Tom has already written a dual review on The Unseen Realm and Supernatural here. For those that haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do. Faithlife/Logos gave me a free copy of Supernatural (I had already purchased The Unseen Realm) in exchange for reviewing it on Amazon. I decided to also post the review here for our blog readers’ enjoyment. Spoiler alert: I basically agree with Tom’s review of the books and his assessment.
Disclaimer: Faithlife Corporation/Lexham Press/Logos Bible Software (The publisher of this book) gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for the review. However, I also own the companion resource to this book entitled The Unseen Realm, which I purchased myself.
Dr. Heiser’s book on Supernatural is essentially an abridged edition of his longer volume The Unseen Realm. Whereas The Unseen Realm (which I am also reading through at the moment) is more geared toward a scholarly/academic setting and is a little more in-depth and technical, Supernatural condenses the major takeaways of The Unseen Realm into an edition that is shorter, easier and quicker to read, and more geared toward the everyday churchgoer. My edition also came with a companion study guide that can be used in a Bible Study environment (that while I enjoyed it, I enjoyed Heiser’s book itself more).
In terms of recommendations of the two resources, I would recommend typical churchgoers first read Supernatural over The Unseen Realm, as Supernatural is easier to read, and it also contains sections at the end that give some practical applications to the material presented in each chapter (The Unseen Realm’s applications are not as “prominent” as they are in Supernatural). Even for scholars in academic settings, reading through Supernatural first to get a good overview of the material may help one better digest the material in The Unseen Realm, as The Unseen Realm is more scholarly and technical. While even in The Unseen Realm, Dr. Heiser is clear in his writing style and not oblique, his material is enough of “charting into new territory” for many Christians where it can take more than one reading to fully soak it all in.
In terms of the content itself in both Supernatural and The Unseen Realm, Dr. Heiser presents a solid thesis and explanation on the supernatural world and the unseen, spiritual realm. Dr. Heiser isn’t afraid to shake up understandings of biblical passages held by mainline Christians, and he isn’t afraid of holding back Bible passages on the supernatural realm that many Christians either won’t talk about or causally glance over. I can also tell that in Dr. Heiser’s arguments, he is well-researched and has spent years of research in the field when writing these resources. There is clearly not any lack of research on his part, and he’s left no stones unturned.
In terms of my assessment of his research, some of his interpretations on Bible passages presented are certainly not what I or what people have heard in Christian circles before, but after reviewing his material, some of his interpretations do fit the overall context of the Bible, and I would agree with some of them, and they have certainly helped me better understand the Bible in a better contextual light. Some of his interpretations I would have to perform additional research on before I would endorse them, as in some instances, some of his interpretations go further than I have been able to mentally wrap my mind around and endorse. Additionally, some of the terminology he uses in the resource (such as the term “divine beings”) is hard for typical Christians who have been absorbed in referring to only Yahweh God as the Divine Being is hard to get used to (most Christians would probably use the term “angels” there instead).
All in all, I would still recommend Christians read these resources as they challenge Christians to get back into their Bibles and examine what the Bible teaches on the supernatural realm in its context. Theologians, Old Testament scholars, and anyone wishing to better understand biblical interpretation will benefit from reading these two books.