Tuesday, April 30, 2013

‘Kregel Charts of the Bible: Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul’ by Lars Kierspel – Book Review

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Once again, I have the great good fortune to review a book that will be valuable in my studies as a Master of Theological Studies (New Testament
emphasis) student. The latest book on my list is ‘Kregel Charts of the Bible: Charts on the Life,Letters, and Theology of Paul’ by Lars Kierspel.

Here is the synopsis of this valuable resource:

These 111 charts go a long way in capturing in visual form the priorities of Paul’s ministry and the depths of his theological understanding. They cover a wide range of topics and are organized in four sections:

1. Paul’s Background and Context (9 charts)
2. Paul’s Life and Ministry (25 charts)
3. Paul’s Letters (43 charts)
4. Paul’s Theological Concepts (34 charts)

The author includes charts such as Paul’s quotations of the Old Testament, key words from Paul’s epistles, a timetable of Paul’s life, parallels between Acts and Paul’s epistles, overviews of each epistle, and the similarities of Ephesians and Colossians. He also includes trends in Pauline study such as the New Perspective. In addition, Kierspel provides insightful and useful comments regarding each chart. He concludes the volume with an extensive bibliography. All in all, the volume makes an excellent contribution to the teaching and preaching of Paul’s rich life and thought.

Here is the biography of this author:

Lars Kierspel is former department chair of biblical studies at Trinity College and Theological Seminary, Newburgh, Indiana. Before that, he taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

In the Preface, Dr. Kierspel explains the purpose for his book:

Paul made ample use of lists on a variety of subjects such as sin (e.g., Rom. 1:29-31), sufferings (e.g., 2 Cor. 11:23-27), salvation (e.g., Rom. 8:28-30), and spiritual gifts (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28-30). Maybe that is why preparing these charts often helped me discover the apostle on his own turf. The different angles reflected here constantly highlighted new aspects and offered unexpected insights. Given the nature of the apostle’s life and letters, this book is not for the lazy reader. While the charts ease access to information, they demand every ounce of intellectual and creative energy to avoid consuming them as biographical and theological fragments. Needless to say, Paul’s life is richer than these charts are able to reflect; and studies of Paul ask and answer more questions than I was able to review, understand, and display. My limits in book, space, time, and abilities forced me to make selections. (p. 9)

I actually made use of this book for a theological exposition paper on Galatians 5:16-24 in the Systematic Theology 2 class recently completed. I specifically used Chart 91 – The “Already” and “Not Yet” (p. 173) and Chart 97 – ‘The Imperative in Paul’s Letters’ (p. 183). I will also be taking a class in the summer entitled ‘Teaching with Skill and Influence,’ and I am quite sure that this book will come in handy for that class, as well.

The ‘Paul’s Letters’ section of the book is of particular value. There is a separate chart for each book attributed to Paul, as well as such interesting charts as Chart 40:  ‘Paul’s Letters: Total Number of Words and Vocabulary’ and Chart 56: ‘Key Words in 1-2 Corinthians.’ The ‘Key Words’ will be very useful when I start taking my Greek language classes in the fall.
The Bibliography in the back has also been useful, and it will continue to be, when I need access to important scholarly books.

I really enjoyed the depth of this resource, and have proudly added it to my textbook bookshelf! If you are interested in going deeper into Paul’s writings and teaching, I highly recommend this wonderful resource!

You can order your copy here.

This book was published by Kregel Academic, and provided by them for review purposes.

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