Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 59:2 (Jun 2016)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. By Michael S. Heiser. Bellingham, WA: Lexham, 2015, 413 pp., $27.95.

Bizarre. Weird. Strange. Terms like these, Michael Heiser says, express how many Christians today feel about select Bible passages that deal with the supernatural—passages that the author targets in his treatise. Heiser works as a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife, the parent corporation of Logos Bible Software. A website promotes his book (, while another website offers supplementary details concerning the book’s contents ( The primary audience includes pastors and scholars. A popular version of the work also appeared concurrently: Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—and Why It Matters (Lexham, 2015).

Forty-two chapters and eight parts fill out the volume. Helpful visual aids appear throughout, but numerous substantive footnotes distract the reader from the running text. The end matter consists of an epilogue, acknowledgments, subject index, and Scripture index.

The book reads like a biblical theology, moving through history chronologically, with a special focus on the world unseen. The author’s launching point, Psalm 82, received a thorough treatment in his dissertation (p. 13). Verse 1 proclaims, “God (אֱלֹהִים) stands in the divine assembly; he administers judgment in the midst of the gods (אֱלֹהִים).” The latter use of אֱלֹהִים shows that God possesses a divine assembly—members of a divine council. At the book’s outset, Heiser lists about forty biblical excerpts that many interpreters gloss over because those excerpts seem nonsensical to the modern Western mind (p. 19). Sample excerpts include Gen 6:1–4 (the sons of God), Ezek 28:11–19 (the king of Tyre), John 10:34–35 (“you are gods”), and Hebrews 1–2 (the divine council). The book aims to expound these excerpts and show their interrelatedness while accounting for the details. The author takes the reader on a journey through Scripture, building his case brick by brick.

Exegesis ought to shape our theology, rather than vice versa, Heiser stresses. We must allow Scripture to speak rather than “filter the Bible through creeds, confessions, and denominational preferences” (p. 16; emphasis original). He encourages readers to pursue ...

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