Nov 21, 2014

Review of Illustrated Life of Paul

Charles L. Quarles, Illustrated Life of Paul (Nashville: B&H, 2014).

The writings, theology, and life of the apostle Paul continue to generate interest. Some works seek to present new and novel ways of approaching the subject, whereas others take a more traditional approach. This work by Quarles falls into the latter category.

This volume is commendable for several reasons. First, it is clearly and concisely written. The discussion is fairly thorough but not exhaustive. But those who are looking for a presentation, critique, and examination of recent trends in Pauline studies will likely be disappointed. Second, this work is faithful to the biblical narrative. The book of Acts is treated like a reliable historical source and the author accepts the thirteen epistles of Paul as genuinely Pauline. For those interested in such things, Quarles holds the South Galatian view and two Roman imprisonments. Third, in keeping with its title, this volume is nicely illustrated. There is a good blend of photos and illustrations throughout. Finally, the volume includes both subject and Scripture indices that help to contribute to the usefulness of the volume.

There are a few weaknesses of this volume. I do wish that a few more excurses on some disputed issues would have been included (e.g., the new perspective, Romans debate, etc.). I noticed only one excursus related to the relationship between Galatians 2 and Acts 15 (p. 78).The author’s description of the oft-referenced immorality of Corinth (p. 120) should be more nuanced in light of the work of Jerome Murphy O’Conner and others. A third issue is more of an issue of preference, but I believe that this volume would be easier to use with footnotes rather than endnotes.

But these criticisms notwithstanding, Illustrated Life of Paul is a solid option for those interested an introductory level resource to the life, ministry, and writings of Paul.

You can access a PDF excerpt here.

Nov 20, 2014

C. H. Dodd, Zacchaeus, and a Daughter's Shoes

Here is a snippet for my readers who are at ETS and SBL this week. This comes from William Baird’s delightful third volume on the history of New Testament research and concerns the esteemed C. H. Dodd. 

“Like Zacchaeus, Dodd was self-conscious about his small stature. W. D. Davies (in a recording made in 1986) told me that when, as a student, he would visit in Dodd’s study, the furniture would be so arranged that he would sit in a low chair and Dodd would sit above him on a higher one. Dodd was notorious for his absentmindedness, once appearing for a lecture wearing one of his own shoes and one of his daughter’s. He lectured with vitality and eloquence and was famous for his sense of humor, which even crept into his publications. In the introduction to his Romans commentary he gives the reason for a ‘clumsy made cut’ at 16:23 as the ‘illimitable stupidity of editors’” (William Baird, History of New Testament Research: Volume 3: From C. H. Dodd to Hans Dieter Betz [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013], 35).

Nov 19, 2014

NIVAC Ebooks on Sale

All NIVAC Commentaries in Ebook format are on sale for $4.99. But note that the sale is only good until November 23. You can check out this deal at the Zondervan Academic blog here.

Nov 18, 2014

Replacement Theology

Dr. William Varner has a good post listing some of the biblical problems with replacement theology (aka supersessionism) here.

Review of Persuasive Preaching

R. Larry Overstreet, Persuasive Preaching: A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion (Wooster, OH: Weaver, 2014). 

Like the author I came to faith and cut my teeth on a persuasive preaching style that typically included some kind of invitation. It was only later that I was exposed to a different style of preaching that was less confrontational and more contemplative. This book by Larry Overstreet is an examination of homiletical theology in general and the use of persuasion in particular. It is an apologetic for, and a call to, return to a more directly persuasive form of preaching. 

Persuasive Preaching is laid out logically, moving from need, to theory, to practice. So in part 1, Overstreet identifies issues and challenges related to persuasive preaching. This is followed in part 2 by a comprehensive discussion of biblical texts and terms that relate to persuasion. Here the author finds ample support for the use of persuasion. Having established that biblical legitimacy for the use of persuasion, part 3 identifies four structural approaches to persuasive messages (motivated sequence, problem-solution, cause-effect, and refutation). The final part of this work relates to three pertinent issues that relate to the application of persuasive peaching. Here Overstreet addresses the issue of persuasion versus manipulation and outlines an ethical use of persuasion. He also discusses the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching and do’s and don’ts related to the use of invitations. Appendices, bibliography and indexes round out the volume.  

Persuasive Preaching is an interesting and rare study. As the author notes, many preaching texts assume persuasion (of some sort) but don’t often talk about it. I have read a number of volumes on preaching and can say that this volume is the most comprehensive treatment on the topic that I have ever encountered. This will likely be both the strength and weakness of this volume. 

Those interested in a thorough examination of the biblical foundations of persuasion (including some fairly significant interaction with Greek) will enjoy this volume. Less interested readers will probably skim or skip this section as being too technical. Those looking for a detailed presentation of structural approaches to persuasive messages (motivated sequence, problem-solution, cause-effect, and refutation) will be delighted, but less patient readers will probably feel a bit frustrated although the sample sermons in Appendix E will probably help. 

I enjoyed this volume. I learned much. But I suspect some of my preaching peers would be less enthusiastic. This is not a quick or light read. But in the end, while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think that Overstreet has provided a valuable resource for studying the topic of persuasion in preaching and a persuasive argument for its use in the pulpit.

You can access a PDF excerpt here

Thanks to Weaver for providing the free book used in this unbiased review.

Nov 17, 2014

Free 1 Samuel Bible Study

Those interested in a free 1 Samuel Bible study written by George and Koula Athas can go here. Here are the titles of the individual studies. 
  • Study 1 The blind leading the blind (1 Samuel 1-4)
  • Study 2 Putting God in a box (1 Samuel 5:1-7:14)
  • Study 3 The people’s choice (1 Samuel 7:15-10:27)
  • Study 4 An eye-catching king (1 Samuel 11-12)
  • Study 5 Mishmash at Michmash and dismissal at Gilgal (1 Samuel 13-15)
  • Study 6 The LORD’s choice (1 Samuel 16-17)
  • Study 7 Loyalty and disloyalty amongst the royalty (1 Samuel 18-20)
  • Study 8 Seek and destroy (1 Samuel 21-24)
  • Study 9 Friend or fiend? (1 Samuel 25-27)
  • Study 10 The LORD keeps his word (1 Samuel 28-31)

BiblePlaces Resources at SBL

If you are looking for an outstanding collection of Holy Land photos and if you are headed to SBL you will want to stop by the BiblePlaces exhibit, #411. They will have major discounts on the collections, plus a free volume of choice to anyone who stops by.

Nov 15, 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. 

Ian Boxall
Patmos in the Reception History of the Apocalypse
Reviewed by Craig R. Koester

Joseph D. Fantin
The Lord of the Entire World: Lord Jesus, a Challenge to Lord Caesar?
Reviewed by Michael F. Bird

Gordon D. Fee and Robert L. Hubbard, eds., with commentary by Connie Gundry Tappy
The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible
Reviewed by Paul S. Evans
Reviewed by David M. Maas

Scott Hahn
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church
Reviewed by Sonya S. Cronin

Jan Willem van Henten and Joseph Verheyden, eds.
Early Christian Ethics in Interaction with Jewish and Greco-Roman Contexts
Reviewed by Cornelis Bennema

Jonathan Huddleston
Eschatology in Genesis
Reviewed by James S. Lee

Daniel D. Lowery
Toward a Poetics of Genesis 1-11: Reading Genesis 4:17–22 in Its Ancient Near Eastern Background
Reviewed by Thomas L. Brodie

Anne Porter and Glenn M. Schwartz, eds.
Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East
Reviewed by William L. Lyons

Voker Rabens
The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul: Transformation and Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life
Reviewed by Nélida Naveros Cordova

Nov 14, 2014

All that You Wanted to Know about Bible Paper but Were Afraid to Ask

The Crossway blog has an interesting post on Bible paper here. Although I have complained about the size and weight of some of the Bibles I have owned, it really is amazing how much can written information, pictures, and maps can be put into a study Bible.

Nov 13, 2014

Interview with Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler

The OUPBlog has a brief interview with Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler here. The interview is related to a revision of the Jewish Study Bible that Berlin and Brettler worked on but also includes questions related to biblical studies in general.

Nov 12, 2014

The Supposed Theological Divide between Hebrews and Hellenists

Larry Hurtado has an engaging post here challenging the commonly-held assumption of a theological divide between Hebrews and Hellenists. This piece also serves as a good caution related to making the historical and/or theological leaps that most if not all involved in biblical studies make.

Nov 10, 2014

Mark Seifrid Interview

See this interview of Mark Seifrid related to his new 2 Corinthians commentary in the Pillar series. Here is an excerpt from the interview.

"Listening to the text is the most difficult part of writing a commentary, or any interpretation of Scripture. Listening, listening, and listening again. There is a fourfold responsibility here. First, to let the text speak in all its particularity and detail, even (or especially) where it challenges our thinking. Second, not to lose the forest for the trees. We have to be able to synthesize, to gain a perspective on the whole of what the text is saying. Third — and here many New Testament scholars fail — we have to be aware of what we are saying with respect to the Christian tradition, with respect to what Christians have believed, taught, and confessed before us. Fourth, we have to remember that we are writing for others. Their needs and concerns must be in our minds. Someone has described preaching as being placed between the upper and lower millstones of the Word of God and the congregation, and attempting to come through the grinding. Writing a commentary is something like that."

Granville Sharp

Those who have taken Greek are familiar with the Granville Sharp rule or construction. Dan Wallace in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics spends 21 pages discussing this construction. In any case, Granville Sharp was born today in 1735. You can read a bit more about his fascinating life here.

Nov 9, 2014

Sermon Application

My friend Craig Schill has a good post on the need for application in sermons here. Make sure to read the entire post, but here are Craig's three main points.

1) Doctrine and Duties Go Hand in Hand.
2) You are a Shepherd not just a Spokesperson.
3) Knowledge without Application is Dangerous.

Nov 7, 2014

Interview with Dr. Stephen Bramer

I am delighted to be able to interview my friend Dr. Stephen Bramer. He chairs the Bible Exposition Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bramer is also a teaching pastor at Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie, Texas and speaks and travels extensively both nationally and internationally. He recently published The Bible Reader’s Joke Book and graciously agreed to answer a few questions about this latest project.

1. You have been working on this project for some time. Can you tell us how you got started?

When I first began to teach in Bible College in the early ‘80’s I began to write some jokes in the margins of my lecture notes. When I used them in my classes I found it helped develop a rapport with the students so I continued to use them and add to them year after year. When I got my first computer in the early ‘90’s I began to collect all my jokes in a document. Finally, after a couple of decades, I have now published the collection so that others in ministry can have access to them.

2. There are number of books containing jokes that have been published and an internet sites that also are a source of jokes. What makes your book different and how is it potentially more helpful?

All joke books and internet humor sites that I have seen have collected jokes topically. The Bible Reader’s Joke Book is unique in that the jokes a categorized according to the 66 biblical books. So if you are leading a Bible study in 1 Timothy all you need to do is turn in this joke book to the section on 2 Timothy and there are pages of jokes related to the material of this biblical book. This saves time which is in short supply I find in the ministry. I have found my jokes in many different sources but the difference is that they are now attached to a specific passage or verse. I have included a fairly extensive topical index at the back so if the joke say on marriage in Gen 2:24 is not one you want to use the user can consult the index to find other jokes on marriage such as those in Song of Solomon. This resource is available in both paperback and kindle which allows the user to choose the best format for their personal use.

3. Effective speakers understand the potential value of humor but do you see humor in the Bible itself?

The Bible itself is dealing with serious issues including our salvation. Many times the author is dealing with disobedient followers or false teachers/prophets. This doesn’t lend itself to humor! In fact you wouldn’t expect a great deal of humor is a theology or discipleship manual either. In addition, much of the content is condensed from how it might have originally been delivered orally so there are few illustrations etc. However, when the donkey speaks or Jesus uses the humorous illustration of the camel trying to go through the eye of a needle it shows me that humor is not unbiblical and can be used with profit. In the process of now transferring the biblical material to a modern audience and having maybe a half hour to orally present, what might only take 5 minutes to read, gives the speaker today the opportunity to include humor.

4. While using humor is helpful, are there kinds of humor and certain occasions when you don’t think it is appropriate. 

In my introductory pages I have a page titled “Read this First, before you Use this Tool!” Anyone who purchases a tool finds such a page in the owner’s manual since any tool can be misused. The audience, the subject matter, the occasion, all can indicate that humor may not be appropriate. If the speaker’s goal is to communicate then the communicator must be careful not to say anything that would hinder this. And yet, in certain situations, with a particular audience on a specific topic, humor is of tremendous help in communication.

5. What advice would you give to young preachers and teachers on how to best use this book? 

  I would encourage young (and older!) preachers and teachers to use this resource like many of their other resources. Have it on your desk and consult it when you are preparing a message. In keeping with your personality, your need and the availability of a joke use it as appropriate.

You can purchase The Bible Reader’s Joke Book in print or Kindle versions using this Amazon link.

Nov 6, 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. 

Walter Brueggemann
The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word
Reviewed by Leonard Mare

Michael H. Burer
Divine Sabbath Work
Reviewed by Margaret Daly-Denton

Timo Eskola
Beyond Biblical Theology: Sacralized Culturalism in Heikki Räisänen's Hermeneutics
Reviewed by Vernon K. Robbins

Irmtraud Fischer and Mercedes Navarro Puerto, eds., with Andrea Taschl-Erber
Reviewed by Elaine T. James

Philip Goodwin
Translating the English Bible: From Relevance to Deconstruction
Reviewed by Stephen Pattemore

George Anton Kiraz
The New Syriac Primer: An Introduction to The Syriac Language
Reviewed by H. F. van Rooy

Aaron J. Koller
The Semantic Field of Cutting Tools in Biblical Hebrew: The Interface of Philological, Semantic, and Archaeological Evidence
Reviewed by Stephen J. Bennett

Zhixiong Niu
“The King Lifted up His Voice and Wept”: David’s Mourning in the Second Book of Samuel
Reviewed by David G. Firth

Mark Allan Powell
Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee
Reviewed by Brian C. Small

Emmanuel L. Rehfeld
Relationale Ontologie bei Paulus: Die ontische Wirksamkeit der Christusbezogenheit im Denken des Heidenapostels
Reviewed by Lars Kierspel

Nov 5, 2014

Babylon Links

One of my favorite bloggers is Ferrell Jenkins at Ferrel's Travel Blog. If you are interested in the intersection points between the Bible, the Holy Lands, and archaeology, this blog might be for you. Every now and again, Ferrell produces a topical index of links related to posts on his blog. A case in point are the links related to Babylon here. If you are preaching or teaching in a book or passage that relates to Babylon you will want to check it out.

Nov 4, 2014

Options for Preaching the Bigger Books of the Bible

Peter Mead offers some options for preaching bigger books of the Bible here. While I do think that, all things being equal, we should preach even the bigger biblical books expositorily and consecutively, there might be occasions where this is not possible or advisable. In such cases, these other options are worth considering. 

Nov 3, 2014

Plummer on Louw & Nida

Rob Plummer commented on BDAG last week (here) and this week he offers a brief introduction to Louw & Nida. 

Nov 2, 2014

Free Audio Book: The Attributes of God by A. W. Tozer is offering A. W. Tozer's book, The Attributes of God, Volume 1: A Journey into the Father's Heart, as their free download for the month of November. To read more about the book and to get your free audio download go here.

Oct 31, 2014

Free Audio from the 2014 Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop

Free audio from the 2014 Advanced Expository Preaching Workshop focusing on the book of Jonah has just been posted. You can access the audio page here or click the individual messages below.

Jonah 1 – David Allen

Jonah 2 – Steven Smith

Jonah 3 – Vern Charette

Jonah 4 – Matt McKellar

You can also access notes from David Allen's presentation here.