Dec 19, 2014

The Psalms as Christian Lament

Those interested in the Psalms might also be interested in The Psalms as Christian Lament: A Historical Commentary. This volume written by Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston, and Erika Moore offers “Informed historical-theological-pastoral insights into ten lament psalms ten lament psalms, including six of the seven traditional penitential psalms, covering Psalms 5, 6, 7, 32, 38, 39, 44, 102, 130, and 143.” The eleven chapters of the book are as follows.

1. The Psalms as Christian Lament
2. Psalm 5: A Royal Petition for Protection from Malicious Liars
3. Psalm 6: Pursuit of Royal Excellence
4. Psalm 7: A Royal Petition for Cosmic Justice
5. Psalm 32: Forgiveness for the Justified
6. Psalm 38: The Dance between Deserved and Undeserved Judgment
7. Psalm  39: The Lament of Silence in the Pastoral Theology of Erasmus
8. Psalm 44: Lament in National Catastrophe
9. Psalm 102: The Prayer of an Afflicted Person
10. Psalm 130: Lament of the Sinner before the Triune God of Grace
11. Psalm 143: The Lament of the Justified

Each section consists of four parts: (1) voice of the church, (2) voice of the psalmist:translation, (3) commentary, and (4) conclusion.

Dec 18, 2014

Why Books Make Great Christmas Gifts

Read this lighthearted reminder why books make great gifts. See the post for further explanation but here are the first ten reasons.

1. They’re easy to wrap.
2. They don’t need to be plugged in.
3. They don’t expire.
4. They don’t go out of date.
5. One size fits all.
6. They don’t make loud noises.
7. By God’s grace, a good Christian book will build the faith of your family and friends.
8. Books can be shared.
9. They are aesthetically pleasing.
10. They are sugar, gluten and dairy free.

Dec 17, 2014

Hearing Babylonian Songs

This article provides an interesting explanation of how ancient Babylonian songs were recreated. The article also contains a link to allow you to hear one of the recreated songs as well.

HT: David Burnett

Dec 16, 2014

Advice for Preaching Christmas

Peter Mead has some really good advice on what to do and not do in preaching about Christmas here.

Dec 15, 2014

Five Questions with Dr. Steven Anderson

I am excited that my friend Dr. Steven Anderson has agreed to be interviewed about his new Bible study resource. This resource, Dr. Anderson’s Interpretive Guide to the Bible, consists of eight volumes covering the entire Bible. The entire series is over 1,200 pages! All of the interpretive guides follow the same basic format and order: a brief introduction to the biblical book; a discussion of introductory issues (such as author, date, writing style, and addressees); a paragraph-level subject outline of the book; an “argument” which traces the flow of thought throughout the book but also deals with macrostructure, theology, and interpretive issues; and an annotated bibliography.

1. How are your interpretive guides different from a standard commentary?

These interpretive guides provide a synthetic overview of each book of the Bible, giving special attention to the development of a book’s argument. Although some interpretive issues are addressed, they are not addressed with the detail of a commentary. As the name “interpretive guide” implies, my books are meant to be a guide or a starting point for developing more detailed interpretations, rather than containing all the details in themselves. My books are also different from other published works because they are the product of my own study of the biblical text, and contain many original ideas and observations.

2. You devote a fair amount of space to addressing introductory issues. Why is it important to deal with issues such as authorship, dating, original audience, etc.?

Understanding the background of a biblical book is the key to understanding the book as a whole. A clear statement of background issues will allow for a consistent and uniform interpretation of individual passages within the book. For example, understanding 1 John as a test of life will result in one way of interpreting individual passages throughout the book, while understanding it as a test of love will result in another way of interpreting these passages. Someone who approaches 1 John without any understanding of its background or purpose would have more difficulty in understanding individual verses within the book, and also in finding a consistent argument made from start to finish.

I would also point out that people who say background issues don’t matter still are bringing many background assumptions to the table. For example, pastors who say that it doesn’t matter who wrote Hebrews are still assuming that Hebrews was written by some apostle or apostolic associate in the first century AD, which gives the book authority for the church. Critical scholars often attack traditional claims about the authorship of biblical books, which is dangerous because these attacks raise questions about the inspiration and authority of these books.

3. Your interpretive guides contain an argument. Can you explain what an argument is and how it helps one to better understand a book of the Bible?

An argument shows how a biblical author’s thesis and message is developed throughout his book. It shows how each section of the book is related to the book’s purpose, and how the different sections relate to each other. For example, in accordance with Matthew’s aim to demonstrate that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Matthew 1:1–4:11 describes Jesus’ entitlement to the messianic role. Within this section, Matthew demonstrates that Jesus had messianic genealogical qualifications (1:1-17), a messianic birth and infancy (1:18–2:23), a messianic forerunner (3:1-12), a messianic anointing (3:13-17), and a messianic test (4:1-11).

4. In writing these interpretive guides, what area of Scripture or which book did you find the most challenging and why?

Overall, the Old Testament prophetic books were the most challenging for me. Published outlines and interpretations of these books vary widely, and for some books (e.g., Jeremiah and Hosea) some commentators think there is no logical outline. I felt that I had to dig especially deep to come to a satisfactory understanding of these books.

5. Who are some of the biblical scholars that most influenced and shaped your approach to the Bible?

My major formative influence in Bible interpretation was the late Rev. Raymond Befus, Sr., who was pastor of the church that I grew up in (Bethany Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan). Pastor Befus was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and an “old school” dispensationalist. We often had speakers from the seminary at the church, such as Charles Ryrie and John Walvoord. When I was working toward my M.Div. and Th.M. degrees at Capital Bible Seminary I formed a close relationship with Dr. Thomas Edgar, who was a major influence on my New Testament exegesis. Of the professors in my Ph.D. program at Dallas Theological Seminary I felt closest to Dr. Stanley Toussaint, who taught the doctoral seminar on Hebrews–Revelation. I also had the privilege of taking the last course that Dr. Harold Hoehner taught prior to his passing, in which he communicated to us his rigorous method of doing scholarly research.
Those interested in purchasing one or all of the interpretive guides can go here You can purchase the interpretive guides in PDF format for $39.99 for the complete series or individual volumes at $5.99 each. You can also purchase print copies for $12.99 to $15.99 per volume. Do check it out.

Dec 13, 2014

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis

Watch Rob Plummer's thoughts on the newly revised 5-volume New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis edited by Moisés Silva. 

Plummer notes that Zondervan is offering this resource at a 50% discount Until December 31 with free shipping.  You can

call 1-800-727-3480 and mention promo code NIDNTTE50 and ISBN 9780310276197, or go to But for some an even better deal is being offered by Christian Book Distributors who is offering the same price with free shipping, but CBD does not charge state taxes. You can use this link.

Dec 12, 2014

Why Preachers Struggle with Sermon Application

Earlier this week, I posted on ten ideas for sermon application (see here). If you found that interesting you might take a look at Shane Lems' post here summarizing Murray Capill's explanation why so many preachers struggle with application here.

Dec 11, 2014

NICOT Psalms Commentary by deClaisse-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner on Sale

Eerdmans has put the new Psalms commentary by Nancy deClaisse-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner, in the NICOT series on sale for $36 (40% off) for three days only (until Saturday, December 13. But please note that there is a charge for postage of about $3 and the sale is not available through the Eerdman's website. To access this offer, either email here ( with with "3-Day NICOT Psalms (978-0-8028-2493-6) Sale" in the subject line) or call in your order at 800-253-7521 and use promotional code 739.

Köstenberger's Top Ten Books of 2014

Andreas Köstenberger has identified his top ten books of 2014 here. Make sure to read his annotations, but here is Köstenberger’s list.

1. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. 5 vols. Second edition. Edited by Moises Silva.

2. A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. By Peter H. Davids.

3. How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature: A Response to Bart D. Ehrman. By Michael Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill, and Chris Tilling.

4. 1 Peter. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. By Greg W. Forbes.

5. Galatians. By Douglas J. Moo. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

6. 1–2 Thessalonians. By Jeffrey A. D. Weima. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

7. Heaven. Theology in Community. Edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson. Crossway.

8. Shepherding God’s Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and Beyond. Edited by Benjamin L. Merkle and Thomas R. Schreiner. 

9. The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary. Lightfoot Legacy Set. By J. B. Lightfoot. Edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still.

10. Hidden But Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery. By G. K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd.

Dec 10, 2014

Review of Early Explorers of Bible Lands

Jack P. Lewis, Early Explorers of Bible Lands (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2013). Early Explorers of Bible Lands is a fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes humorous glimpse into the lives of ten nineteenth-century men who made significant contributions to our understanding of the geography, and to some extent the archaeology, of the Bible lands. The highlighted explorers include John Lewis Burckhardt, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, Conrad Schick, William Francis Lynch, James T. Barclay, Charles William Wilson, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, Selah Merrill, Claude Conder, and Archibald Henry Sayce.

This book is fun to read. The individual stories are relatively short and focused primarily as one would expect, on their times in the Bible Lands. But there is sufficient personal detail to give the reader a sense of the person. Lewis also does a good job highlighting the personal sacrifices that were often made, and the dangers and interpersonal conflicts that each one seemed to encounter. There is even a bit of humor thrown in. For example, William Lynch’s affirmation while staying in Tiberias that the rumor, “the king of the fleas holds his court in Tiberias” was true (p. 78). The book also contains a fairly thorough bibliography although it does lack a subject index. Those who have traveled to, or are interested in, the Bible lands should consider reading this book.

Much thanks to Abilene Christian University Press for providing the copy used in this review.

Dec 9, 2014

Ten Ideas for Sermon Application

Craig Schill has some really good ideas and suggestions regarding sermon application here.

Dec 8, 2014

Catching My Own Typos

I struggle with catching typos in my own work although I am pretty good at spotting them in general. I continue to work at it but this article at least gives a bit of an explanation of why I struggle.

Dan Wallace on Lexical Fallacies by Linguists

See this post by Dan Wallace on lexical fallacies by linguists here.

Dec 5, 2014

The Law in Romans

Skimming through a book I picked up last year, Reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans, I particularly enjoyed the essay by Francis Watson on the law. Here is Watson’s very first paragraph which is also a nice summary of the topic. 

“Paul uses the word nomos (‘law’) on seventy-two occasions in Romans, and in all but a few cases the reference is to the Torah, the law of Moses whose five books are foundational to Jewish Scripture. Thus the law was given though Moses (Rom 5:14), and before his time 'there was no law' (5:13). The law was entrusted specifically to the Jewish people (2:17), or 'Israel' (9:31), for whom it is a legitimate source of pride (2:24). Gentiles are basically ignorant of the law although they sometimes unknowingly observe it (2:14). The law is associated with wrath (4:13) and with sin or transgression (3:20; 4:15; 5:13; 7:7, 8). It is disassociated from the righteousness of God (3:21), promise (4:13–14), and grace (6:14, 15). Although its commandments are many, they can be summed up in a single negative or positive statement: 'You shall not desire' (7:7), or 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself (13:8–10).” 

Francis Watson, “The Law in Romans,” in Reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans, ed. Jerry L. Sumney, Resources for Biblical Studies 73, ed. Tom Thatcher (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), 93.

Dec 4, 2014

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below. 

Constantine R. Campbell
Colossians and Philemon: A Handbook on the Greek Text
Reviewed by Alan Cadwallader

Cynthia Edenburg and Juha Pakkala, eds.
Is Samuel among the Deuteronomists? Current Views on the Place of Samuel in a Deuteronomistic History
Reviewed by David G. Firth

Scott S. Elliott
Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus: Narrative Criticism after Poststructuralism
Reviewed by Thomas P. Nelligan

Scott S. Elliott and Roland Boer, eds.
Ideology, Culture, and Translation
Reviewed by Todd Borger

Eun-Woo Lee
Crossing the Jordan: Diachrony Versus Synchrony in the Book of Joshua
Reviewed by Thomas Römer

Jack R. Lundbom
Jeremiah Closer Up: The Prophet and the Book
Reviewed by Richard G. Smith

Martin O’Kane, ed.
Bible, Art, Gallery
Reviewed by Bryan J. Cook

Robert Kimball Shinkoskey
Do My Prophets No Harm: Revelation and Religious Liberty in the Bible
Reviewed by J. Gordon McConville

Michael E. Stone
Adam and Eve in the Armenian Tradition, Fifth through Seventeenth Centuries
Reviewed by Linda S. Schearing

Chris Tilling
Paul’s Divine Christology
Reviewed by Benjamin A. Edsall

Dec 2, 2014

Free Audio Book: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper is offering John Piper's Advent devotional, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, as their free audio download for the month of December. To read more about the book and to get your free audio download in either MP3 or M4B formats go here.

An Introduction to Advent

Whether you participate or just want to know what others are talking about, Mark Roberts has a fairly thorough blog post on Advent here.

Dec 1, 2014

Daniel 9:24-27 among the Interpreters

My Digital Seminary is running a series of question and answer posts on Daniel 9:24-27 (the well-known "Seventy-Week Prophecy") with various Bible scholars. I am not sure how many participants they will ultimately have, but here are those who have been posted so far.

Thomas Ice
Robert Chisholm
Peter Gentry
Wendy Widder
Dale Ralph Davis

Nov 30, 2014

Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo

I noted yesterday that one noteworthy part of the recent 50th anniversary dinner and program celebrating the commissioning of the NIV was a presentation of a festschrift in honor of Doug Moo. The book is entitled Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo and was edited by Matthew S. Harmon and Jay E. Smith, two of Moo’s former students.

There are sixteen essays divided into three categories: Exegeting Paul, Paul’s Use of Scripture and the Jesus Tradition, and Pauline Scholarship and His Contemporary Significance. Authors include G. K. Beale, Craig Blomberg, Ardel Caneday, D. A. Carson, James D. G. Dunn, Matthew Harmon, Jonathan Moo, Grant R. Osborne, Thomas R. Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, Jay Smith, Verlyn Verbrugge, Chris Vlachos, Stephen Westerholm, N. T. Wright, and Robert Yarbrough.

Nov 29, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of the Commissioning of the NIV

Three parts of the recent 50th anniversary dinner and program celebrating the commissioning of the NIV at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Diego are worth noting. First, there was a paper presented by Doug Moo. His paper was printed and distributed by Zondervan as a free booklet but you access the free PDF here. Second, there was a lively and interesting panel discussion involving Moo, Richard Hess, Karen Jobes, Bill Mounce, Jeannine Brown, and Mark Strauss. See this live blog for a transcript of the questions and answers. And third there was a surprise presentation of a festschrift for Doug Moo. I will talk about this book in a future post.

You can read a story about the meeting here.