Some PhD theses on Hebrews

Following my earlier post with links to repositories of theses online, I am adding some more specific posts relating to my teaching. Here are links to a number of theses relevant to Hebrews:

Laansma (Aberdeen, 1995), “I will give you rest”. The background and significance of the rest motif in the New Testament with special reference to Mt 11 and Heb 3-4

Moffitt (Duke, 2010), A New and Living Way: Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Mosser (St Andrews, 2005), No lasting city : Rome, Jerusalem and the place of Hebrews in the history of earliest ‘Christianity’

Small (Baylor, 2012), The characterization of Jesus in the book of Hebrews

Some PhD theses on Luke-Acts

Following my earlier post with links to repositories of theses online, I am adding some more specific posts relating to my teaching. Here are links to a number of theses relevant to Luke-Acts:

Agan (Aberdeen, 1999), “Like the one who serves” : Jesus, servant-likeness and self-humiliation in the Gospel of Luke

Lear (Aberdeen, 2015), What shall we do?: eschatology and ethics in Luke-Acts

Wenkel (Aberdeen/ HTC, 2011), The emotion of joy and the rhetoric of reversal in Luke-Acts: a socio-rhetorical study

PhD Theses Available Online

Academic books (especially when published by specialist academic publishers) can be extremely expensive. It is often difficult, therefore, for students, lecturers, and even theological libraries to get access to important academic research. In recent years, many universities have been making academic theses (normally PhD level, and sometimes also Masters level) available online. In some cases, theses may only be accessed in full by subscribers, but other universities make their theses freely available. I encourage students and other serious readers to browse these resources. There is some excellent material available. I have provided a few links to theses relating to theological studies that (as far as I can see) are available in full and without cost, but more may be available. If readers know of other universities that make theology and biblical studies theses freely available online, please send me a link at

Duke Divinity School (USA)

Durham University (UK)

University of Aberdeen (UK) and here

University of Edinburgh (UK)

University of Glasgow (UK)

University of Otago (NZ)

University of St Andrews (UK)

If any readers are interested, my own Aberdeen PhD thesis (2001, ‘Matthew’s Portrait of Jesus the Judge, with special reference to Matthew 21-25’) may be located by searching here.

Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation commentary series

BTFCP_CommentaryOnHebrews_CVR_R2.inddI have enjoyed using Tom Schreiner’s commentary on Hebrews in the excellent new Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series from B&H Publishing. Feedback from my students over the last year or two suggests that they have enjoyed this book too. I was, therefore, pleased to see news of two recent additions to this series, both by distinguished authors.

Kostenberger PastoralsSeveral months ago, Andreas Köstenberger’s commentary on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus appeared and, following quickly afterwards, David Peterson’s volume on Romans appeared. While I have not yet seen the latter two volumes, the quality of the two authors’ previous work gives me every reason to expect that these volumes will be very good.Peterson Romans

As I looked at the prices of these two recent volumes on Amazon, I discovered that, while the hardback copies have a fairly hefty price of just over £30.00, the Kindle versions are selling for £7.78 (Köstenberger on the Pastorals) and £7.69 (Peterson on Romans). That is approximately 25% of the price of the physical book on Amazon. On the basis of my positive experience with Schreiner’s commentary on Hebrews, I would encourage readers who use commentaries to consider these volumes (whether in physical or digital form), and Kindle users in particular to have a look at these offers.



Unbelievable? by Justin Brierley

Unbelievable? (London: SPCK, 2017) has been part of my holiday reading over the last week or so, and I have enjoyed this clear and readable book very much.

The title is drawn from the name of the weekly radio show hosted by Brierley and aired on Saturdays on Premier Radio. In this show, Brierley draws together Christians and sceptics to discuss a topic in (hopefully) a respectful conversation.

The book performs two main tasks. In part, it recounts some of the interesting conversations in which Brierley has participated over ten years of the programme. But Brierley has integrated these brief accounts into a primer on ‘apologetics’, dealing with key issues in an orderly manner. 

The book is composed of nine chapters. After an introduction to Brierley’s background and the origins of the radio show, the remaining chapters discuss fairly typical topics for a book on apologetics: how belief in God makes sense of various aspects of life; evidence for the resurrection of Jesus; the problem of suffering, etc. One less typical chapter recounts Brierley’s meeting with Richard Dawkins.

Brierley’s skill in communication is evident as this book is easy to read and most readers will find it easy to follow, even when he discusses difficult ideas. Brierley is honest about his own position. He acknowledges that he is not a specialist in the various areas, but he nonetheless provides an orientation to important discussions that will help readers to think clearly before proceeding to more advanced treatments. Readers will be introduced to some significant recent scholarship in these chapters. (Those who are interested can listen to the recordings of the various episodes online.) Along the way, Brierley offers some personal reflections on his own experience of faith which add to the appeal of the book. While I did not agree with Brierley’s views in every respect, his presentation of Christianity is generally helpful and accurate, and he is consistently respectful of alternative views.

Will this book convince every sceptic who reads it? I doubt it! And Justin Brierley has clearly not written the book with that expectation. The book closes with his aims (p. 206): 

If you are a Christian, I hope that it will give you confidence in the claims of the faith you hold. And if you are not a Christian, my prayer is that it may provide you with just enough reason to move from examining the outside of the building [Christian faith] to walking up to the front door and taking a step inside. 

Readers in either of these categories will benefit from reading this book. 

Serving the Church, Reaching the World

Serving the Church, Reaching the WorldAs I mentioned in an earlier post, IVP has published a Festschrift to mark Don Carson’s 70th birthday. It is a brief book of 171 pages and there are no indices. The ten essays reflect the range of Carson’s interests, but focus on themes relating to the life and ministry of the church rather than on strictly academic issues. This illustrates the remarkable way in which Carson has engaged fully both in the academy and in the ministry and mission of the church.

The essays are arranged in three parts. Part 1 opens with a discussion of ‘Preaching that changes the church’ by David Jackman. An experienced preacher and trainer of preachers, Jackman reflects on the ways in which a regular preaching ministry should have a significant impact on the life of the church. J. I. Packer’s essay is a revision of a paper he wrote twenty years earlier (he explains that he is no longer able to produce new material due to his age and sight deterioration), but it remains an enjoyable piece on the relationship between preaching and systematic theology, written with characteristic clarity and care. The essay by the late Mike Ovey is rather more demanding. Over suggests that theology should be regarded as a gift from God rather than a human achievement.

Apologetics and cultural engagement are the main themes in Part 2. In the first two essays, Stefan Gustavsson argues that both Jesus and Paul press people to be careful thinkers, and Kirsten Birkett discusses what is meant by ‘apologetics’, drawing on the Scriptures and the early Christian apologists. She suggests that proclamation of the gospel should be considered as aspect of the task of apologetics along with rational argumentation. In the next essay, John Stevens discusses Gospel cooperation without compromise. He considers the core content of the gospel and what it might mean to move beyond its boundaries. He states, ‘gospel cooperation requires both clarity and generosity’ (p. 92) and urges evangelicals not to allow issues of secondary importance to get in the way of cooperation. William Edgar concludes the section with an exercise in cultural engagement, reflecting on the motif of silence in literature, music, and Scripture.

Part 3 highlights Don Carson’s commitment to student evangelism, opening with a chapter by Richard Cunningham on being ‘persuasive’ in a secular age. He draws on his experience of ministry in the context of British universities, urging Christians not to be content with being  ‘faithful’ but to give careful thought to how evangelism might truly communicate, how ‘to live and speak a better and deeper story’ (p. 141). Tim Keller and his son, Michael, write a chapter on the challenges of contemporary student ministry and offer some helpful guidance for making evangelism as effective as possible.  Finally, John Piper offers reflections on the place of suffering in mission. This was originally an address given at a missions gathering and its content, rich in personal stories and application of Scripture, shows its provenance. It is a very accessible chapter and sounds a good note on which to finish.

This is a useful and enjoyable collection of essays. As I have indicated, some are fairly easy reading while others are more difficult. Readers will find content to stir their hearts, to stretch their minds, and to challenge their wills. Throughout many of the essays, there are references to the impact of Don Carson’s life and work on the lives of the authors. If this book introduces some readers to Don Carson’s writing (and teaching – there are many hours of his teaching available in videos on the Internet) for the first time that will be a positive benefit. For myself, I can join with the editor and authors of this book in expressing my sincere appreciation for Don Carson and my prayer that his life and work will yet have a significant impact for good on many people and on the worldwide Church.

I am grateful to IVP for making a copy of this book available to me for review.

Read Romans in Greek

Since September 2016, I have been meeting with a small group of people from various churches in the vicinity of Inverness to study Koine Greek on Saturday mornings. (I mentioned this class previously here.) It is a great way to spend an hour on a Saturday and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Romans EGGNTWe had our final class prior to the summer last Saturday, but the students are keen to continue after the summer break. I am delighted to hear that! We plan to resume our weekly meetings on Saturday 19 August at Smithton Church, from 11am to 12noon. When we resume, I have suggested to the group that we might not simply focus on grammar, but we could work through a New Testament letter in Greek using a guidebook. I have suggested that we use the new Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament on Romans, by John D. Harvey. If ministers, students, or anyone else who has completed some basic Greek studies are within reach of Smithton Church and would like to join our group, they would be more than welcome. Your Greek need not be advanced or in full working order! The book provides a lot of help with vocabulary and Greek constructions. There is no charge for the class. You would simply have to purchase a copy of the textbook. (Speak to your local Christian bookshop or have a look at purchasing options here. You can have a look at the first section of the book using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature, but please note that, although the Greek text is sometimes distorted in the digital version, the Greek text is absolutely fine in the printed version). Or you can just bring your Greek New Testament if you prefer! It would be helpful if those who are interested in attending could let me know. If you are not in contact with me by another route, you are welcome to send me an email using this address:

Those who cannot participate in our group because of your location or other commitments might still like to get a copy of Harvey’s book and work through it. Perhaps you could set up a reading group in your church or region and encourage Greek readers to get together to encourage one another in their reading. You can find some further information about useful resources for developing your Greek skills here.