollywood, in the theaters and on T.V. He provides sound reasoning, informed insights, and documented research to show that what is offered as entertainment today is often innately hostile to our mental and spiritual well being. Whatever your current perspective on the entertainment industry, Medved's broad survey and critical insights should be informative, perhaps even eye-opening.

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June '96 Book Review

Darwin On Trial
Philip E. Johnson
Intervarsity Press, 1993

Philip Johnson is not a scientist, he is a professor of law at U.C. Berkeley. This is not a book in defense of creationism, but rather a book exploring and revealing the logical difficulties and evidence problems that confront evolutionary faith, and particularly and offer Biblical explanations. He cites leadingscientists and points out assumptions, tautologies, and significant inconsistencies in contemporary evolutionary thinking, and demonstrates how much of evolutionary dogma and the way it is taught and endorsed is a matter of faith and materialistic religiosity rather than science and evidence.

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May '96 Book Review

Chicken Soup for The Soul
Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen
Pub. Health Communications,Inc

This book (and it's sequels) is light reading, a collection of pleasent short stories intended to convey warm feelings, encouragement, and good values. It generally succeeds in what it trys to accomplish. An abridged audio tape presentation is also availible.

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