The Deep End

Hey, everyone! I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who’s stuck with this blog through staff transition and months of inactivity. We appreciate you.

Here at the store, our mission is “To equip the Church to live and grow in faith.” That’s something we strive for from top to bottom. Everything Chris does for the librarians. All of our store events. Our kids stuff. It’s all about equipping the “big C” Church and “little c” churches to do what they’re called to do. And hopefully the content of this blog does that, too.

But since church-connecting is the mission of our entire operation, I thought it made sense to let the name of this blog reflect the specific way that goal is accomplished in this space. For years, the folks at the store have lightheartedly referred to our academic area as “The Deep End.” I sense that implicit in that name is a sort of tongue-in-cheek warning: Be careful venturing in there! But I also sense in it an acknowledgement of the importance of academic literature. In “depth” there can be both apprehension and reverence. And, for some of us, thrill.

This blog has been, and will continue to be, mainly for the thrill-seekers. So despite the new curator, the content in this space won’t change substantially. My corner of the store–as well as my own library–is filled with Bibles, Bible reference tools, theology, commentaries, Roman Catholic resources, Biblical studies, history, apologetics, hermeneutics, pastoral resources, and the like. My guess is, you probably read this blog because those topics excite you, too.

That said, my hope is that the new name of this blog will not seem pretentious, as though we are suggesting that there isn’t depth in fiction or popular-level reading material–my desk mate is our fiction buyer, and she would rightly contest such a suggestion. Rather, may it be heard as a good-natured celebration of depth, specifically the depth that can be found in academic books, but also depth wherever it may be found.

I look forward to interacting with you all, whether in store or through this medium. Have fun exploring The Deep End.

Posted in Blog Tour, Misc, The Bookstore | 2 Comments

Book Giveaway

This week I’m offering Proofs of God by Matthew Levering. Here’s the catalog description and table of contents:

“Leading theologian Matthew Levering presents a thoroughgoing critical survey of the proofs of God’s existence for readers interested in traditional Christian responses to the problem of atheism. Beginning with Tertullian and ending with Karl Barth, Levering covers twenty-one theologians and philosophers from the early church to the modern period, examining how they answered the critics of their day. He also shows the relevance of the classical arguments to contemporary debates and challenges to Christianity. In addition to students, this book will appeal to readers of apologetics.”


1. Patristic and Medieval Arguments for God’s Existence
Gregory of Nazianzus
John of Damascus
Thomas Aquinas
William of Ockham
2. Reformation and Enlightenment Views
John Calvin
Michel de Montaigne
Francisco Suárez
René Descartes
Blaise Pascal
David Hume
Immanuel Kant
3. Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Responses
John Henry Newman
Maurice Blondel
Pierre Rousselot
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Martin Heidegger
Karl Barth

Leave your name in the comments section no later than Friday, April 14th. I’ll draw the winner’s name that day. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.

Posted in Apologetics, Book Give Away | 18 Comments

Introducing Baker’s New Academic Buyer

If you’ve been in the store recently you’ve probably noticed some new faces among the staff. One of those staff, Christopher Cuffman, is also the new face on this blog. Here’s a little bit about him:

Louis: Tell us a little about your new position with Baker.

Christopher: My title is “Academic, Bible, and Catholic Buyer.” I’ve been finding that it can be tricky to explain to people what exactly that means! Basically, I do all of the store’s buying for the Academic Department (which includes books related to theology, biblical study, biblical commentary, Bible reference, history, comparative religions, and the like), the Bible Department (which includes accessories and covers), and the Roman Catholic Department (which includes various Catholic-interest books, kids books, Bibles, and icons). My desk is out on the sales floor, so I also answer a lot of customer questions about our books and Bibles–and everything else.

What has surprised you most about your new position?

Every day is different! Some days are filled with ordering and phone calls, while others have me busy with organization or customer assistance. I generally start my day with a to-do list, but rarely do I get to very much on it due to the unpredictable nature of the job. Fortunately, though, I’m finding it all to be fun and challenging!

What vision do you have for the department?

My desire is for the department(s) to be not only robust in terms of the quality and breadth of what we have available, but to also to be tuned to the needs of our community here in West Michigan. I want Baker to continue to be a place where people can be equipped with the tools they need, have their questions answered, and their feedback heard. Listen and learn, inform, and equip—that’s basically how I view my role with the department.

What is your educational background?

I attended NorthPointe Christian Schools here in Grand Rapids where I was fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers who whet my appetite for theology and biblical study. I’m currently taking classes toward a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies through Grand Canyon University, but frankly I find that most of my learning takes place through the more informal means of reading and listening

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Some of the authors who have had the greatest impact on my thinking are James Boice, Mike Horton, Philip Jenkins, C.S. Lewis, J.I. Packer, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Cornelius Van Til, Michael Card, and N.T. Wright.

What subjects interest you the most?

When I took this position my wife was a tad concerned that I wouldn’t have time to feed all of my reading interests, because my interests really are quite varied. I’ve found that I can’t learn about one thing without it changing how I think about everything else, so I explore a lot of different corners. Recently, though, my preferred subjects have included the church’s mission, cultural critique, studies in the Torah, hermeneutics, racial dynamics in the church and society, and the nature of the atonement.

Will you be continuing the blog?

Indeed, I will, and I’m very excited about it! I can only hope to one day be as illustrious and knowledgeable as my predecessor, but I will indeed by forging ahead with the blog.

What kinds of posts would you like to do most?

I’ll continue doing posts pertaining to new books as well as ones about what I’m currently reading. I’m also interested in doing some posts about current events and conversations taking place in the church at large. While I will interject my own thoughts and opinions where appropriate, my main goal will be to inform and connect people to resources.

Will you continue to do the book giveaways?

Sure will!

Name a couple of books you’ve enjoyed the most in the past year.

Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ by Thomas F. Torrance was a fascinating read. The way it embraced the mystery of Christ’s atonement and resisted emphasizing any one “theory” at the expense of the bigger picture was refreshing and very helpful.

Bruce Shelley’s Church History in Plain Language was a very solid overview of the major people, ideas, and movements within the history of Christianity. Really enjoyed it.

Shout-outs to The Last Adam by Brandon Crowe, You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith, and The Story of Reality by Gregory Koukl.

And this one isn’t so much of an academic book, but Counter Culture by David Platt was a helpful take on what obedience to Christ looks like in the midst of a culture such as ours. Our culture’s opinions and stated values are changing at such a rate that many of the issues discussed in this year-and-a-half-old book are already outdated. But the attitude of obedience and the root of the Gospel are not, and that’s what makes it a good read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Misc, Recently Read, The Bookstore | Leave a comment

And the Winner Is . . .

Congratulations to Kevin Stuhlmann on winning our last book giveaway. Kevin won a copy of Christian Dogmatics.

Thanks to all who participated.

Posted in Book Give Away | Leave a comment

Book Giveaway

This week I’m offering Christian Dogmatics by Michael Allen and Scott Swain. Here’s the catalog description and table of contents:

“This one-volume introduction to systematic theology draws deeply on the catholic and Reformed heritage to present the major doctrines of the Christian faith, displaying the power of theological retrieval for the church’s renewal. Leading Reformed theologians offer the “state of the question” on standard theological topics and engage in both exegetical and historical retrieval for the sake of theological analysis. Christian Dogmatics represents the exciting new theological trajectory of Reformed catholicity and will serve professors and students in systematic theology or Christian doctrine courses well. It will also be of interest to pastors and church leaders.”

Introduction  Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain
1. Knowledge of God  Michael Allen
2. Holy Scripture  Kevin J. Vanhoozer
3. Divine Attributes  Michael Allen
4. Divine Trinity  Scott R. Swain
5. Covenant of Redemption  Scott R. Swain
6. Creation out of Nothing  John Webster
7. Providence  John Webster
8. Anthropology  Kelly M. Kapic
9. Sin  Oliver D. Crisp
10. Incarnation  Daniel J. Treier
11. The Work of Christ Accomplished  Donald Macleod
12. The Work of Christ Applied  Richard Gaffin
13. The Law of God and Christian Ethics  Paul T. Nimmo
14. The Church  Michael Horton
15. Sacraments  Todd Billings
16. Kingdom of God  Michael Horton

Cover Art

Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, June 17th. I’ll draw the winner’s name that day. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.

Posted in Book Give Away | 14 Comments

And the Winner Is . . .

Congratulations to Charles on winning our last book giveaway. Charles won a copy of Paul as a Problem in History and Culture by Patrick Gray.

Thanks to all who participated.

Posted in Book Give Away | Leave a comment

Does Mark 16:9-20 Belong in the New Testament?

Achieving a consensus among scholars is always difficult. I would say there is close to a consensus among New Testament textual critics when it comes to the long ending of the Gospel of Mark. They would almost unanimously concur that it does not belong in the New Testament. The title of our post is also the title of a new book from Wipf and Stock Publishers. Does Mark 16:9-20 Belong in the New Testament is by David Hester and while I’ve just started it I think it’s going to challenge a lot of contemporary thinking on this issue. Could the tide be shifting? Here’s the catalog description:

“For almost fifty years, much has been written concerning Mark 16:9-20. During the same time period, evidence once counted against Mark 16:9-20 was shown to be otherwise. In this study, David W. Hester surveys modern scholarship (1965-2011) surrounding the passage. He examines the passage itself–the external evidence, with particular attention paid to the manuscripts and the patristics, especially those of the second and third centuries; and the internal evidence, featuring details that are problematic as well as those that favor Markan authorship. Finally, a proposal concerning the origin of the passage is presented. The first edition of Mark’s Gospel ended at 16:8, resulting in the manuscript tradition that omits the passage, but this was not his intended ending. Later, his associates attached Mark’s notes and published a second edition of the Gospel with the last twelve verses. This led to its inclusion. Given that the passage is cited by second- and third-century witnesses and attributed to Mark, along with the biblical prohibition against adding to or taking from Scripture, it is doubtful that an anonymous second-century author could have been successful in adding his own composition and it being widely accepted by the early church.”

Consider these two endorsements:

“Dr. Hester’s position on Mark 16:9-20 differs from the prevailing view that these twelve verses are not part of the original Gospel of Mark. After setting forth his arguments against their authenticity, he passionately presents the case for the other side–citing evidence he is convinced will persuade the open-minded critic that to omit these verses is to omit a part of Scripture.”
Rodney E. Cloud, Dean of the Turner School of Theology, Amridge University

“Though covering well-worn ground, Dr. Hester highlights historical clues often overlooked or even ignored. If Mark 16:9‒20 was added to the text, then why did no early Christian writer ever voice any opposition? Why did the early church tacitly accept these verses as canonical? This careful and thorough review of the ancient evidence and of modern scholarship helped me reexamine the whole question afresh.”
David H. Warren, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Faulkner University

David W. Hester is Lecturer for the V. P. Black College of Biblical Studies and the F. Furman Kearley Graduate School of Theology at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. He is the director of the Faulkner Bible Lectureship, and coeditor of the graduate journal, ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΑ. He is the author of two books: Among the Scholars (1994) and Tampering With Truth (2007).

Does Mark 16:9-20 Belong in the New Testament is a paperback with 176 pages and sells for $23.00.

Does Mark 16:9-20 Belong in the New Testament? - By: David W. Hester

Posted in Biblical Studies, New Releases | Leave a comment